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Life after divorce

How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce

People talk a lot about what it’s like to get a divorce, but those conversations don’t often extend to what life after divorce is like. Because, unless you’ve been divorced, you don’t quite get what this next phase is really all about.

During divorce, there’s a certain process: you have items to research, things to get educated about, decisions to make, meetings to attend, paperwork to file, and on and on—all of which are black and white steps you had to take to complete the business transaction of “dissolving” your marriage. And while those steps felt overwhelming, frightening, and generally all over the place (you may be or have been sad, in shock, mad as hell, disappointed, betrayed, in denial, or numb), the process, nevertheless, had a way of keeping you grounded. You had a goal. To get through a “negotiated” document, sign it, and obtain a divorce.

Now, as you look around in your new life after divorce, your sense of time — and what to do with it — is different. Even if you are struggling and fighting for survival, your mind and heart may be ruminating on the past and on “the who” you will become.

Yes, your life after divorce will be your juiciest stage if you are open to it

This is the “finding yourself” stage, and we urge you to have no shame about it.

Discovering and taking care of yourself will include preparing for what’s coming in your life where possible (implementing best practices that give you structure) and also learning to let go. This stage involves taking time to consider deeply your story so far, what brought you to the end of your marriage/relationship, and the good and bad roles you played.

Discovering who you are can get messy in a different way than where you’ve been. You can’t blame your husband for everything anymore. It’s time to pick up your baggage.

Based on our work coaching women, here are six of the hardest things about life after divorce—and more importantly, what you can do about them to make room for the good stuff. Okay, now deep breath…

1. It’s gone. Your life as you knew it

Sounds obvious, but a few of us are Resistors to Reality, women who spend months (years?) in denial about the fundamental impact divorce will have (or has had) on our lives.

A Resistor to Reality might strive to or blindly maintain the lifestyle she had when married—going on similar vacations, eating out at trendy, higher end restaurants, or placing groceries inside her cart without checking the price or quantity (so accustomed is she to buying “for everybody”). She might be paying the mortgage on an oversized and overpriced home because she either feels she is owed it, can’t face the prospect of change, or doesn’t want a move to “affect the kids.” She might be worried about downscaling for fear she’ll lose her friends or her social standing.

But now we all know, no matter how “amicable” the end of our marriages were, divorce has a way of turning our lives upside down. Divorce will take you outside your comfort zone. Divorce is about change.

Ideally, you started to metabolize these changes during the divorce process, and if you haven’t, your life after divorce is going to be harder—not just materially but psychologically and emotionally. The sooner you come to terms with your new reality the sooner you can adjust, redirect, and start shaping the future you want. Working with a divorce coach –during the divorce process, or as you rebuild your life — will help you understand what you can and cannot do as you actualize your best next chapter.

You may not feel it yet, but inside this vast unknown of Life After Divorce — there is a great, big beautiful life waiting for you.

2. Even when you do your best, your children will feel the effects of divorce

You’re a woman, not a robot. During and after divorce, your emotions may remain scattered, frayed, or short-wired. Everyday decisions may seem insurmountable. You try to be strong, to let it all roll off your back, because you want to be the best mother possible. You want your children to see you stand tall instead of falling apart. But you will have bad days, just like we all do. You slip. You might vent about your Ex to your children. Or they’ll overhear (eavesdrop?) you badmouthing him to a friend or family member in a moment of frustration or desperation.

No matter how old your children are—even if they are adults or not living at home anymore—divorce will impact them. It may affect their outlook and their ability to connect with others, including you and your Ex. Your splitting up will alter holidays and family functions. And although you may feel some closure with your Ex after the divorce document is signed or he’s no longer living in the same house, if you have children, he* will always be in your life.

Divorce may mean communicating with your ex-partner whom you never communicated well with before. You may be dealing with things like support orders and visitations, drop-offs and pick-ups. Your children’s lives will be disrupted, and afterward, each of you will have to figure out how to move forward and create a new life together.

According to the research, you can best support your children (and thus, yourself) through divorce, and life afterward, by being mindful of the ongoing conflict between you and your Ex. Children who suffer the most are those whose parents keep the hostility alive, who don’t aim to try to do things as amicably as possible. It is not, as you might guess, the history of your marriage when you all lived together in the same house, but how you two (you and your spouse) navigate the divorce.

When dealing with your children directly, among the best things you can do is to acknowledge their pain and perspective and not badmouth their father. Listen to them. Understand that while the reasons for your divorce might be obvious to you, they are less so to your children. You can help them feel less confused by being straight and honest and keeping the lines of communication open instead of shutting yourself off from the world. This does not mean treating your kids as an equal (even if they are “old souls” or “smart” or so-called “adults”) but being open about issues surrounding the divorce in an age-appropriate way.

Should you tell your kids you are leaving their dad because he cheated? Because he embezzled money? Because he’s an addict? We urge you not to share the gorier details until you and your children are out of the heat, down the road, when your kids are grown up.

If you wonder how to break the news to your kids, need support parenting as a single woman or coparenting with a challenging Ex, or would even like books that you could read aloud to your children, consider our post on the 35 best books on divorce.

3. Certain friends and family have “disappeared”

Divorce means change and you’re probably feeling this, socially and family-wise. It’s a huge awakening for many of us that friends we thought were so tried and true have disappeared or become mute. It’s as if they fear your divorce might be contagious.

Though we’ve come a long way culturally, lessening the stigma of divorce, meaningful people in our lives might still pick sides—whether they are forced to by your Ex, feel compelled to out of a sense of fierce loyalty, or have a preference to be with the “more fun” or more moneyed-spouse. This hurts. And it not only shocks, but it cuts to the bone, especially if you have little or no friendships outside of those you formed with your Ex during your marriage. You may be feeling bereft as you start off your new life.

When it comes to family, it’s clichéd but true: blood is often thicker than water. You may have had a great relationship with your Ex’s family, for instance. Maybe they’re a big clan and fun and tightknit—and you always had a particular connection with some of them. Getting a divorce, though, can cause them to draw a line and side with their blood relative. The wonderful relationship you had with them is no mas.

In the wake of the space left vacant by others, it’s important for you to touch in with yourself and find new hobbies and interests—this will help you discover new people. Push yourself to get outside so you shift your mindset, to take up an activity you’ve always wanted to but never “had the time” for before, to volunteer or travel. You can even join a support group with other divorced women who understand what you’re going through and who are committed to recreating their lives healthily — with intention — too.

4. An empty house

Coming home after work, making dinner for yourself, eating it alone, and not having someone to share your day with (if you’ve always had that) has a way of making you feel like you have no purpose. This is even the case with divorced women who didn’t have a lot to say to their Ex in the evening hours while married. But somehow watching Jeopardy in silence or a movie you both enjoyed now seems particularly enviable. At least you could hear another person breathing.

If you have children, the silence in your home when they are staying with their dad can be deafening at first. All the sounds children make means lives are being lived, and the emptiness left in their place can leave you feeling lonely and unanchored. Who are you if your children don’t need you?

