Life after Divorce

Kelly collapsed on the steps, right alongside life as she knew it.

Her husband had been having an affair, and he was leaving her. Loneliness and despair crept in on her until her dog tethered her to reality and gave her the strength to call her mom.

“I couldn’t even get the words out I was crying so hysterically,” said Kelly. “Normally it takes 40 minutes for her to get to my house, but that night she was there in 20.”

Having a failed marriage started to make Kelly feel like a failure in general. She started to think she was a terrible nurse, a bad friend, a loser in life. But with every day that passed, she got more perspective and realized that with every end comes a new beginning.

“There’s a sadness, a grieving, but in some way it’s almost liberating, like this is my new starting point,” said Kelly. Here are some ways she got through her divorce.

  • Find a healthy distraction.

Kelly had just started a nursing job when she was going through the divorce process, and she credits that with not only pulling her out of a deep depression but also with helping rebuild her confidence.

  • Work it out.

Divorce creates a whirl of emotions – everything from intense sadness to anger to apathy to elation. To stabilize emotionally, head to the gym or go do something outside. Kelly took quick runs or did some yoga to work through her emotional swells and felt an immediate improvement in her overall mood.

  • Surround yourself with support.

Kelly took a vacation with her family right after she told them she was getting divorced. She was worried they were going to be disappointed in her because no one else in her family had ever divorced, but by spending time with them she learned that they’d have been more disappointed than if she’d stayed.

“That helped me build up my confidence,” she said. “They made me feel like I can do better and I can move on.”

  • Decide to be happy.

When you’re staying in your pajamas and going through a box of tissues every day, deciding to be happy seems impossible. It’s absolutely counter to what you’re feeling. But it’s important to choose that path ultimately or you will be consumed by bitterness, and that could affect your future relationships (yes, if you want them, you will have future relationships).

“It’s funny because I wanted to be angry, but I didn’t want to be angry,” said Kelly. “It’s really an inner battle. Do I want to be angry with him, and if I am, what does that do for me? It was a conscious decision for me – don’t be angry, don’t be jaded, and don’t be that miserable person because that will just consume you.”

  • Live your own life.

Kelly said she struggles sometimes with seeing her friends living the life she expected to have. They’ll have babies or celebrate anniversaries, moving full speed ahead with their lives while hers has come to a screeching halt. Those feelings will creep in, but, as Kelly said, “You really have to tell yourself that this is your life and you can’t compare it to other people.”

Divorce comes with depression, sadness, loss, grief. But it also comes with possibility, excitement and opportunity. Just like all the other tough things in life, divorce can help you be a better person if you let it.

“I learned I was strong, that I can support myself, that I don’t need anyone to help me,” said Kelly. “I learned me – re-learned me – because I went back to figuring out what I like to do, what I enjoyed. It was like a rebirth for me.”

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The biggest dating mistake women make

Wendy, author of the ultimate women’s dating guide The Boyfriend Test, readily admits that she sounds like an old mom from the ’50s by proclaiming the biggest dating mistake women make is sleeping with someone too soon.

But, nevertheless, she stands by it. Wendy says that women all too often have sex before there is a worthy amount of trust, and that is usually their tragic relationship flaw.

“I don’t mean trust that you’re going to get married, or that you’ll live together, or that this relationship will last forever,” she said. “But you should have some trust in your biology and in the fact that you have some type of emotional connection with this person.”

Wendy says we often fantasize about who a guy is and then find out the hard way that we’ve created a person who doesn’t match the guy standing in front of us. Rather than idealize him, Wendy says we need to let the guy reveal himself to us.

“There is only one rule about when you should sleep with somebody: when trust happens,” she says. “It takes some time for people’s personalities to unfold and for the connection you make to become trustful, but there’s no timeline for exactly when that will happen.”

Before you jump in the sack, ask yourself:

  • Should you really be sleeping with this man?
  • Are you ready? Why or why not?
  • Is he ready?
  • Have you thought about all the things that go into a sexual relationship?

