At 33 years old, having only been married three years and with a 2-year-old on my hip, I pulled the plug on my marriage. Sure, it took about a year of soul searching and a whole lot of marriage counseling to come to this decision, but I did it.
Shortly thereafter, I became the Christopher Fucking Columbus of divorce for women near and far – a pioneer of sorts. I was the first one in my age group to come out with the news, and I did so with gusto if I might add, and this sent other moms flocking.
At first, I was skeptical – did they just want the gossip? Did they just want to hear the ugly details and scamper back to their girl gang with more shit to talk? But it wasn’t long before I realized that I was so not alone. There were tons of women looking for a way out, looking for someone to hold their hand through it, looking to hear from someone else that it would all be okay in the end.
I wasn’t even a month into my separation when the random texts and invitations for coffee came flooding in, so you could say it was a bit like the bitter leading the bitter. The shell-shocked and scared leading the… well, you get my point. My favorite were the Facebook friend requests from acquaintances of years gone by, and placing bets on whether she was looking for advice to solve her marital woes or wanted to share that she, too, was now on her own and needed a shoulder to cry on.
Instantly, visions of one of my favorite childhood movies flashed through my mind. Three newly single women, reeling and commiserating and lifting one another up through choreographed dances to “You Don’t Own Me,” made me giggle inside. I watched “The First Wives Club” hundreds of times as a little girl, as my mom and her friends insisted they were the real life version of Bette, Goldie, and Diane. Perhaps watching my mom lean on her very best, also divorced friends at the start of her single mom journey prompted me to do so with room in my heart to want to help everyone who reached out.
Or maybe it’s the plain old fact that some things you just can’t go through alone.
With each article I’ve published, hundreds of DMs, comments, and Facebook messages have poured in from women thanking me for being so open. With each photo I post of my daughter and I, alone on another adventure, come the texts from newly single friends saying that I inspire them to find happiness. With each passing day, I receive a new email from a stranger saying I’ve inspired her to take her bag of divorce-flavored lemons and turn them into single-mom Spanish fly, and I love it.
But how do you think I got to this point? Without a separation spirit guide of my own? Hashtag Idontthinkso.
Prior to my split, I had the good fortune of being fatefully set up with a friend whom, as if sent straight from the divorce gods, played this role for me. We were connected through a mutual friend who thought we might benefit from knowing one another, and fuck if I know what I would have done without her from the moment we met. The night we had our first “date,” she stood up from the bar she was waiting for me in with a giant belly and a big grin. She had recently remarried her own real-life prince charming after a painful divorce, conceived a child, and as soon as I let the cat out of the bag about my marital unbliss, she was ready to take me under her wing.
She became real life goals. Real life therapy. Real life “can’t make a move without her.” I cried at her baby shower, just two months away from my split, tears both happy and sad. “I can have this too,” I thought. A fresh start with the right person and a new life that fulfills me drew the happy tears out. “I wish I had this happiness right now” drew out the angry, sad, and resentful tears, but nonetheless, I was given the hope I needed.
The day I left my marriage, she was the first person I called. Each day thereafter, she checked in to see how I was doing and give me play-by-play advice for handling each challenge that came my way. The day my daughter slept at my ex’s home for the first time, she checked in every so often to make sure I was still breathing. The day my divorce was final, she helped make the plans to take me for some much-needed nachos and tequila. And the day I went on my first date with the man I knew would be my new husband, she offered her typical sarcasm with a very encouraging, “I told you so.”
I couldn’t have done it without her. I still can’t. Even though I’m someone else’s divorce Sherpa now, I still rely on her the same way I did before my split even happened. Of course, over time, there have been more friends added to the list of those I count on for advice, a laugh, or to remind me to breathe.
Which is why every woman, whether they’re about to separate or knee deep in divorce proceedings, needs their own first wives club. Don’t be afraid to seek her out. Don’t be afraid to message her and say, “Hey, I heard you’re going through what I’m going through, can we chat?”
Because I promise she needs you. We need you. We’re in this together, mamas, and together, we’ll be okay in the end.