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In The Beginning

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Another day another argument, another sleepless night, you just can’t take it anymore.  This has been going on for too long.  It’s not fair to the kids that we fight all the time.  He or she is being such a jerk and they’ll never change.  Thoughts of divorce are swirling in your head – I just can’t take this anymore you think, I just can’t do this one more day, I am so sick of fighting, I am so sick of the silent treatment, I cannot stand to look at their ugly, angry face for one more minute, divorce is the only option.

You start googling divorce lawyers in your area, you ask friends and family that have been through this for recommendations, you make a few calls and try to find someone who offers a free consultation and you set the appointment.

The day has come and you sheepishly wander into the attorney’s office.  You are feeling a bit embarrassed as the receptionist hands you a form to fill out and asks you if you want anything to drink – you say no you have brought your own.  You sit down on the couch next to a table with a few random magazines lying out and a tissue box nearby.

You begin to fill out all of the essentials, name, address, phone number, name of other person, number of kids, their names, when were you married, where were you married, when did you separate.  You begin to realize just how real this is but say to yourself “it has to be done.”  You hand your form back to the receptionist who then walks you into a conference room and seats you at a large table that could hold at least 25 people; another tissue box sits in the center.  You’re nervous as you sit and wait – thoughts going round and round in your head, “what am I doing, this is a mistake, I should leave.” Possibly your anger wells up and you’re thinking about getting back at the other person or threatening them with divorce to make them see things your way, you want them to know you’ve been here.

Just as you’re getting lost in your thoughts and maybe second guessing yourself the attorney walks in, all smiles she holds out her hand to greet you.  She sits down and begins to peruse your paperwork “so you haven’t separated yet is that correct?” “Yes, we are still living together but I just wanted to explore my options.”  “Great”, she says, “tell me a little bit about what’s going on.”

The next thing you know you are signing a fee agreement and deciding how to pay the $3000 retainer they will need just to get you started.

The one and probably most important thing you most likely have not done is talk to your spouse.  Of course you talk, or most likely argue with each other on a daily basis but have you actually talked to your spouse? Have you had a conversation about your issues, why you’re arguing all the time and if there is any possible way to fix it?  Have you discussed or better yet, gone to a marriage counselor, therapist, church group either individually or together?  Have you even had a conversation in which you talked about doing something to at least try and fix this?  You say to yourself, what’s the point, he won’t listen, he’s not going to change it’s a waste of money.  She’ll never go, and even if she does she’ll just lie and blame everything on me, it’s a waste of time.  It’s better to just be done with it.

The problem is you do not realize getting a divorce will be much more expensive not only financially but emotionally as well.  A few hours of therapy vs many months or a year or more divorcing may be time better spent.  It’s not to say that counseling or therapy will fix everything but at least it’s a start.  There may be issues that you didn’t even know existed that actually may be very easy to resolve.  There may be issues you did not know the other person was dealing with that you may be able to help them to resolve.  There may be a lot of things that could be fixed through counseling but there’s no way to know if you don’t go.  Maybe it won’t solve all of your issues and divorce still may be necessary but at least you are going into it knowing that you have done everything possible to try to save this marriage and you now know better where the other person is coming from when trying to negotiate a settlement.

Divorce isn’t always the answer – the time, money, emotions and brain drain it takes to go through a divorce may be saved by a few counseling or therapy sessions.  After all there was a reason you married this person in the first place and if there is any possible way to get that person back, to go back to the day you said I do, to rekindle the love that made you fall for this person in the first place wouldn’t you rather have that then sitting in this lawyers office spilling your guts as they sit there and think of you as just another paying client? Your marriage may not be salvageable but you need to know that 100% before throwing it on the junk heap of love.

My Divorce Coach International

Start Here Your Guide Through Divorce and Recovery

 

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Getting Back on the Horse

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Writing this blog lately has been sporadic at best.  I made the decision earlier this year to throw myself full on into starting my divorce coaching practice and getting my book published.  I was excited, I had a plan, I was ready to go…and then I wasn’t.

