new chapter in my life: road sign that says new chapter

It’s Taken Me 20 Years But I’m Finally Starting a New Chapter In My Life

new chapter in my life: road sign that says new chapter


Divorce, Ex-Husband. Betrayal. Child support. Child custody. Splitting up costs, time, energy. When is it time for that part of your story to be done?

That’s the conundrum in divorce when you have children. But alas, someone seems to always keep that part of their story alive because one of the two parents is always left with the responsibility of raising the family more than the other.

Being the grown-up more than the other.

Being the breadwinner more than the other.

Being the responsible one.

The reminders of your ever-present past are always there. It would all be so easy, if you could just say, here’s your hat what’s your hurry! Ba-Bye!

I’ve been divorced for a very long time. But because my children were so young when the marriage ended, it felt like I was always standing at the base of a new mountain. Over and over I looked down to see my feet planted in front of one mountain after another.

Looking up, sighing and wondering how I was going to hurdle this next one. When your two children are an infant and toddler, you have many gates still to cross on the journey of their growth. And at every gate, you stand alone. Well, you stand alone when the one who wanted to flee, refuses to stand with you.

He might be uncomfortable; and God we can’t have that, now can we?

I remember a year after he left us for the other woman, my son’s kindergarten had an open house. It was one of the first official events where we were not together as a united front. We had gone to things at his preschool and though it was awkward, I don’t remember it being too bad. But things had changed as the divorce was progressing and the threats of what he wouldn’t agree to were lobbed at me like hand grenades.

Though we both attended his open house, we attended it as two separate people who were very far away from the day that little boy was born.

He wouldn’t stand next to me; He wouldn’t converse with me.

The teacher tried to speak to both of us about our son, but he refused to have a conference with both of us at the same time. I left that evening in tears because it was the first experience parenting with a total stranger. And it was humiliating. I got used to it however in the ensuing years. He would not have a parent/teacher conference with me ever again.

It also put so much pressure on our son too because he was embarrassed when teachers would always somehow mention the two conference requirements in front of his friends. It was a dialog that played over and over with my son and daughter for that matter for years and years.

“Why can’t you and Dad just do one conference?” How do you explain to a child that their Dad refuses to meet with their mom?

You can’t, so you just have to say that. It lasted all the way to my son’s college graduation. His lack of connection and inclusion that day too left me feeling somewhat humiliated and it brought back my anger for him. I just could not understand why his comfort must always precede everyone else’s.

My father used to tell me, “Karen, the day you don’t care anymore, IS THE DAY YOU JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”

Starting a New Chapter In My Life

That day had finally come, but when it did my Dad had passed away. I made a point of going to visit him at the cemetery and verbally declaring out loud to him by saying, “DAD THE DAY HAS FINALLY COME! I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”

I don’t care if he shared a birthday!

I don’t care if he shared a First Holy Communion!

I don’t care if he shared a Christmas…. a graduation…a school play …. anything!

I didn’t care!

But they did! I kept making the requests on behalf of my children who just wanted the memory and experience to feel like their friends whose parents sat next to each other. I was already fine with his answer of “No” but always had to prepare them. Every time.

So, when is that part of your story over?

I still have another college graduation, weddings, and who knows what else that we will hold a shared interest in. But I think I can say to my Dad again, that…I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE! I think the time has truly come now.

That part of my story is indeed over.

I will still have to share car payments, doctors, dentist bills, and school costs for our daughter until she graduates college and is on her own. But I feel a strange sense of liberation.

I have reached this 20-year milestone. As I look over my shoulder, I see many nights of tears, and fear, uncertainties, loneliness, and dread as I raised a family all by myself. But as I look over the other shoulder, I see strength, convictions, a calm confidence, and a light now within me that has eluded me for two decades.

I am a 60-year-old single woman who has most literally sacrificed herself in order to raise two children to as close to the model I got in my upbringing. My goal was to give them security which came at the expense of my own.

But isn’t that what most parents do?