But know that this is just a phase, new pains that you will overcome. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. You may not be able to change the former, but you can change your mindset and decide that you never have to be the latter.

Use this time to reflect, to read, or to enjoy a quiet activity. Maybe you’ll become vegan (ha! Your Ex was such a carnivore!). Or you’ll adopt a dog from the humane society. Or you’ll use this time in the evening to meditate, do yoga, or go to the gym.

This alone time is important to your divorce recovery. You must come to terms with yourself and rediscover who you are before you can rebuild your life in a meaningful way or even show up whole and healed in your next meaningful relationship.

5. The shock of being “replaced”

Your Ex might start dating right after the divorce. He may even begin to date during your divorce proceedings. In either case, this can feel like a punch to the gut. Did he ever really love you? How could he date so quickly? What does she have that you don’t? Even if you wanted the divorce, it’s not easy to keep the green-eyed monster of jealousy at bay when you see or hear that the man you’d thought you’d spend the rest of your life with is hooking up (or more) with someone else. It can feel like torture.

Take heart, it’s not uncommon for many spouses to appear like they are “moving on” immediately after divorce, and some begin to date and sometimes remarry fairly soon. Those who do are often responding to the feelings of loneliness and/or the conventional understanding of what happiness is (to be married). If this is your Ex, he may not be pausing to reflect and heal from what you and he have been through.

The odds that his next relationship will be any happier than yours with him are very low. Very low indeed. He is simply not doing the work you know you must do in the early phases of your life after divorce.

To help lessen your pain, make sure you avoid contact with your Ex when possible, or places that remind you of him for a healthy period of time. Tell your friends (the good ones you still have) that you do not want to be kept au courante to what he is doing socially. It will hurt you. You are trying to look in another direction, with a goal of caring for yourself and nourishing you.

Develop a new daily routine that cultivates you, strengthen bonds with your family and friends, and makes space for you to metabolize all you’ve been through. Which brings us to our critical number 6 on the list. Keep reading.

6. Learning to let go and adapting to the Unknown

When you were married, you had a certain vision of your future. You probably had dreams of how you would retire, where it might be, who your social circles would be, what you would do, and maybe how often your grandchildren would visit. Divorce has changed all that. In your life after divorce, one of the hardest things is accepting that you must let go … let go all the dreams that involved him and, yes, others.

You must grieve and take stock of all the losses you have lived through. And recognize that you may not be grieving your husband so much as you are grieving a way of being and the fantasy that was your marriage.

Letting go means letting go of the idea that we can control everything

Life after divorce can be a painful time—it can also be a crazy time—but it is not a static time. The journey is not over. It’s just reached a particular place where it’s time for you to process your grief and reconnect with you and who you want to be. This is your work now.

After divorce, your canvas is blank. The slate is wiped clean. And as you stare at it, wondering, you might not have a clue what you want to fill it with. But let us assure you, you have no clue the marvelous things awaiting you. The hardest part is just getting started. Dare to discover. Pick up the paintbrush and begin.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Palomas Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

A woman in midlife smiling while standing out of doors.

Life After Divorce? It’s Going to Be Better Than You Imagined!

Saying goodbye to a marriage is tough. When you get a divorce your entire life changes. From finances, to parenting, to even loneliness, there are a lot of hurdles to get over, but in the end, remember this: you are getting a divorce for a reason, and life moving forward, your life after divorce, is going to be better than you imagined it could be.

Remember Why You Are Getting a Divorce

In order to move forward and enjoy your new life as a single woman, it is important to remember why you and your spouse are separating in the first place.  Now, we are not talking about dwelling on all the bad stuff and getting stuck in the past, but giving yourself permission to look forward to your future without your mate.

When Janice was newly divorced she concentrated so much on what she was missing (someone to talk her day over with; someone to share her hopes and dreams with; someone to help pay the bills –and take out the trash), that she began to romanticize the marriage she had loved.

“Lucky for me I had a good friend who shook away those “fake memories” and reminded me of the reasons why my husband and I split.  Despite my faulty memory, all was not rosy in our relationship and if I was ever going to find the kind of fulfilling marriage I dreamed about, I was going to have to move past that relationship and open myself up to another, hopefully better, one.”

Until you acknowledge what went wrong in your marriage, not only will you thwart your efforts at new happiness, but you will set the stage for a repeat performance and doom your next relationship to failure too.

Life After Divorce Does Offer Some Benefits 

Being alone for a while (even a long while) isn’t a bad thing. Many women discover life after divorce to be a freeing experience. Even when money is tight, and the struggles of single parenting are exhausting, the benefits of being alone can be more than worth the downsides you experience. Here are just a few things single, liberated women have reported after their divorce:

  1. Peace.  Life pre-divorce can be chaotic and stressful. While separating may be hard on both of you, staying together is often worse. If your marriage has dissolved into fits of anger and frustration, going your separate ways can often restore peace to your home – and your soul. Leaving a marriage may add some temporary chaos to your days, but once the split is final, your life can resume at a more peaceful level.
  2. Living Life for Themselves. For many women, divorce offers them the chance to concentrate on themselves for a change. Tending to be caregivers and “fixers” in a relationship, women often shortchange themselves when stuck in a bad relationship. Once they break free of the marriage, they allow themselves the opportunity to seek a job change; new hobby; lifestyle change; etc.
  3. Income. “While my income was half what it has been when I was married, I soon discovered that without my spouse’s spending, my income was enough to give me what I really wanted – peace of mind,” says Diane. Always a thrifty person, she discovered that living in a smaller apartment and driving an older car didn’t bother her at all. “I suddenly had the freedom to use my money the way I saw fit and that was exhilarating!”
  4. Less Mess.  For Pam, life after divorce meant finally having a clean house. “My ex was a real slob. Once he was gone I soon discovered that my house remained clean and I loved it. Not that a messy home isn’t worth the right partner, but having to constantly clean up after someone you don’t like much anymore sure wasn’t worth it.”
  5. More Time. Married women (especially those with kids) are expected to do it all: work; raise a family; keep a tidy home; volunteer; do all the errands; and more. For some, leaving a marriage actually offers them more free time. Listen to what Renee had to say. “I was terrified of being on my own with the kids. How was I going to get it all done when I was struggling before my divorce to manage my life? But once my husband moved out, I began to see how much I had done for him (and how little he did for me). My schedule didn’t change all that much, and then the weekend came and the kids went to spend it with their dad. I had not had a weekend free to do whatever I wanted in years! I know I am lucky because my ex-husband is a great dad and takes our kids virtually every weekend. This gives me the chance to catch up on things around the house; take a nap; or even go out with friends. The best thing about my divorce: I have more free time to myself.
  6. Becoming Friends Again. In some cases, living apart can help couples become friends again. Just because you aren’t married does not mean you have to be enemies. This can be especially important for those with children.