Just as I was about to embark full on into my venture my ex died, as I wrote about in my last post.  I had no idea the affect it would have on me and how it would nearly stop me in my tracks.  We were divorced for almost exactly three years at that point and did not have much of a relationship except for the need to care for our kids.  I really thought that I was fully over him and ready to move on, however I could not seem to get myself there.  It wasn’t until he passed that I came to the realization that my feelings for him had been holding me back.  But not the feelings you might think. It was my anger and sense of betrayal that I could not let go of.  I was angry that he had chosen alcohol over his family and I felt betrayed in that he had promised me he would always be there for me and take care of me, and that was true for most of our marriage.  I relied on that to live a comfortable life free of want and the ability to work on my career as I saw fit and take care of our children as well.  I was happy.

After he passed I now had a different anger that I needed to let go of, I was angry that he had died.  I was furious that he could not seem to pull himself together to be a father to his children and that he put his drinking before anything else.  I do realize that some of it he could not control as he had a very long family history with this disease, he just happen to lose his fight, or gave up the fight, at a young age.  I had to reconcile myself with that and somehow continue on in the present while letting go of the past.  It was not and is not an easy thing to do.  I had been here before.

And now months later, both kids off to college, I am an empty nester and ready to get back on that horse, or at least I think I am.  It has been awhile and I’m not 100% sure I am fully ready.  I am nervous and afraid but realize that my past has truly and literally been put to rest and it is time for me to let it go, move on and be happy again.  I can either continue to live there and be angry about what might have been and to some extent should have been or I can rustle myself up a new steed and hopefully ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after – for now.  I think I’ll go with the latter.

Check out my new book:

Start Here – Your Guide Through Divorce and Recovery

My Divorce Coach Intl.

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How Do You Grieve The Death of an Ex?

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It has been some time since I last posted on this site.  my life came to an abrupt halt recently when my ex-husband unexpectedly died.

We have been divorced for three years however, we were married for seventeen.  We have two children together that no longer have a father.  We were not the best of friends after our divorce or even friends at all actually; in fact we really did not talk much except for things that had to do with our kids and even then it was via text or email only.

He lived in a different state so only saw our children on occasion.  When he would come to pick them up I would peek out my window to catch a glimpse of the person I once shared my life with and called my husband.  Due to his vices he had almost literally become a shadow of the man he once was.  He was not the person I married nor was he the awesome father he had once been.

While his passing was unexpected in some ways it was not in others, I will just say we were not completely surprised.  Still, it was a heartbreaking and devastating event in the lives of my children and myself.  All hope that he may ever again be the dad my children once knew and loved and had completely immersed themselves in, was forever gone.

My children, one still in high school the other in college, were now left with the task of planning a funeral.  His parents both gone and his only sibling living in another state there was no one else, no one but me.  How could I expect my children to even begin to contemplate the totality of the task at hand?  He too lived in another state making it even more difficult.  Coordination with the coroner to have an autopsy done, a cremation, and then transportation of his cremains from the state he was living in to the one where he grew up and where his friends and ourselves resided.  Coordination with a funeral home for the service and the planning of a reception after.  So much for their young brains to wrap their minds around especially as my youngest was preparing for graduation.  How could I burden them with this?  So I didn’t.

I found myself planning a funeral for a man whom I no longer loved or respected.  For a man I could not even speak to save for text and email.  A man that had chosen his vice over his family, I was now expected to honor him in death – and I did.  I arranged a funeral, I helped plan a reception and opened my home for that purpose.  I picked out pictures and music for a DVD, I reached out to friends and family to speak at the service, gathered a few personal items to share with those that attended and notified and gathered his remaining friends.

This was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do for so many reasons and one that but for my children, I would not have done.  He died alone but I would not let him be forgotten.

The day of the funeral his friends hugged me and offered condolences, they told me if there was anything I needed they were there for me and offered up memories of times they had shared with him.  Although these people knew we had not been married for several years, I was being treated as a grieving widow and that made me uncomfortable.  I was not sure how to respond except with a polite “thank you” to everyone.  Although I was so grateful to his friends for being present for my children and myself, I was having a hard time reconciling my role in all of this.

As the last person left my home that day I literally closed the door on that chapter of my life.  Of course I will still have my children as a beautiful reminder of what we shared, however everything else will now just be a memory.

I have grieved considerably and I sometimes struggle to understand why, after all we were divorced and no longer really even speaking to each other.  Maybe my brain has just chosen to focus on the good times in our life together rather than the bad, and in that I find myself drowning in a pool of what could have been rather than what was.  I guess I’m o.k with that, for now.

