Guest List: Surviving Divorce

Guest List: Surviving Divorce

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 3.19.42 PMHollie aka @theyesmummum sent this list to me unannounced at 7am one Tuesday morning. I read it with my heart in my mouth. Such a mix of emotions; sadness that my buddy had been through such a challenging experience, pride for her strength and humility. And relief that she felt confident and distanced enough from what had happened to be able share it.

Here is Hollie’s account of ‘Surviving Dirvorce’:


  • Marriage is hard. Really hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

  • I thought getting married after already having a child together would be easy. In reality, I found it changed our relationship more than becoming parents did.

  • I’m still not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because team work isn’t optional as parents. A tiny person is depending on you.

  • At the time, and on reflection, I wonder if I was selfless enough to be a mother, but not a wife.

  • My ex-husband and I met when I was 24 and he was 36. He had already done a bit of life, I hadn’t.

  • Motherhood changed me in an overwhelming way, and I think it’s taken me till now to lean into that. And to accept it. 

  • I used to be insecure and struggle with my identity. Becoming a mother was a catalyst for change. It opened up this window of creativity and courage that I’d been oblivious to.

  • It gave me a new sense of my own capabilities and self-worth, and that was a challenge in my marriage.

  • I think we were compatible 8 years ago, but now we’re not.

  • And that’s okay.

  • I had two big fears about my marriage ending. 

  • The first was how it would effect our then-five year old son. My parents separated when I was 19 and it completely winded me emotionally. How would a five year old deal with that weight of pain and confusion?

  • It turns out, pretty bloody amazingly. Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 3.04.31 PM

  • You realise that what counts is their experience of you together, and transparency. Kids are smart. They know when they’re being duped and they don’t like it. Trust is everything.

  • My second fear was the shame. The shame of failing. 

  • Shame is a big emotion, but it’s all about other people. It’s a feeling that serves your own wellbeing in no way at all. 

  • I was afraid that people would feel sorry for me. 

  • There’s no way to really know if those fears are legitimate until it happens. So you’ve got to just face the fear head on.

  • I very quickly realised that no one pitied me. They just wanted the best for me. Because they’re awesome.

  • Trust that you’ve picked friends for your mutual ability to give each other what you need. Until you’re in a crisis, you probably won’t realise what a great job you’ve done at that.

  • I’d highly recommend marriage counselling. We were going long before we separated, and although it didn’t “save” our marriage, it gave us a much better understanding of each other.

  • It helped us to understand the nuances that did and didn’t work in our relationship, and to be more compassionate to our differences.

  • In fact I think counselling made us both brave enough to value happiness more. 

  • It gave us the tools to separate in a reasonably caring way. And it meant we could prioritise our son’s feelings rather than wading through the swamp of our own. We’d done that bit, and I’ll be forever grateful.

  • Telling your child is worse in your head than it is in reality. In my experience.

  • Make sure you’re being age appropriate. You need to give them enough information without overwhelming them. 

  • The most important thing for them to hear is that you both love them.

  • Along the way there will be wobbles, and shouting and tears. It’s your job as a parent to hold that – to let them know it’s okay to feel those things, not distract from it.

  • They need to see (or feel) that you are dealing with your shit so that you have the strength and space to hold theirs. Again. Counselling. If you don’t have an outlet, your kid won’t either.

  • The worst bit is the tangible separating. The packing, the logistics, the weird no mans land between being together, and not. 

  • The moment they (or you) leave is a freaking weird one. They’re not going to work or for a run. They’re going. 

  • That was overwhelming.

  • Then it got less overwhelming. Day by day.

  • We co-parent our son 50/50 and have done most of his life. Our priority was to keep that the same.

  • That meant the hardest bits for me was when our son was at his dads and I was home alone. Especially on Sunday afternoons when all the families are in all the places!

  • Keep yourself busy. Make plans when you know you’re going to be on your own. Go to the cinema (on your own – come on, the biggest luxury!), read a book in a coffee shop, have a bath in the middle of the day, run, go shopping without a child hanging off you, see your mates.

  • Focus on what you LOVE. Now is your time to indulge in the things you’ve put off doing. You can finally be selfish again!

  • And also remember it’s okay to want to hide away for a bit too. I watched some stupidly sad films when I was feeling emotional. Crying is good.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • I carried on seeing a counsellor for about 4 months after we separated. It helped me process a lot of feelings and emotions, so that I could focus on being a good (present) mum.

  • Let your child know they can talk to you about what’s happening. Anytime. I think they internalise less if they know there’s a safe and welcome place to talk about it. Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 3.04.49 PM.png

  • Make sure you have people to do that with too. Talking is GOOD. 

  • It gets easier. Fears ease, emotions settle, routines become calmer and clearer. 

  • And you are way more resilient than you realise. You WILL be okay.

  • You will learn more about yourself on your own than you ever will with someone else. That’s an amazing opportunity to be embraced.

  • The better you know yourself, the happier you’ll be further down the line, with or without someone else. And ultimately you realise you don’t need anybody else. Really. If and when you want a new relationship, you’ll be wanting it rather than needing it. 

  • Amongst all the fear/anger/sadness/confusion, I finally recognised that this was an opportunity. This was life pushing me in another direction. This was a chance to come home to myself. 

  • Every experience holds within it a blessing of some kind. Trust the process.

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7 thoughts on “Guest List: Surviving Divorce

  1. Amazing post, my daughter was 2 and half at the time and it can be a daunting time, but god I shows the strength we all have inside us.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal post Hollie.

    🙌🏽🙌🏽

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing. I would agree that marriage counselling is helpful in order to build different communication skills with the other parent, as you go forward separately as co-parents or parallel-parents. It’s very important for the sake of the children and very different communication skills are required to those you might use during marriage or a relationship. A lot of people mistakenly believe that marriage counselling is there to save all marriages, when it can actually help couples to separate with less animosity and bitterness!! Mediation was helpful too. Wishing you the very best xx

    Like

  3. Wonderfully honest my children were 9 and 3 and it was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do telling my 9 year old that not only were we splitting up but also moving away and he would have to start a new school and leave his friends behind. That broke my heart for months afterwards.
    We are now three years past and stronger and happier as a family of 3 than ever before. X

    Like

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