Married at 22, Divorced by 23. Guest Post – by Dayna M Mathews

Married at 22, Divorced by 23: My Story

It was Halloween 2008, and I was dressed as a bumblebee. He walked into the apartment I shared with my four best friends wearing an outfit made for Tiger Woods.

We said hello, shook hands, and that was the end of my sophomore-in-college life as I knew it.

We started dating in January of 2009, adopted a Shih-Tzu together by June and were engaged by November of the same year. Things with us moved fast, moved heavy, and moved without a care in the world. We were young, we were in love, and we were moving along as we both thought we should.

I mean, that’s how it’s supposed to be, right?

A little back-story on me: I grew up in northern Minnesota in a town of about 300 just two hours south of the Canadian border. Oh, and let’s just say I wasn’t exactly the most attractive or thinnest girl on the block. Making friends was never hard for me, and I suppose you could say I was a part of the “popular crowd” for all intents and purposes. People “loved” me because I was the nice girl, the girl who was always happy and the girl who was always smiling.

The one thing I never got enough of, though, was love. Unconditional love from my parents, from my friends, or from the few short-lived boyfriends I had in high school. I never felt like anyone ever truly knew or loved me for ME. In thinking about it, I never truly loved me for me, and maybe that was the problem.

Fast forward to December 2009. I was 21, and Scott and I had just gotten engaged and were quickly making all kinds of plans. After our wedding in August of 2010, we planned to move to Arizona to buy a home and start a brand new life together. Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? We thought so too.

Before we knew it, the wedding day came and went, and just as you imagine as a bride-to-be, it was the most beautiful, fun day either of us had ever experienced in our short lives.

Two weeks later, my 21 year-old husband kissed another girl at a bar.

Like, ARE YOU F&*%G WITH ME?! Nope, not at all. Pathetically, it happened.

Somehow, after a few days spent with my mom, I came home and chose to forgive and forget. After all, we were about to move to Arizona! “It was just a stupid mistake.” I said. “He’s just inexperienced and has never been hit on by a girl before.” I told my friends.

Yeah, THAT wasn’t nieve at all.

By October we were packed up and on our way to Arizona to move into our newly (but not new at all) purchased home in Avondale. Neither of us had jobs and the only person we knew in the state was Scott’s grandma up in Sun City. It wasn’t exactly the smartest way to go about things, but we made it work; for a while anyway.

Scott got a job as a bag-drop boy at a golf course, and I started selling life and health insurance. He made $8.00 an hour, and I was at a whopping ZERO dollars an hour. Let’s just say we were eating a lot of cheap food and watching a whole lot of TV. How were we going to re-do our awful-looking backyard and save for retirement when we could barely pay our bills? How were we going to have all this fun we wanted to have making what we were making? Long story short, we didn’t. We couldn’t do any of that on the money we were bringing into the household.

In April, Scott got an offer to move back up to Minnesota for the spring and summer to manage a golf course. There was no way he could turn down the offer; it was just too good.

And so he went. To be gone for at least 6 months.

I stayed in Arizona by myself and continued to work at my new job as a Career Counselor for the State. It wasn’t as hard as you might think, surprisingly. I made friends and stayed pretty busy, so the time was flying by. What I started to notice, though, was that Scott kept distancing himself from me. He didn’t call as often as he did before. He didn’t sound as interested in chatting with me anymore. And he didn’t say “I love you” like he used to.

In my heart, I knew something was up.

The weekend of our one-year anniversary I flew home to visit, and came only to find a bombshell waiting for me.

“I don’t want to kiss you because I don’t know if I will feel anything”, was the response I got at the airport.

“I just don’t know if I love you like I used to”, he kept saying during the three-hour car-ride home.

That weekend, August 28th, 2011, was the weekend my marriage was torn apart. I found out that he’d been seeing someone else while he was working in Minnesota; something I thought would never happen to me, especially from him. That sure explained a lot of things that weren’t clear before.

By October 2011, we had mutually drawn up our divorce papers. I had chosen to stay in Arizona by myself despite recommendations from my family – I just couldn’t move back to the place where Scott and I met and formed our love. In time, I found a new apartment moved out of our house, and was ready to start my new life; a life I had planned to live with him.

Letting go of the life I had planned for the past two years was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but at the end of the day I knew I had no other choice but to move on. What other option did I have?

Sulking in misery wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so I focused on forward movement and kept on.