My Divorce Coach Intl.

 

 

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The Dash

These past few weeks have been difficult in my household, the father of my children, my ex-husband, passed away at too young of an age.  It reminded me of the poem below and serves as a reminder to live life to the fullest as we never know when it will be no more.

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.  What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and  more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

The Dash – by Linda Ellis

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God Only Knows

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I heard today that a girl I went to school with had died.  Being that she was my age she was still fairly young – or at least I like to think of myself that way.  I remember she was the only friend I had for a while in elementary school.  I can still remember running with her around the parking lot – or the “blacktop” as it was called, that had been converted into our schools’ playground.  We used to play these hand games where we would slap our hands together to the rhythm of a song that we would sing.  We would spend the entire recess slapping our hands together so by the end our hands were bright red and felt like a thousand bees had just stung them; but we loved it.  Her name was Gina.

I think about dying a lot for some reason.  I think the older we get the more it becomes a reality.  I concern myself with the fact that any day now it could be me lying on the autopsy table while the coroner determines my manner of death and then onto the mortician who will ultimately prepare my body for my farewell party.  It could be tomorrow, it could be next year, it could be 20 years from now – God only knows because I sure as heck don’t.  And because of that I feel like it’s important to try and get the most out of each day, leave nothing undone, no regrets.  I feel that way but don’t always act that way.  I find myself wasting time, watching stupid tv or playing games on my phone.  I have so many things on my bucket list but sometimes I’m just too lazy to even read the list let alone actually do anything on it.

The one regret I will never have however is my divorce, the way I handled it and all that has happened since then.  I know that if I leave this earth tomorrow I will have spent every minute of the time I have had with my kids being the best parent that I could.  I will know that I have set the example for them, I will have given them a legacy of strength and power to get them through even the most difficult of times and I will know that I taught them to value themselves and to know their worth.  I will never regret that I had to leave my marriage to provide a better future for them.  I will never regret any sacrifices I made to ensure that their lives remained as close to their normal as possible and I will never regret putting myself on hold so I could use all of my energy to help propel my children to their future selves and prepare them for a life filled with love and happiness.  I may leave a lot of things undone but imparting my wisdom and power upon my girls will not be one of them.

None of us knows exactly how much life we have left but we are in control of what we do with it, how we choose to live it and the legacy we leave behind.  If you haven’t started working on your legacy yet, get busy because God only knows……

What’s your dash?

My Divorce Coach Intl

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I Have a Dream

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As a solo parent all responsibilities fall on you.  You must get your kids to school everyday, help them with homework, get them to and from after school activities, decide what they will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, shop for and cook most of those meals, shop for all of the clothes, school supplies and extras, make all of the doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments, get your kids there and back and handle anything that goes along with that, take care of your home and cars, make all of the decisions and implement those decisions. You are referee to your kids squabbles, chef, chauffeur, maid, doctor, dentist, weatherperson, arts and crafts guru, homework helper, mechanic, handyman and on and on.  Even the cat and/or dog are vying for your time.  And somehow, some way, you have to find time to work a full-time job and maybe, just maybe have a little bit of a life for yourself.

You do what you have to do to pay the bills whether you enjoy it or not, you spend your time living someone else’s dream and you are exhausted.  Then the day comes when your children become independent, they don’t need you as much anymore, you are on stable ground and have a little more freedom to do the things you want to do.  But you still have to provide a home for your children, you still have bills to pay, you still have decisions to make, forms to sign, meals to cook, and oh yeah you still have to be a responsible adult and work the job that pays your bills.

You have been the gatekeeper, you have been the provider, you have been the sole support system and you have been the solid ground in which your children have relied on to hold them up as they walk the path to adulthood.  Although they have reached the threshold you cannot close the door yet.  While they are opening new doors each and every day, exploring a new world and finding their passion, you stand back and hold your door open for them, providing the safe space for which they can come back and rest now and then while they are paving their path through adulthood.

