Hurry Up or Go Slow???

July 11, 2011

The day I officially became separated, I was faced with a
million choices. While none of them were easy, some
were more obvious to decide than others; guess I need a
lawyer now; who can I call to get a referral; guess this
means we’re not going to the cottage tonight as planned…

One in particular I wasn’t sure how to handle:
do I move through this process quick as I can or do I slow
it down and inch along?

It may seem like a funny question to ask yourself, but the
reality of it is that when you are plunged headfirst into
monumental life changes there are two immediate reactions.
One is to close up, withdraw and back away from the danger
for a time. And the other is to plunge forward and tackle
immediately what has to be handled. That good ole fight or
flight response you always hear about in times of stress.
And make no bones about it, this is one of the most stressful
times in your life.

What can further complicate your
decision-making process is if you are new to the concept;
if your partner is the one who has
presented the idea and you are hearing about it for the first time.
Or if you even had an inkling, you may still not be thinking,
“yup, divorce is the way to go, right here, right now.”

Just as there are two sides to every marriage and divorce,
there are two sides to every decision. As I have taught in
crisis and issues communications courses through the years,
you don’t want to be caught reacting; you want to respond.
The difference is having something thrown at you and
immediately jumping into the fray and reacting, often before
you have all the facts and understand completely what you
are facing. Responding means that you have considered
what is in front of you and evaluated the options and then
made an educated, informed decision about the choice
you are making.

Choosing between reacting and responding can be difficult,
especially if someone else is pressuring you to make a choice,
ideally the one they want.

So, my house and cottage did not immediately go up for sale
even though I recognized that my marriage was in fact over
and that ownership of these properties needed to be considered. 

I hired a lawyer and figured out what my first steps needed to be.
And I allowed myself a month and a half to sort through the initial
divorce details. And I recognize now that my separation and divorce
actually moved through quite quickly compared to most that I
hear about.

The flip side of this is what I have heard from the lawyer of a client
recently: my client is now paying for decisions made, or actually
not made, at the beginning of their process. The consequence of
going too slow is hurting them today.

It’s human nature to want to hide our heads and pretend the bad
stuff isn’t really happening;
that you can deal with the situation tomorrow.
It’s especially difficult to deal with when you feel as
low and vulnerable
as you do.   And it doesn’t matter what
side of the divorce equation you are on – it’s still a difficult
time with l
ots of
emotions involved.

The reality of it is the nasty stuff will still be there tomorrow. And the
next day, and next month and next year. And the longer it goes on,
the harder and more difficult it becomes. I know of one person who
has become frozen with the decisions and nine years later is still
no further ahead.

Change is hard. Recognizing that life has changed forever is hard.
So, if you find yourself facing change and can’t imagine how to deal
with it, remind yourself that you are not alone and that there are
people – family, friends, and experts – that can help you to deal
with the details and the change.

Divorce success is in the details

June 30, 2011

There is a saying:
the devil’s in the details.

Not sure where it came from. Some believe it started as an earlier
phrase, “God is in the details” and attribute it to a German architect.
Others say it started with a German art historian.

Wherever it came from, it refers to the fact that close attention needs
to be paid to even the very smallest details of any task, because
they can make a larger job more difficult or challenging. They can
prolong a task, cloud an issue or hide a problem.

I’ll certainly say this: divorce is in the details. And how.

There are pages and pages of information to be filled in as part
of the divorce process. Some information is easy to get – from
your monthly bills and your bank account statements online.
It just takes time to pull it all together. And then you have to figure
out how to add it into the forms your lawyer has given you or how
you are going to get it to them to fill in for you.

Other numbers are trickier to pull together. How much did you
have in RRSPs on the date of your marriage? What did you have
in your bank account? Is there a cash component to your life
insurance policy? What would those tools be worth that your dad
gave you before you got married?

We never plan to get divorced.

When we get married, especially when we are young and just
starting out in our lives, we are planning for a long life together.
Few, if any of us, keep bank books and credit card statements
from the day we were married. I’m sentimental, a keepsake keeper
and very organized and even I don’t have those things! And as the
majority of us aren’t uber-rich celebrities with legal advisors taking
note of debts and assets before we say our vows, we just don’t have
these kinds of details documented. And yet, when you work through
your divorce, these are just some of the details you need.

I say, your divorce success is in the details.

Without change, there would be no butterflies…

June 22, 2011

I came across an old proverb soon after my divorce process
was initiated:

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending,
he became a butterfly.”

It was funny how it just popped out at me one day as I was
reading something. It hit home for me. And then I was out
shopping and as I was running through a store on my way to
someplace else, a magnet with the saying caught my eye.

And I thought okay, there is a message here for you.
Pay attention.

Imagine what it’s like for the caterpillar: it’s dark, it’s lonely,
there’s strange stuff going on even while all spun up into that
tight cocoon. Life must be ending. And then through the miracle
of change, a beautiful butterfly emerges to start on its new journey.

It became my mantra. It summed up for me what I was going
through and helped me to emerge on the other side of my divorce

It’s true that your life as you currently know it is changing and coming
to an end, but embrace the door that is opening in your life. Know that
there are different opportunities on the other side.

Without change, there are no butterflies.
And you have an advantage over the caterpillar: you are not on your
own through the changes. You have family and friends.
And I would be honoured to help you on your journey.

Welcome to the Divorce Details blog!

June 15, 2011

Actually, I should start by saying, welcome to Divorce Details!
And thank you for wanting to learn more about Divorce Details and
for being interested in finding out what this blog may have to share
with you.

Starting the blog process is very similar to starting your divorce
process. You’re not sure what you have to do, how you have to do
it and the best way of doing it, but you know something has to be
done. So you do some research, talk to friends and colleagues
and then you throw yourself into it. And just do it.

The one big difference is the kind of emotions I’m dealing
with right now versus when I was thrown headfirst into
my separation and divorce process. I’m excited about this
new venture, which is starting almost two years to the day
that my divorce process started.  Emotions were very different
back then.

Divorce is a difficult process. You feel like your whole world
has ended. Life is changing, maybe for the better, maybe not…
or at least that’s the way it feels at the time. You really do feel
like you’re trying to keep it all together – your emotions,
your career, your family, your everyday life demands that just
keep on coming. None of that stops just because your life as a
married person has come to an end.  And then all of a sudden,
you have to deal with all the details that going through a divorce
demands as well.  You don’t really think of that in the midst of
making or reacting to a decision to separate.

Getting a divorce is about following a legal process. And that
means a lot of paperwork. And quite frankly, numbers.
A lot of them.
It took me five hours to pull together the numbers
I needed for my first meeting with my lawyer. And that was just
the beginning of what I realize now was my fairly quick 14-month
divorce process.

For many of you, it may be the first time you’ve had to deal with
some or all of these numbers. Maybe you don’t even know where to
start. Or maybe you just don’t have the emotional ability to be able to
deal with all this work at the point you are at right now. Or the time or
energy. It’s taking everything you have to get your family to school,
lessons and scheduled activities and yourself to work — or let’s face it,
out of bed some mornings — without trying to also pull together what
your lawyer needs.

I understand. I’ve been there.

It’s why I decided to start Divorce Details. As I worked through the
process of my divorce and then helped others, I realized that there
was a need for this kind of service; that I could help people at a time
when they really needed it.

As one friend said to me, talk about finding the silver lining in
your divorce!

So, if you don’t know where to start, start with Divorce Details.
I’ll try and share some of my thoughts and learnings with you
through this blog. I’m not your lawyer. Or your financial advisor,
or mediator or even your counsellor. I’m hoping I can be a guide and
help you find your way through the maze you are facing.