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Woman lounging in her life after divorce

Life After Divorce: The 7 Surprising Myths About STDs

As a medical writer, one of my most gratifying roles is that of educator. I may be writing pieces that teach doctors about a new drug or how to take care of a poisoned patient (since I’m also a toxicologist), or teaching veterinary medicine students about antidotes for poisoned animals. I also write to educate patients about how to keep themselves and their families healthy. So why is a medical writer blogging on SAS for Women’s website? I’ve discovered there is a critical need to educate women, especially older women navigating their new, life after divorce about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually infections (STIs).

Women who were in a long marriage may now be in their 40s or older. These women are not in the age group that is targeted for STI education and may not be thinking about the risks they run once pregnancy is not an issue for them.

As you move through your divorce recovery and take steps to rebuild your life, please read and ponder these seven myths about STIs. These are meant to be short and easy to take in so you’ll begin your personal education and protection. For more details, read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site on STDs or talk to your healthcare provider. And, if you think you may have an STI, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

Myth 1: STIs are only transmitted through bodily fluid

Some STIs are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact (such as herpes or human papillomavirus [HPV]) and body fluid-contact is not necessary for transmission. So, although some STIs require bodily fluid contact, some do not. A condom only covers so much skin (see Myth #5). 

Myth 2: My partner tested “negative” for STIs so he is not infected

If someone is exposed to an STI and is tested too soon, STI testing may not pick up the infection as there can be a delay in symptoms (or no symptoms at all) and/or a delay in a positive testing result. Also, STI testing cannot test for every STI. For example, in men, there is not a test for HPV.

Myth 3: Oral sex is completely safe

There are some STIs that are transmittable via oral sex (either as the giver or receiver) such as HPV, herpes, and gonorrhea. Certain strains of HPV are linked not only to cervical cancer but also to esophageal cancer (making unprotected oral sex a bigger health risk than some women may realize). Safer sex practices for oral sex include using a latex condom or dental dam.

Myth 4: If I don’t see blisters, there is no chance my partner has herpes

Partners with herpes infections can transmit the infection even before blisters appear. Many people with genital herpes do not know they even have it. Note that testing for herpes may not be included on an STI testing panel.

Myth 5: Condoms are 100% effective

Nothing, except abstinence, is 100% effective in preventing STIs. So even with condoms, there is a risk. Using latex condoms for all sexual activity and knowing your partner’s sexual history and STI testing status, can decrease the risk considerably.

Myth 6: STI testing is done at my annual check-up

It may be, but verify. Not all check-ups, even at the OB-GYN, will include STI testing. Ask your healthcare provider what tests are done, and based on your sexual history, if you need additional tests. Alternatively, you may also consider the at home STD test option which can be ordered online. Once the kit arrives, you’ll follow the simple sample collection instructions and then send it back to a lab for analysis.

Myth 7: If I am in an exclusive/monogamous relationship, there is no risk for an STI

See Myth 2. It can sometimes take months for an infection to show up on an STI screen and many STIs have no symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s not only who your partner is with now, it’s who he has been with in previous months.

No doubt you are navigating a lot in your new life as an independent woman. Reading this information may be overwhelming and even frightening. But knowledge is power when it comes to keeping yourself healthy. Women (and men) need to be aware of the risk of STIs no matter what their age. Some strategies like keeping condoms handy (and using them!) and the sharing of recent STI testing results between partners can help decrease the risk for an STI. If you are thinking about dating, or are already out there, make a plan for how you will broach the topic of STIs with your new partner and how you can make sure you are both in the know regarding STI status. You and your partner can get tested together or you both can share the testing results via email (so you can see what exactly he was tested for).

Dr. Allison Muller, Pharm.D, D.ABAT, is a board-certified toxicologist and registered pharmacist with over 20 years’ experience in the field of clinical toxicology. After a nearly 20-year career leading the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Muller is presently an independent consultant specializing in medical writing, medical education, and providing expert witness testimony on cases involving medications, alcohol, chemicals, and environmental toxins.

If the idea of connecting regularly to a smart community of women, women who are also recreating their best life after divorce appeals to you, you may wish to explore Paloma’s Group.  Or schedule your free consultation with SAS to hear firsthand feedback and suggestions tailored to your story and what you need help with right now.

