Woman talking about her divorce recovery

How to Recover from Divorce Emotionally

You’ve heard it before, divorce can be as stressful as losing someone to death. Except death is final. The person is gone. So for those who never wanted the divorce, who continue to struggle, trying to recover from divorce emotionally, that lack of closure — still knowing your ex is around — can be more painful than death. He’s not gone — entirely.

Losing your marriage no matter how long you’ve been married, or the circumstances of who left whom, is going to require experiencing and working through your grief. And grief may not be what you think it means.

We like to define grief as the sudden loss of a familiar pattern or way of living. For example, while you might not be missing the yelling, the passive/aggressive behaviors of your ex or yourself, or the lying, cheating or second guessing of yourself;  you’re probably not entirely prepared for the changes facing you across the board, now that you are waking up wondering who your are. How did you lose yourself? As you begin to understand divorce recovery, and that this next chapter in front of you is complicated, you’ll need to remind yourself to be patient. Your healing is not going to happen overnight.

But there are things you can do to begin the repairing of your heart and body and soul.

Get the support and help you need

The first weeks and months after a divorce can feel soul-wretchedly lonely, but there are others who can help you feel less alone. While friends and family may be available to lean on if you need anything, it is sometimes better to work with a licensed counselor or therapist who can guide you through your grieving. It’s important to have a safe place where you can honestly open up and discuss your feelings in the wake of the divorce.

Accept your emotions, experience them and talk about them

You might be feeling angry or besotted with sadness. You might be numb. You are probably experiencing a spectrum of emotions after your divorce, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. This is an extremely challenging moment time and it’s important that you accept your feelings for what they are. Cry when you need to cry (in that safe place described above). Vent about your anger when you feel frustrated or upset. This allows you to experience the emotions and to process what they mean to you.  It’s not about sweeping them under the rug or putting them in a box. It’s about honoring them and giving them space. A support group, a good friend who has been through divorce, or a coach can help you with perspective and what’s more, doing something to move beyond the trauma.

Try to maintain your daily routine

Nearly every aspect of your life is uprooted when you get divorced, and it’s easy to feel like each day is chaotic and stressful. To maintain some sense of normalcy, it’s necessary to stick to a consistent routine. Continue to have your favorite coffee in the morning. Take the same route to work, and make your favorite spaghetti dinner on Tuesdays like you always do. This can both alleviate stress and bring comfort during an emotionally trying time in your life.

Delve into a new interest or hobby

Divorce can take its toll on your identity. While you grieve the loss of your status as a married person and as a spouse to someone that you once loved, you should also see an opportunity to grow, change and learn new things. For many, a new hobby can be therapeutic. It takes your mind off of the pain of your divorce, and also allows you to find something for yourself that you enjoy. Photography, crafting, writing, hiking or yoga are a few options that you might want to consider.

Keep a journal

Writing about your feelings and your daily activities can provide you with a private outlet for your feelings. This is one of the safest spaces to disclose your thoughts and your experiences in the aftermath of your divorce. Pick a time of day where you have a few extra minutes to jot down your thoughts — many people find that before bedtime is a wonderful time of day to journal. Incorporate journaling into your new routine, and keep up with your new habit in the months and years to come.

Prioritize self-care

After a divorce, it can be easy to focus your efforts on caring for your children or throwing yourself into your work. It’s also easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself. However, this is one of the most important times in your life to prioritize self-care. Treat yourself to that pedicure, even if it doesn’t feel like you have the time. Take a warm bubble bath at the end of the night and read a light-hearted novel. Visit your favorite local restaurant and enjoy the most delicious item on the menu. Do things that make you feel good and happy, as this will help minimize your stress.

Allow yourself to focus on the future 

Your future needs your attention, And there is a future. You may not feel it or see it, but it’s right in front of you. You just cannot see it if you are only looking in the rearview mirror.

 

If you are struggling to recover from divorce, and dealing with the wounds at the same time you are trying to rebuild your life, you may be especially interested in a 6-week group we are forming to support women navigating this new chapter of their lives. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a quick 15-minute chat with SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell.  To advance, to live well, you must do something.

contemplating divorce can feel like you are spinning

Contemplating Divorce Can Keep You Spinning

Recently, when I was unpacking boxes and settling into my new house, I came across something that seemed to speak to me from a different lifetime.  It was my old journal, written years ago, during the months leading up to my decision to get divorced:

 “I feel as if I am living in the twilight zone. I’m sooo lonely, scared, trapped in this weird world where I don’t know what will happen next.

“I’m angry at him. I pity him.  I miss him. I love him.  I hate him.”

“I could make a choice. I could leave.  I could choose that.”

“Part of me wants to run far away. Part of me is scared and worried. How will the bills get paid? Do I need to protect myself? Part of me is sad. Sad that we have grown so far apart. Part of me feels guilty and part of me is just MAD.”

For months (maybe, if I am honest with myself, for years) I was spinning in circles. I was desperately unhappy and feeling torn, and scared.  I couldn’t get clarity or figure out what to do, or what I wanted. I was caught in a vicious cycle of “should I, or shouldn’t I?” like the clothes in a dryer, getting tossed, twisted up in a knot, and slammed again against the door. Even after I left, I still went round and round. I worried and wondered if I made the right decision. And I remember feeling physically awful too…my back ached constantly, I had unrelenting headaches and weird episodes of dizziness that would come and go. My confidence was at an all time low. Literally, ZERO. At one point I wrote in my journal, “Am I capable of that?” wondering if I would be able to pay the bills by myself, which seems so unbelievable to me now. Why didn’t I think I would be able to pay the bills? I’d done it before. How had I become so unsure of myself?