Getting a divorce isn’t meant as a way to ditch your responsibilities and start a whole new life. But, it can take a chaotic life and make it easier to manage.  For some women, moving beyond their marriage offers them the chance to pursue their dreams; travel the world; or simply relax again. Life isn’t meant to be spent in constant chaos. When it is time for a divorce, don’t consider it a failure, but rather a learning experience. Take what lessons you can from your marriage and your divorce and move forward towards a new beginning. Don’t wallow in defeat, but rather race toward victory. After all, in your life after divorce you are free to pursue any future you want. So get out there and enjoy yourself! You deserve it.

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. Whether you are considering 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. To learn things you can do to support and protect yourself NOW, schedule your free, 45 minute consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

How to avoid rebound relationshipS

How to Avoid Rebound Relationships After Divorce

There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean we won’t hook a bottom-feeder we’ll want to throw back. Sometimes, though, it will be hard to tell which fish are the keepers, especially when you’re freshly divorced and reentering the dating scene after a long marriage. Whether you were the one who wanted the divorce or not, dating after divorce can be baffling. As we begin, we are often finding out about ourselves at the same time we’re looking around at others for stability, for terra firma. This need for stability and love after divorce can lead to ignoring a lot of red flags when it comes to dating—or missing them all together—and ending up in a relationship that’s going nowhere because of incompatibility and insecurities. On the other hand, you might end up in a whirlwind relationship that moves too fast and ends up with you feeling excited and then, heartbroken. After divorce, are you only destined for rebound relationships? Rebound relationships are, by definition, almost always setup to fail. A lot of people believe that a rebound relationship is defined by time—that dating soon after a breakup or divorce alone indicates a rebound, but that’s not always the case. If you’ve set yourself free of your past relationship, you’ve been working on your divorce recovery, and you feel ready to get out there, then do. Rebounds are really about not being over your past partner and feeling insecure about being single. Generally, people don’t actively look for a rebound relationship but find themselves in one, looking for a “soul mate” or trying to find a substitute for their Ex, or they’ve moved into a relationship too fast because they’re afraid of being alone. The best way to avoid all the pitfalls of a rebound relationship might seem like not dating at all or to date but avoid anything serious—but then you’re cutting yourself off from moving on from your divorce and building a wall between you and a lot of potentially great fish out there waiting to be caught. Instead, here are some tips to help you avoid a rebound relationship when you’re reentering the dating scene after divorce.

1. Try to avoid dating men or women who are also freshly divorced if they seem as if they are still hung up on their Ex

It’s not bad to date other people who have gone through a divorce, and, hey, it even makes sense. But if they’re still fixated on their Ex and don’t seem to really be interested in getting to know you, then they aren’t ready to date, and you might end up as a fill-in for their former partner rather than a romantic interest based on your own merit. A sign that the person you’re dating is not over their Ex might be their constant reference to their Ex or even, their refusal to talk about her/him—so unless they are in a healthy place where they can discuss their past relationship, they aren’t ready to date. If this describes you, then you likely shouldn’t jump into a relationship but instead skip to #4 on this list.

2. Don’t try to recreate your past

Remember, you are divorced and that means some aspect of your past wasn’t working. While you don’t want to completely date off-type, don’t go after a person just because they remind you of qualities you enjoyed in your Ex. Your new partner cannot ever be a stand-in for your old partner. You want to like someone for who they are, not because of who they remind you of. Sometimes this can be hard to distinguish. Maybe you and your Ex enjoyed going to the beach, or skiing, and the new person in your life does too. But this is something you enjoy; remember that. If you have other things in common that make you compatible, things you did not have with your Ex—that’s better. This will move you beyond the history of your Ex and what your Ex liked, did, or said. It will foster your growth as an independent person.

3. Put yourself and your needs first

Don’t compromise your needs, no matter what. You’ve just gone through a divorce. You might find yourself not only feeling vulnerable but feeling like your newly-found singlehood means you’re somehow worth less. But you are deserving, your feelings are important, and you must not let others take advantage of you, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. If your new relationship isn’t fulfilling your needs and you find yourself repeatedly compromising your wants, needs, feelings, and even bank account to keep your new partner happy, it’s time to call your relationship what it is—a rebound. It’s time to call it quits. Consider focusing on more important things, like developing you and who you want to be before you share yourself again.

4. Play the field

No, this doesn’t make you’re “a player.” Chances are you honestly don’t know what you want after the divorce. It might be that you thought you had something perfect before, but time proved otherwise. Figuring out what you want after divorce is like asking someone who’s never had ice cream before what their favorite flavor at Baskin-Robbins is—it’s an impossible question to answer without sampling the flavors first. The best way to avoid a rebound relationship is to explore. Go on a few dates, see what you like and what you don’t like. Do this before you settle down or commit again. If all is said and done and you find yourself in a rebound relationship that seems headed for heartbreak, there is one last step you can take: break it off before it goes further. You’ve gone through a divorce already. It was both painful and a learning experience, and this breakup will be a learning experience, too — hopefully without the depth of pain; but be prepared, there may be heartache. Maybe you invested in the relationship too fast or you made compromises without fully realizing what you were doing. But you are a stronger person now, and you must not be in a relationship that doesn’t make you feel like your best self. After you break up with your rebound, you’ll be free. Free to explore and cast your line again, to see what’s out there and what is possible. And, who knows, maybe this time you’ll reel in a keeper. If you don’t right away, remember, this new time in your life is about finding out about you, your life, your values, and who you want to be. You’ve come too far to not recognize — you are the greatest keeper of all.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

Should You Get a Pet After Divorce

Should You Get a Pet After Divorce?

Getting a divorce can be an incredibly stressful and draining process, no matter how long you were married. It seems like everything you know and have taken for granted until now, has suddenly changed, pulling the metaphorical rug out from beneath your feet.

But once the dust finally settles, this can also be a time of promise and opportunity, a time to try new things and make plans that put you first. Some newly-single folk may opt for flashy new cars or luxury holidays, while others go straight for the extreme makeover—divorce is not unlike a mid-life crisis in that way. After the end of a relationship, you’re not exactly sure who you are anymore, and all these bright and shiny things help fill that void for a short while.

Here, however, we introduce an altogether cuddlier alternative, one that gives back. That’s right: a pet.

Pets keep you company

Let’s start with an obvious but no less important point: getting a pet after a divorce or breakup means another living presence is once again in your house. Loneliness after a divorce is natural, especially if you’d spent years living with your Ex. But natural doesn’t mean the same thing as easy. Even if you have a strong support network of friends and relatives, little things like coming home to an empty house or eating meals alone can be incredibly painful.

“Dogs have helped me through my divorce with their unconditional love and acceptance,” Millie says. Millie, a SAS client was married for nearly 47 years and has been divorced for two. “If I am depressed, Mikey never fails to put a smile on my face. [Pets are] cute. They’re adorable, they’re silly, and they have functioned as emotional support therapy for me throughout my life.”

While the conversation with a pet (save certain breeds of parrot, perhaps) may be a little one-sided, having an animal companion around really can do wonders for loneliness. Researchers have found that petting a dog or cat releases a cocktail of “happy hormones” into the brain, including serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Studies have also shown that living with a pet helps limit feelings of loneliness, with the bonus side effect of reducing loneliness-related health problems.