Most parents who can look past their own image, see that the real image of themselves has always been in their children. I have always believed that the real legacy one leaves, is in the lives we have touched while we were here on earth.

My ex-husband once told me when we were married that what he loved most about me, was my Bubbly personality. Over the past 20 years, I lost that part of me. I’m happy to say, that even in this strange time of Global Pandemic… I have regained that part of me.

I have regained it through the outpouring of love and support I have seen in my neighbors, family, and friends. And I have seen it with my own employer who selected me to continue working and did not lay me off. Good things come to those who believe, and I do believe that good things are on their way and I look forward to showing my Bubbly side to a new special someone.

I have learned that if we choose to straddle ourselves to fear and worry every day of the week, we rob ourselves of experiencing the real essence of life.

Yes, I was at one time, joyful and bubbly, and a basically happy person! I temporarily traded it all in for a scared, worried, and exhausted personality. I had abandoned that previous part of me, and I now want to pick it back up! I am finally letting go of that other part of my story. The one that caused me so much pain. I am voting for joy!

You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one!

So, if anyone is at the point of, YOU JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE, put down the old chapter and turn the page to a new chapter. I’m just doing it now. It has taken me a while, but it feels good.

I wish all of us the very best with expectations of nothing short of sheer joy and peace and finding their own inner Bubbly! As Chris Cuomo would say, “Let’s Get After It!”

The post It’s Taken Me 20 Years But I’m Finally Starting a New Chapter In My Life appeared first on Divorced Moms.


handle a pandemic

Really God? Now I’m Supposed To Handle a Pandemic Too?

handle a pandemic


I wrote an article a few weeks ago titled, “How Are We Single Moms Coping with COVID19?” That was last month, and it literally feels like 6 months ago.

The COVID19 Pandemic has been devastating. As of the date of this writing, 9 million people have filed for unemployment in the United States. I almost became one of them last week.

As a single parent, the thought of that made my divorce look like a walk in a sunny park. It got me thinking about how I would respond to this.

I also threw my hands up and said, “Really God? Now I’m supposed to handle a Pandemic too?

All my sisters are retired. They clearly all married much better than me. They retired young with a plethora of life still to be lived and loved along with large bank accounts to assist them in this living and loving endeavor. I wasn’t so lucky.

I have carried the financial responsibilities of my family for over 20 years and retirement is not an option for another 15 years. My company laid off over 90 people last week due to the economic hit by COVID19 in the tourism industry.

Up until the morning before the layoffs were identified, I was certain that I was going to be part of the wrecking ball. Gratefully I was spared. I don’t know how, but I was.

The survivor’s guilt I felt was enormous as I said goodbye to so many wonderful friends. But as I looked at my two kids, a sense of appreciation and relief washed over me. As the days passed after the announcements were made, I found myself one-night lying in bed with the sudden realization that I had never even contemplated my getting the virus. It seemed almost inconsequential to experience sickness or death.

My panic was, how am I going to support my family?

And then the next thoughts I had were of all the life changing events that have happened after my divorce that I was held to navigate alone.

I endured the deaths of both my parents alone.

I navigated my daughter through the suicide of her best friend and the bullying of her high school friends, alone.

I navigated losing my job a decade ago during another economic crisis and as a result almost lost our home.

I have had utilities turned off and begged a friend to loan me some money so I could pay my daughters school tuition, the repair of my car and my mortgage all at once because my paycheck wouldn’t stretch that far. I promised I would pay him back when I got my bonus at the end of the quarter; and I did.

I have stayed true to every promise I have ever made to my children through what I thought would be every conceivable situation.

And yet, here I am once again facing another mountain to climb.

My job is safe for now yes. I am 1 of 4 Sales Directors retained from an original team of 20. I will now be doing the job of many people, at less pay due to a pay cut and with no administrative assistant to support me any longer.

And yet I feel blessed. Again.

The blessings I feel are strange to quantify.

My two kids are home. A lot. I live in L.A. where the “Safer at Home” order is in place.

