March 02, 2014

The Southern Divorcee

I've waited quite a while to lay this one down.  I guess I had to find my own voice on the subject before I could open that door.  Because I am no expert on anything, I gathered some wisdom from some ladies and gents around me to hand over their voices on the subject.  Originally this was going to be geared toward the women...but then it hit me, I've seen just as many men walked on as I have women.  So:

To the Southern Divorcee (male or female) in training....here's a checklist of wisdom.  What we would have wanted (or needed) someone to tell us at that time in our lives.  Enjoy.



First and foremost, you are stronger than you believe.  No matter how bad or ugly a situation looks, it's not going to last forever and yes, you can get past it.  Sometimes things don't work out, sometimes they crash and burn, sometimes...you just gotta leave.  No matter what the situation, hold your head high and don't forget...you are important and strong.  Make sure this step is truly the one you want to take.  Yes it can be reversed...but it is expensive and there's a stigma that sticks.  Make sure it is not only what you want...but what is best for all involved.

**Get.  Legal.  Counsel.  This goes for both sides not just whomever files.  Even if you think you can't afford it.  There are plenty attorneys or students or whomever that can and will give a hand to someone who needs it.  Call the local BAR association if you have to.  Dig and look and you will find.  Fight for what is right, not what makes you angry.  This, like most life changing things, can be poorly affected by emotions.  Try very hard to eliminate the "I want" and stick to what is needed or what is best for any and all involved-particularly if there are children.  Pick your battles and know when to cut your losses.

Okay, on to the next important thing:  Children.  They are an important part of the process.  Make sure you are never using them as bait or leverage (that's just not right).  When it's time for them to know the truth (when they start asking questions), tell them.  Kids are resilient little creatures and the are far more perceptive than we give them credit for.  They see what we think we hide "well enough"...never underestimate the power of a child's mind.  They might get angry at one of you or another...they might retreat inward.  Give them what they need, counselling, friends, space, a mom, a dad...whatever it takes.  So many people use their children as leverage...they forget it's not about the babies...the babies didn't ask to be born into our mess.  There is a level of protection to be had, a level of honesty, and a level of reality that has to be reached.  Make sure you're doing your part.  When you are talking with them or around them, choose your words wisely.  There are ways to say things.  Do your best to find the best way.

Memories.  Memories are photos, plates, baseballs, candles, tee shirts, flowers, letters...  I'm not saying throw out all the photo albums or the scrapbooks...just hide'em for a good long while.  Give back what you don't want to/can't take looking at or that you know you don't want.  Personally, that's when mine knew that I took him at his word and it was over.  I took down every family photo I hung in that house.  I didn't destroy or throw them out....but they weren't on that wall and I didn't have to see them every day.  If you have years worth of things or pictures, maybe make a book for your child(ren) and give it to them.  That way they have something good to look back on and you are not staring at reminders.  There's nothing wrong with throwing out or burning things that harbor bad memories...but give it time.  Give back/away what you can first.  Then when it's time for your purge...do it.  A glass of red, your best friends, or solo....PURGE.

every card, every letter, every piece of poetry filled wrapping paper
three years after the fact.

Rebounds:  are inevitable.  Do what you need to do.  Sometimes "the best way to get over someone is to get under someone".  There's going to be a period of adjustment, loneliness, freedom, IDGAF.  A rebound is not a relationship.  One more time for the cheap seats:  A REBOUND IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP.  Ok.  Let's say you meet someone.  They help you get past/forget/feel good.  Let it ride.  If that is meant to be the next big thing, it will be.  Don't. Force. It.  Give yourself time.  Some of us have been married for years.  It takes time to remember who we are as a person...an individual.  Take a year.  Take a decade.  Take the time you need to remember who you are.  Don't neglect what you need, just be responsible about it.  You need to learn boundaries, birth control, self control, and self reliance.  Southern women and men have a tendency to shut down who they are for the marriage.  They throw themselves into work, raisin' babies, workin' the land, whatever....no matter how long that life lasts...it leaves a mark.  You have to find a way to get past that without going off the destructive end.  Also, look out for any children you have...they don't need to be inundated with a myriad of "uncle so-n-so" or "miss so-n-so".  If you're just getting by, leave the kids out of it for a while.

Relationships with the ex.  These are also inevitable.  Some of us are able to maintain a good one, maybe that marriage simply wasn't meant to be-no harm no foul.  There are others that can't even speak to one another without conflict.  If you divorce, you know in your head and heart it is not right to be with that person...don't go back.  Even if you have a child.  It might seem like the thing to do, or they might bait you with that child or promises to change, don't cave.  This is where that resolve comes into play.  The notion of "that's the best I'll ever do" is wrong.  Every so often a couple needs a break or breathing room.  Breathing room is not the same as a divorce.  It's time to think and make sure the path you are on is the correct one.  Going back to the same situation you left expecting different results does not always work, thus-divorce.  Remember this batchildren:  whatever behavior caused the split is probably not going to change.  We can adjust behaviors, we can try to amend wrongs, but if you see repeated behaviors and you choose to remove yourself from that life, stick to the decision.  That being said, make sure whatever you are harboring does not bleed over to you children.  Again, they didn't ask to be put in the middle of it.


Counselling.  Divorce is an easy(expensive) way out.  The Catholic church requires that a new couple go to a therapist or a religious counselor before they tie the knot.  The same should be done if you are untying that knot.  Make sure.  Make damn sure it is what is best for all involved.  Once the decision is made to end it, it's not a bad idea for an individual to spend some time getting the old hurts off their chest.  Especially if a person comes from a particularly abusive relationship or the children were in any way exposed or abused, take those steps to heal that mind and body.  Again, Children.  They might be angry with mom or dad or both.  They may not be willing to just empty what's in their heads to a parent or even a family member.  Allowing them access to someone completely separate from the situation gives them the security they need to process and deal with what is going on.  From littles to teenagers, even a school counselor is better than nothing at all.

Prenups and Captain Sav-A-Ho.  Basically what this boils down to is, protect yourself.  Period.  When you enter into a marriage, both parties need to be in a good place.  It's not enough to want to save them from themselves, you have to love that person and that person has to love their own self.  How many stories have we heard that involved one of the pair "finding themselves", conquering an addiction, etc. only to leave or be left because they changed.  In the spirit of protection, remember how I said divorce is expensive?  It is.  No matter who filed first, who agrees to pick up what part of the tab, or how good your representation may or may not be..pre-nups are a viable option at the beginning of a relationship.  Personally, I was never one to oblige such a thing, but after spending over $2000 on my whole divorce, losing items in my home...I get it.  I get why, no matter how great or in love a couple is, there's nothing wrong with a level of protection.

These were not all from my little brain pan, I ran questions by several folks of varying age and life styles.  If it's at all possible, fight for it, fight to keep the union a union. Stay married for at least a year, get marriage counselling, spend quality time with that person, whatever it takes.  If it doesn't work, it simply doesn't work, period.  If it's abusive in any way, it's time to get out.  So if you find yourself searching for a way out, or he/she has left you holding the bag....take a deep breath, pick your head up, and move forward.

My personal therapy the last few years?  Blogging, soul searching, and spending my hard earned tax returns on things that I could never have had in my former life.  Celebrate who you are.

Tax money shoes!!!! 



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