“Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you; one dance left, this world is gonna pull through;
don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live; can’t forget we only get what we give”
– New Radicals (Gregg Alexander & Rick Nowels)
When you are going through a divorce, it is so easy to look around and identify the things that you are without: “I no longer live in the house”, “I do not get to spend Christmas with my children this year”, “No one is eating dinner with me tonight.” Identifying things for which to be thankful can be difficult, if not impossible, based on your life’s perspective.
The amazing thing about gratitude, though, is that it is contagious – it passes from person to person, and according to best-selling author Regena Thomashauer, “gratitude is an essential practice that opens us up for more – more love, more stuff, more of whatever we want.” So how do we get there from here?
The pathway to gratitude is not obvious – in fact, it can almost seem counter-intuitive. When every instinct is telling you to withdraw from the world, conserve your resources and spend only on the essentials, both during and after an expensive divorce process, a tiny inner-voice is whispering, “what about me?” Pay close attention to that voice, honor her question, because it is she who pleaded with you to begin this journey in the first place for the benefit of you both.
I was an emotional wreck when I filed for divorce. I had made the decision to end a marriage with someone I had loved for 20 years and was the father of our two young children. At the time he was also the primary bread-winner, as I had chosen to leave the corporate world to focus on raising our kids. Although I did stay active in the business world via real estate investing, I would soon find that my investment company would end up on my ex-husband’s side of the marital balance sheet, and I would be left without any source of earned income. I was terrified.
My children are the first ones who kept me focused on life’s blessings. After all, it was because of them that I had found enough motivation to put an end to an unhealthy relationship, and in the name of health, I was going to ensure that our lives only improved from that point forward. Despite having limited resources, both in time and money, I knew that I needed to take care of myself during a highly stressful period of my life so that I could be the mom that I always intended to be for my children.
Believe it or not, my lawyer is next on my gratitude list. She handled my divorce with compassion and sensitivity, and she always kept our children’s well-being top-of-mind while working with opposing counsel to ensure that our case did not unnecessarily escalate. Through her, I also connected with several divorce professionals – parenting coaches, divorce therapists, financial appraisers – who collectively laid the foundation of a professional support network that was charged with taking care of me so that I could take care of my loved ones.
I am also incredibly blessed with supportive family, friends and neighbors who listened to me cry and vent, invited me out for fun activities, took care of my children so that I could participate in these fun activities, and reminded me constantly how many wonderful, amazing people I had rooting for me to get through this rough patch. Although their advice was not unbiased and sometimes did not align with that of professional counselors, I did appreciate their fervent support and belief in me during a time of frequent self-doubt.
The lesson that I learned through my own divorce journey is that it is extremely important to surround yourself with positive and supportive people – my very survival depended upon it. Similar to investment portfolio best practices, a resilient personal support network must also be diversified, i.e. each person must have a specific role to play and stay focused on his or her “core competency.” Social scientist Brene Brown explains that “we all need [more consistent support]. It is unfair for us to ask [one person] to hold space for the thrashing about that is a necessary part of the reckoning and the rumble, especially when they are part of the story.”
Maintaining multiple close relationships takes an investment of time, and relying on various professionals for advice takes an investment of cash, both of which seem extremely scarce during the divorce process. However, this is the exact moment when these investments are desperately needed – it gives new meaning to the term “buy low.” A divorce is one of the best examples I can think of as a person’s unexpected “rainy day.” Isn’t it for these exact moments that we save our resources to later use in constructing a sturdy umbrella to get us through them?
Exercising fiscal responsibility is important, and adjusting your lifestyle to reflect the post-divorce “new normal” ensures stability for you and your family. During this process, I argue that there is still room for investment, still plenty of affordable opportunities to enhance your life that will pay for themselves, and then some, in the long run. Identifying these opportunities is not easy, and you will make mistakes, but that is part of the learning process.
We mitigate our risk of mistake by relying on an established support network to advise us and recognize which options may be best for us when we are still getting used to our new surroundings. It takes a village to get through a divorce, as well as gratitude for being blessed with the resources to come out a healthier person on the other side. Although at times it may seem like you are alone on this journey, the many hands and hearts of your personal support network will give you the strength to take those well-evaluated risks and be open to the wonderful possibilities that await you.
 Thomashauer, Regena. “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts.” 2002.
[2 Brown, Brene. “Rising Strong.” 2015.
Mandy Mobley Li is a divorce event planner and the founder of Quilt of Ashes, a support organization created to preserve the financial, physical and emotional health of individuals and families going through the divorce process. Along with her personal experience with high-conflict divorce, Mandy is leveraging her previous consulting and negotiation skills with Deloitte and IBM and her MBA degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management to “project manage” the divorce process and assist her clients in their own unique divorce journeys. Quilt of Ashes provides divorce support services face-to-face in the metro Atlanta area and virtually nationwide – call 678-459-4261 or email email@example.com to schedule your free consultation.