If you’re searching for unconditional love and support, look no further than a pet

Don’t underestimate the healing power of a little uncomplicated, unconditional love in times of crisis.

Your pet doesn’t mind if you eat a whole tub of ice cream for dinner, or if you couldn’t face taking a shower today.

Your pet certainly won’t judge you for bingeing on that trashy show that your Ex couldn’t stand.

Your pet will stay by your side (or on your lap if you let them), adoring you for exactly who you are. As cheesy as it may sound, sometimes it’s important to be reminded that you are worthy of love.

For people who have experienced emotional trauma, their furry friend is more than simply a source of love and affection but also a source of support. In fact, emotional support animals help many people deal with conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to PTSD.

These amazing animals are a steady source of companionship for their owners, helping them manage daily tasks that would otherwise be near impossible. While an emotional support animal needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to make them legitimate, there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t be an “unofficial” source of emotional support.

A pet is a big responsibility…but that can be a good thing

After a divorce, added responsibility might be the last thing you want, especially if you have suddenly become a single parent. And, sure, any pet, even a hamster or goldfish, will require feeding, cleaning, and more. There will be food costs and vet bills to take into account too, which should not be taken lightly.

“You are getting a child that is not going to grow up. It’s a big commitment and responsibility in time, energy, and, hello, MONEY,” Millie says. “Vet care and grooming is a fortune. Because people don’t realize that, so many animals end up in shelters.”

Consider this: for many people, a divorce is a massive upheaval to their whole life, shattering their daily routine. After the legalities, the potential house moves, the emotional drain…at some point, it will be time to start rebuilding your life and setting up a new routine. Getting into a new routine can be surprisingly difficult, however, especially if you don’t have children or if you’re not working.

Like it or not, getting a pet after a breakup will get you into a new routine, and more likely than not, that routine will be a healthier, happier one.

Need an excuse to get up in the morning? There’s no wake-up call like a hungry pet reminding you it’s breakfast time. Want to get more exercise? A dog will be happy to help! Sometimes, knowing that another living being is relying on you can be just the push you need to get moving when you’re feeling down or unmotivated.

Looking to meet new people? A pet can help

Whether you’ve decided it’s time to tentatively dip a toe into the dating pool or jump right in, or even if you’re just looking to make some new, platonic friends, meeting people post-divorce is important. But it can be difficult for the newly-single to readjust to suddenly having to put themselves out there, especially in the digital age of dating apps and social media.

A pet, especially one that needs frequent outdoor exercise, can be a great way to advance your divorce recovery, to ease yourself back into the world after a divorce. Not only can your furry friend present a helpful icebreaker (hot tip: owners love talking about their pets), your pet can also gain you entry into what from the outside may seem like a secret club.

As Millie says, “I am not as free as I was before, but the blessings I get from having a pet in my life so FAR outweigh the responsibility and commitment. Now it’s about more than just me. It’s about taking care of another living being. He gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”

Before you know it, you’ll be greeting the other dog-walkers in the park by name—or at least by their dog’s name—and joining each other on walks. Who knows, maybe you’ll eventually take things to the next level.

Is a pet right for you?

Tempting as it might be to jump in your car and drive straight to the animal shelter, it is important to stop and consider all the ramifications of getting a pet after a breakup. This is a time of upheaval in your life. Ask yourself questions like, Do I have enough room for a pet? Will I need to move soon? Do I have time to care for a pet properly? Who will look after the pet while I’m at work or if I want to go away on a trip? Can I afford a pet?

Don’t let getting a pet be a rash decision that you come to regret. A pet can be a wonderful companion, a source of comfort, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, but it can also be hard work. Remember, a pet is a partner for life.

 

Emily Cline works with Certapet, whose primary goal is to help those in need of an Emotional Support Animal. Certapet strongly believes that having an ESA is beneficial, valuable, and can foster an overall positive change in a person’s mental health. From depression to PTSD to anxiety and more, Emotional Support Animals assist their owners in managing their mental or emotional condition and can potentially reduce the symptoms these individuals experience. CertaPet connects individuals who have a disabling condition or mental health diagnosis with a Licensed Mental Health Professional who provides an evaluation and treatment for the individual through a secure online platform.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

“Life, your life, is calling you!” – SAS for Women

How to coparent when you hate your ex

How to Coparent When You Absolutely Hate Your Ex

Cutting the rope and letting go of a difficult Ex can be freeing—empowering and necessary, even. But what about when you can’t cut him* out of your life entirely? And you just hate him so much? Many women have to coparent with an Ex-husband they don’t particularly like or get along with. It sounds like hell, but it doesn’t have to be quite as miserable as that if you get clear in your head about what’s important.

And what’s important is your children.

Yes, you know that “it’s about the children,” but that does little to mitigate or heal your seething hatred for your Ex, does it? (We’ll get to that below.) For now, remember that other women—divorced moms like you—have navigated similarly difficult challenges. Think boundaries, think organization, think neutral ground. These concepts will make it easier for everybody

For instance, figure out how you are going to communicate with your Ex going forward. Establish boundaries so you feel more secure and less threatened or reactive to his behavior and what he says.

Use a custody calendar

Use a tool to make a schedule so there’s no question who has the children or when. Keeping a consistent schedule lets you talk to your Ex less while staying organized. Keep track of different schedules for holidays, summer breaks, and more, and make changes through the tool you choose. Also, a shared file can be a good way to let the other parent know about important things such as doctor’s appointments and school grades without talking to them directly.

Keep track of everything

Keeping a log of everyday things can help prevent many kinds of disagreements. Are you sharing expenses? Use a digital tracker to make things easy and keep each other accountable without having to communicate in person. Does your Ex often violate the terms set out in your parenting plan? If your Ex doesn’t follow your court order, keep track of every violation. Keep a file or use a digital tool with a journaling feature.

Separate your relationship with your Ex from your child’s

Allow your child to have a good relationship with your Ex. Just because you don’t want to see him doesn’t mean your child isn’t entitled to. Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean your child can’t get along with him. Your child has rights concerning access to you and his father. All the suggested steps in this post help you engage in self-care while doing what’s best for your child and letting them enjoy their father.

Use a third party for transfers—if you must

Don’t want to deal with your Ex every time either of you drops the kids off? Agree on a trustworthy third party to pick the kids up and drop them off at the other parent’s home or an agreed-upon meeting place—maybe a grandparent’s or friend’s house? Instead of feeling anxious or tense whenever it’s visiting time, you can send your child off with a smile and avoid any potential snide remarks or fights with your Ex.

Use a parenting coordinator

This is a last resort, but parenting coordinators who specialize in solving arguments in high-conflict situations and understand the needs of children can help you and your coparent resolve any ongoing disputes. A parenting coordinator will be familiar with the parenting plan you and your Ex have agreed upon and make sure both of you follow it. If your Ex is difficult to work with, having someone to keep them (and you) in line may relieve some of your stress and allow all parties involved to focus on your child and their best interests.