Either way, or any which way (but down), don’t stop now. Keep reading ….

This blog post is not meant to provide medical advice. If you have possible symptoms of an STI or feel you are at risk, see your healthcare provider.

Considering divorce advice and fear

Divorce Advice: How to Get Over Paralyzing Fear

In this follow up article, excerpting highlights from her interview on Progressive Radio Network, SAS Cofounder and divorce coach Kimberly Mishkin offers divorce advice to women who are thinking about the frightening steps to divorce.

Why is divorce so scary? Each of us has our own unique set of fears, but for so many of us, it’s the time we feel that we’ve lost while being unhappy. Life’s too short, and we know that we will never get any of it back. We made choices, and they led us here, seeking out divorce advice online and looking for connection wherever we can. And while there’s solace in knowing you’re not alone, there’s a certain kind of pain in it too. You’re not special. Your grief, your loss—it is yours, yes, but is one that’s shared, too, by so many. Instead of resisting that pain, though, we recommend you lean into it.

The fact that you’re not the first person to experience this particular pain means that there are plenty of people you can turn to for divorce advice. There are smart, strong, and savvy shoulders out there for you to lean on. There are people who can help you face your fear, stop overthinking divorce, and take the leap.

Jack: How do you address it when people feel fear?  You can’t say, “Get over it.” So how do you balance the fear and getting people to take action?

Kimberly: Actually, we sometimes use the acronym, “ACT.”

A: Act

The first thing you need to do is get somebody to be your ADVISOR, a divorce coach or therapist, for instance. We recommend you talk to someone who is a professional, but if you can’t afford a coach, it could also be someone like an HR representative at work or the guidance counselor at your kid’s school (someone who has given people divorce advice before).

In the first stages of divorce, your attorney might be able to point you to other resources. But no matter what, you absolutely need an advisor. You need to talk about your divorce out loud. You need somebody to give you feedback. You need somebody to help you think it through. You need a professional with tried-and-true divorce advice you can trust on your side.

It’s just impossible to do it all in your head, all on your own.

Jack: You had an advisor?

Kimberly: I did. At first, I wasn’t telling anybody at work, and it was torture. I had compartmentalized to such a degree that I was a totally different person at work than I was on the weekends.

It was exhausting and the anxiety started to come out of my pores. I was getting injuries or I was getting sick every other day. The anxiety was literally eating me up inside until I had to reach out and get some help.

You need an advisor. You need somebody you can trust, somebody you know is genuine—who doesn’t have a personal stake in this, somebody who can be objective.

The second thing you need to do is COLLECT INFORMATION.

C: Collect Information

Start collecting information from anywhere you can. In New York, especially, there are a ton of free workshops, but there are also free online resources, downloadable pamphlets, and E-books. There’s a wealth of information and divorce advice out there—you just have to start looking for it.

Most people fear the unknown more than anything.

Deborah: Right.

Kimberly: So, the more you collect information and educate yourself, the more the fear will start to subside because you’ll understand what you’re looking at and what the realities are.

And the third thing is to TAKE STEPS.  Just take baby steps.

T: Take Steps

Start a journal. Get a bank account of your own. Change the locks if your spouse has moved out. Call a friend and make plans for once a week.

The key is to do something different—take one tiny step, which will lead to more steps that take you on a journey to divorce recovery. Once you get that momentum going, you will feel real change happening.

For more on this interview, read “Divorce Coaching: The Female Take” or listen to the complete interview here.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing 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 support them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce.

SAS offers women 6 FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women 

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take 

Read excerpts from SAS Cofounder and Divorce Coach Kimberly Mishkin’s interview on “Women’s Rights in the Workplace” (Progressive Radio Network, January 2015) as she discusses the ideas behind SAS for Women®, the specific needs women have facing divorce, and the unusual role of divorce coaching with PRN.com hosts Jack Tuckner and Deborah O’Rell.

To listen to the complete show, click here.

What’s different about divorce coaching at sas?

Jack Tuckner: Kim, are there any other professional practices in the country that do this type of work you are doing?