“Really, I’m stuck. What do I do?” 

“I’m half afraid that if I tell someone I want to get divorced, they’ll talk me out of it.” 

“I am GOING to leave!”

“My heart hurts.”

I know now that what I needed then was someone to open that door, to stop the spinning and help me get everything sorted out.  It is hard to acknowledge to yourself that something is wrong, let alone talk to anyone else about it. And it seems like once you tell someone you are thinking about getting a divorce and it’s no longer just in your thoughts, you have to actually do it. What you need is someone to be a witness to what’s happening to you in your head and in your heart.  You need someone to help you see things more clearly, to help you understand what you are going through, and to tell you what to do. And most importantly, you need someone to help you find your confidence again.

As divorce coaches, we know considering or even coping with divorce can keep you spinning. This feeling of repeat, repeat, and revisiting what you know and don’t know is a sure sign that on some level, you do know something is critically wrong.  We also know that you can stop — or at least, PAUSE — the spinning by making small changes.  Start by asking yourself, what do you most fundamentally need? What do you really want, deep down?  Write this down somewhere and look back at it regularly to keep it fresh in your mind. This is about getting and staying in touch with you.  Push PAUSE again and find a friend or professional whom you can trust and feel comfortable confiding in.  Talking with someone will help you process everything that’s going on in your head, heart and body.  Then, and only then, outside the wretched revolving dryer, will you be able to stop the spinning and start moving forward with your life.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.  Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.”

If you want support, schedule a free consult or check out Annie’s Group.

Father coparenting his daughter by tending to her hair.

How to Parent Your CoParent (Without Him Realizing!)

You know that setting an example is always important. And you can guess, I’m not just talking about the model you demonstrate to your kids. When you separate and become coparents, it is so easy to disengage and consequently, communicate less and less with your ex. It can be such a relief! Yet, communication more than ever remains key. If you want a healthy coparenting situation where both parents are informed and active (the best scenario for your children), then how you share information is vital. What’s more, communicating healthily in front of your children provides them with a model to base their own behavior.

The value of setting the coparent example

If you want your children to grow up as kind-hearted, thoughtful, respectful people then screaming at your coparent is not going to cut it. Your ex needs to realize this too.

So, if you lead, if you set the example, this will show your coparent “how it’s done” (potentially, he* may have no idea, otherwise). This might well encourage your ex to emulate you (but don’t ask him to acknowledge that!)

There should be a clear distinction between setting an example for your ex-spouse and making an example of him/her. If the other half of your coparenting duo is failing in some way, don’t complain about this to your children. If your coparent is breaking arrangements or missing dates, speak to him about it whilst keeping the interests of your children the focal point of your conversation. You must always frame things and behaviors as how they impact the children. Try explaining that lateness and missing appointments “are not values we want to instill in our children” and simultaneously how “it’s not fair to keep them waiting or give them false expectations.” “They are excited to see you and disappointed when you don’t show up or appear unreliable.”

This seems self-evident, but your coparent is rarely going to be motivated to please you (–although some ex’s are evolved). So venting to him about your plans being foiled or your appointments being missed because of him and his lateness or no show, is not going to necessarily cause him to be more reliable in the future.  Again, it’s the kids, it’s the kids …

It goes without saying that you then need to do everything to keep your word, and you must honor your appointments. When you reach an agreement, stick to it. Parenting plans and schedules are designed to be flexible but simultaneously need to be stuck to unless enough prior notice is given to all involved parties (including your kids).

Respect your differences

There are many different parenting styles and it’s highly unlikely that you and your ex will see eye to eye on all aspects of raising the children. In fact it’s highly unlikely these days you see eye to eye on anything! That being said you can’t expect each co-parent to share the exact same ideals and try to implement the same parenting methods. Differences don’t mean that one approach is right and that one is wrong. If you want your coparent to see things from your point of view, or if your ex genuinely needs a metaphorical kick up the backside in terms of effort levels, then the best approach is not belittling the parent in front of the children.

Parenting styles you may be familiar with range from Authoritative to Permissive with plenty of room for grey areas in between. Of course, if your coparent is massively lacking discipline in an area of their parenting then you should have a quiet word. You need to agree on values you teach your children and consistent rules regardless of which household they’re staying at. This doesn’t mean being too involved in your coparent’s time with your child though; give your ex room to naturally develop his relationship, solo, with the children.

Don’t give up!

If you can accept your differences then you can work together. Don’t dismiss your chances at having a successful coparenting relationship, because your marriage did not work. Your children are one of the wonderful things that remain of your relationship. And it is for your children that it’s worth doing your best now with your ex. Giving your children the quality of life you want, the parenting relationships they need, and the easiest transition between households are your goals.

Listen to your co-parent, acknowledge his opinion and respect prior arrangements. Reinforce the fact that you are a parenting team. Be considerate towards your ex, co-operate, apologize when necessary and communicate effectively whilst applying restraint. Keep your coparent informed, updated and most importantly involved with your children.

