Blindsided by divorce? Or was it you who finally decided you've had enough?

Welcome to January.  This is the month when so many husbands give their wives an unexpected belated Christmas gift:  They want a divorce.  And, you end up finding out all kinds of secrets about your husband that you wish you never knew.  

Maybe you're absolutely blindsided.  But, whether or not you were initially shocked, the more you think about it, many things you've always wondered about your spouse finally start falling into place.

Or, maybe, for you, it's the other way around:  You finally decide that your marriage isn't worth it.  You're not getting enough (or anything) in return for all of the stuff we, as women, have to put up with in marriage.  

You want to be "you" again -- if you can remember who that is.  You want to be able to make the decisions you want to make, without someone else naysaying, dragging you down, and making life difficult for you instead of being a real team that builds each other up.

This is the #1 time of year when married people say they've had enough.

So, now what?

Before you go on a fact-finding mission to gather together documents detailing all of your assets, finding out if your husband has assets unknown to you, determining if any of his activities give you an edge in divorce negotiations, finding a lawyer who is truly on your side, communicating what's happening to your family, children, and friends . . .

Settle down and connect with yourself.

When my husband's 4-year woman-on-the-side confronted me in April of 2007, I scurried into self-preservation mode:  gathering documents so that I could find out what our assets were (he had always refused to share this information with me), documenting his affair through a series of emails with his girlfriend (little did I know that while adultery was grounds for divorce in my state, it gave me no advantage in negotiating the terms of our divorce), investigating organizations that provide divorce advice (not-very-helpful boilerplate information), and checking out divorce groups (hosted by churches of which I was not a part, and more or less a forum to vent about spouses).

With every meeting, I became more and more shell-shocked.  I learned that there was no protection for me or punishment for my ex as a result of his actions.  If I chose to divorce him, I was adrift without a net.  I was moving forward, but in panic mode -- and the only way I got through the next 12 months was by refusing to look at the very bad situation I was moving into.

Okay, now that I've scared you . . . what I'm trying to convey is that you can avoid a lot of this panic, by sitting down, focusing within, and deciding that you will not start running around frightening yourself.  

You'll tell yourself that, no matter what advice you hear (and you'll hear a lot of it, as soon as you start speaking with family, friends, and divorce professionals), only 10% of it is truth.  If you refuse to make quick decisions, and sit still on your own and take time to reflect on every decision that has to be made, you'll find the 10% that is your own truth and is in your own best interests (and not in someone else's interest -- for example, your husband's, your lawyer's, your realtor's, your religion's . . .).

You do not have to make any decision on someone else's timetable.  You have the right to receive your fair share of marital assets.  Your husband will likely try to convince you that the problems in your marriage are all your fault, and that you're not entitled to 50% (or any percent) of your joint assets.  And, women tend to take responsibility for everything that has gone wrong, even when husbands are pathological liars, cheats, abusive, chronically unemployed/underemployed, or struggle with substance abuse.

Do not drink the kool-aid -- especially at this time of your life.

Now is the time to become strong in self-love, self-care, and self-preservation skills -- before making important decisions that will impact your beautiful, precious life for decades to come.

What if you're reading this and thinking, "I've already made every mistake in the book during my divorce, and I'm now paying the price."  There is always time to rise again.  That's what I had to do, after I made the mistake of sympathizing with my husband and making excuses for him during my divorce.  I drank the kool-aid that all of his bad choices were somehow my fault, and I paid a very high price because I didn't believe that I was worthy of a good life.  I didn't believe I had value.

In the end, I'm grateful to my ex's girlfriend (we both dumped him, by the way) because my ex husband was such a good liar that I would still be in the dark today had his girlfriend not confronted me.  I could have been living a lie for not just the length of my relationship -- 15 years -- but for a lifetime.

While in that relationship, I really didn't know that I believed I was worthless.  I was raised in such a way that the choices I made as an adult didn't seem strange.  I didn't know I had settled for a troubled person.  I didn't know there were men in the world who are honest, mentally healthy, and have the ability to be supportive partners.

You are about to go through a very interesting year in your life.  I'm here to support you, and if you don't like my style, you'll find others offering different kinds of support -- you'll find the place where you feel most at home.

Slow down.  There are a lot of feelings to sort through.  A lot of tears to cry.  A lot of thoughts and "aha" moments.  A lot of plans to make and new dreams to dream.

It will all be okay.  Find your center and your inner lioness.  

Go somewhere you can be alone (your car will do) and cry your heart out.  Scribble out everything you're feeling.  Then ROAR.  You are about to find out who you are in all of your power and majesty.  This can be the defining moment of your life, if you let it.

Just know that when you emerge from all of this, you can be the most beautiful and most powerful woman that you have ever been.

{{Big warm virtual hug that I hope you can feel.}}