Kimberly Mishkin: Not exactly the way we’re doing it. There are a number of divorce coaches, but we consider ourselves {SAS} to be a hybrid model, unique — we’re not only coaching, but we also address all the practical and logistical matters that come along with divorce.

For example, somebody might come to us and she may need to sell her apartment, or she may need to go back to work — having been out of the workforce for a number of years — or she may need help locating an attorney she’s comfortable with, or help going through her finances. We spend time on all those practical things to help her move forward. At the same time, she’s broken emotionally, and that’s where our coaching component comes in.

We help women tap into their inner strength. Things have to be getting done of course, but at the same time they feel drained. And so we help fill them back up with strength to get them on the road to recovery.

Jack:  Do you bring a certain kind of encouragement to help women see the light at the end of the tunnel?  You help address all the issues?  

Kimberly: Yes, absolutely. We look at the whole woman. We look at about ten specific areas of her life … and then we start making a plan and creating a situation where there’s accountability as well. So we’ll say, “Call me when you’ve done that. Let’s talk next week about how you’ve done on your list of five things that you wanted to tackle since we last met.”

We create a bond with them. We are their partner but we’re not emotionally invested in it as, say, your mom might be, or your sister, or somebody who has a stake in it. We can be  more objective and create a path for them that will not only get things done and get them moving in a certain direction, but also we’re helping them look way ahead.

Most of the time they’ll come to us and they’re so overwhelmed with what the lawyer said, or what paperwork they have to fill out, or how their kids are going to handle this; all of those things are just swirling through their heads. So we help sort through it, but we’re also thinking ahead for them because we’ve come across that bridge and we know how great it feels to be back to that independent whole person.

We hold that beacon up and say, “We’re going to get you over here and don’t forget: we want to continue thinking about what your goals for five years from now are, not just getting you through this immediate crisis.”

Divorce coaching vs. therapy

Jack: What’s the distinction between that broken emotional person —  what you do as a certified coach and what perhaps a licensed social worker, or psychologist would do? What’s that line?

Kimberly: We often work with people who are in therapy at the same time that they’re working with a coach. I’m not a therapist nor I do I pretend to be, and if there are deeper issues going on; clinical depression perhaps … that’s not something we’re equipped to do.

Therapy is about looking back at your patterns and your life that has come before and understanding it. Coaching is all about what you’re going to do now and next. So we concentrate, we don’t try to diagnose. We try to say, “What’s going on? And what’s the very next thing you can do to move toward your goals?”

Why doesn’t SAS work with men?

Jack: Okay. So the gender issue. Hey, I was divorced a bunch of years ago. I was a mess. I’m a cry baby. I was the one who had to go to the shrink. I was the one who could have probably used your services and if I called you, you’d say, “Sorry. Girls only.” So why is that? 

Kimberly: …. I think the very genuine answer is that I’m a woman. I went through it as a woman and I know how that felt. And my partner Liza Caldwell … felt the same way, that we couldn’t speak to what the male experience was. So we started there. What we found since is that, I think we’re right, women deal with break ups and divorce very differently.

Jack: Why is there a male experience and a female experience in divorce coaching?

Kimberly: Well, I just think we’re built differently …. And I think that’s what we’re experiencing in our company. Women come to  us looking for connection, looking for advice, looking for the village, and so we are providing that to women. And I joke all the time that when I get to the point where our company is big enough and we can open a new division, we’ll hire a really smart divorced man to run our men’s wing, but it shouldn’t be me.

For more on this interview, read “Divorce Advice: How To Get Over the Paralyzing Fear” or listen to the complete interview here.

SAS helps women figure out how to start living again. Schedule your free consultation and walk away with a mini action plan. Even if you never speak with us again, you will know what next to do.

woman's hand addressing an envelope with quill pen

Divorce Recovery: An Exercise Before Dating

You were not expecting this so soon, but here you stand, transfixed, in the doorway of a dimly lit cafe, your throat closing up and your chest tightening, watching a man who looks quite similar to his profile pictures. Could he be “The One” you wonder? You’ve had a tantalizing preamble of just the right amount of emails. He’s revealed himself, but not too much. Now, you see him in the booth in front of you. He’s wearing black, dramatic, cat-eyed reading glasses. He’s even better than you could have hoped ….

