Knowing something of the relationship Carolyn had with her husband and the little decision-making she had, gave me an appreciation for Carolyn’s courage in leaving the marriage. I think by the time she made that decision, she was well on the way to having the skills to survive divorce although she probably didn’t recognize it at the time. I asked her when she knew she would survive divorce. Here’s Carolyn:
I still have my doubts, from time to time and I think that’s probably normal.
If I had to think about an early thing that was a big deal, it would be when I bought my car. My mom was willing to pay for it, but my car had been going bad and I had to look into getting a new car. I didn’t really know how to do it. I was dating at the time, and he wanted to help me and I didn’t want his help. I wanted to do it myself because I wanted to be a grown up. I wanted to take control of it.
I went online and I researched it. I had this little notebook and I got different quotes online. I researched what the mark up typically was on these things and I talked to a friend whose husband worked at a car dealership. He gave me advice about negotiating and insisting that I got two years of free servicing .
I went in there to deal with the guy at the car dealership, and I allowed my boyfriend to come with me when I went there to test drive the car. It kept irritating me that I went in there and told him,
“Hi, my name is Carolyn. I’m here to look at this car I’m thinking about buying,”
and he kept turning to my boyfriend to talk to him about the details. I found it really insulting.
Surviving divorce means making decisions
When I went back to negotiate I wouldn’t let my boyfriend come with me. I went into his office and I showed him my paperwork. I told him that if I bought my car at this place, I could get it for this and what could he do for me that was better than that. I negotiated it out and I got him down to a pretty good deal. Then I said,
“And on top of that, I want two years free servicing.”
He sort of laughed at me and said I was an aggressive negotiator, but I got the deal done.
I remember feeling that I didn’t know anything about cars or negotiating or buying cars, but I went online and I researched it, I figured it out and I went in there, I did the fake-it till you make-it thing, I acted like I was more confident than I was, and it went okay. I remember driving that car off the lot, feeling,
“I just did that! I just did it, and I was the only grown up in the room.”
I was the grown up in that situation. That was really different because when I was married, any time we got a new apartment or anything, I just trailed along behind my husband as he asked all the questions and he signed all the paperwork.
That was really empowering and good for my confidence. Dealing with this stuff I’m dealing with now with my basement flooding and the refrigerator quitting working, it’s terrifying to me and it’s so stressful, but each one of these events I handle and it’s okay. This is the first time that I’ve dealt with something like this where I didn’t need my mom’s help. I didn’t call my mom saying,
“I need you to help me with this!”
I just dealt with it. I told my mom about what was going on, but I’m dealing with it, and I think this kind of stuff proves to me that I’m doing it. I’m doing it! It’s going okay!
The Divorce Coach Says
Surviving divorce has a lot to do with confidence and your confidence builds when you push yourself outside your comfort zone to take on tasks you haven’t done before. I know some people may laugh at the stories I’ve shared about how my own confidence increased with the minor home maintenance tasks I did, like changing light bulbs (who knew there were so many different kinds) and fixing the flush mechanism in a toilet but for me, these were tasks I’d never done before and doing them successfully made me feel much better about being the only adult in the house.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t do them because I was stupid but because they were things my husband had done. I just hadn’t had the experience. And I think that “stupid” thing is something we put on ourselves – we think that we can’t be very smart because other people do it all the time and that’s just not true.
And the light bulbs? I honestly thought I was being a ditzy blonde when it would take me at least two trips to the hardware store to find the correct bulbs but turns out lots of us have had our light bulb moments: Evvy, StudentMama, Terry …
Photo credit: Telstar Logistics