Speaking of…

Don’t badmouth your Ex

At least, not in front of him or your kids. While it can be healthy to get your feelings out to a friend, therapist, or coach, avoid exposing your children to negative comments or fights. Studies show that fighting between parents, even small disagreements or comments, have negative effects on children.

Children can tell when you and your coparent are in conflict, so avoid the big fights and the small comments in equal measure.

Seek support for you

Just because you are taking the high road wherever you can, doesn’t mean you’re not human, and at times, you need to wallow in the mud. Find the place where you are safe to express what you are really feeling. Find the place where you can start to heal and work on all the feelings you have as a result of the divorce. As you begin to truly understand what divorce recovery looks like you will come to terms with your feelings and deepen your healing process.

The right, nurturing place for you might be an online guided divorce support group for women that will help you commit to your intention and follow through—with the work that will move you beyond the hatred and who you truly want to be.

Focus on your child

Ultimately, your child is the focus of your relationship with your Ex now. When you start to waver, shift and keep the focus there, through all the resources available to you, while taking care of yourself. This is what you want to model to your child. This is what you want for yourself, too.

This article was authored by Daniela Chamorro, writer and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody app solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support, information, and smart next steps coparenting and rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

“I am so happy to have these sisters on the journey with me! Our connection is very powerful. It’s ended any sense of isolation or alienation that on and off, I’ve been struggling with. I feel understood — at last — because I know these women get it! They are going through the same thing. Thank you for bringing us together and creating Paloma’s Group!”

~ S.L., New York City

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

8 Reasons I am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving

8 Reasons I Am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving (and All Days)

We are emerging from the midterms. The country is either celebrating or cursing, and we the people in our country remain polarized. Some of us are fearful of Thanksgiving and the oncoming holidays. Who will we be seated next to? What will come up in conversation? And how strong will our bandwidth for patience be? Will politics undermine our annual gathering as it did for a lot of us last year? Will the knife slice through the turkey and right through to the table, frustrating, infuriating, devastating us again as the political and cultural war divides us not only on a map, but also inside our homes?

I spoke to a client this week, I’ll call “Phoebe.” Phoebe, who is divorced after decades in a stagnant marriage, told me she was worried, because she’d been invited by her son and his new wife for Thanksgiving. She was excited, but especially worried. She and her son had been at a standoff for too long, not talking, and it had been a source of deep anguish for Phoebe, a mother who loves her son. Suddenly, her son (perhaps encouraged by his new wife) was extending an olive branch after two years, and asking his mother to come to their house and to join them and his wife’s family for Thanksgiving.

Phoebe is worried because she’s met her daughter in law’s family briefly not long ago. But what’s more, she’s seen their Facebook postings and, politically speaking, her daughter-in-law and her family are polar opposites of Phoebe. Phoebe is unnerved and alternately outraged. What has her son married into? …What will the father-in-law say? He’s an advocate for the NRA … There’s his postings about immigration issues ….

Just telling me what she’d seen online stoked Phoebe more. Phoebe is Jewish, and the recent, horrific killing of 11 people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh followed by the menacing shout of “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” in a Baltimore theater not long after have heightened Phoebe’s fear about rising anti-Semitism—and all isms, because she is a thinking woman.

She is also an ecumenical minister, so as much as she was starting to go there — that is open up and be raw, allowing her dark feelings to run … in a moment’s time, too, she stopped. And then …

She told herself aloud, that her mantra going into this loaded home and situation would be to just be grateful.

And if she were challenged, if something insidious was said, she would try to redirect the conversation to show that we are more than this hatred.

We each are more than this hatred.

Phoebe and I talked more, sharing how we both believe a leader will emerge who will help us, someone who will help us forge the divide. But until our next Martin Luther King Jr. arrives, we have only ourselves.

It’s on each of us.

In the spirit of the holidays and the challenges we face, here are eight reasons I am grateful for my divorce this Thanksgiving and all days.

1.  I can totally disregard all comments if I choose

I am a divorced, independent woman after all. I didn’t go through all of this only to let others bring me down again.

2.  And as a divorced, independent woman, I am grateful I can choose how I want to spend Thanksgiving and how I want to show up

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’d like to host a Walton’s Thanksgiving, on a long pine table in a room warmed by a fireplace and invite every single person I love. Every single person who’s showed me kindness, who’s showed me I was worthy in this new chapter of my life.

I’d also like to be with both my daughters, but my eldest has just moved to San Francisco and started a new job, so this year the Waltons are not in the cards. My youngest daughter and our friends will go for a hike and then have Thanksgiving dinner at a little French restaurant across the river—but I came up with the plan. I do believe in putting some effort in for the holidays. I do believe in making a plan!

3.  I don’t have to cook all day to make sure it’s the consummate experience for everyone

Not this Thanksgiving, or ever. I am not on the hook for producing dinners or meals regularly in the rest of my life. I did it. I did it well. And now I am moving on. I am grateful for that.

It’s never the table or warmth or setting or food (though, it helps) that ultimately determines the high I get from gathering around the table anyway. It’s the people, and beyond the people, it’s the joy. I endeavor to remember that joy is always there for us, if we remember where it lives in our bodies and connect to it and be still.

4.  I am grateful for having discovered me

I never would have where I was. Thus, every day is Thanksgiving.

5.  I am grateful for losing many poisonous relationships

One sheds many scales and skins going through a breakup and divorce recovery. It’s a painful but liberating process.

6.  I am grateful for all the people who came flooding into my life

As a result of the shedding!

I’ve always been lucky with good people in my life, but since stepping out of my box, I’ve met such exciting, smart, and deep people. Wonderful men and wonderful women who connect with me sometimes because I am unaccompanied, because I am unguarded. (And then, of course, there’s OkCupid.)

Learning how to converse helps. Just as learning how to converse this Thanksgiving may be very helpful for a lot of us. I recommend this piece on smart and sensitive conversations not only for social gathering but also for honing good dating skills.

7.  I can recognize flaws and vices in myself

More importantly, I can keep forgiving myself for them and keep trying. I’ve shown myself before that I CAN change things.  I am grateful for that.

8.  I am grateful that I have learned about the life-giving force of gratitude

Gratitude and the word “grace” come from the same Latin word “gratus.” When we feel gratitude, our hearts and bodies soften, and we’re able to be with the world and ourselves more fully. We feel an interconnectedness and flow. And that too is joy.

At SAS for Women, we are grateful for each and every one of you reading and endeavoring to shift your experiences. We wish you pure, distilled joy this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. Remember, for each day and its tradition, make a plan that may become a new tradition for you and those you love.

 

Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. SAS offers all women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS for Women

Divorce and depression

Divorce and Depression: What to Look for and How to Cope

Divorce and depression are inseparable for almost everyone. The ending of—or even the thought of ending—your marriage is incredibly sad because it’s the death of your dreams of being happy together and basking in the love you thought you had found.

