The BLOG: Voices

The Dirty Little Secret Behind Divorce

Divorce. It should be a four-letter word.  Don’t you think? When you meet someone and they say they are divorced or going through one, you think of them a little differently. Come on — admit it. You judge … just a little. I did. But I won’t anymore.

I am not writing this for sympathy. This is about judgment. This is for those going through or contemplating divorce. This is also for those who have friends going through the big D word.  I am not a therapist, but I’m offering some advice that has worked for me.

A friend once told me that divorce will age you. It will destroy you mentally and physically. It will force you to question every decision. It will cause you to lose friends. It will make you paranoid. It will make you doubt yourself as a friend, a parent, a professional, and a person in general. Divorce will break you.

Of course, I thought she was crazy and that would NEVER happen to me. Well, it did.

Nobody Wins

Nobody wins in a divorce. I don’t care whose decision it is. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, nor is it something I EVER want to go through again. But, I have learned a lot through this process.

I have learned who my true friends are. I have learned how social media can influence people’s perception of things. I have learned to not EVER judge. You never know what happens behind closed doors. We all want our lives to look perfect, but they are not and never will be.

For Adult Ears Only

People love to gossip — it’s just a fact of life. Again, I admit that I do it. But, I don’t in front of my children. Anything you say in front of your children could get back to their friends. And if their friend’s parents are the ones getting a divorce, that could be very difficult on the kids. So please, keep your gossip in private.

Just Listen

Divorce is just awkward for everyone. Couples have friends together and it can be a challenge to navigate through these unchartered waters.  As a friend, you may feel torn about whose side to take or how to act.

The number one piece of advice that I can offer is to be there for your friend. You don’t have to take sides. Every situation is different, but the number one thing you can do is to be a sounding board for them.  Let them cry, let them yell, let them heal. Offer to take the kids if they need to go to counseling. Anything that you can do to help them through this will go a long way. I have the most amazing friends in the world and I would not be getting through this without their support.

The Children

My children are my life and I constantly worry about how the divorce is affecting them. Now a single mom of three and a business owner, I am ridden with guilt. What effects will it have on them? Will this ruin their future relationships? Will they resent me?

It’s too early to tell how this will affect them, but we can only control what we can control. We have good days and bad ones, just like any other family.

The best thing you can do as a parent going through a divorce is to be honest with the children, provide counseling, and encourage them to share their feelings with you.

Some kids will be very vocal while others will show their feelings in different ways … like writing in a journal. The key is getting them to express their thoughts and assuring them that they are not alone and that both parents love them.

My job as a mother is to protect my children. I can’t prevent the pain, but I always be there for them.

 Don’t Judge

If you have never been in someone’s shoes, you should never judge. It is easier said then done. Believe me — as I said earlier — I’ve judged.

I remember when one of my daughter’s friends’ parents were going through a divorce.  I was apprehensive about letting my daughter play with her because I thought that things would be different and there would be less structure. Basically, I thought what if her friend were not as stable because of the divorce?

The worst thing I could have done was to keep my daughter away from her friend. The one thing that her friend needed at that time was her friend. Lesson learned.

It Gets Better

Whatever the situation, divorce is hard for everyone involved. Some people are vocal about it, while others keep it quiet.

For those going through a divorce or contemplating it, it will suck. You will have breakdowns. You will cry. You will feel like you are losing your mind. Your work will slip through the cracks. You will not be able to focus. You will lose or gain weight. You will feel like you are in a very dark place, and will never get out from there.

But, it gets better. You will be stronger, so much stronger. You will do things that you never realized you could do. You will fall in love again. You will make new friends. You will be successful. And your kids will be O.K.. They will be okay because you love them. You are an example that you can recover from a tough situation and become even stronger. They will be O.K. because of you.

 

Alison Maloni is the owner of Alison May Public Relations. She is also a keynote speaker on public relations, crisis communications, and reputation management. You can find her on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

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