I created a divorce community to help women like me feel less anxious and alone

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I started the Mama’s Guide to Divorce community a few years after going through a difficult separation from my husband of 11 years. My ex-husband met someone else that he wanted to be with and left the marriage. I was shocked. We have two children together who were aged four and seven at the time.

I was heartbroken and alone with very few friends in the area, and yet I had to pull myself together to be a good mom. It was hard. In the beginning, I would drop my kids off at school and go home and cry. I was lucky that I had one very good friend nearby whose support helped me navigate the emotional trauma. By the end of the day, I could pick up my children and be a good mom again. 

I was heartbroken and alone with very few friends in the area

In those early days I felt abandoned, and I was also embarrassed. Almost everybody I knew appeared happily married. I felt so alone and helpless, and constrained by my perception of the stigma of divorce. That’s when I started posting about how I was feeling. 

I initially posted on Instagram and then I started a blog. At the same time, I was seeing a therapist, and documenting that progression created a path towards healing for me. It was like journaling, but to a wider audience. 

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Most of all, I was motivated by helping and encouraging other people. I wanted to create a place where divorced women could come and feel that they were not alone. And to laugh, because you have to laugh through it at some point. So that’s how the journey started: I just posted and posted, and that grew into the 360K community you see today. 

I always try to encourage people by letting them know that, “It’s going to be OK, I promise you.” I want women in the same situation that I was to know that no matter where they are in their divorce journey things will get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to be real because divorce does suck. It’s OK to be sad and angry

I want to be real, because honestly, divorce does suck. It’s OK to be sad and angry. I always say “you’ve got to feel to heal.” Equally, it’s important to become better rather than feel bitter. Being bitter about what happened during your divorce won’t get you anywhere in life. 

It’s not easy to shrug off that resentment, though. You have to really work at it. I wasn’t always this unicorn figure with a positive mindset. But, over a series of years, I evolved. I learned to let go of my feelings of frustration and anger over what had happened to my family. And I felt the shift take place gradually. It was a huge weight off my shoulders.

 

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Mindset is key when you go through such a traumatic life event. You can think, “Why is this happening to me?” Or you take the attitude of, “What am I going to learn from this? And how am I going to grow?” The path that I chose was to help other women as I transitioned through my own situation.

As a parent, divorce can be particularly scary because there are so many uncertainties. There’s the question of how you’re going to survive financially, what the kids are feeling or if you’ll be able to let go of the past and move forward. When I first got divorced, I literally wanted to meet my next husband and recreate my family. It took me a long time to heal from that and to realize that I had the confidence and ability to move forward by myself.

It’s really difficult to date when you’re 40-something with kids

Having kids adds additional pressure because I have to manage their schedules, get them to school, oversee their homework and their sports. It’s all a daily grind. But at the same time, it’s brought huge positives to being divorced. Since my husband and I separated, the kids and I have become a little unit of our own. I find that they’re able to openly talk to me about their fears and concerns. I’ve also learned to co-parent well with my ex-husband; we put our kids at the forefront of everything.

I had to grieve for a while after my divorce but after about a year, I started dating again – and that’s also something I talk about on Instagram. It’s really difficult to date when you’re 40-something and you have kids. It’s a lot. I’ve met some nice and not-so-nice people on the apps. Some of them have become friends. Right now I’m more focused on my kids; and also on growing Mama’s Guide to Divorce with projects like my new podcast, Mamas Talk Relationships.

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I’m at a point where I’m at peace with my life. If the right person comes along, I’ll welcome it. But, at the same time, I’m no longer on a mission to find my next husband. The fact is, it took me a long time to recover and to get to where I am. So, I’m not going to settle for something that’s not the right fit.

I’ve seen a lot of people stay in broken relationships through a fear of being alone. It makes me sad, but I’ve learned not to judge. Until you walk in somebody else’s shoes, you can’t appreciate how they feel. 

I’m no longer on a mission to find my next husband. I won’t settle

I’ve had friends whose husbands have cheated, and I’ve helped them work on their marriages because that’s what they wanted. I’m open-minded and I just want people to be happy. And that’s why I want to keep my community a positive space, even as we tackle the tougher realities of divorce and separation.

People often comment on how big my Instagram community is, but I feel very humble about it. Really, it took on a life of its own through my posts over the years. No-one even saw my face until I had 250K followers. 

 

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A post shared by Alessandra (@mamasguidetodivorce)

Nowadays, I get hundreds of direct messages and I try to answer each one. It’s only fair when people have made the effort to reach out. It means the world to me that I can pay it forward and help others who are feeling alone. 

Alessandra is a Flash Pack ambassador and founder of the Mama’s Guide to Divorce community and Mamas Talk Relationships podcast.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a 30 or 40-something like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

Images: Courtesy of Alessandra and Unsplash

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