But depression caused by divorce is not the same as what we commonly think of as depression. It even has a different name. It’s called situational depression.

Situational depression is typically short-term and a stress response to a specific event or situation. Relationship problems are some of the most common causes, so it’s easy to understand how divorce and depression go hand in hand.

Another thing to keep in mind is that situational depression differs from other types of depression in that it’s never just biologically or psychologically based. There is a specific event or situation at the root of those feelings.

But knowing the technical difference between divorce-induced situational depression and other types of depression doesn’t really change the realities of either. For most people, the experience of situational depression and other types are indistinguishable from one another.

Take a look at some of the more common symptoms of situational depression:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to enjoy normal activities
  • Crying
  • Consistently feeling stressed out or worried
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Trouble doing daily activities
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Ignoring important matters like paying bills or going to work
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

There’s nothing in this list that is exclusive to situational depression and not to other types of depression.

But there’s one thing that’s very important to remember when you’re dealing with divorce and depression: situational depression is the result of a specific event or stress, and that means you can do something about it.

Before jumping into what you can do though, it’s also important to recognize how depression might be affecting you while you’re on your divorce journey—because it can be so easy to ignore the symptoms or chalk them up to something (or, someone) else.

Thinking about Divorce

Even before you start thinking about divorce as a solution to your marital problems, you could be struggling with situational depression.

You might have trouble connecting with or even wanting to connect with your spouse. You might constantly feel stressed out or worried. And you might be forgetting things that you normally wouldn’t. This is often how situational depression first appears when you’re having relationship troubles.

Coping with Divorce

If you’re coping with divorce, it can be fairly easy to identify your symptoms of depression from the list above. However, the symptom that is the most frightening to experience is thoughts of suicide.

For most people dealing with divorce and depression, thoughts of suicide are way outside of their normal experience. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that something must be very wrong if you’re having thoughts like this.

What I want you to know is that these thoughts are very common. If you can easily recognize them as thoughts that you’d never act on, then there’s nothing more to do. However, if thoughts of suicide become more persistent or you start making plans, then you need to reach out for support immediately or call 911.

There’s absolutely no reason for you to struggle with divorce and depression on your own.

Recreating after Divorce

One of the surprising times people can still struggle with divorce and depression is when they’re recreating after divorce. Even in the midst of creating a life you love, you can still struggle with situational depression.  And if you are someone who never wanted the divorce to begin with, your recovery after divorce can be especially painful.

You might be triggered by hearing a certain song. You might experience waves of sadness and difficulty when the date of your anniversary rolls around. This is all a normal part of the healing journey.

How to Deal with Divorce and Depression

Regardless of where you are on your divorce journey, there are things you can do to ease the pain and struggle of your situational depression.

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

Exercise regularly

Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or a yoga studio. It can be as simple as going for a walk or dancing to your favorite song. Exercise is about moving your entire body in ways that you normally wouldn’t.

Exercise helps with situational depression because it puts your focus and attention on your body. When you’re focused on keeping your balance, lifting weights, or just putting one foot in front of the other, you’re not dwelling on your pain. When you have a respite from your depression, you will find it easier to deal with the challenges of your life as you process your thoughts about and experience of divorce.

Get more rest, relaxation, and sleep

Believe it or not, it takes a lot of energy to deal with divorce and depression. Yet many people believe that the way to get through it all is by staying active and “putting their life back together.”

If this is you, then allowing yourself time to rest, relax, and sleep will help you pause and replenish your energy. Don’t use the time to dwell on the pain you’re experiencing or as an excuse to not move your body. Rest, relaxation, and sleep are about replenishing your energy, so you can move through the depression and on to making the decisions you need to make and living your life.

Eat healthy snacks and meals

Ever heard of the divorce diet? It’s common for people to lose their appetite when they’re coping with divorce and depression.

Although it’s easy to turn to junk food because it’s convenient and tasty, your best bet for helping yourself heal is to focus on eating healthy snacks and meals. When you make healthy choices, you’re providing your body with the food it needs to function well.

Talk with your doctor about medication

If your symptoms are getting in the way of you taking care of your everyday responsibilities and activities, you should talk with your doctor. She can prescribe medication to help you cope with your divorce journey.

Reach out for help

You don’t have to go through your divorce journey alone. There are plenty of people who are able and willing to help you put the pieces of your life together in a way that makes the most sense for you. Of course, these people include your family and friends. But they also include helping professionals like therapists and divorce coaches.

Consider reading: “How to Get Through a Divorce and Heal: The Surprising X Factor of a Divorce Coach”

Remember, reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of tremendous strength because you know what you need the most and you’re willing to bravely look for help.

Divorce and depression are inseparable for nearly everyone. That’s because relationship problems are often the cause of situational depression.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do about it. You can cope with the depression you feel by accepting it and then acting … doing some fairly simple things and securing the help you need.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while navigating the divorce experience and striving to recover and rebuild. SAS offers women six FREE months of private email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Step forth. It’s okay if you fall. Life — your life — is calling you.” SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell

 

Freezing your eggs

Freezing Your Eggs in the Event of Divorce

Change is a reality. Sometimes, we want to embrace it to help us grow and mature while other times change comes at the worst possible moments and in the worst possible ways. Just when we think we have a handle on how things should and will go, everything goes off-kilter.

When you were growing up, you may have thought you knew just how your perfect family was going to be and anticipated the day when you would buy little booties or prepare a nursery for your first baby. Finally, you meet a guy who you’re pretty sure you want to tie the knot with forever.

However, there is a small voice inside your head that thinks maybe it’s best to spend a few years with him before making the decision to tangle your DNA and procreate.

Time passes, and it’s easy to get caught up in the daily realities of not only maintaining a healthy relationship but a successful home economy, which could dissuade you from starting a family if you’re still just getting by financially. But you’re also very aware of your body’s gradual changes.

Then, somewhere along the way, you start having more serious doubts. What if your husband isn’t “the one,” after all? If you’re considering divorce, do you even have time to have a baby?

Will you have to settle for a bad relationship just to experience motherhood, even if that means being unhappy?

Freezing your eggs could give you more choices

Fortunately, technological innovations are providing a welcomed solution to put the fears of any women feeling even a fraction of these emotions at ease. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of women electing to freeze their eggs as a kind of insurance plan, just in case the need or desire to have a child comes later in life — or with someone new.

In some cases, women are also opting to have children on their own. Divorce can lead women to feel as though they’d rather build a family without a spouse, and freezing your eggs has made that entirely possible. An Australian fertility doctor recently noted that of the 50 people that add themselves to the sperm donor wait list at his clinic every month, approximately half are women looking to pursue parenthood alone.

However, even in this scenario, the so-called clock still ticks, and therefore, women must act sooner than later if they want to preserve viable eggs. “Women who harvest eggs between 32 and 35 years of age have up to a 50% chance of pregnancy,” says resident expert Doctor Amos, adding that this percentage decreases significantly as the years go on.

