I often think about what I would say to myself if I could rewind a few years and see Former Allison, curled in a ball, crying in my sons room all alone. That girl was helpless. She had let someone else control her for years and was still such a dependent child in a million ways.
I would sit down on the floor with the Former Allison and hold her while she cried. I would take her firmly, lovingly, by the shoulders and say, “You are stronger than this. This life you are crying for is not real. It was a lie and there is no love in this home. Pack a bag, get your son, go to your parents house across the country and find your strength.”
When I first told my parents about the divorce, I called to get their advice. I told them everything. Every thing about my husband I tried to keep hidden or sweep under the rug. I had never told them how I was treated or the awful things he did to me.
They were shocked. I can’t imagine how sad they were to know I had been in so much pain and alone in my sadness for those years away from their home. As a parent, I know they must have felt to guilty and helpless.
I was so frightened at the prospect of a divorce. I was scared to be alone. I remember being especially embarrassed about having to say “ex- husband” and “first marriage”. How silly, I think now. How inconsequential.
I would have sat next to Former Allison and said, “Stop that. Who cares. One failed marriage, largely in part of someone else’s choices, does not make you your crazy aunt who has been married more than 5 times and does not make you a loser. You’ll just have to get over that right now.”
When I first spoke to my parents, my husband was out of the house all morning. My parents recommended I talk to a lawyer first and foremost. Excellent advice. Except…. now I know lawyers don’t really care about me. Shocking, I know. They care a little about me, but mostly, I’m just a $client$.
I would have told former Allison, “Yes. Find a lawyer. How about shopping around instead of just Googling “Divorce lawyer”? Get some recommendations and speak to all of them. Negotiate a price and firmly set up the conversation so they understand the personality disorder of your ex is not to be taken lightly.”
I did just Google “divorce lawyer” in my state. He wasn’t terrible. But he really put my case on the back burner and kept waiving away my concerns with a “mother’s get children, period” line. Like I said in my last $250 phone call with my lawyer, “All I’ve ever gotten from you is invoices and a condescending attitude”.
I wasted way too much money on my lawyer. I let him call the shots, I let him take the lead. When, in reality, I knew my ex best. I could predict his moves fairly well. Only no one listened to me.
To anyone gearing up for a divorce. Find your wits first and foremost. Rip your heart out and set it aside for a moment, if need be. Take emotion out of the equation for now. Then, find a lawyer. One who has your mindset. (Not to be a feminist or anything, but I believe I would’ve been able to communicate better had I gotten a woman attorney.)
Another mistake I made that I touched on above is, I was way too kind. Per usual victim/ dependent behavior, I thought way more about my ex’s feelings than he did about mine. Fortunately, my family was there to give me some tough love and they told me to put my emotions aside. Very good advice.
Some things that I did get the hang of later on in my divorce way listening to myself. To calm my emotions and quiet my mind, I highly recommend yoga. If ever in your life there was time to step outside of the storm and find some inner peace, it is in the midst of a divorce. When your mind is clean and calm, all the pieces of your problems lay scattered about and easily seen from above. When they are swirling around you all jumbled, you will never make great decisions in a vortex of chaos.
I connected to myself through my practice and learned to listen to my own feelings and make these very personal decisions with my own heart and mind. When you have parents who love you, siblings who want to fight for you, and a lawyer trying to “advise” you all day about your problems, the voices can get to be too much. In the end, only you live with your decisions in the divorce.
Looking back, for the second half of my divorce I can honestly say I have no regrets. Well, maybe I should’ve asked for my fancy DSLR camera …hmm…. but mostly, I have no regrets. I made the hardest decision in mine and my young son’s life but I made a choice that was good and right and mine.
I’m proud of Former Allison. She really got it together quickly and didn’t take anyone’s shit.
Now, I’m very proud of Present Allison. She makes good decisions for herself and doesn’t let someone else control her emotions or her life.
My ex can stew and plot and act out however he chooses to, but now I have found the tools to let those things bounce off of me and fly far away. I no longer react to his insanity and backlashes. I’ve found myself again and I’m never letting her go!