Be prepared to compromise and work on your patience! Apply constructive criticisms SELECTIVELY and be ready for the response. It may seem like a lot to remember but eventually it will come more naturally and once applied you should be able to get a mirrored response from your ex-spouse. If not, he will run risk of being the “bad guy” and in that situation at least your children will have one positive role model to look up to.

Doing the right thing improves your coparenting relationship and your parent/child relationship. It may seem obvious but then again nobody will claim it is easy. When past love, hate, bitterness and emotion is involved it becomes very difficult to be the bigger person and control your actions, words and body language. Nevertheless you must put the hurt and anger aside and separate your feelings from your behavior. Your children must realize that they are far more important than the issues that ended your relationship with your Ex.

This article was authored by Krishan Smith, senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

(* Disclaimer: For the sake of brevity, this article relies on the pronoun “him” as the gender of  your ex; while we well realize your ex may be a she.)

Independent woman spreading her cape like a powerful butterfly

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

How do you rebuild your life after divorce? Ah, a very good question, my dear Ms. Watson. So good … or so daunting … that the answer and its blinding array of what ifs and unknowns make most people shrink and stop. They never find out for themselves.

But that’s not you. Because here you are after divorce, emerging from the dust and finding that you have no choice. You are wondering who you were before you were married. You question who you are now.

This is tortuously … normal.

But first things first: pay them no mind, those back there, watching you from afar. They mean well (… well, mostly) but they don’t understand. After all, from what they can see — most logically and clearly — is that you’ve completed the divorce agreement. What’s more, you’re living in a separate house. Shouldn’t you be getting a grip on yourself and moving on?

You are moving on, is what we’ll tell you.

The experience of beginning these steps below, will build upon the culmination of what you’ve been through and who you want to be. You will discover you do have a choice. You have choices, indeed.

And after you’ve read our list of one hundred ways to support and enhance your life as a proud, independent woman, take in a big breath and consider one more.

A retreat of epic proportions!

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

1. Reconnect with long lost friends and family.

2. Eat brightly colored fruit and vegetables that say yes to life and YES to LIVING!

3. Find a good financial advisor who empowers you.

4. Open your own bank accounts (if you haven’t) and check your credit score.

5. Complete paperwork or any lingering details from the divorce (For example, transfer/consolidate your IRA. Change beneficiaries on documents. Are you changing your name?)

6. Take a bath in lavender and frankincense.

7. Find a divorced-friend (or friends) and schedule a monthly outing or regular, stay-at-home potluck and netflix viewing of … Under the Tuscan Sun? The First Wives’ Club? Eat, Pray, Love? An Unmarried Woman? Wild? The Other Woman?

8. Elsewhere, create boundaries. Lines in the sand. Practice saying “No” elegantly – especially to toxic friends or situations.

9. Connect with Nature everyday.

10. Understand you are in flux (even now) after the divorce, and take steps to begin or nurture your healing.

11. Buy a new mattress and sheets. (Spray them with your favorite perfume for you.)

12. Find an affordable accountant who will teach you more about financial independence. BONUS if he has a sense of humor!

13. Evaluate your credit cards, consolidate debt and cut what you don’t need.

14. Investigate your home options, now and long term. What’s the smart play for now? What’s your dream?

15. Take a nap.

16. If you don’t have the children, sleep in.

17. Wake up and commit to a daily practice of moving and getting in shape.

18. Get your teeth bleached.

19. When faced with a decision, start checking in with your Inner Voice. What does she say?

20. Scan your divorce document and have a couple of extra copies notarized for posterity.

21. Then put all divorce paperwork away.

22. Create a new email address for your new chapter, Life After Divorce.

23. Smoke (because you can).

24. Stop smoking and decide to have your home smudged instead.

25. Keep purging. Donate unused items, clothes, and books. Remove yourself from junk mail and automated call lists.

26. Create a beautiful home with just what you want and need. Make it for you (& your kids if you have them). Even if it is smaller than before, make it your anchor and your sanctuary.

27. Write in a journal. You could even throw out the journal someday, but get the thoughts out of your head. Morning is a really good time for this. Excellent ideas might come to you this way.

28. Try a new haircut or outrageous hair color!

29. Buy some French Love Letters & get educated about STD’s.

30. Schedule your gynecologist, your 3D mammogram, your general practitioner, and your eye exams.

31. Not to sound maudlin, but since you are on this efficiency roll, you might as well update or CREATE your will. You’ve got to anyway!

32. Eat something your Ex was allergic to.

33. Make a plan for the holidays when you are with the kids … and when you are alone. Now.

34. Take to bed and cry.

35. Don’t date.

36. Or, hit Tinder! (Create your online dating profile.)

37. Develop a budget. Ask your financial advisor or your accountant how; or better yet, see #52.

38. Support Frankie and Grace’s business: buy a good quality vibrator and use it for health reasons.

39. Learn how to breathe.

40. Avoid processed foods.

41. Create your Blues or Freedom playlist (Aretha? Adele? Beyoncé?) Play it when you need reminding you have survived divorce. You are building a meaningful life. You are an independent woman. You are worthy.

42. Go to graduate school or enroll in some Continuing Education classes at your local college.

43. Write down your goals for the next year … the next 5 years … and your long term.

44. Botox it.

45. Wear an outfit you love but your Ex hated.

46. Go to a cool bar solo (Go inside.)

47. If you are heading back to work after a career break, check out iRelaunch.com

48. Update your resume regardless.

49. Use sunblock (then go topless on a beach).

50. Investigate insurance options and based on what you can afford, get something in place.

51. Visit a nutritionist. Find out what foods you are allergic to and what others make you thrive.

52. Learn even more about your money with this accessible and genius class designed for newly divorced women.

53. Get more professional advice, but this time on “your colors.” Pick one new, sexy, power lipstick. Because sometimes you are going to need to fake it, and other times, life after divorce is going to be better than you imagined.