And at some point you realize your life has been all about your children, your reason for being every day completely revolved around them.  You knew that whatever you did each and every day it somehow was because of or for your children.  Now that they don’t need you in that way anymore you find yourself lost.  You finally have the opportunity to pursue your passions and your dreams but how do you do that, what even are they? They were pushed aside so long ago you’re not even sure you can find them anymore and worst of all you’re not even sure you have the desire to look.  You have made your self comfortable in an uncomfortable being and the fear that lives inside of you to step outside of that is overwhelming.  How do you find the inner strength to let go of everything you have known for probably 20 years or more and find yourself again? And scarier yet what if you don’t? You have taught your kids to pursue their passions, to live their own dreams whatever they may be and you have given them a steady hand to hold as they fight their fear of the unknown – because you knew, you knew that they had nothing to fear and you would always have their back.  And maybe without even realizing it you were living your dream.  Maybe your dream is to help people, check.  Maybe your dream is to inspire people, check.  Maybe your dream is to be a caregiver, check.  Maybe your dream is to be a leader, check.  You were living your dream all along and didn’t even know it. Now it’s time to get up, make the bed and see what’s next.

My Divorce Coach Intl.

 

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The Tragedy That Is Life In American Schools

Once again innocent children have died.  They went to school and paid the ultimate price.  When will we decide that our children are worth more to us than the right for anybody who wants a gun to have a gun, including other children.

Is it possible if the people who were making these or not making these laws lost their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren they might actually stop worrying about insuring their campaign funds, even if it is from the NRA, so they can sit around and do nothing except offer up prayers and do the right thing? I’m sorry to say but God is not going to stop this, only the people we have put in charge of our safety can but they are unwilling.

As ordinary citizens the only thing we have control over is voting out those that believe it is just the price you pay for living in this country and voting in those that believe military grade weapons have no place in a civilized society.  Even if you believe in your right to own a gun I find it very difficult to believe that you agree that what is happening in this country, in our schools or any public place is ok or that every man woman and child should be constantly armed and prepared for a gun fight.  When someone argues that teachers should be armed in order to thwart this type of event wouldn’t it make more sense to enact common sense gun laws that would prevent it in the first place?  Does it really make sense that the solution to gun violence is more guns?

To all of those parents who are divorced or in the process of divorce, you now will most likely only see your children half as much as you are used to.  For that reason and the sad prospect that none of us know what day might be the last for our children, use your time wisely.  Love your children, let them know that every day.  Do not waste your time fighting with an ex, disparaging an ex, trying to “win”.  Even if your child does make it to adulthood, time is fleeting, it goes very very fast – don’t let it pass you by.  Take advantage of every minute you have with them so the memories you look back on are the absolute best they can be.

My Divorce Coach International

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Why Get Married

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Is there really any reason to get married? Why not just live together? As long as you make it very clear that there is no marriage i.e. common law why go through all of the hassle and expense to get married? There are plenty of couples that have been together for decades that are perfectly happy not formalizing their relationship.  Take Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn for example.  They have been together for 30 plus years and have never seen a need to get married.  They have raised children together, bought homes together, have grandkids and are very much in love.  While they do not have the certificate that binds them together legally it has not dulled or changed their love in any way.

Couples have spent tens of thousands of dollars on marriages that didn’t even last five years.  That money could have been used on so many awesome things, such as houses, traveling, savings for their future.  And when things don’t work out you are then forced to spend possibly thousands of dollars more to end the marriage, so what’s the point? Is it really worth it just to say you are Mr. or Mrs. someone.

I realize that some people would never dream of living with someone without being married but why? It could serve two purposes.  First, to find out what living with this person is really going to be like before you take the biggest step of you life.  You might just find that as much as you love them you absolutely could not live with them.  And second you may decide to forgo the fancy ceremony and put that money to better use.  It is not taboo as it might have once been to have children out of wedlock, more and more couples are doing it and in our modern times families come in so many different shapes and forms this is absolutely nothing most people or even your kids, would think twice about anymore.

Marriage is hard and a lot of people are not really willing to work that hard.  A marriage is like a garden, if you don’t tend it, water it, feed it and nurture it it will die.  If you aren’t willing to get down in the dirt and pull the weeds than you might as well plow it over and move on.

After 21 years of family law I have begun to believe that maybe marriage isn’t necessarily the answer to our happiness.  Maybe all we need is to be happy with ourselves and then we can truly welcome another person into our lives in whatever form and have our happily ever after.

My Divorce Coach Intl.

 

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Do You Need An Attorney?