“Consider what makes you feel safe, healthy and emotionally stable. Make rules for yourself and then stick to those rules,” Wendy advises. “The most damaging thing you can do to yourself as a woman is false advertising. Figure out who you are and be proud of it. I promise you that no matter what your sexual personal rule is, there’s a match out there for you.”

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I’ve lost a breast, not my sexuality!

With all of the scars, dents, weight gain, and hot flashes, is it possible for a breast cancer survivor to ever feel sexy again? Four breast cancer survivors are here to tell you: Oh, baby yes she can!

Take Paula Holland De Long. At age 37, she lost her left breast to cancer. She also lost her marriage.

“After I recovered from the surgery and from chemo, I was not the same person I used to be,” she says. “I was no longer driven by work and by money. My husband would look at me and ask, ‘Who are you and what have you done with Paula?’ One day I sat down to tell him that I wanted to quit my job. Instead I said that I didn’t think we should be together anymore.”

The divorce was amicable. Then Paula found herself dating again.

“At first I was really hesitant. I didn’t even want to tell people I’d had breast cancer until they got to know me better. Eventually, I learned to just say, ‘Hey, I’ve had breast cancer and if you have problems with scars, you probably will not want to go out with me.’”

Eventually Paula met Charles. When she told him her pat line about the scars, he took her hand, put it next to his heart, and said, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. You are beautiful to me.” They eventually married.

Like Paula, Stefanie LaRue worried what men would think of her disfigured right breast. After dating a few men, she eventually found herself in the shower with one. She’d never shown her breast to anyone in daylight before.

She said, “I don’t really have a breast on this side.”

He looked down and said, “Look at me. I only have one testicle! We’re a perfect pair.” It had been removed when he was 3 because it had never descended.

“I was so relieved,” LaRue says. “And now that I’ve gotten past that, I’m so much more confident.”

Veronica Gliatti had a similar experience. Before her treatment, she equated her sexuality with how she looked. After treatment, when chemo thrust her into early menopause and caused her to gain weight, she at first felt less attractive, despite the fact that her husband continually told her that she still was.

Eventually, however, she realized that, if the situation were reversed, she would not think of her husband as less attractive or desirable. She learned to feel sexy based on how she felt about herself and her partner.

“I feel more confident about myself than I did before because I’ve overcome a great battle,” she says. “I also feel more at ease with my husband than I did before because we’ve walked this journey together. I want to share all of myself with him. I do not want to take what time I have left for granted. There may be no tomorrow to express myself sexually. Why not express it today?”

Use this advice—from the breast cancer survivors who have been there and so done that—to get your groove back after treatment:

  • Take your time. It’s normal and natural to be embarrassed and to worry about what others will think. Tread slowly.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of acceptance. Most people are more accepting and more forgiving than most of us expect. “Don’t assume just because he is a male that he cannot understand,” says Gliatti.
  • Be sexy and feel sexy, says Gail Baker, survivor and author of Cancer is a Bitch. “My breasts had always been one of my best assets. The first time I saw my breasts after surgery, I burst into tears. It wasn’t until a few months later, when I ran a half marathon in New York with two girlfriends that I came to a place of acceptance. I told them that the scars made me feel less sexy. They begged me to show them. I inched my top down and one said, ‘scars are hot!’ It made me feel so much better. Flaws are hot. I can say that with great confidence now!”
  • Try something new, in any area of your life. “Confidence is the sexiest quality someone can display. It’s a magnet that attracts others to you, but you have to feel it so the other person will feel it, too,” says LaRue.
  • Have sex. Make yourself. Just do it. Remind yourself that you are still beautiful and still a woman. “Nobody can take away your vital passionate essence. It’s still there,” says Baker.
  • Evolve. “Do not approach sex the same way you did before. You are a new person now,” says Gliatti. “You are a new and better you.”

Are you struggling with physical and/or emotional intimacy and sexuality issues due to cancer? Breast cancer survivor and life coach Paula Holland De Long’s “Intimacy, Passion & Cancer” guided exploration group course might help you regain your confidence. This six-week telecourse begins on Tuesday January 14th and will meet weekly through February 17, 2009 from 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST. Cost $375. Contact Paula to register at 954-565-6894 or visit www.CoachForLivingOnline.com.

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Real women, real romance

Real women share the most romantic thing someone’s ever done for them… And you’d be surprised at how much of an impression the little things make.

How to get the man of your dreams

Alissa is a beautiful and successful massage therapist–complete with her own podcast! This woman has done a stunning job at composing her life. However, when it came to finding Mr. Right, Alissa needed a bit of assistance.

After a string of heart wrenching breakups, Alissa opened herself up to the idea that she might need some professional help. She signed up for a course called “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women,” which centered on the ideas of understanding men, knowing what you want and knowing what it takes to create a great partnership.

So what did she learn?

Check out these four tips for preparing yourself for a healthy relationship.

1. Get yourself together.

Remember those airline instructions from that last flight you took? You can’t do anything for anybody else until you’ve put on your own air mask. Be the grownup in your life, help yourself get it together first, then you’ll be better equipped when a the right person comes along.

2. Be honest about what you want.

One really great way to make knowing what you want into getting what you want is to say it out loud. Even write it all down and tell other people, keeping our wants and needs to ourselves doesn’t get us anywhere.

We have to have enough self-confidence and self-love to walk away from the things that we don’t want and be brave and bold enough to ask for what we do want without reservation. Practice authenticity, practice truth and practice getting what you want by saying it out loud every day.

3. Learn to speak their language.

Men speak in layers and in time they will reveal more of themselves to you if you give them the space and silence to uncover those layers. When you ask questions, wait, sit quietly and listen. Alissa found that it’s in that quiet that a man reveals the depth of who he is. He’ll give you the superficial, then a little deeper and then the juicy stuff. It takes practice but in the end it works.

When it’s your turn, keep it focused and figure out exactly what you want insight on. When a man is listening to a woman, he’s taking it all in. He’s going to wait until you’re finished before he gives you an answer.

4. Don’t turn yourself into a pretzel.

Alissa discovered that her relationships were failing because she was constantly contorting herself. She would find men who were the basic molds of what she wanted but then instead of remaining solid in the woman that she is, she would begin to meld into what she thought they wanted of her. Alissa wasn’t able change her ways until she realized that twisting herself into something she wasn’t would never allow someone get to know the real her.

After taking time to learn more about communication, Alissa is in a more confident, clearly open space. “I’m going to try to understand who the man sitting across from me is. If this man is a square, I am not going to try so hard to fit him into a triangle of what I want. I can take my triangle and move on, and that’s okay. It’s a whole new world for me now, it’s a whole new way of dating and relating with men. And it’s a lot more fun.”

Click here to tune in to Alissa’s weekly podcast for insight on understanding your man and more importantly, yourself.

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Confronting interracial relationship issues

When Kristin met Will, she knew they were going to have something special.

“It was pretty much serious from the start.”

Even though their relationship was wonderful, Kristin was nervous about telling her parents about her new boyfriend.

“He was the first black guy I had ever dated–not because he was black, but because we liked each other and were attracted to each other,” she says.

She knew that her mom and step-dad would be caught off guard, but one of Kristin’s biggest concerns was telling her grandmother. “For two years she knew all about him, but didn’t know he was black.”

Her grandmother has always been supportive of everything she had done with her life had been really proud of all she had accomplished. Kristin was her only grandchild and she didn’t want to disappoint her grandma. Part of Kristin believed that she would be accepting of her relationship, but she knew that at 85, her grandma’s view of the world was quite a bit different than her own.

Kristen knows that she is really bad about not wanting to talk about controversial things or deal with confrontation. “I let issues grow until they are something that I can’t manage alone. In the end, the things that usually seem to be such a big deal turn out to be nothing. Sometimes the worrying is worse than the actual event.”

Through this experience, Kristin learned that despite generational gaps and differences in life outlooks, everyone understands what it means to be in love. She shouldn’t have agonized over telling Granny for two and a half years; instead she should have bitten the bullet and dealt with it.

Her one regret is that she could have been more open about things, as a family and as couple.

If you have problems with confrontation, Kristen offers these 4 things to keep in mind.

1. It’s okay to be afraid. Ask for help.
2. Consider other people’s life experiences.
3. Give it time.
4. Do it sooner rather than later.

Visit this forum for opinions, discussions and articles on the subject of interracial relationships, courtesy of WordPress.

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How to know if he’s marriage material

Dr. Wendy Walsh, a dating expert and psychologist, drew from personal dating disasters to create a relationship rule book called “The Boyfriend Test.”

Her aim was to help women understand men and better stick to their guns when it came to dating. She found that dating happens in phases, and at any point during the first three months, women should be hyper-sensitive to where the relationship is headed. Here’s how they find out:

Step 1: The Girlfriend Test

The first step to having any healthy relationship is to take a look at yourself. You have to understand your own issues and desires before you can subject someone else to them. In order to have some kind of intimate connection, you can’t fantasize about how things could be. We have to learn to be really clear about what we want, what is achievable, and to be able to communicate that in a kind way. After passing the Girlfriend Test, you can move into dating.

Step 2: The Telephone Test

When you’re out there in the world meeting people – sometimes online, sometimes in person, you’re eventually going to get asked for your number. At that point, if he interests you, you have an opportunity to do some telephone screening.

There are things to look for during a phone conversation that can help you decide if someone is worth promoting to a first date. Is he calling at an appropriate time of day considering he doesn’t really have any idea about your schedule? Does he seem hyper focused or touchy about any subjects – his ex, his mom, his work, money? Is he telling you all about himself or is he showing interest in you too?

The little tidbits that people leave in conversations can tell you a lot about who they are and whether you should accept a date with them.

Step 3: The First Date Test

Wendy said women should expect a guy to be a gentleman and use old-fashioned manners on the first date. But it’s also important to recognize the difference between good manners and a controlling personality.

“Put your ears up and listen for the social cues,” she said. “Manners are designed to help people feel more comfortable around you, but if someone makes you feel controlled or put down, end it after the first date.”

Step 4: The 5-Date Consistency Test

After five dates, we’re looking to see if this is building into a relationship, if he’s boyfriend material. It’s enough time to gauge his consistency and to see if his early actions were based on character or based on the thrill of the hunt.

Does he play phone tag? How does he use e-mail? Is he still making and consistently keeping plans? Has he followed up on the little promises he’s made? Has he displayed any anger yet?

If it’s not working after five dates, women think that means they should try harder. No! Pay attention. Men don’t speak with words. They speak with actions. Five dates into it he’s telling you if he’s worth keeping around.

Step 5: The 90-Day Consistency Test

At three months in, you should be somewhat associated with his life. Do his acquaintances – his concierge, his mechanic, the people that are a part of his practical daily life – know you by name? Where does he keep your toothbrush? If it’s stuffed in a drawer somewhere, you know he has other people over in between.

Does he always reserve Saturday nights for you? Has he begun to reveal any of his addictions? “Let’s face it, we’re all addicted to something, and it’s gonna come out within 90 days,” Wendy said. “What you have to do is figure out if you can live with it.”

The #1 Question

Of all the questions on The Boyfriend Test, the most revealing one is, according to Wendy, how is his relationships with his mother.

“If he’s really angry with Mom, I promise you, it’s only a matter of time before he replaces Mom with you in his head,” she said. “If he’s a little too close to Mom, sorry, girls, he’s already got a wife. You’ll only ever be the mistress.”

The Boyfriend Test is ultimately about boundaries for women. Wendy said many women have so few boundaries in dating that they spend their time selling themselves rather than realizing that they’re the one taking applications.

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A Good Dose of Wendy
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