54. Allow yourself to date (and more) a younger man.

55. Keep exploring different styles of clothes and different types of men.

56. Swim in a lake or ocean au naturel.

57. Learn to parallel park or drive stick shift.

58. Stop apologizing.

59. Be still.

60. Explore traveling to a place you’ve only dreamed of (without the kids)

61. Detox your body.

62. Start planning and saving to make your dream trip a reality. This. Year.

63. Hire a mentor / coach or see a loving therapist.

64. Cultivate a daily relationship with YOU.

65. Declare you will listen to the biggest, most expressed version of yourself. She has plans for you (and may scare you to death, which means you’re on to something).

66. Explore investment opportunities.

67. Consider starting a woman’s group — spiritual group, meditation, book club, walking.

68. Dare to state what it is you really want.

69. Stay out all night.

70. Invite yourself to a friend’s house for the weekend.

71. Chase a bat down or change a mousetrap: do something icky you never would have done before.

72. Create your Musts Have’s and Non Negotiables for your next relationship as an independent woman.

73. Every now and then, just be with a small child. View the world through her eyes.

74. Stay connected to your most inspiring divorced friends, keep nurturing your posse and stay open to new and surprising people.

75. Go on retreat, do yoga, meditate and connect to a world deep inside and outside you.

76. Commit to one thing you have always wanted to create.

77. Sell your wedding ring and finance something on this list or your bucket list.

78. Spend time visiting your mother, your father, an elderly person. Ask, what is their most important Life Lesson?

79. At night before going off to sleep remind yourself of what you are grateful for.

80. Create a vision board giving visuals (pictures, inspirational quotes, notes) to your goals (#43). Hang it where you will see and add to it regularly.

81. Be prepared: buy new underwear.

82. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try (Italian? Snowboarding? Bee-keeping?)

83. Hike a trail whose name inspires you? (The Incan Trail, The Appalachian or El Camino de Santiago?)

84. List your house on Airbnb or Home Exchange and go somewhere else to live like a local.

85. Do something you could never do when you were married.

86. Look back and laugh.

87. Teach someone the thing(s) you do effortlessly.

88. Find a place you feel whole and go there often.

89. Investigate owning your own business.

90. Spend time with your heroines (in whatever form).

91. Define what courageous means to you.

92. Do something courageous each day.

93. Understand what forgiveness really means and write your letters of forgiveness.

94. Turn your skills into inspiration.

95. Learn mindfulness.

96. Shake your booty (any dance class or club will do).

97. Choose joy and laugh now!

98. Determine if your thoughts support your ideal life and proceed accordingly.

99. Begin writing your memoir.

100. Help someone else.

101. Volunteer.

102. If you’ve never had your eyelashes done — find your eyelash girl!

103. Add one healthy habit every day.

104. Own your gifts. Owning them means admitting they are there, no matter how scary, and showing up as a woman with those gifts.

105. Find ways to be accountable. (A mentor, possibly?)

106. Commit to growing and thriving!

If you are aching to get to that place of independence, but are still grappling with momentous change (divorce? career transition? empty nesting? widowhood?), connect with us a for a free coaching session. We promise — whether you work further with us or not — you will walk away with a next step in securing that future, that future of power and real, genuine living.

And if you are seeking structure, divorce support and female wisdom, check out Annie’s Group.

credit: weheartit.com

Why Is Going Back to Work So Hard?

Perhaps it’s because the finances are getting tight … or the kids have gone off to college (and that was always the plan anyways); or maybe you’ve taken a break for medical reasons. Or, you have to go back to work, because you got divorced, and you have to support yourself now. Or maybe you’ve been raising children and taking care of your family, and now with them gone, you are looking for meaning. Whatever the reason… now you find yourself going back to work because simply put, you need INCOME.

So you dig out the old resume, dust off your suit (please, remove the shoulder pads) and grab the classifieds to circle the jobs you’ll apply for … when, oh, wait. That’s not how they do it anymore.

How do you look for a job these days? Not to mention, who will want to hire you? You’ve been out of the loop for so long that there might be that little voice deep down, whispering that you’re too old, too shlumpy, that technology has changed too much, that you just don’t have what it takes anymore to hack it in the “real” world? Well, tell her to shut it, and let’s figure this out.

Let’s just start with the fact that you’re going back to work. This is not optional, right? We both know that the negative thinking isn’t going to help you get there so let’s just override that Little Debbie Downer Voice and concentrate on what you have to do instead.

