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Where was I when I needed me?

Family, Heartbreak

The Million Dollar Question

So the other day I’m sitting with some of my colleagues and one of them turns to me and says, “Do you know you spent more on your divorce than (can’t mention well-known celebrity for fear of lawsuit) did?” Wow, how charming of him to inform me of this, I’m liking him less by the second. Where was I when I needed me?

And who am I anyway? I am a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® and I am here to change the way divorce attacks the unsuspecting who stand still and think it will be OK as the tsunami rushes straight for them.

Divorce? But I could handle that! I mean seriously, I studied law in college and was an investigative reporter. I can gather facts. I can speak succinctly and clearly to the truth of the matter. I’ve been blazing trails and taking names since 1993. I was working in IT before there was an “I”!  What was divorce going to do to me? Looking back, what didn’t divorce do to me?

By the time I left my marriage in 2012 I had high blood pressure, low blood sugar, and a thyroid that was fluctuating. I had serious acid reflux, anxiety, depression, and had gained more than fifty pounds. This was the state of my mental and physical well-being as I was entering the divorce process. Not exactly in fighting shape, so to speak, and no one on standby to get me back there.

I remember the night I stood in the pantry on my phone with the door closed and the lights off. I whispered to a friend of a friend who is a Realtor, “Hi, my name is Susan. I need to get out of here safely and rent a home nearby this week. Can you help me?” He was the first of many resources that I found along my way. But finding them, trusting them, and figuring out how they could help me was exhausting and time-consuming.

And doing this while I was packing and gathering up twenty years of belongings, trying to figure out what to bring for my children and what to leave behind, and then unpacking on the other side just about put me under.  I was fielding 5-6 calls from my lawyer’s office each day asking if I had this paper or that paper, this answer or that answer, and had made the decision that they needed from me that could invariably change my life forever? This was only the separation part of a divorce process that lasts about a year on average. I had no idea how I was going to make it through the week.

I could go on to belabor the point about Discovery, Mediation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, depositions, and eventually trial, but I will say it briefly this way: a high-speed traffic circle with no exits. It was a cyclical nightmare of intense organization, unending preparation, incredible stress, executing under pressure, and falsely thinking it’s over and trying to take a breather only to immediately begin again. All the while not having anyone to explain to me what this divorce was going to be like as it continued to shove me down under the water, bring me up for air, and then push me down again.

I wanted someone by my side all the time and I always turned to my attorney first. As comforting as it was to know that she was “in the loop,” the bills were piling up and the expenses were staggering as I was using her as a coach, a friend, and my legal guidance simultaneously. Where was I when I needed me? I was drowning in my divorce, paying bills that were in the tens of thousands every month, and praying that it would come to an end as soon as possible and that somehow I would survive.

So many people ask me now why I would head into a career as a Certified Divorce Coach when I barely survived a divorce tidal wave that forever changed my life. I often tell them this, “I would have done anything to have had a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® when I was going through my divorce.” I missed the guidance that would have given me comfort. I missed the sounding-board that would have given me clarity. I missed the leader, the expertise, and the knowledge that could have saved me, potentially, a small fortune. So where was I when I needed me? It’s the million dollar question that I hate to answer. I didn’t exist yet. But I do now.

Susan Schwartz is a former journalist and IT Specialist who worked for Knight-Ridder Tribune, America Online (before the Internet went public!), and multiple AOL Brands. She is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® and now proudly calls herself a YourTango Expert Contributor.

Check her out at: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/susan-schwartz

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