The results of this is that we are talking to each other more. We are cooking together. We are cleaning together. We are just together.

My career has always required a lot of travel. With no travel being conducted in these days of COVID19 I have had to calm myself down and quiet my inner vagabond. It has taken me a little while, but I am slowing my roll quite well these days. And my kids are too.

We are getting to know each other in a different way. The topic of a Global Pandemic has made us all a little more vulnerable with questions, fears, hopes and aspirations all being discussed. This is now officially part of our story.

Like when my mother told me the story of her being a child in the Depression and her father losing the family farm. It made an indelible impression on her life forever. I wonder what kind of an impression all this will make on our kids as they enter their adult lives.

I hope that they will just see that when a family comes together…when people come together with a common goal even by practicing social distancing, good things can happen too. Good things that will last a lifetime for them by the example they see in us.

As single moms we secretly want someone, anyone to recognize us for all that we carry and just offer to do it all for us. What I have found in this time of COVID19 is gratitude and recognition I wasn’t expecting from my family and friends.

Those who I worked alongside and who were laid off called and messaged me to tell me how glad they were that I had been retained. They knew I was a single parent and they were grateful that I was spared. Grateful that “I” was spared!

The character that showed in these people is immeasurable.

And it is “I” who am grateful for them. They took a bullet for me in many ways.

I am not going to minimize myself in any way because I do know I work hard and have earned a place at the table. But they have too. And because I am now 60 years old, and at that margin of COVIOD19 population that are identified as somewhat vulnerable, both my kids have stepped up and offered to do many things they otherwise never have before.

That being go to the grocery store, getting gas in my car, picking up a to-go dinner and many more things that would keep me being in a gathering environment. They realized in short order all that I do to make them whole on a daily basis. Or perhaps they just see me as their “Prize Filly” and I guess it’s in their best interest to keep me healthy! But, I’m grateful none the less.

They recognize all that I have endured and were not about to let a Pandemic stop their mom from keeping on. Only this time I will do it wearing the mask my daughter made me and the meals my son is cooking me! Life is still good. Pandemic or no Pandemic!

So, the answer to my question of, ““Really God? Now I’m supposed to handle a Pandemic too? I say, YES! You have been me through a lot in the past 20 years and I have faith in You, Myself and My Kids and we can get through this too.

Just another day in a sunny park! Or will be soon!

The post Really God? Now I’m Supposed To Handle a Pandemic Too? appeared first on Divorced Moms.


retirement after divorce

Retirement After Divorce: I’m 60, Still Single And Made BIG Mistakes

retirement after divorce

I wrote an article earlier about being a single mom 20 years later and how one can survive, called “15 Insights from a Veteran Single Mom” that was posted on this site in January.

I wrote it because I wasn’t seeing that kind of perspective and wanted to share with others that are new to the journey, with a message that you can indeed survive.

You can even thrive as well.

But it may cost you as it has me.

My article was mostly from an emotional perspective. But what about the business of “your life” after divorce and the kids are grown? What does the other side look like from a financial perspective?

I have seen some good articles related to financial advice on “new single mothers”. But, I have yet to find anything that speaks to single mothers who have given it all to raising a family alone and who now find themselves in a very precarious position financially; 20 years down the road.

An article on guilt would have served me well in the early days and throughout my single motherhood.

I felt guilty for being the reason my husband left. Or so I thought I was anyway.

I felt that it was my job to make sure that my children never felt left out. Never went without and always felt like all the other kids in school whose parents were together.

I live in a community where there really are very few single parents. My kids pointed that out a lot to me.

My ex-husband gave me $328.00 per child each month. That was the court allotted amount. I had a 4-week-old infant when I started this journey, and I have to say that $328 didn’t go very far towards formula and diapers alone.

So, in order to keep up with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Jones, I sacrificed a lot financially. I sacrificed as I tried to keep up with everyone and everything which living in Southern California expected of me.

I sacrificed myself, literally. I wouldn’t realize it until many years later.