The financial concerns surrounding freezing your eggs

So as women with marital issues consider this option and feel pressure to start preparations, they encounter a new set of doubts. Is freezing your eggs actually affordable as a newly divorced woman? Especially if you spent many years unemployed as someone’s wife?

This situation became a legal reality in 2013 in the case of a 38-year-old New Jersey woman who was divorcing her husband of eight years. As part of her divorce settlement, her lawyer sought $20,000 to cover “her egg freezing procedure, medication costs, and several years of egg storage” based on her expectation upon getting married that she would have children. Egg preservation has even become a part of alimony settlements.

The legal realities surrounding freezing your eggs

It needs to be said that while technology has enabled women to improve their ability to have children later in life, it can come with legal obstacles, depending on how the procedure was completed.

If the woman in a relationship froze her eggs, legally, the situation of the New Jersey women cited above would likely stand. However, if the woman were to instead freeze a fertilized embryo, the case takes on a new property ownership aspect.

Courts have been dealing with this new legal scenario by ruling that both parties who provided DNA to a fertilized embryo have ownership of that embryo. This often means that neither of those involved can use it without the permission of the other. Similarly, they cannot destroy them.

The former spouse of actress Sofia Vergara sued to “prevent her from destroying their two female embryos.” So, it’s important to consider which type of freezing procedure you desire if you’re considering divorce.

Change happens, and we can prepare for it. Technology has advanced to the point where women in unhappy marriages can choose divorce without it ending their dream of having a family.

However, these women must bear in mind the cost of their choices, both financially and legally, before making their decisions. If freezing your eggs is a choice you make, then the end of one dream doesn’t necessarily mean the end to another.

 

Christopher Barry is a freelance writer with decades of experience covering health and wellness topics. He has been featured on a number of reputable sites such as Vice, Maxim, The National Post, and many other large publications.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Schedule your free 45-minute consultation with SAS. Tell us confidentially what’s going on and we’ll give you black & white feedback, resources and suggestions for your next steps (regardless of your working further with us or not). 

Traveling with Another Divorced Woman 11 Things I hadn't anticipated.

Traveling with Another Divorced Woman: 11 Things I Had NOT Anticipated

Don’t’ get me wrong — traveling alone after divorce is wonderful and it shouldn’t be missed. Especially because, you are never really alone when you travel alone, for people talk to you. They walk with you. They take you in. They invite you to their family’s house for dinner. They introduce you to their friends. These people, their friends, offer to take you on an outing, a tour … of the Cape Peninsula, maybe, where en route, you’ll enjoy lunch at the seashore, taste local wines, and watch the sea lions eye the fishmongers on the wharf.

These people, all these people, soon become something more than “these people.” They become your friends. And life is fuller for you, even as you step away from your shared world. And yet, this serendipitous hum, unfolding good after good, is never predictable for the solo voyaging, divorced woman. It just happens. And because of that,

it’s the stepping into it where the fear lives.

Last August, I went to Peru. However, I did not go alone. I went with another divorced woman, the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends. This would be the last conventional descriptor I could ever use for her, I would learn. For like many divorced women, Alexandra had long since shed labels and skins.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

The mysterious Incan agricultural terraces at Moray, Peru.

At first, of course, the arrangement did elicit its own type of fears — the entirely selfish, all-about-me sort. How would traveling with another divorced woman 24/7 affect MY mojo? My wanting to go and see whatever I wanted? Was Alexandra going to cramp my style? What if, God forbid, I had to take care of her?

Funny thing about fears, though, and a fact I am reminded of over and over again, is that more often than not, we give too much space to them — in advance of their happening! Fears are a projection of a certain future; they are not here and now!

For within hours of joining Alexandra, and heading off on our adventure, a “new” here and now appeared, and those old fears would be forgotten. Gone! Poof! as quickly as they were replaced …. with new ones!

As a divorced woman I must remind myself of this, sometimes: Fears are transient. For this reason, when fears appear it’s important to not get tooooo emotionally attached to them.

This is all the more true if you are traveling with another divorced woman! Because I learned you need to make room for so much more. I share the following to inspire you … to help you imagine, too …

what if you could just go off to a foreign land with another woman who was also a survivor? How would you come to experience joy? What might move you? What might be uniquely shared and understood?

Here are eleven things I hadn’t anticipated about traveling with another divorced woman.

1. That there really is ALWAYS a first time

“Don’t worry,” Alexandra reassured me as we idled in standstill traffic, trying to get to the airport in a cab.“I’ve never missed a flight. IN. MY. LIFE.” Turns out 54 years of living can still bring new experiences. We did miss our first outbound flight, but not before Alexandra also lost her passport, and I knocked over the suspension line that kept the American Airlines queue full of (rather stressed) people, organized. Suddenly, they were as disorganized as the thousands of baggage tags I’d also knocked and scattered to the floor.

Traveling with another divorced woman

Arequipa street scene with the Volcano El Misti in the background.

Fast forward, we recovered the passport and made the standby flight at midnight to Lima. No extra charge! This saved us four transfers in the end (yes, the original flights stunk). We arrived in Arequipa, Peru, the country’s second largest and very beautiful city, a full day ahead.

2. Sometimes a mess up can do you a world of good

Tragically (?), because one of us came down with altitude sickness and the flu, several days in, we were unable to face our ultimo challenge for the trip: the several day trek to Machu Picchu. We hadn’t planned to take the Inca Trail, mind you, but the less travelled, “moderately demanding” Salkantay; which would wind us around the glorious 18,000-foot peak. We are forever grateful to the expedition company United Mice for reorganizing our planned itinerary and getting us to Machu Picchu, another way.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Baskets and vegetables vendor in Cusco market.

Rather than hiking, camping, and probably being carried, we’d go by train, and in the intervening days, go deep into the Sacred Valley, exploring the astonishing Inca ruins of Písac and Ollantaytambo.

On the day of our departure for Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo, United Mice informed us, however, there’d been another change.

Traveling with Another Divorced Woman

View from the Higham Bingham Train en route to Machu Picchu.

There was a problem with the standard train we were booked on, and to keep our itinerary, United Mice was putting us aboard the Belmond Higham Bingham Luxury Train. This twist was tantamount to ushering us aboard the Orient Express and pushing us back forty years to enjoy the consummate colonial and decadent experience of silver service, linen tablecloths, fresh flowers, flutes of champagne, and four perfectly timed dinner courses. These dishes and assorted wines were served in sequence to the unraveling view out the window of the sacred Urubamba River, the great Mountain Glacier Veronica, and a peek at the start of the Inca Trail. (Those poor souls with their walking sticks, mules, and heavy backpacks across the river … la gripe had indeed been a gift.)

3. How much I’d appreciate the space my friend gave me as I struggled to speak a foreign language

I was struck by the patience of Alexandra who let me try and often fail with my Spanish. She felt no urgency to fix the situation when I was interacting with the world, because she knew it’s only practice that builds confidence and competency. This was all the more profound because Alexandra spoke Spanish — fluently.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Hiking in Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world, with our wonderful guide, Sabino.

