Divorce is the New Black

What do you think when you hear the word divorce? You probably think what most people in our society think when they hear the word divorce:

“The End.”
“You Failed.”
“What a Waste.”

And if you happen to be a woman of a certain age, everyone will start betting on the number of cats you’ll soon have.

But not so fast …

As a “woman of a certain age,” whose divorce became final last year, I’m here to let you in on a little secret: Divorce can be good … In fact, it can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Let’s do a quick flashback to where my divorce journey started: when I married my ex-husband. Like you, and like all of us, I meant it when I said “I DO.” That was it; we were growing old together and sipping lemonade on our porch. I had my whole life mapped out before me, and I had a solid plan.

But then as the years went on, and in the most eloquent way I can state this, “Shit happens.”

And boy did it happen to us.

I won’t go into the grizzly details, but let’s just say that vows were broken, and tensions were at volcanic levels. If I hadn’t left when I did, in all likeliness there would’ve been a chalk outline of one of us.

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Although we’d reach this level after five years of marriage and a one-year-old, I stayed another seven years, because how could I leave? The choice to leave my husband meant that I would no longer get to see my child every day. What kind of mother would make such a choice? That thought stopped me year after year after year. I resolved that I loved my child more than I loathed my husband, and I endured. My new plan was to stay married until my son left for college. Then I could leave. And I almost stuck to that plan.

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In the end, it wasn’t the fact that my marriage had reached the point of total annihilation that finally made me leave. It was when my then-11-year-old son, who is typically as goofy as they come, came to me in all seriousness and said, “Mom, I’m not as happy as I should be. I wish you and Dad would just get a divorce already.”

(blink blink)

The thought bubble now emerging over my head was asking, “My dear child, you mean I wasn’t fooling you?” On that very day, I decided to finally leave. Within ten days I’d filed for divorce and moved out of the house. My ex-husband said I’d declared World War III when I left. (I mean, really? Such hyperbole! If I told him once, I told him a trillion times—never exaggerate. But I digress …).

I took a leap of faith and set out on the Path of the Unknown. Which, by the way, is really fun when you’re 45.

2014-11-17 15.49.29_resizedWe went through divorce court and custody mediation. (Whereby they sat us mere inches from each other and when he started with the expletives, I came this close to stabbing him with my pen.) We hammered out a shared custody agreement, walked silently into the elevator together, then parted like the Red Sea. And, girls, that was hard. Very hard. He’d been my husband for 15 years, after all.

But then something happened in the ensuing weeks: all the tension and angst that I’d been carrying around all of those years started to fall off, and I became lighter. Friends told me that I’d never seemed more relaxed and happy. I found that all the doubts and fears that had become my anchor were being replaced by a new sense of joy and possibilities. I grew stronger and became whole in my mind, body and spirit. I also saw my son return to his regular silly self again because the proverbial shoe that he knew was going to land had finally dropped, and his parents were no longer in battle. Oh, and, by the way, my ex-husband and I are now good friends. (I thought I’d witness pigs flying before that ever happened.)

My life was now in my hands to steer and carve out a new course. Because I learned something: Divorce is about choice. It means that two people don’t have to be unhappily bound together until death do they part; it means they have the right to say, “ENOUGH.” Does that mean that divorce is easy? Of course not. It’s not the right choice for everyone. If you can make your marriage work, by all means, make it work. But in my case, the harder choice was to remain in an untenable situation, slowly dying emotionally every day. With the fear that one day I would be so far gone that I would never be able to navigate my psyche back to a place where I could give or receive love again. (Okay, I guess I’m a fan of hyperbole, too, but you get what I’m saying.) My only way forward was through divorce. So whenever I hear of someone else getting divorced, I don’t say or think, “You failed.” Instead, I say, “Congratulations!” Because they now have the opportunity to start fresh and remove the albatross of anguish (or whatever it was) that enveloped them.

Ooh! I haven’t even mentioned that you get to start dating again! Well, I’ll save that post for my Part Two. However, I will say that since my separation and divorce, I’ve done some valuable, shall we say, “research” on the subject. And I’m here to tell you, girls, that life is good. Scratch that. Life is amazing.

Divorce is the new black. It’s a new beginning.

And I can’t wait for my next chapter.

Wendy Allen

A native of Northern California, Wendy left home at 18 to attend Cal State Northridge in 1986, where she earned a BA degree in Radio/TV/Film Production. Three years later, she began an 18-year career in Hollywood, working at Paramount Pictures in the high-impact television industry. After working on hit sitcoms such as "Wings" and "Becker," she decided to put her talents into marketing and public relations when she relocated to Orange County, CA. Wendy quickly became known as a results-driven marketing professional who increased her clients' profitability through the creation and implementation of highly-focused marketing strategies. A busy mom of a teenage son, Wendy juggles a thriving career with her life as a proud basketball mom. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking and spending quality time with friends and family.

16 thoughts on “Divorce is the New Black

  1. Lainie Reply

    Cheers to you Wendy for making a jump into unknown and unfamiliar waters! Your positive and go-getting attitude is an inspiration to all women.

  2. Sherry Smith Reply

    Wendy, growing up in the same city, attending school together, having one son, . . . and going through divorce in our 40s, our lives are so parallel.

    Yes, life does get better after divorce.

    I, too, was going to wait after my son was age. But, how could I be the best mom to him if I was waking up incomplete because the love that I once had for my then husband was withering away?

    That feeling of guilt or failure subside with the blessings of empowerment and continued love of self.

    Welcome to this world of a better you . . . Us!

    1. WendyWendy Reply

      Sherry, your words are so empowering and spot on: yes, we couldn’t give anything to our boys while we were so incomplete. It’s really amazing how parallel our lives are!!!

      Here’s to your continued growth and happiness!

  3. Ariel Reply

    There is “life” and “love” after divorce. My heart still aches when someone says they are going through a divorce, as I remember the time and the long road it took to get to my happy place. But I survived. I love the idea of having a refresh button. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kate Tschudin Reply

    Good for you Wendy…..This is beautifully written and most importantly, from the heart….Christopher is a smart young man…
    When Mom and Dad are independently “happy” he feels safe, secure and loved!

    1. WendyWendy Reply

      Thanks so much, Kate. I appreciate it. You’re so right: a child’s feeling of safety is directly tied his parents in so many ways.

  5. Beatrice BaileyBeatrice Bailey Reply

    Wendy, this is a great article! I am so proud of you. You have handled this entire divorce with so much dignity, grace and, of course, a few well placed “f” bombs. I am pleased at how both you and your EX are co-parenting Christopher. Christopher is doing well and is handling all aspects of his young life swimmingly. You both are role models on how to handle a divorce when you have a child, particularly a minor child. Christopher is the measuring stick for all that you two do. He now sees you as friends that only want the best for him. Hats off to you, my daughter.

  6. Renee Reply

    Spot on! I made my decision when I looked in the mirror as a mom, teaching her 5 year old what a loving relationship looks like, but didn’t have it at home. So I’m making that happen now. Loving the freedom and the changes. And the ability to teach in truth. I enjoyed the read.

    1. WendyWendy Reply

      Thank you so much, Renee. I love what you said about “teach in truth.” That’s so vital and I’m so happy for you that you’re on this journey.

  7. WendyWendy Reply

    Thank you so much for your wonderful words! I so agree with what you said: we need to thrive, just merely survive. Life is just too short to live a stagnant and emotionally bankrupt existence. Having said that, I would’ve stayed until my child was grown. But then seeing how it was in fact hurting him, that was all I needed to know as a mother. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you so much.

  8. NicoleNicole Reply

    Loved this and so appreciate your sincerity and even more so, that divorce is not an end but often times a beginning of self discovery! a rejuvenation of women realizing that at times we need to thrive in life rather than just survive a stagnant situation.

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