Start Here: Your Guide Through Divorce and Recovery

Following is an excerpt from my most recent book Start Here: Your Guide to Divorce and Recovery available on Amazon. Start Here

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Do you need an attorney? My answer to that is, maybe, maybe not. What are your circumstances? Do you have kids? Do you have a lot of assets that need to be divided? Is this a high-dollar marriage? Or on the other hand, are there no kids, no assets or very few and they have already been divided? Was it a short-term marriage, and have you been able to agree on everything? You don’t always need an attorney, especially if there are no assets to speak of, you don’t need to worry about child support or alimony, you weren’t married long, etc. Most courts have self-help forms online and instructions on how to do it yourself. There is no need to get attorneys involved if you are able to settle everything on your own. Beyond that, if there are only one or two issues that still need to be decided, a good mediator can help you with that. Depending on where you live, you may be required to mediate before going to court anyway, so why not just start there.

On the other hand, if things are going to be complicated, and if you have a lot of assets, a business or two or you have kids and are arguing over parenting time, decisions, etc., you may need to hire an attorney. To that end, do not just Google “divorce attorneys.” Start by asking trusted friends or family members; referrals are always best because these people have real-world experience with this attorney and wouldn’t be referring them if they were not good at their job. I would caution you to not use an attorney your friend used to sue her neighbor and the attorney has also done a divorce case here and there. You want to use someone who specializes in family law and has been there done that. You want someone who knows the court system, the judges, mediators, counselors, and other professionals you may need to complete your case. This is the rest of your life we are talking about and you don’t just want to use someone because they have a law degree or because they’re cheap.

If you can’t find any referrals, then go ahead and do an internet research. There are a lot of family law attorneys, but they are not all the same. If you can find a few who do free consultations, take advantage and interview them. It is important for you to be comfortable with this person and to feel you can trust them. You will be working with them for the foreseeable future, and you will basically be putting your financial and emotional life in their hands, so be sure the outcome will be worth the money spent.

Also, keep in mind that it is unethical for one attorney to represent both parties – the attorney is supposed to be working towards the best possible outcome for their client and work to resolve things in their best interest, if you are both his or her clients who do they remain loyal to? Never hire an attorney to work with both of you.  However, if your spouse has hired an attorney and you choose to proceed without one keep in mind that you will be working directly with this attorney and they cannot give you legal advice.  They will of course be working in their client’s best interest and you may feel pressured and end up signing something that isn’t best for you or you don’t completely understand.  I believe it is better to either both have an attorney or not.

My Divorce Coach Intl.

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Is Divorce A Four Letter Word?

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Last year after 21 years of working in family law I decided to leave the office behind and focus on the part of my job I loved the most, the emotional support.  I loved metaphorically holding my client’s hands and sometimes literally.  I loved listening to them and offering them guidance but mostly I was proud to be able to provide them with the tools to recovery and the understanding that this doesn’t have to define their lives.  Unfortunately that was difficult to do when you have 60-70 active clients and have minimal time for each client.  My focus had to be on the legal portion because that’s where we made our money.  The clients had to figure out the support side themselves.  I hated that, I wanted to be there for them however not only did I not have the time but I didn’t feel right about billing them over $150 an hour because they just needed someone to listen at that moment.

After leaving I wrote a book Start Here: Your Guide Through Divorce and Recovery (on Amazon), started a divorce coaching business and started offering free workshops to guide people through the process.  However, every time I tried to advertise I was either turned away, my posts were taken down or I received negative feedback.  I was told on one site I advertised on that it was a family site and that this was not the place to talk about divorce, and then was accused of only hosting the workshop for my own personal gain.  This was one of many comments I received.

Is this really still a hush hush topic? Is it still not pc or polite to talk about divorce in public or at all? Are people too sensitive or do I just not understand something? Maybe I’m wrong for trying to help those in need even in our “family” neighborhood but unfortunately divorce is a reality.  Nobody wants it, it’s not fun, it can be expensive and if there are kids involved it can be even more difficult.  I know, not only is this my profession but I also watched my parents divorce and have gone through my own.  I am trying to lift up those in need and help them through one of the most difficult periods in their lives and am somehow a villain for wanting to do so.

If divorce is in the cards for you I want you to know this four letter word – time.  It will take time to get through it, it will take time to get over it and in time you will move on and be happy again.

My Divorce Coach Intl.

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