When Andrea decided to leave her marriage, she moved some five hundred miles back to her home town and was surprised by how much support she had. Here’s Andrea:
I was really surprised at how supportive the people who love you are. When they know what’s going on, like the neighbors on my street, whatever I need from them, they’re happy to give it.
Of course I return favors but I never liked to ask for help. I think because of my daughter with autism, I felt like I had to spend my whole life apologizing. It was, “I’m sorry,” when we were just walking through the park and she happened to spoil someone’s birthday because she grabbed someone’s balloon. I spent my whole life apologizing for always being in the way or causing someone problems or making their day not perfect because I came across with my imperfect child.
When I finally was able to ask for help, I didn’t really need to ask after the first time. They were happy to help me. I was afraid when my husband was served. I was afraid of what he would do and I wanted to have somewhere to go, so somebody offered me their condo on their beach. I’m not talking by the water, I’m talking open the door and there’s the sand, for as long as I wanted, because he didn’t know where that was.
Last year when we started the school year, I explained to the principal and my youngest daughter’s teacher what the situation was, and they were fabulous. When my husband tried to cause problems at school, the principal didn’t have any trouble calling him and saying “you’re not coming here to try to increase your custodial time. You’re distracting your child from learning. That’s not what this is for. If you want a tour of the school, you make arrangements with me. I will be here either before school or after school and she can be here if her mother agrees, but you’re not going to distract her in the middle of her day. This is her place.”
I was floored by people’s generosity. I can’t decide if it was because of where we lived before and how I wasn’t connected to the community or if it’s just because I never asked. I’ve really been surprised.
The Divorce Coach Says
This for me, is the best part of Andrea’s story although I do have one more post to close her series. Her comments about always apologizing for her child with autism did make me wonder how often I’d been guilty of casting a disapproving look at a mother with her special needs child? Food for thought there.
Learning to ask for help after divorce is not unusual. One of my very early interviews was with Melanie, who shared how she’d learned to ask for help. In this post she talks about what it takes to ask for help and why she thinks we’re sometimes reluctant to do so. I’ve also written my seven rules for asking for help.
In my experience, the more you open yourself up to help from others, the more you’ll receive.