There have been many times on this journey that I vowed to change my name back to my maiden name. I hated having the same last name as the woman my ex-husband cheated with and then married. I was not proud to have that name anyway.

But my kids were really against me doing it. They didn’t want to have a different last name than me. When the time came that they were old enough and no longer cared, I started to research the process.

I was required to show my decree of divorce. My brother who is a Superior Court Judge advised me as well. Because when the divorce became final, I was in the thick of raising an 18-month-old and a 6-year-old, I was kind of busy. I couldn’t find my documents anywhere.

My brother was able to help me. In the documents package that I received from him was an additional paper that stated that I had signed off on my ex-husband’s retirement.

I almost fainted dead away when I read it. I didn’t remember ever doing this. When we sold our home and we were in the final escrow, I received a call from the escrow officer. She said that my husband would not sign the escrow papers and ran out of the office.

Panic consumed me.

I was buying a house and selling a house and escrow was scheduled to close for both properties on the same day. This was going to cause a domino effect. I called him and he said he wanted the retirement accounts.

He would not sign the escrow documents unless I signed them over.

At the time, I thought he meant the IRA’s. I said, “If I agree to this will you get out of my life forever?” He said yes. My naivete would cost me more than I could ever have imagined now that I am 60 years old.

So here I am now. Twenty years later. In reading the articles on this site, I realized how much I would have loved to have known about much sooner into my divorce.

So, here is what I have to say to you all as I literally sit here learning in real-time.

Retirement After Divorce: How To Get Ready

Credit Cards!

I hate them and you will too! Don’t use them unless it’s an emergency. Keep two and that’s it. They are your emergency fund and should only be used as such.

Your heartstrings will tug at you and your Catholic guilt will get the best of you, so leave them home when you are at Target with the kids!

You will be a hostage to yourself! All the toys and stuff you bought them will end up at Goodwill! I promise you!

Budget, Budget, Budget!

And stick to it! Again, I found that the guilt I had made me do stupid things and spend money foolishly on toys, dinners out, and things they and I didn’t need. All done in the name of guilt and keeping up with The Jones.

You want to feel normal. You want to feel like you are in the club of intact complete families. So, you push your budget to fit in.

I’m here to tell you that you will regret it if you don’t stay inside your own lines. Who cares what everyone else is doing? They really don’t. It’s all on you and your guilt issues! So, Stop!

Get Rid of the Cape!

Get rid of your Super Woman Cape altogether. It may fit you now, but it’s when you are 60, it’s too darn tight! So, chuck it now! You are a Super Woman on your own merit by the mere fact that you are raising a family solo.

You are your own Caped Crusader and you most definitely are your kids! They love you and need you and want you all without your trying to be everything to everyone.

Just be their everything! Give the cape to the Salvation Army and don’t look back!

If I was speaking to my younger, confused self I would tell that poor girl to calm down. I would assure her that she was good enough and didn’t have to spend money on stuff that will eventually end up on the curb for pick up.

I would tell her to stop all that. I would tell her that if people really loved her, they didn’t need her to “keep up” with them. And if they did expect that, they never really did care in the first place.

And lastly, I would tell her to love herself so much by saving money, any money and put it into her retirement and teach her children that the real value in life isn’t by having things. It is by loving each other. Period.

But as I speak to myself today, I just start each day as I step further into a time of traditional retirement age and say “Breath. Just Breath.”

The post Retirement After Divorce: I’m 60, Still Single And Made BIG Mistakes appeared first on Divorced Moms.


my bad marriage

My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Not Leaving…Yet

my bad marriage


Why I’ll “wait and see” about my marriage (even though we don’t have sex!).

Marriage is not going so well for my husband Tod and me. Our fifth anniversary approaches, and we haven’t had sex in more than a year. We’ve buried our feelings about that deep. We also avoid talking about finances and children, and anything else you could file under the category “future hopes.”