Honk. Stop thinking that way.

It is not your mission, take it from Mama. If you are looking for The One, Your Soul Mate, Your Next Mister Big, read this and consider more: What role did you play in your last long-term relationship? You know, the one you just left, with the ink still drying on the divorce papers?

It’s natural to feel a little insecure right now, to want to replace and fill the void. I did. But what I learned maybe simultaneously, in my Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde personality post-divorce, is that eventually in your divorce recovery, you have to take a hold of yourself. You have to shake off the dust, and look underneath your shirt. You’ve got to examine the wounds, the wounds that are just now seeing the light of day.

We propose the following as a start to getting to know your own story and for dedicating specific time to allow yourself to mourn:

Coaching exercise: Divorce recovery letter

Goal: To examine what you have learned and to fully experience both the dark and light of loss.

Instructions: Choose an issue, an object, a way of living, or a relationship (hint, it’s probably the last one) In other words, someone/something you consider a loss. You will need a blank piece of paper and a pencil.

Create a graph marking the highs and lows of your relationship over time. First draw a horizontal line across a piece of paper.  The space above the line represents the positive experiences. The space beneath the line represents the negative experiences. On the far left of the line, put a dot on the line and write next to it the year the relationship began. Moving right, think about the highs and lows of your relationship as they relate to memories and events.  Put a dot and a notation for each memory, either above or below the line depending on whether or not it was a positive or negative experience. For example, your marriage may represent a very positive experience so it will be very high on the page.  Continue forward through the years with each important year or event plotted similarly. Connect the dots. Your graph should take you up to your current moment in time.

Examine this line. How did this exercise make you feel?  Do you see anything differently from the story you told yourself before?

Now write a letter to the object of the relationship. If it is your spouse, then you are writing to him/her and telling him/her how the graph makes you feel.  What did you learn? What do you see when you look at the narrative line of your relationship? What responsibility did you play in the story line?

Note: If you wrote to a person (your Ex for example) DO NOT attempt to read this letter to him/her.  This is for you and is a tool to help you process your thoughts and feelings. 

Divorce recovery homework:

This divorce recovery letter and graph represent how you have internalized and now externalized your life in this relationship. You have now documented how you feel and have felt about it. Where will you keep this graph and letter as you consider moving forward? Will you keep it in a drawer under your rolled argyle socks? Will you burn it, or put it in a box high in the closet?

SAS for Women helps women pick up the pieces after divorce and move forward with their lives. If you are not ready to talk to someone about your story, consider signing up for our weekly coaching letter. Our letter, SAS Day Break, will arrive discretely in your inbox and remind you of YOU and what you need in this moment as you continue to move, grow stronger, and rebuild your life after divorce.

divorce grief

Divorce, Grief and 3 Harmful Myths

Time heals all wounds. Umm, that’s nonsense. So is “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,”“There are lots of fish in the sea,” and all the other inane things people say to you when you are suffering through a divorce, looking for solace and grieving.

People mean well, I think. They just don’t know what to say so they attempt to say something that in a nutshell means, “Get over it because you are making ME feel awkward. So get happy, ok?”

Well, their best wishes are nice, but it’s not going to happen. You know why? It’s not about them. Going through divorce is one of the most traumatic things you will ever go through (I realize I’m preaching and singing to the choir here) and the pain associated with the end of your relationship cannot be summed up in a catchy phrase or old cliché. It’s not something you “get over” (actually stop using that language, you don’t “get over it” at all.) It’s a healing and growing process, with steps to it, and it takes time.