First, there are several things you must keep in mind:

  • Going to back to work IS work. Put yourself in the frame of mind that you have a job already. Your job is to find a job. This job you’ll need to do every day, probably for many months before you finish it.
  • You’ll need to develop a detailed plan for what you need to do every day to move toward your goal of landing said job. For more details, check out the “things you need to do” list below.
  • Obviously you know you’ll need to update your resume. When you do, really review it and study up. When the time comes, you WILL be asked about your responsibilities, successes & challenges from previous positions, even if it was over a decade ago. Know your resume well. Be proud of what you have accomplished and be ready to tell someone about it all.
  • Speaking of resumes, we tend to think of them as a piece of paper that tells a possible employer where you’ve been and that’s true. But your resume (and Linked In profile, we’ll get to that) must also speak to where you are trying to go. So think about that, what are you hoping to be doing? What are you good at? What are your non-negotiables? What do you absolutely NOT want to be doing? Give some thought to these questions and land on an idea of what you would like to aim for.
  • Finally, don’t think to yourself, “I could do anything really, as long as they pay me.” Even if it’s true, you can’t conduct a job search with that mindset. They will smell your desperation. Instead, be clear with yourself and anyone you speak to that you know what you are looking for and why you’d be good at. If you don’t know what that is yet, revisit the previous point until you do.

OK! Now that you are ready to get rolling, here are some of the things you need to do to get your plan together:

  1. Get up to speed. If you haven’t really touched a computer lately other than to check Facebook, you may want to consider taking some classes to get up to speed with current software. If you were licensed in a trade, you may need to sign up for some Continuing Ed or apply to reinstate your licensure. If you are thinking about taking a new direction altogether, you may need to look into programs and requirements at local universities. Whatever the case is for you, be thinking about what you need to do to educate and prepare yourself for what you are trying to do next.
  2. Get connected. This actually means a number of things. This is where LinkedIn comes in, for example. As of 2018 anyway, a LinkedIn profile is an important part of your job search. Employers will expect it and look for it so make sure it’s in good shape with a professional profile picture and up to date information. In fact, this should be the case wherever you are online. Prospective employers will stalk you online to check you out, so make sure everything out there is stuff you can be proud of. But that’s not it for connecting … you should also check with your alma mater. Your school may have a career services department that can line you up with some resources. Look at local resources, for example the New York Public Library offers Career Placement Services; perhaps your community library or college does as well.
  3. Get involved. Once you’ve decided the general direction of what kind of work you are looking for, start looking for professional organizations related to the field and join them. Go to meetings, read the newsletters, read online and post to their pages … make it your business to be involved in any way that you can. A great universal organization to begin with is Toastmasters  where you can go and meet interesting people from all walks of life, hone your public speaking skills and come away from meetings with a refreshed confidence in yourself. Plus, you just never know who can hook you up with a lead on a job. The more people you meet and impress, the more eyes and ears you have searching out there with you.
  4. Consider taking a job before you take the job. Keep in mind, you may not get exactly what you want in the beginning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something while you continue to work your plan. Consider part time work, to get some money coming in while you meet new people. Or, look in to gig work (check out this great article for ideas) or even volunteering to fill your heart and to connect with others.
  5. Get some guidance. Gosh, there is so much more to share, so many more strategies to tell you about! But then unfortunately this article would be way, way too long. So we recommend that you take a look at a group called iRelaunch; they offer all kinds of programming, online and in person, to help professionals return to the workplace. Finally, we recommend that you work directly with a professional on this if you can… a coach will be able to help you think through all the parts, from figuring out what it is that you want to do – to getting your comprehensive job search plan together and helping you execute it – to clinking glasses with you when you land the Big Job!

We wish you much luck in your quest to getting back to work! Dare to even dream a little bit. Change is not easy  but you’ve got this. We know it takes some digging into yourself to really get in touch with why someone would want to hire you… and we applaud you for this work. We have every confidence in you! We can’t wait to hear about how you nailed just the right interview and how excited you are for your first day at work. Until then, you’ve got your plan. Take it one step at a time.

 

Wondering how to take the first step? The second? How the heck do you get to figuring out … anything? We’d love to help support you relaunch your next, best chapter.  Let’s start with a free consultation. You’ll walk out of that conversation with next steps tailored to your needs, whether you work with us ongoing or not. We promise!

 

 

#Metoo in calligraphy

#MeToo. In My Own Marriage

I’m loath to write this piece but I feel like I have to… I don’t want to, because it’s embarrassing, and because I’m afraid he’ll read it. But I have to — I know there are women out there who are being sexually harassed by their husbands this very minute and they don’t even know it. Or they know it deep down but don’t call it that because, well, they are married to him. We can’t call it sexual harassment if we are married, right? Oh HELL YES we can. Especially now.

On October 15th, I saw a Facebook post that read, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘#Metoo’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I quickly posted “Me too” on my page thinking of the professor who failed me when I wouldn’t respond to his “flirting” … and the time another guy ground his groin into my backside on a crowded subway … or all the countless times any guy stared at my boobs while “talking” to me. But in that moment of my #MeToo post, my ex husband didn’t enter my consciousness. And I certainly didn’t think my “Me too” would become part of something bigger. (Thank you, brave and bold women.)

Fast forward to now and I don’t know about you, but every morning when I wake up and see yet another celebrity or politician or executive on the news with a sexual harassment charge, I get a tiny little thrill. FINALLY the dirty little undercurrent that literally every woman everywhere has had to live with is coming to the surface and being called out. It seems the floodgates are open and we’re hearing about more and more men (and it is mostly men, let’s face it) who have behaved anywhere from inappropriately to downright horrifically. And we know, because we know what we’ve experienced throughout our lifetimes, that this flood is not receding anytime soon.

Let it continue.  Let it expand as it eventually includes all kinds perpetrators, not just those who are high profile. And let it encompass all kinds of behavior, not just the obviously egregious. Because the fact is, sexual harassment comes in many packages, including within the context of a marriage.