There was that one time, though, when I called the men in the room “caballos” (horses) instead of “caballeros” (gentlemen). Then, and only then, did Alexandra correct me; if not to save me, then to save us, lest we be ridden out of town.

4. How beautiful the world is unfiltered

When I look back on my marriage, it’s sad to remember how my Ex and I argued in some of the most beautiful places in this world. Traveling with another divorced woman reminded me of how different everything is now. There is no one criticizing my decisions, second-guessing my hotel (or hostel) choices, or shaming me for my efforts to speak with the locals.

To experience a bit of this, too, I encourage you to think of a view in your mind’s eye —  a majestic view — and what it would be to take that majestic view in through all your senses. Your eyes, your nose, the sounds, the touch of a breeze. And to have all those things alive and uncomplicated, unsullied … by a distracting relationship, or the echoes of tending to someone else’s needs. Imagine this view is real and in front of you. You are looking down, down at a valley, hundreds of feet below. You see a slow-moving, snaking river, and between, in the air, hawks, eagles, and condors. There’s the smell of eucalyptus and across the valley going up the hills, the hills that are veritable mountains of snow capped peaks, the Andes, you see the terraces, the Incas’ undulating, agricultural lines, hundreds of years old, folding in and out with the flow of the mountains and the glaciers beyond.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

View across the Sacred Valley, Peru.

Alexandra and I both agreed we just wanted to sit on a mountain at different points in our journey, and be still. Sometimes, when we did this we took our boots off and just sat connecting to Pachymama. Mother Earth. We did it because it seemed obvious, and we could.

5. The luxury of washing your underwear in your hotel room and hanging it to dry anywhere you want

Enough said.

6. Being inspired by somebody else who’s got “Street Cred”

Between the two of you, divorced women, there’s an unspoken truth: you’ve each been through a lot. It won’t take much for you to inspire the other. You’ll tell stories about worse times for reference points. You’ll cackle! Suddenly this behemoth problema you are facing ( … maybe you’ve arrived in your hotel room, and the musty smell, lack of windows, and satin bedcover have one of you dubbing it, “La Casa de Los Muertos,” and you want out!) this is nothing when you compare it to any of the million problems you’ve solved, surviving your divorce!

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Beware that this attitude of being able to survive and take on the world can also work the other way, too. So aim to inspire and not retire for scones, warm milk, and bed at 6 p.m., as much as you may deserve that, too. (Except of course on the few nights when it makes perfect sense.)

7. The surprising impact of the doubled flirt-factor

Who knew that feeling free and flirty with your divorced friend doubles your odds at helping you attain certain goals? Your efforts will make you both laugh hysterically even if you have no success scoring free pisco sours with the Italianos. (But you probably will.)

8. How much being listened to and respected is underrated

From the very beginning, Alexandra and I listened to the other’s intentions about the trip. We each wanted to see and do certain things (that were often the same, coincidentally). And we both wanted to leave our everyday worlds behind so we could give our minds a rest.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

En route to the Sacred Valley, we met warm, friendly people in Chincheros.

We aimed to wander around Peru seeing it through the eyes of a wide-eyed child. Admittedly, these wide-eyed children sometimes risked being hit by cars in the tight alleys of the one-way streets of Cusco, where cars still drive in both directions.

9. The reinforcement that simple things deserve celebration

Pausing to play with children, bending down to pet a dog, such simple things anchored us in the moment or grew in importance when experienced through our particular female sensibilities. Toilet paper is cherished. A good night’s sleep is savored. Sleeping in the same bed saves money. And some meals are just worthy of a photo no matter how much you hate food porn.

In the picture below, the triangle on Alexandra’s plate, is actually a pyramid of quinoa. Peru has 5 varieties of quinoa and more than 2000 species.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Peruvian cuisine (and its wildly diverse pleasures) was one of our biggest discoveries. Enjoyed here at the fabulous Zig Zag restaurant in Arequipa.

10. The power of reciprocity

Come a certain point in your divorce recovery, you’ve done the work: you realize the responsibility it is to yourself and to those you care about to care and what true caring really looks like. Alexandra and I didn’t need to draw boundaries or discuss roles.

In unspoken ways, we tended to each other because we knew what we ourselves needed and what we lacked in other times of our lives. We could look at each other and know exactly what the other was thinking; this grew into a state of being.

Sometimes this just looked like Alexandra telling me to take my jacket off when I was “negotiating” with an airline supervisor. My cheeks had become so pink she thought I would pass out.

11. The discovery that you are not alone

Because we had each other, we didn’t feel alone (emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually). Like when Alexandra was nearing the summit of Montaña Machu Picchu on her hands and knees ….

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Credit: Unsplash

Context: To reach the summit of Montaña Machu Picchu (elevation 10,007 ft), you must first arrive at the citadel of ruins, most often referred to as “Machu Picchu.” It’s interesting to know that the Incas didn’t call their city of temples “Machu Picchu.” They called it something secret, now long lost and forgotten, so it’s existence would stay unknown to the Spanish. Machu Picchu (“Old Mountain”) is in fact what they called their sacred mountain that looks down upon the ruins from the southwest. We hadn’t done the Salkantay trek. We had hiked, but we hadn’t really climbed for a sustained time. So determined that we experience something of this we began climbing the mountain’s steep, stone, narrow, Inca steps. Two hours in with Alexandra crawling to the summit, she resisted (she told me later) turning around to look at me as I followed her on the harrowing steps. Not only because of the paralyzing, sheer drop-offs to the side, the rainforest’s clouds coming in, the distant view of the ruins below, and the spinning risk of vertigo, but for the FEAR that I would be smirking at her. When she finally did look, she told me later she had been relieved, even buoyed, for she found me nearly prostrate on all fours behind her, too, not pink, but red as a rutabaga.

We had broken a record that day, we were told by the park’s guard. He accompanied us, the last two people on La Montaña, down. He didn’t need to tell us about breaking any record. We knew. We knew we had ascended a different peak than the one we had set off to conquer. A different peak that left us wasted but surprised by ourselves.

Traveling with another divorced woman.

Atop Machu Picchu Montana, Peru.

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If you, dear friend, are unable to go somewhere far away right now, a place you’ve always dreamed about, it’s all right. It WILL happen. And it is absolutely something to look forward to.

For what you will discover about the world and yourself cannot be predicted, but the delights might be compounded if you are lucky enough to do it with another divorced woman.

For Alexandra and me, we knew little about the other in the beginning —  except we each had a penchant for discovery. Among the biggest discoveries we made in the extraordinary country of Peru is that the trip we embarked on, and chose to give meaning to, could only have happened while traveling with another divorced woman; someone who has learned from life, the importance of savoring the view.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support, information, and smart next steps rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. 

To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited. Visit for details.

“I am so happy to have these sisters on the journey with me! Our connection is very powerful. It’s ended any sense of isolation or alienation that on and off, I’ve been struggling with. I feel understood — at last — because I know these women get it! They are going through the same thing. Thank you for bringing us together and creating Paloma’s Group!”

~ S.L., New York City