Outside of an hour of couple’s therapy every week, we go about our lives as if nothing were amiss—running our household, dining out with friends, and catching new movie releases on Friday nights. We’re good pals. (Yawn!)

When marriage promises so much more—stability, growth, intimacy—why am I content to stay put? In short, there’s work to do, and I’m not talking about forever anyway. For the near future—six months, a year, maybe two—here are the ties that bind.

My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Staying, For Now

1. I’m giving myself a break. 

I wasn’t always content to wait and see. In fact, I was nearly out the door earlier this year. Frustrated with our deteriorating rapport and needing space where I could think straight about the future I wanted for myself, I set out looking for an apartment of my own, crunching and re-crunching numbers to see what I could afford and worrying about breaking the news of separation to family and friends.

The worst two months of my life ensued. Stress, broken-record thinking, and fear of loneliness—and about what others might think—had me crying every night. I couldn’t get out of bed to face each new day. Figuring out how to rip apart a union, even an imperfect one, is agony. Needing a rest, I decided to focus instead on the silver lining of our relationship and to gather my reserves for another go at serious contemplation later.

2. He makes life easier and even sometimes more fun. 

Tod may not be my ideal life partner, but he’s a sweet guy who would give you the shirt off his back… or clean the bathroom even if he thinks it’s clean enough but you’re hell-bent on sparkling tiles in time for your visitors yet have no energy left to scrub them yourself. He’s also enthusiastic about checking out new restaurants with me, or just catching the ball game on TV from the couch, cold beer in hand.

While for better or worse we ignore our deep-seated issues around sex and money, we enjoy laughs together and keep each other amused. Life without him would require me to find new fun. If that sounds lazy, and you wonder just how much the bigger issues matter to me, remember, I’m giving myself a break at the moment. (See #1.)

3. It would be arrogant to think there’s no hope. 

The work Tod has done to improve himself in the last year is amazing. He went from avoiding any sort of therapeutic situation to undertaking both individual and couples therapy. And while I say I’m sitting back and relaxing at the moment, that’s relative. I always strive to make each day happier for us than the last. And in couples therapy we’re learning to communicate better. There’s potential, and to refuse it some time to reveal itself fully would not be fair.

4. I need to save some money of my own. 

Due to my admittedly insane and overblown need to “pay my own way” and not depend on a man, we’ve always kept our money separate. The thing is, Tod, earns three times as much as I do, and so after paying our bills, his disposable income is considerably higher. He is a generous guy, and he supports me in ways that remain well enough below the radar to avoid offending my independent sensibilities—he unassumingly picks up the check at dinner and forgets to ask for my share of the grocery bill.

If I leave, however, that’s the end of his help, and with no family to count on, it’s also the end of my safety net. It will be some months before I can save up for an apartment of my own. I’m not in any danger at home with Tod, so I have the luxury of being practical about this and can wait until I have more funds available.

5. Life is hard. 

Let’s face it: Life isn’t easy. Separating would be hard, but so would staying together forever. To think we can make it through life and without effort is naïve. So which challenge is the right one for me—rework this partnership into something more fulfilling, or separate and start anew?

If I’m at all uncertain (which I am), a bold move would be foolish indeed. With all the challenges life throws at us—for me, an alcoholic brother and father with rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s Disease come to mind—perhaps a supportive friend is more important than an intimate partner. Not sure I’d take that in the long term, but it’s something to think about.

So I’m biding my time, and meanwhile being kind to myself and gentle with Tod. After I’ve put in a good-faith effort in couples therapy and saved a bit more of my own money, I’ll reassess. If there’s a chance at all that in the next year or so I’ll be starting the long, painful process of extricating myself from a life lived together with Tod, I’d like to enjoy the calm before the storm.

The post My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Not Leaving…Yet appeared first on Divorced Moms.


what I learned about self-love

I’m Grateful For What I Learned About Self-Love from ‘The Other Woman’

what I learned about self-love


The year I turned 40 my husband left me for a woman twenty years younger than me.