For those who worry, is the #MeToo movement going too far? SAS’ response is this form of disrespect and violence has been going on too long and has been, far too insidious. Sexual harassment, as shaming and uncomfortable as it is for the victims, needs to be aired before our society can metabolize the lines of what is “too much.” It’s been too much.

Thanks to gender and power dynamics, victims throughout history have had to keep silent; or if they have spoken out, are labeled and called names for saying the truth. Up until yesterday! Consider how the women who’ve accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment were not taken seriously. Until now. Think of Anita Hill and what she went through.  Think of the women who work in hotels as chambermaids, housekeepers and laborers, what they face everyday and must keep shut up about, because they cannot afford to lose the jobs that support them and their children. It is too much. And not enough. Those who have a voice, a power, must speak out now — not for themselves, but for their daughters, their sons, and all the victims who cannot.

If you look up the definition of sexual harassment, there are variations on a theme but one phrase comes up over and over again, regardless of whether we are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace or not: “Unwelcome advances.”

That was the crux of the matter for me. This is when I was certain that yes, the way my ex behaved did count as sexual harassment. I cannot count the times that I felt uncomfortable in my own marriage bed, times when he would want me to do something or wear something or say something that I was uncomfortable with. All so very unwelcome but my options were to shut up and do it, or ignite a fight that would escalate to epic proportions. So time after time, I put my own wants and needs to the side in an effort to appease and placate him. During those times, I just thought I was compromising, as we all have to do in relationships. But also, deep down those experiences made me feel gross, ashamed, lonely and sad. If he loved me, why would he want me to do things he knew very well made me feel dirty and pained?

I wish I had listened to that little voice that told me it wasn’t okay, that I had every right to stand up for myself. In my particular story, I feel that because I did not find the courage to stand up for myself along the way … because I did not say no nearly often enough … because I implicitly gave him permission to harass me, to do these things to me  … that the onus was on me: I allowed it to escalate. And escalate it did. By the end of our marriage, he was trying to invite strangers home from the bar for a threesome. The day I came home to find the computer open to a notice on a porn site where he was advertising us as a couple interested in orgies, THEN I found the courage to put a stop to it.

If any part of my story resonates with you, please don’t wait around for it to get worse. He will keep pushing the boundaries until he finds that threshold, the place where you are so horrified that you cannot take one more minute. Please don’t wait for that, it could be a long way off and in the meantime you’ll endure, you’ll tolerate, you will suffer. It’s not necessary. It’s not fair and I would argue, it’s not healthy.

This is the beautiful power of the #Metoo movement. As women, as young people, as men, we no longer have to bear this burden alone, with only our inner voice trying to reason with us. We now stand together, with safety in numbers, and if you tell your story to the right people, they will listen.

We recommend you identify someone you feel safe talking to and start there. Can you share with your sister, your best friend, your mom? It feels really good to tell someone, I can attest to that. Then move on to finding a professional who can help you figure out what to do about it. Therapists and divorce coaches are trained to lead you through a process – not to divorce necessarily if this is happening in your marriage; but to decide what to do to address the situation. It may or may not mean splitting up, that remains to be seen. What you do know is that something fundamental has to change. Figure out how you can do that.

Every woman deserves to feel safe, heard and respected in her marriage. It’s the baseline, not a luxury. If you can’t say that’s how you feel in your marriage, we gently urge you to think about that.

If you haven’t already taken us up on our free confidential consultation, we are a safe place to begin — to start hearing feedback on your situation. Married or not, we’ll listen to your story, perhaps share a glimmer of our own stories, and most importantly, offer you perspective and next steps for lightening your heart and head. By the way, your heart and head are often not in synch; and understanding that is part of your process for healing. If you aren’t sure about talking to anyone just yet, start with our website where you can read, watch videos, and take classes, all of which you can do in complete privacy.

We can feel it, your #Metoo moment is coming.

Life after divorce dating can challenge your confidence.

Life After Divorce: 6 Dating Tips on How to Show Up

You might be thinking about dating now that you’ve arrived here in this land of the unknown, your life after divorce; and this particular aspect of it can be intimidating, exciting, and frankly, straight-up terrifying. When my marriage ended I was, or so I thought, eager to start dating, and I set up an online dating profile almost immediately. After matching with someone, we texted for a full week before I was able to go out on an actual date. I felt relatively comfortable the few times we chatted on the phone. He was also newly divorced but had been dating for a few months. However, when the day came of our first date (and my FIRST date in almost 17 years) I was anxiety-ridden! I paced around my apartment fretting about why I shouldn’t be doing this:

“What if I have nothing to talk about?” (which, by the way, has happened NEVER in my life)

“What if I do something embarrassing like trip on my way to the table?” (That might have happened before.)

“What if he tries to KISS ME??!!” (Hmm, scary? Or is that I don’t trust myself?)

I even texted my date to tell him I would probably not be able to make it. Luckily he saw right through my hesitation and eased my worries (– there are compassionate people out there!). I then called a friend who helped talk me off the ledge, and after hanging up the phone, I stared down my reflection in the mirror. I had to rip off the metaphorical band-aid, get my act together and get out the door. I put on some of my favorite music: I needed some serious GIRL POWER music and so I opted for some Rihanna and Beyonce (whom I enjoy now thanks to my two daughters). I put on my new IRO jeans (my best friend convinced me I needed some sexy jeans for my new dating life— the best $200 I ever spent!!) and somehow made it through the date with my self-esteem intact.

