Ever since my book came out, I have had many women (okay, 3) ask me, “When did you know you were ready to change your life, you know, go in a whole new direction?” What? I had NO IDEA. That decision was made for me when my husband told me he had decided to make other plans for the rest of his life. At 48 I thought things were pretty much set, we would become empty nesters, do a big vacation once a year and then maybe buy a condo with pool access.
Not so fast.
When I first began my journey through divorce, I kept to a very tight schedule. I would wake up and wonder how I was going to make it through the day without breaking down in front of my kids, my lawn guy, the checkout girl at Publix who for some reason always insists on asking me if I have exciting plans for the weekend, my neighbors, my Pilates instructor…well, you get the idea. Once I got that out of the way, I would get my kids off to school, do my errands, pick kids up from school, serve them dinner and wait for night to fall and for them to say goodnight because then it was MY time.
This was the time I would open a bottle of Pinot, pour myself a nice big glass, and sit in front of my lap top, where I would write my nightly letter to my STBX formatted as below
TO: email address
FROM: YOUR WIFE
SUBJ: You mother fu—r I HATE YOU
And I would write, and write and write, the anger and venom flying from my fingers. Once I was spent, I would hit SEND. I did this for a few months until his attorney spoke to my attorney, who spoke to me (even being reprimanded cost me money) and told me to stop it asap, because it was bordering on harassment, it would not cast me in a good light with the judge and it was really freaking weird.
I continued the letters, but I stopped hitting send. After a time, I looked forward to this nightly ritual and the letters became less and less hateful and more and more cleansing. In fact, some of them brought happy tears to my eyes as I recalled moments from the past where we had been a couple, a family, whole. I found writing these letters that would never be sent left me feeling lighter, and if not happier, then at least accepting and hopeful for my future as I ventured into it as a single woman.
These letters led me to my blogs on Huffington Post Divorce, First Wives Social Network, BlogHer, and More.com, among others, which then led me to writing my book: “There’s Been A Change Of Plans – A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents In Midlife” which then led me to where I am now…
It’s time for me to give back. That is, to connect with other women going through this gut wrenching, life changing experience and help them get their experience down in their own words. Whether the plan is to share it with others (NOT your ex), shoot for publication (like I did) or just get thoughts, feelings and emotions down on paper, writing can be a way of working through your divorce by organizing your thoughts, putting them down on paper, and then moving on!
This past year my colleague and I have designed a series of online workshops and a weekend retreat we call Writing Your Way Through Divorce. The goal is to not only teach you how to use writing as a tool to get your feelings unstuck, but also provide the support and structure to help you write with clarity and confidence and end up with a piece of writing you will be proud of. (Check out the details on my workshops page.. or click here)
We’ve been there, we’ve done it. You can, too.
And, if you come to the weekend retreat, there WILL be bagels. So keep that in mind.