My god, it hit hard. Not just the fact that I was left (that was excruciating enough) – but that it was for someone so much younger, brighter and more glamorous than me. How did I know that this stranger was younger, brighter and more dazzling than me? Well, I stalked her online of course.

I found out who she was after she inadvertently sent me a friend request through Facebook. I already knew her first name and I guess she knew mine. The friend request was promptly retracted by her, but not before I caught sight of her full name.

So armed with the newfound knowledge of who the other woman was, on to good old Facebook I went. What I saw there only compounded the pain that was already threatening to overtake me. She was gorgeous. She was young (obviously) and fit and beautiful with a mane of long blonde hair that fell effortlessly over one of her perfect, bronzed shoulders.

The image of her tormented me. I soon started dreaming of her. I dreamed of her and my husband together, tucked away in his new bed, at his new place. In my waking hours, I questioned and criticized myself relentlessly. I questioned what it was about me that was so horrible and unbearable that he felt the need to upgrade. I criticized my looks, my thighs, and my stretchy wobbly stomach.

I left my dignity at the door and bombarded him with questions – I asked him if he loved her, if he was planning on building a future with her, if he was planning on introducing our kids to her. I all but convinced myself that she would soon be pregnant with his child and claiming a stake of the marital house. I thought I was going crazy. I was actually knee-deep in grief.

I assumed that I would never feel normal or ‘right’ again.

Yet time passed, as it does, and the grief that I was certain would eat me alive slowly began to ease its grip. Winter became spring. I met new people and gained new perspectives. I spent a lot of time alone and read a lot of self-help. I learned to accept that my marriage was over and that there was no hope of reconciliation. The day I realized that I no longer wanted reconciliation was one of the most liberating days of my life.

The thing between my husband and the other woman eventually came to an end, as I guess it was always going to. A relationship with a twenty-five year age gap was, in all likelihood, eventually going to end. And by the time it did, I no longer cared. The day I realized that my hate had turned to indifference was the day I knew that I’d healed.

And the healed me saw things a whole lot clearer than the broken me:

I no longer felt paralyzed by jealousy and anger. It occurred to me that, in all likelihood, the other woman – girl – also struggled with self-love and esteem. Maybe she had a shit childhood. Maybe latching on to middle-aged married men made her feel better about herself. (I somehow have the feeling that my husband was not the first, nor the last).

Yet, I don’t judge her. Especially not now, four years on. Not now that at the age of forty-four I finally know and understand my worth. Not now that I’ve finally learned how to be alone, how to self-partner and self-soothe. Not now that I have a partner who tells me regularly that he has ‘waited his whole life for me’.

What I Learned About Self-Love from ‘The Other Woman’

I now know that it was never about her. It was about me. It was about my fears and insecurities and long-buried wounds. She (very unwittingly I’m sure) made me confront my wounds. She put her hands deep inside of me and pulled them from me. For all to see. For me to see. For me to examine, dissect and ultimately and eventually heal.

Without her – without the idea of her and what she represented – I would still be a self-doubting woman living a half-life. A life consumed by the fear that she was not ‘good’ or ‘lovable’ enough, a life in which she was too afraid to live as her authentic self.

I now know that the other woman was not necessarily more desirable or lovable than me. I also know that she was not necessarily an evil villain. I know now that most of us are doing our best to feel wanted, accepted and desirable to others. Some of us go about it in the wrong way; some of us are able to find what we need within ourselves.

Those of us who are willing to do the deep inner work – to spend time alone, to learn how to self-soothe and self-partner, to face our heartbreak and sit with the pain and the shitty feelings without constantly looking for distractions to make ourselves feel better – knowing that the pain and shitty feelings will not last forever – will probably fare better than those of us who never teach ourselves to do this.

It may surprise some to know that today, I am friends with my ex-husband. He is on his own journey, and I hope that he someday finds what it is he’s looking for. I’m grateful for the lessons he and ‘the other woman’ delivered me. How could I not be? I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today without them.

I now know how to love me.

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