Since that day, I’ve spent a LOT of time preparing for dates. My friends tease me that it’s become my hobby (I have to say they aren’t entirely wrong!). Over the course of the past few years as I’ve advanced through my own divorce recovery and gotten to know myself even more,  I’ve honed my craft and have actually begun to truly enjoy dating, to thrill in it even. Dating is a skill that can absolutely be learned, and like a chess game, once you have a few good strategies in place you can begin to feel confident enough to take a few risks. The same can be said about how you choose to dress yourself for dating. Once you have your good reliable, strategies in place you can begin to finesse the details.

Based on my now ample experience, here are the suggestions I most often share with clients and friends who need a little boost as they head out the door to begin their dating journey.

Alyssa’s 6 Tips for Showing Up in Your New Life After Divorce

    1. Start with the fundamentals. Address your foundational pieces. Chances are you are wearing a yellowed bra that is old, stretched out or otherwise ill fitting! I know I was. Go to a good lingerie shop* and have the saleswoman help you find a bra that actually fits AND looks good. You will feel sexier and empowered just knowing you have it on.
    2. Keep it easy. The day or evening of a first date is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Create a date “uniform” where you have, for example, great fitting jeans, a comfortable pair of boots (see below), your new well-fitting, but sexy,bra and just swap out different tops.
    3. Treat yourself to one new thing: a perfect pair of jeans, a new great pair of boots (with a little lift of heel to make you feel taller), a new haircut, or even some highlights.  One key element of getting through your first date (and thereafter in your new and empowered, life after divorce) is feeling good about yourself because, after all, self-confidence is attractive. “Look good feel good” is an old saying that still holds true. If you feel like you look great you will feel great and more confident.
    4. Accessorize: remember that most first dates are sitting next to or across from someone. Mostly what your date is seeing is your top and jewelry. A simple top and some favorite jewelry or an interesting top and minimal accessories.
    5. Never show up on a date in shoes you can’t walk in! You’ll want to feel comfortable enough to take a leisurely romantic stroll or head on to a new adventure should your date take on a life of its own. But obviously you want to feel good in them (i.e. sexy) so don’t go too far on the comfort level. Leave the “sensible” shoes at the office.
    6. HAVE FUN. This is not a styling tip but just a “life after divorce” tip. Seriously, this should be a fun experience! This time around, you’re not 20 something full of insecurities. You’re not (necessarily) looking for a life partner. You can use this opportunity to learn more about yourself and whom you want to spend time with. You can try new things: go to concerts, try new foods, visit a neighborhood you’ve never explored, and open your mind to exciting opportunities.

After a few months, the most important thing I learned is that I wasn’t “just a wife and mother.” I rediscovered my femininity and also my sexuality (another blog post entirely!). I had a client, who after working with me said, “I would walk down the street and feel invisible before, and now I feel a new vitality that was dormant for so long. I forgot what it felt like.” I definitely relate to that and know many other women who have experienced similar revelations. My advice is to not overthink it and just enjoy your newfound freedom. Try to see dating as a way to connect with new people and finding your inner glow and fun side again.

 

*If you are in the New York Metro area, email me at [email protected] for my favorites.

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Get in touch today to find the styling package that suits you best www.stylemyprofilenyc.com.

Should you divorce, a question this woman struggles with

Should You Divorce? 3 Ways to Know When Divorce is the ONLY Option

Trying to figure out if you should divorce is an agonizing process. I mean, sheer torture. It’s overwhelming and confusing and can make you go back and forth in your head, sometimes for years. Unless you’ve lived through it, I’ll never be able to adequately paint a picture for you. All I can tell you is that the question in your head “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” haunts your thoughts, your steps, your decisions, until finally, FINALLY you put it to rest with a yes or a no. I’m guessing that the title of this piece drew you in because you are struggling with this question.

Let me pause here to acknowledge that some women won’t answer the question at all. It will continue to follow them around for the rest of their days and eventually they’ll take it to their graves. My heart hurts for women who choose to live that tormented life. But for many of us, we reach a point where we must figure out the answer to that question because we simply can’t go on this way.

But does it ever become clear? Will you have a moment where you’ll know with certainty, one way or another? In my experience as a divorce coach, no. Not usually. There are so many shades of gray… and good days mixed with bad days… and that pesky “hope” that keeps thinking things will change and that quiet inner voice that keeps arguing that it won’t… that combination keeps you in a muddled state of thinking, of spinning.

You might find that it’s starkly clear to others what you should do with your life. Some won’t hesitate to tell you what they think either. Perhaps a friend, when you go to her to vent after a fight yet again, says in exasperation, “You have to divorce him!” Yet your mother may stand firm in her advice that marriage is forever and you simply have to find a way to fix it. But I’m here to tell you: I know absolutely nothing about what is clear to you. If I am talking to you, and you are stuck in that sickening cycle of thinking and wondering if you should divorce, I’ll give you three reasons when the answer is probably YES.