When your marriage died, whether it was a sudden explosion or it slowly withered on the vine – there went all the hopes and dreams you had for your future, right? You probably got married thinking that you’d retire together and enter your golden years, traveling the world funded by your cushy retirement and spoiling your grandkids. But instead, here you are, empty fisted and wondering what the hell happened. As if that’s not bad enough, the loss of those idyllic dreams isn’t even the most painful part. No, what you miss the most are the little, seemingly ordinary things, the things you took for granted, your daily life, your:

  • Best friend, your soul mate, your companion, your bedmate
  • Your laughs, joy and connection to your in-laws, his family and “his” friends
  • Family rituals, routines, and doing your best to parent together
  • Home, the one you thoughtfully and lovingly decorated for everyone
  • Resolute knowledge that before now, your kid didn’t come from a broken home (that’s such an awful expression, isn’t it?)
  • Couple friends (it’s gotten too awkward hasn’t it?)
  • Financial security of knowing you had a partner, come good times or bad (now what?)
  • Confidence in yourself, that you are lovable ( … spoiler alert, you are)

 


“What we grieve for is not the loss of a grand vision, but rather the loss of common things, events, and gestures. Ordinariness is the most precious thing we struggle for.” – Irena Kelpfisz


 

Okay, there it is. We all know that you are grieving all things lost here, big and small. The question is, what do you do about it? Well, first of all, recognize you ARE going to DO something about it.

Let’s dispel the first divorce grief myth, “Time heals all wounds”

Think of it this way. If you got a flat tire and had to pull over on the interstate, would you simply sit by the side of the road and wait for the air to somehow re-enter the tires, so you can resume your merry way? No, you have to do something, you have to take action. You’ll call a friend, dig that AAA card out of the glove box, you’ll google garages in Flagstaff, Arizona, whatever…the point is, you’ll do something. You do not sit idly by.

Similarly when you are grieving, you must act. You must speak to someone (a grief counselor, a coach, a therapist, a spiritual leader, a support group) who can help you process all of the feelings you are experiencing and make sense of everything. There are things you can do to start moving toward a lighter, happier place, but you can’t do it without a plan and we don’t recommend you do it alone.

Which brings us to the second myth, “Grieve alone”

Picture this, a husband has died and the widow is in the corner of the room, on the couch, crying. You start to go to her but someone passing between the two of you says, “No, give her some space,” so instinctually you turn and walk away. You know what? Wrong. Grievers do not need nor want to isolate. Grieving is not something to be done alone. We need to talk, to process, to have a shoulder to cry on and to be with others. Western culture has mistakenly adopted the idea that grief is a private affair. This is a dangerous (and tragic) idea … in our grief, we need to be with others.

Figure out with whom you can share your grief, your thoughts, your anguish. Seek out someone who will be a good listener. Speaking of finding someone, we don’t mean a new boyfriend ….

This brings us to our third myth, “Replace the loss”

Most of us have lost a pet at one point or another. It was likely a heartbreaking moment… a puppy, a goldfish, a hamster, a loved critter, suddenly gone. Perhaps your parents said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you another one.” They think it’s the right thing to do, to help you get over the loss of one by replacing it with another. But it doesn’t help! Even as a kid, you knew it didn’t feel right. Getting another puppy would NOT be the same as having “Bailey,” the one you loved.

When we are grieving a marriage, sometimes it seems like the thing to do is to look for the next (presumably better) one. What you couldn’t cultivate in this marriage, surely you can in the next. This is a bad idea. Do not leave this marriage with the idea that you’ll find a better one.

Instead, walk away and figure out how you can grow from this as a woman, as a human being. Look back at who you were in that marriage, and ask yourself, how do I want to live differently this time around?

Trust us, the grass is not greener. Don’t go there.

A final word of advice: Don’t act like you are ok, if you are not

Unfortunately we are taught from a young age that during times of grief, we need to be stoic and strong for others around us; that it’s not okay to fall apart. Don’t buy into that. Your heart needs to be acknowledged. It’s hurting. Grief is normal, natural, and yes, incredibly painful — but again it is NORMAL and NATURAL — and TO BE EXPECTED. Your heart is broken for real reasons.

When you do not feel ok, find someone safe to say that to … someone who will listen with an open mind and heart and give you a big, long bear hug. Ask for help in moments when you just aren’t ok.

The grief you feel during a divorce is real, deep, complicated (not to mention, genuinely painful) but it’s also normal. Try not to fall into the old traps – isolating yourself, trying to wait it out, ignoring it, or moving on too quickly — but instead, take action to understand it. It’s here for a reason. Reach out to someone trained who can help you understand it, heal, move on, and eventually, learn to thrive again.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing 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.
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“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” ~ Liza Caldwell, SAS Cofounder.
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Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

I Thought Getting a Divorce Would Be the End of Me. It Wasn’t!

Did you claw your way though the holidays and then find yourself fantasizing about getting a divorce? You aren’t alone.  January actually has the nickname “Divorce Month,” if you can believe it.

Turns out, January is not the only month with this dubious distinction. If you Google “divorce month,”< spoiler alert> you’ll see other articles dubbing February and March with the same, less than lyrical title. Why is that, do you suppose? It’s because there is no perfect time to get a divorce, though there may be some corollary with the lack of light and our dwindling reserves. January arrives, we kept it together through the holidays, and then more dark winter months descend and we are trapped in the house together, entirely too much. Sunshine, lightness, like our former selves, seem an eternity away. For those unhappily married, that darkness becomes nearly unbearable, and we finally admit to ourselves that we can’t do this anymore. Getting a divorce seems like the way OUT.

I honestly don’t remember what month it was or how low the sun was when I hit that wall. But I do remember screaming at my (then) husband across the airport, “I WANT A DIVORCE!” And oh wow, did that feel good. Then I was terrified. What did I just say? Getting a divorce is a lot of things.

It’s decision-making, it’s paperwork, it’s moving, it’s mourning, and it’s being on your own again. I thought I could handle it, it had to be easier than living in the shadow of that marriage for a single moment more. But I wasn’t prepared for just how lonesome the process was, especially in the beginning. You know, when you are not sure and struggling and are still thinking the problems might just be in your head?

I look back at my journals now and wish I could have talked to this girl I was, to let her know she’s going to be okay. At the time, however, you can see from my journal excerpts that I was in that gloomy, dark place, full of doubt and fear:

“I’m lonely / What’s going to happen to me? / Am I good enough at my job? / What am I forgetting to do? / I’m so lonely / I don’t know if I can take it / What’s he doing, is he ok? / Why do I care? / How will I get everything done? / I don’t want to disappoint anyone / What the hell happened to my husband? / What happened to me? / Wait, who am I now?”

 

“Everything is such an effort. Everything. Should be going to sleep now. Eating, sleeping … either I do too much or not enough. Don’t want to do either alone.”

 

“I cannot describe how awful it feels to go through these feelings alone.”

 

I started crying today in my office because everything E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G is such a f*ck*d up mess. I have absolutely zero moments that are stress free or parts of my life that are in order. My personal life — a mess. My emotional health — shot to hell. My finances — drained. My work — behind. My marriage — OVER.”

I share my journal entries because I’ll bet there’s a woman out there reading this now, who feels like I did. And she needs to know it doesn’t have to be so lonely. It will change.

Are you listening?

You won’t feel like this forever, I promise. It will get better. You will smile and laugh again. You will regain control of your feelings and your money and your career and your life will be yours again. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Are you wondering what makes me say this? Because I did it! I got through my divorce, I moved out on my own, I pieced my career back together, and I chipped away at the debt. Later I met someone whom I love very much and decided I’d give marriage another go, albeit cautiously. We bought a house, and now I have a beautiful baby boy, who is the light of my life and my heart and my soul. I’m not just okay, I’m great!  Who knew?

Getting a divorce can be really lonely. But it doesn’t have to be. My number one piece of advice? Talk to someone you can trust. Find a friend whose been through divorce, a family member, a therapist or divorce coach — someone you know who will give you good, seasoned, non-judgmental feedback, and a lay of the land. You don’t have to do this alone, in fact, you shouldn’t. You need perspective. You need someone to help you think things through, to give you fresh ideas you haven’t thought of, and to help you keep moving forward.

I thought getting a divorce would be the end of me.  Happily, I report I was wrong. Quite the opposite, it made me who I am: a confident, happy woman who works hard to thrive each and every day. Now that I know what’s possible, I spend my days at SAS helping other women find out, and discover themselves, too.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

Thinking over divorce advice

Divorce Advice from a Woman of a Certain Age

After my divorce, I needed advice, strategies, and moral support to get through the relationship mess that I was living in. I needed to move on but felt I needed divorce advice and support to get there—someone not young but not quite old, from someone like me: a woman of a certain age.

I began the search by looking for a self-help book that would offer me relief. Visiting more than one bookstore, searching online, and checking out the ever-present Saturday morning yard sale for discarded but useful books (I don’t know why I like that genre), I was astounded to find nothing that offered help for the middle-aged woman.

Why is it that no books existed for the middle-aged woman experiencing un-engagement, separation, or divorce? Do writers think that women like us will just muddle through it and move on without any support?

True, middle-aged women are strong, resilient, and feisty, but, as in many other areas of our personal and professional lives, we are often ignored. I had enough. So I decided to write my own story full of tips, strategies, success stories, and divorce advice from middle-aged women who have lived through their own relationship trials and who have come through the experience with their sense of joy and self. These women have survived divorce and healed through their divorce recovery, and are now in a better state than they ever imagined they could be.

How did they do it? Here are a few teasers from my book, The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah!

Since you seem to ache and feel awful from head to toe, seek out as much divorce advice and as many, varied (no matter how weird that they may sound) types of help that you can stand. You will know when enough is enough.

Seek out a professional

One woman I know sought out a life coach to guide her through this process. Be sure that your coach suits your personality and style. Check out her training and certification. Her life coach, actually, first recommended a 60s “cure” for dealing with the stress of a divorce. This unusual strategy involved a field trip to Colorado and a cleansing ritual, but the woman in question declined. Instead, she chose something more traditional to focus and to calm her nerves: a therapist.

Consider the right professionals who abound these days. Women no longer have to reinvent themselves in the dark. You might consider a divorce coach or therapist who specializes in divorce recovery or life changes. Or even better, an educational divorce support group that teaches you about rebuilding your life and gives you a safe space to discuss divorce advice—with other women! Learning best practices and how to cultivate your confidence, address your fears, and save for retirement will advance your divorce recovery time.

Keep a journal

Many women prefer to write divorce out of their systems. Keeping a diary, just like many of us did as teens, really helped another friend of mine. She wrote whenever anger welled up in her. She wrote and wrote to keep herself from doing harm to her Ex and the new chick in his* life. She filled many books (who wouldn’t?).

When it was time to move on, about a year or so later, she contacted a Native American healer friend to assist her in the journal burning. They both knew that if these journals were ever read by anyone else that it would be bad news, so they set up a time and place for the burning of the journals. She invited a few friends who invited a few friends, and standing around her bonfire, with special added herbs, they freed my friend from her Mr. Was Wonderful and his bad karma. The bonfire has become a yearly ritual sans the bad karma and with the addition of lots of wine.

Keep the right friends around

I was talking at 9 months of age, so this strategy would have worked for me. Talk things out as long as your friends can stand it. But make sure they are the right friends. You need to trust them. They will keep your confidence. They know that you are hurting and want to offer up divorce advice and help you in whatever way they can. Set up talk times so that your words will not interfere with their lives. Do not call after 11 pm or you will both be sleep deprived on top of everything else that you are feeling. You don’t want to lose friends since losing your spouse may be about all that you can handle at this point and isn’t fair to anyone.

You can also talk to yourself, but if you start having a full-on conversation with yourself, you should probably stop immediately. A friend began talking to herself at home, but made the mistake of starting a conversation with herself in the grocery store and, boy, did she ever clear the produce section. She stopped shopping at that store and never went back again.

Your immediate neighborhood has some great people who you may have had limited contact with previously. And while you’ll want to be careful what you tell them if you are still navigating your divorce (you don’t want the information coming back to haunt you), you also never know what potential new friend is close by. After her divorce, a friend of mine found out just how rude her Ex was to a neighbor when she started up a conversation one Sunday afternoon. They became instant friends and remain close today.

Even the unexpected ones

If you are a “hater of children,” maybe try getting over that and make friends with the kids in your neighborhood or building. We’re not past the time when children will pass up the opportunity to mow your lawn or bring in your groceries (for a small fee, of course), but even the power of a friendly wave is not to be underestimated. One friend met her new beau through a neighborhood child. Even if you are not ready for this new man, stranger introductions and lifetime memories with a great guy could be waiting for you.

Volunteer—yes, you

Since you now have some free time on your hands, try volunteering. Someone may need your more than your Ex ever did. One friend volunteered at an animal shelter. Animals offer the best unsolicited affection out there. Dogs are a great judge of character and can make you feel special and loved during a time when you feel very un-special and unloved.

Another friend volunteered at the senior center in her town. She learned new dance steps, how to cheat at cards, and developed a real knack for chess. Still another acquaintance took a jaunt overseas to volunteer in an orphanage. The plight of those children made her look at her divorce in a new light. All of the women mentioned here felt that they became better people because of their volunteering experiences and who doesn’t want that in her life?

Moving forward isn’t about getting just any divorce advice, it’s about getting the right kind for your unique situation. If you, too, are looking for the wisdom of a woman of a certain age, someone who has been in your place before and tried on this particular pair of well-worn shoes, than know that you can find what you’re seeking if you look hard enough. A trusted and smart divorce attorney, therapist, financial advisor, or divorce coach—no matter who you need by your side at this particular moment in your divorce recovery journey, they’re out there.

Guest post by Elizabeth Allen, author of The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah! a collection of break up stories, including her own. Available on Kindle or paperback through Amazon, Allen’s book is a humorous guide to helping you move through the divorce fiasco so you come out a stronger, more vibrant, confident, powerful, and totally evolved woman.

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

*At SAS for Women, we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Woman on the couch ignoring divorce advice for women

Divorce Advice for Women: Get Off the Couch

Despite the never-ending amount of divorce advice out there, the end of a marriage is hard.  Divorce is scary, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting through it. Divorce means the start of a new phase of your life—one that you never planned for.

When understanding takes on a new meaning

My parents were divorced, and I was a second-wife and stepmother for 14 years. On top of that, I have been a family law attorney for 21 years. But even so, none of that prepared me for the roller coaster of emotions that came along with my own divorce. I thought I knew what to expect, and I thought I was prepared. Hadn’t I been dishing out divorce advice to clients for years? Surely if there was an expert, I was it. I was so wrong.

When your marriage splits up, you need to redefine your future, your path, and yourself.  In a marriage, you sacrifice so much of yourself, especially toward the end when all your efforts seem to be failing and you do everything you can to desperately try to save your relationship. In the midst of all that, it’s possible to lose sight of who you are—who you truly are, deep inside.

What makes you happy? What are the things you used to do just for yourself—not for your kids, your husband, or your job but just for you? Is it easy to come up with this list? Can you even remember?

My best divorce advice

My best divorce advice for women is to tell you it is time to focus on you now—to get back to your authentic self. Figure out what makes you happy and where you want your life to go. You have unlimited opportunities now. You have choices. Sure, the path you are on now is not the path that you were on before and it is not the one you expected, but you can redefine your future and you can make it better than before.

Yes, the changes to your finances are scary.  Yes, getting back into the dating world can also another kind of terrifying.  But you can do it.  You are strong, you are fabulous, and you need to get out there and show the world if you ever expect to get anywhere or meet anyone new (friends or lovers).

So, as simple as it sounds: Put away the tissues, and get off the couch. You are amazing, and you have a beautiful, bright future ahead, if only you are brave enough to stop listening to and reading divorce advice and go out there and act on it.

Daryl Weinman is a family law attorney, practicing in the Austin, Texas, area for twenty-one years. A child of divorce, a stepmother for fourteen years, a mother of two teenage boys, and divorced now herself for the past four years, Daryl has seen divorce from most every angle and can truly relate to the emotional struggles of her clients and divorced friends. To leverage her insights and smart, savvy takeaways, read her new book, Post Divorce Journey Back to Yourself available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. Or if you are in the Austin area, or a resident of Texas and would like to consult with Daryl for legal divorce advice, visit here for details.

Although SAS periodically features links to and writing by other professionals on the SAS website, SAS for Women™ is not responsible for the accuracy or content of that information. As for what is best for you and your future, SAS always recommends you speak to a professional to discuss the particulars of your situation.