One day at a time is all I can say that worked for me. In my heart, I trusted that this process was exactly what needed to happen in order to bring me to where I was meant to be. I never stopped believing that everything would be okay, and that someday things would all make sense. That belief is what got me through each and every day. I bought a thumb ring that says Faith, and I haven’t removed it since.

A few months after my divorce, I still hadn’t really cried. I’m what they call a “stuffer” – in short, I stuff my feelings away and pretend they don’t exist, something I’ve always been guilty of. I had a friend remind me that I NEEDED to appropriately grieve or I wasn’t going to be able to move on.

Yeah, Yeah…

I did my own form of grieving via my journal. I wrote down my feelings, my thoughts, and anything that came out even if it didn’t make sense. It was extremely cathartic, and I highly recommend it to anyone going through this process.

The BEST thing I did for myself after my divorce, though, was diving into relationship books to learn more about what makes them work. I had never done that before as I thought I knew exactly how things were supposed to work. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. The book that made me realize why Scott left me was Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. That book showed me the way and helped me understand why men and women so often find themselves in awful relationships. They don’t friggin’ understand each others’ basic needs!

When I got comfortable with the idea of dating again, I read Why Men Love Bitches, and THAT changed my world even more. Without that book, I think I’d still be single, honestly! If you’ve not yet read it, I highly suggest you get your hands on it, girl. Changed my dating game for good!

Besides the books, though, the second best thing I did for myself to get through this process was find a group of supportive girlfriends who would take me out, brush me off on my worst days, and enjoy life with me. There’ s always going to be new men who come into your life, but friends are truly forever; especially when you find the really good ones who will snap you out of your funks when you need it the most. Oh, and bring you wine and chocolate to stuff your face with.

The final thing I chose to do during my divorce was to redefine and allow myself to become the person I always wanted to be. When he left, I had no idea who I really was, what I truly wanted, and what I was going to do with the rest of my life. The beauty of that, though, is that I got to choose. No one else could tell me what to do, criticize me, or convince me of the life I should be living. I got to define what that meant for ME, and that was the biggest blessing of all.

Even though my divorce was hard, it had to happen so that I could fall in love with me. So that I could find the Dayna in me and let her shine for the world to see. I had locked her up for so long, and if not for Scott leaving, she would have stayed locked up forever, and who knows what would have happened to her. The Dayna that lives life now is a completely different Dayna that lived life then.

The married Dayna lived life by default; she lived life by her husband’s terms and did things only to make him happy. The divorced Dayna took the world by the horns and decided to define and live the life she wanted to for no one other than herself. Divorced Dayna chose to make herself the main priority.

I’ve never let her go, and I never will.

Two years ago, I decided to get on Match.com, and I found the love of my life. A man I literally created on a piece of paper just three months before meeting him. Though I didn’t know when I would meet him, I knew he was out there.

My first true love, though, is myself, and as long as I live, I will never forget that.

 

Dayna Mathews, Career & Personal Branding Coach for kick-ass women at Dayna Marie Coaching, has helped more than 500 people since 2009 on their path to creating a successful career. Not only does Dayna coach on resumes, interview skills, and job-search strategies, but she also helps people figure out what they really want. She gets down deep to help bring forth your true self so you can better personally brand yourself and stand out among the crowd. Dayna is a die-hard LinkedIn junkie, creating profiles that attract the right attention and training people how to use it most effectively to get what they want. Dayna is a hockey-obsessed, Minnesota native and a life-long Dumb and Dumber fan too.

 

To schedule a free consultation with Dayna and sign up for her VIP list, you can find her at www.daynamariecoaching.com , as well as on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

I’m a divorced dad. Guest Post – by Paul Hastings

I’m a divorced dad

Hi. My name is Paul. I’m a divorced dad. Wow, sounds like the start of something heavy!! Fortunately for me I have 17 years of working out stuff, watching my kids grow into a couple of awesome adults and finding a way to create a life I love and happiness. Along the way I reinvented my life a number of times, searched for meaning, discovered teachers, found my peace and learnt more about myself than I could have without the adversity of divorce.

Divorce was a defining time in my life. I didn’t really see it coming. We were busy with too much on our plates but we were working towards a bigger future plan juggling kids, jobs and responsibilities, hobby farm and budding business. I knew things were getting strained but this was ‘us’, and it was only other people that got divorced. When she left, my life fell apart.

Our kids were 5 and 7. I was suddenly and effectively removed from meaningful regular input into their lives, being relegated to an alternative weekend dad with half holidays. We went to court for three years, I was looking for 50/50 so I could have more time with my kids. I never got it. The courts caused an animosity that my ex-wife and I have never healed to this day. My kids lost the opportunity to have a good male role model because of the effect of divorce on me and the psychotic behaviour of the guy that stepped into my place. He was gone after a few years.

The first three years are hard to remember now; they were a large black hole. I did get angry, I did contemplate suicide…all too closely. I found myself at the edge of a cliff in my car…twice. It was the memory of growing up without a father who died of cancer at 32, when I was just seven that pulled me back from the edge, not permitting me to do that to my kids. I struggled with depression, lost motivation with my work, lost my sense of purpose, my self-esteem, self love, self respect. I couldn’t form another meaningful relationship. I was not a good role model for my kids, how could I be? Slowly my life came together but lacked purpose, motivation and meaning for a long time.

I always remained present for my kids, had a place for them to stay when they came over, and struggled with the financial challenge of handing over 42% of my take home pay while trying to set up an alternative home and afford holidays with the kids. It took years to repair the damage to my relationship with the kids, and with my daughter it’s still a work in progress.

My ex-wife will give a different story. There are always two perspectives. However you see your circumstances there will always be another perspective, a good thing to keep in mind.

I have learned a lot in 17 years and I have seen many strong trends in researching the subject for the book I am writing. Men are simple creatures really. There are two fundamental drivers to masculinity and male fulfillment and the loss of either and especially both will strike to the core.

  1. His mission – This is the job, career, passion, the thing that motivates a man to get up in the morning. The mission is as fundamental to a man as food. It defines who he is, it ranks him in a position amongst his peers, it defines his life success, allows him to provide for those he loves and maybe most importantly, leaves a legacy that his name will be remembered for.
  2. His partner, wife, significant other. The person who is there to cheer him on, support him in his mission, be his rock. Love brings great pride and sense of nurturing and responsibility to masculinity.

When these two things are good, a man is good. He is happy, fulfilled, loving, supportive, grateful and his masculinity is intact. When one of these things goes, it fundamentally affects the other. Maybe you have seen what happens when a man is retrenched from his job or his business fails. It is a tough road because it is one of his two main drivers in life. If the other fundamental stays intact he will bounce back and regain his full masculinity.

After separation, one of the cores of a man’s existence is taken away.

Yes, men do leave women and almost always one of the two fundamentals can be the driver for this. When a woman leaves a man, often both fundamentals suffer because it is also a sign that his mission has failed. He has focused so much on the mission and providing that often he doesn’t notice what is happening in his relationship. He assumes, even expects that things are ok.

When you remove these two fundamental cores that make up a man’s psychology you take away his masculinity. The result is what you often see and don’t understand in a man who becomes angry, unreasonable, vindictive, vicious, depressed. The masculinity needed to provide a good role model to kids is like a shattered glass bottle. The masculinity needed to form a good meaningful relationship is fragmented and distorted. Finding a younger sexy women is an attempt to prop up the lost masculinity.

Furthermore the divorce system and public opinion is significantly biased against separated men. Often the remnants of masculinity are crushed into the ground with a large, high-heeled legal boot, kicks that sink into the guts of the remaining shadow of a man with often the only solace a bottle of whisky. Everywhere he turns he hits brick walls, lack of support, other men in the same situation and his one remaining shining light, his kids, are often restricted in access.

You already know men don’t have the same type of support systems women have, external help is thin on the ground, well-meaning advice is often general, written by women without fully understanding the impact on male masculinity and psychology, of separation and divorce.

So what does a man do? When the earthquake has levelled your house and destroyed everything that means anything to you, you take a deep breath and move on to a new place to start rebuilding from scratch. Men have evolved doing this. It’s easier than trying to glue together the rubble of the old house and from a psychological point of view starting from scratch is the best way to rebuild your masculinity.

Apart from the individual impacts, there are greater social impacts. As the divorce rate increases, masculinity decreases. As masculinity decreases, the role of men diminishes to weak ‘yes-men’ who are afraid to be men and become poor male role models. A lack of strong male role models impacts on the very children you are trying to protect. The prevalence of teenage binge drinking and pregnancy, disrespect for other people and property, sexual abuse, violence and suicide: What if the loss of societal masculinity is a significant cause of these increasing trends with our youth?

According to Warren Farrell in his book Father and Child Reunion[i], studies worldwide show that the presence of Dads has a profound effect in children’s lives in seven critical areas that have life-long influences.

  1. Increased empathy
  2. Increased IQ and achievement
  3. Reduced levels of suicide
  4. Highly reduced levels of psychiatric intervention
  5. Increased physical health
  6. Reduced levels of teenage pregnancy and divorce
  7. Reduced crime and incarceration.

So I started out to give a male point of view on divorce for this audience. I digress. I have a mission to help other dads find a way through. It is not an easy road but it is possible. Over 17 years I have become a student of personal development and can see the very keys used for creating success and wealth in other areas of life are equally relevant to recovering from divorce.

As I travel around the world on a motorcycle (another of my missions) I’m writing a book and developing courses to assist men to bounce back, relocate their masculinity and create the life we all deserve, filled with love, happiness and fulfilment.

Web: www.paulnomad.com

Facebook: Paul Nomad Round The World

[i]  Warren Farrell – Father and Child Reunion, Finch Publishing 2001

What I know for sure. Guest Post – by Lee-Anne D’Paul

What I know for sure

I just read Oprah’s book ‘What I know For Sure.’ It was a four hour reading marathon. The stories were short chapters, each one highlighting a topic. I related to Oprah’s insights and points of view. I thought to myself how incredible, that at this stage in her life she could amalgamate her knowledge in this format that millions will enjoy. I wonder if she knew for sure when things in her life were difficult she would be where she is now.

What I know for sure is visualising the light at the end of the tunnel is almost impossible when separating from a spouse or partner. Going from one emotional, heart wrenching maybe even traumatic moment to the next can cloud your judgement. Who knows what tomorrow brings, let alone the confidence to say, “What I know for sure is all will be ok at the end of this process.”

At the time of my separation what I knew for sure was the battle was going to be hard. It’s difficult bringing a relationship to an end, a relationship that had broken down, respect and trust gone and emotions at an all time high.

I moved in to my parents home with my one year old daughter. Our only possession was our clothing. My way of taking control in this situation was to say there no longer is a relationship. His was to make sure that I was in for one hell of a ride, a five year long court battle. I fought for the girl that was lost and his battle was to gain everything else.

I remember those court experiences vividly. My life was so out of control at the time. This experience (one that when I reflect on now I am quick to say, thank god it’s over!) for me was one I will never ever forget. The ironic thing, whilst married I was stripped of the person I was, but the separation over time, made me stronger than ever.

I say this because this is what I know for sure! I know that because of what happened to me during this time, I built a life that I love today. I know that I manifested everything I have now. I know at that time, I dug deep into the depths of my aching soul and said, “How the hell did I get here, and now that I am here, how will I get out?” I know for sure, it wasn’t easy!

What I know for sure is the pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow. It’s been over ten years since I felt the pain of my separation journey, but I am a confident woman today because of it.

In all honesty I have lost track of the amount of times I have shared my story with others going through a similar journey. There are so many people experiencing the effects of a broken relationship. I am sharing my advice now as someone who has endured it. I know for sure, some of the best experts and the people we want to listen to are people that have experienced it themselves. Only then can you connect, can you relate, can you believe that you can get through it too, right?

And for the relevance of this post I want to share one of those defining moments through narrative reflection because just like many of you, I have many stories to share.

Lee x

The epiphany: A reflection

By definition: an epiphany  ‘a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something,
usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.’

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was walking across the bridge near Flinders St Station with my two year old daughter holding my hand. The warmth of the sun on my back, my step was light. I glanced across at Southgate and admired the view. It was a hub of activity given the glorious weather. I looked down, and my daughter looked up at me. We were swinging our arms as we joyfully skipped along and she beamed a smile. My heart expanded with love and my eyes welled with tears. It was a beautiful mother/child moment.

I remember this experience like it was yesterday. One year approximately post separation. It was the first time in a long time I felt free. Free to love, free to be me. Free to enjoy the day and make my own decisions. Free to feel, free to love, free to smile and free to enjoy this moment. It was pure, unrestricted, and weightless. It was an epiphany.

Some twelve years on from this experience, I can still mark the spot where my epiphany occurred on that bridge. It was so significant in my journey, my light bulb moment. I guess the bridge was symbolic in a sense. Bridging my past to my future by that moment where I said, AHA, now I get it. I now know for sure, that it is this feeling I want, and it is this feeling I will find strength to fight for. This epiphany was a pivotal turning point to the control I took back into my life. When I walked out of the relationship, I was ruled by my head, now I am ruling by my heart. I now had a moment that I could use as inspiration, an experience that I connected with that would help support me when times got tough.

To those that have ever felt controlled, restricted and insecure in any relationship you will understand my story. For that day, I parked the car one km down the road just so my daughter and I could catch the tram. We walked all day just so I could enjoy the sun and feel as much part of the vibe of the city landscape. We watched and appreciated the performances of many buskers, just because we could, and we ate what we wanted to, gelati and hot chips of course! I also decided when we’d had enough and it was time to go home.

All of these ‘normal’ activities in the past would have been shaded. I can’t honestly express in words just how liberated I felt that the chains were broken.

Who would have thought that one year after separation that all my hurts were not an issue that I pained over anymore? My journey was not only releasing from this relationship but it was releasing the restrictions within it. I could finally be free, feel free.

When I came home that day I discussed my epiphany with my mum. She suggested I keep how I felt in this moment and create an affirmation to help me next time I was questioning or finding things difficult. She said, “You need something you can say to yourself that will remind you of this feeling so that you remain strong and aligned.”

I said, “I want to feel free, free as a butterfly.” The words from the depth of my being gave me goosebumps.

Not only did I say it, but I felt it. And this was an essential component to manifesting what I wanted according to the law of attraction. My thoughts and feelings were important in manifesting my reality. It wasn’t enough to think about what I wanted, I had to feel it. It was at this time I realised the power of my epiphany and the power of the universal law of attraction. What I think and feel is what I create.

I connected with my epiphany as my internal value, and it has stood the test of time as I won’t be compromised again whatever comes my way, even all these years later.

Finding the girl that was lost meant that I discovered the woman I was meant to be. A woman that said, “I have the right to be me, the right to feel free.”

I think it, feel it and know it. I know for sure I am free. Free as a butterfly.

Professional BIO

Lee-Anne D’Paul is the visionary behind the jhenlee brand. She shares the roles of founder and lead designer. Lee-Anne designs jewellery using symbolism to represent and embrace experiences associated with being a woman.
Her mission is to arouse in women a desire to stand tall, proud and comfortable in their own identity and spirit. She is committed to the authentic relationships she builds with women globally and at her core is the desire to empower and uplift the women who connect with the jhenlee brand and philosophy.
W: www.jhenlee.com
F: www.facebook.com/JhenleeJewellery
I: www.instagram.com/jhenleejewellery

 

To be seen and not heard

To be seen and not heard

Something my mum and grandmother used to say when I was young: children should be seen and not heard. Well, in some respects that stuck with me for many years. It never hit me until I saw someone post something in a group I am connected with about this. And it got me thinking.

I have always been afraid to be seen and not voice my truth. I just play a role, up until now of course. As a child growing up, I lived in the shadows of my sister, who was the beautiful one. I was often labeled as the naughty, disobedient one. I was and partially still am afraid of success, too, which is exactly why I have embarked on this journey of truth and visibility.

I continue along this path to not only prove to myself I have something to say and I, like many others, am worthy of success. The bigger reason I continually put myself out there and share the warts and all of my story is about all of you. I want to light the path ahead. I’m one of the enlightened ones who knows, as I’ve said before, that the only reason why I was served up so many big life lessons one after the other and survived without breaking is to take those lessons and turn them into good.

There will be plenty of you who are a long way into your journey of freedom and new beginnings, but just as many right behind me following in my steps hoping to break through fears and discover a sweeter life.

There’s a lot of hope for 2015 and, as I have discovered by talking with people, there are some really bold steps being taken in search of the new happily ever after, myself included. It is possible, but you have to want it enough for yourself to make headway on that journey.

Gosh I remember it wasn’t so long ago I really wanted to share on my private FB page inspirational stories and quotes. I never did for the fear of being criticized. As I continued along my own personal development path, I realised my own mindset was holding me back and keeping me hidden from what I felt like doing at the time.

My, how things have changed. I grew myself a pair of metaphorical balls and told myself what have I got to lose and jumped.