Should you divorce? Yes, if:

Abuse is in the picture: This was my story and it took me a long, long time to even understand that I was being abused, let alone leave. But deep down I wondered for years. I wish I had listened to my gut and looked it up, read something, talked to someone, examined our behavior to decide for myself if the way he treated me was “abusive.” I believe if I had, I would have been forced to acknowledge that it was not okay and that may have led to me getting help. I am telling you from 17 years of my own personal experience and through the stories of hundreds of women whom we’ve helped at SAS, that it never gets better. Without professional intervention, it will only get worse, I promise you. So if you wonder if (or know) that you are in an abusive situation, you have to follow your heart and figure it out.

Abuse comes in many forms, too… It does not mean you are walking around with black eyes or landing in the ER regularly. It means that he repeatedly and fundamentally disrespects you, that he hurts you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically, or that you feel less than an equal human to him. If that feels awfully familiar, divorce is likely a necessary step to regaining your life, humanity and self respect.

He refuses to do anything different. You’ve recognized that something isn’t working and you know you guys need to work on it for you to survive the long haul. You may be online at night, looking at relationship websites and blogs and chatrooms … all geared toward saving a marriage. And you bring certain ideas or options you’ve learned to your partner, with excitement because there is hope! We can fix this, we just need to do X! And here’s a class/therapist/book/boot camp that will help us! Only to have him shut you down with his refusal. Maybe he’s in denial and doesn’t think anything needs changing… or he won’t see a therapist because that’s for sick people… or he says that he’ll try but constantly makes up excuses to skip out on any help you’ve organized.

There comes a point where you have to admit that he’s not going to participate with you. It’s a painful recognition. But this is a partnership and it takes both of you. You cannot keep beating a dead horse. You cannot revive this relationship alone, it’s impossible. If he refuses to do anything different, you’ll need to do something different for yourself. You must find another way of living. You should get space. This may mean divorce.

You’ve gotten professional help and exhausted all avenues. It’s heartbreaking but sometimes you have to come to a mutual agreement that you have tried everything and it’s still not going to work. Hopefully you worked together and tried talking, tried therapy, tried anything you could find that you thought would weave you back together and after all that effort, it’s still not good. In that situation, there comes a moment when it’s appropriate to stop. You must make the decision to end it with dignity and with respect for one another. At SAS, we recommend this path for those who feel they have exhausted all avenues to happiness as a couple. We encourage you to take that discovery journey together, because if you do (ultimately) decide to split, it sets you and your family up for a healthy resolution to a difficult situation. Consider Discernment Counseling, which is designed to help couples arrive at the right decision together.

We know how hard this is — this question of should you or shouldn’t you divorce? We also recognize that it’s helpful to hear from other women who have been there — and we’re telling you, as confusing as it is — there are times when the answer is more “yes” than “no.”

If you’d like more information on knowing if you should divorce, you’ll want to view our free video in which SAS Cofounders Liza and Kim explain the steps you can take to see more clearly and the 4 Big Mistakes you must avoid. (This video is not live but recently filmed with an anonymous group of women viewers who participated in asking questions and commenting.)

Woman's shadow considering future self

If You’re in Denial About Your Future, Don’t Bother Reading Any Further

Oh, but you are open to something … aren’t you?
I was, too.

After the doorbell rung, I went to the door and collected a beautifully designed envelope. I considered its elegant calligraphy. Was it really for me? I opened it to find an invitation that took my breath away … to meet myself five years from now.

And with shaking knees and a thud in my chest, I did it. (I wonder, would you?) I rsvp’d YES. For I knew on some level, I’d been playing around too long. I had to begin to create the woman I wanted to meet five years from today. Here is how I began that journey. Read more  …

But I admit, I was scared about what else this would mean.

Yes, I had decided to volunteer on an animal reserve in Africa for 2 weeks. That’s all — I mean, wasn’t that enough of getting outside myself? But when Italians wrote not long after asking if they could rent my apartment for a total of 5 weeks through AirBnB, I thought,

  • “What is the universe telling me? This is preposterous!”
  • “Whoa, can I really just up and go for a entire month or more solo to Africa?”
  • “What if I don’t like my Future Self?”
  • “What if I feel lonely?”
  • “What if my Future Self is weak or cowardly or can’t protect me from every unforeseen calamity?”

What I would discover though, would blow my mind. For while traveling to Cape Town, then living and working there, I came to meet men and women who were friends of my Future Self! It wasn’t me, I am convinced who attracted them, but she! Among them was Carla, my first AirBnB hostess. Carla became something more like my sister from a parallel universe. The second day of my arrival, Carla showed me how to acclimatize … how to swim with the seaweed in winter, how to grab hold of the forest of kelp for anchor, then how to rub the strong, slippery protein-rich flesh against my face. “The Ladies,” as Carla called the kelp hugging the coves of Cape Town, not only provide the most purifying & recharging facial … “they break the waves and keep you safe if you respect them and dare to hang on.”

Stay tuned for more stories on Africa and the incredible people I met when I stepped out of my hot New York City apartment and into a hotter laboratory of possibility.

But right now, I must ask, can you respect the life forces around you, those signs that are calling you? Do you dare to hang on?

If you’d like to learn more about overcoming your fears and honoring who you really are, consider joining Liza Caldwell and Master Coach Madhu Maron in New York City on October 14 for Finding Your Future Self Workshop, a powerful, all day event and celebration dedicated to your becoming, an action plan for honoring your true self and moving forward with impact and awareness. This event is open to women of all ages and stages of life who are facing a possible transition or who wish to move forward with intention. To find out if this workshop is for you, please schedule a 15-minute chat with SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell.