Feeling Like You’re in Control of Your Divorce



Jessica: Are you sick of everyone you know telling you how horrible your divorce process is going to be? Do you want to know how you can feel like you’re in control of the process and be able to build a life after that that you love? That’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode of the Divorce etc… podcast. We’re the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We focus on helping you navigate your divorce and successfully moving on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out for tons of free divorce related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest.

T.H.: Hey guys, T.H. here. We are thrilled to have Meagan Norris here with us. She is an attorney and a certified life coach. But those titles, I mean, those are big titles, by the way, but they don’t even do her justice. Wait till we start this conversation about moving on from divorce, finding your true identity, and all of the things. The three of us combined are on that path. We’re going to explain to you how you can get there too. Welcome to Divorce etc…

Meagan: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to have a conversation with you all to be here. I’m “fangirling” just a little bit. I did not find you during my divorce, unfortunately. I’m not sure when you started and launched this venture, but I found you shortly afterwards. I remember thinking, “Oh man, I really could have used those ladies.”

Jessica: But you’re on your own path.

T.H.: We’re still growing and moving forward.

Jessica: The post divorce stuff. But I was going to say, you’re on your own path, helping people get through it. I feel like you must have quite a handle on it yourself.

Meagan: Yes.

Jessica: I mean I love your philosophy. I know everybody’s divorces are very different. I completely understand that some people are in a position where having a high conflict divorce is out of their hands. It’s not just the mental game. It’s whoever they’re dealing with. But I like you, I guess was lucky in the sense that I was divorcing a partner—two partners, who—

T.H.: At different times.

Jessica: Right, exactly, who also were open to the road of having amicable divorces. How did you get there mentally?

Meagan: Mm-hmm. Well, I got off a call with my therapist right after we separated. She had spent the hour telling me how I needed to prepare for the worst, and that it was probably going to be high conflict. We’re looking at a year, and I needed a survival plan. I was already a life coach at that time. I got off that call and I thought, “Wait a minute, everything she just told me is a story. What if that doesn’t have to be mine?” I decided that I was going to show up as if that wasn’t going to be inevitable for us. I didn’t know for sure that it would play out that way, obviously, because this is a co-creation with lots of humans. But I decided to just show up as if it was possible, maybe even inevitable. Every time we were tempted to go down the road of conflict, I just brought it back. I was like, “What if it didn’t have to be this way, and we’re going here?” Fortunately, my ex was amenable to that on some level, and we managed to do it pretty peacefully.

Jessica: Had you had a conversation prior to it really starting of like, “What kind of a divorce do we want and what do we want this to look like?” Or this was all on your side of like, “This is what I want it to look like?”

Meagan: Yes, it was all on my side. He, bless his heart, was doing the best that he could at the time, but was really struggling with the whole idea. He was doing a lot of emotional catch up. And so I just decided I was going to hold space for him to freak out and grieve and do all the things that he needed to do in order to process this. We never had that conversation. I was just in the driver’s seat because of our dynamics and was able to say, “Okay, now we’re going to call the mediator,” and hold his hand through the process. He just luckily agreed and followed along.

T.H.: Well, he didn’t just agree and follow along. You really set the stage. You controlled how you were going to respond. You controlled how you delivered the message. You could have said the exact same thing in a totally different approach and different tone of voice, and you would not have had such a great response. I don’t actually fully agree with that, that he just went along. You gave him space for his emotions. Like, who the hell does that? “Too freaking bad, we’re getting a divorce. You’re an asshole Get the fuck out.” No leaving space.

Jessica: I’m literally listening to her say, “I was able to hold space for him,” and I’m thinking, “I can’t hold space. I don’t hold space for anyone.”

T.H.: You’ve got to go. We’re not playing this game. And so it’s not a game, but that was tremendous restraint on your part, tremendous respect for him, and consideration for his feelings. I’m most definitely sure I wasn’t concerned about my ex’s feelings because it was very clear he could not care less about mine. But even if they don’t care about you, look at what Meagan did to potentially—I don’t think it would have worked for me—but potentially for others, change the direction, or at least taking it down a notch from where it could have certainly escalated to. So, kudos to you.

Jessica: Well, totally kudos to you. But also Meagan, for people listening, someone’s decided that they’re getting divorced, they’re fucking pissed, but they don’t want to have this long, drawn out contentious, expensive divorce, all the things that your therapist and everyone that we know says that it has to be. What are you saying to the people listening in terms of how they can rein it in, in a way where they don’t feel like they’re giving in too much, like, that they’re in control of it, but able to control that process?  

Meagan: Yeah, okay, so a couple of things. The first is you have got to learn how to process your emotions by yourself, whether it’s with a therapist, or a coach, or a friend, some support system that is not your ex. Because the conversations, they’re not productive at this point, usually, right? Then secondly, get really strategic and clear on when it matters, that the story is “correct”. Like, when can we drop the rope and let our ex have the story they want to have, and why does it matter? It’s like, “No, it was my fault. I was breaking the vows.” He was in a lot of pain and having big emotions. I just said, “Yes, you’re right.” That is true on some level, and I didn’t need to be right. I didn’t need to prove anything to him. I think it’s not always that we just want to let whatever story be out there. Sometimes we do need to assert ourselves and advocate for ourselves. But really understanding when that matters and when it doesn’t is really powerful. You always have control over how you respond to somebody. Always.  

T.H.: 100%. That’s all you can do when you’re in any relationship with someone difficult is your response. Because if your response is one way, then you’re fueling, and if it’s the other way, then you’re removing the control that person has over you and the effect that it will literally have on your health. You did say something though, but keep going because I can’t remember what I was going to say.

Jessica: I just going to say I don’t want to say I’m short tempered, but I’m kind of quick to react.

T.H.: What’s the difference?

Jessica: Because quick to react doesn’t mean I’m angry about it. I can have a quick reaction, and it may not be like I’ve lost my temper.

T.H.: Okay.

Jessica: But I always grew up like, as soon as someone said something, I would say something back. I always had to have the last word. I’m listening to you talk about you don’t always have to be right. I’m like, fuck that. I always have to be right. If I know I’m right, I’m fucking right. But I feel one of the things that I have learned a lot from just listening to T.H. talk about things, and then also just trying to be inside myself more is recognize for me when it’s the right time to react and when it’s not. Sometimes I will read a text from my ex, or a situation will be going on, and I will very quickly start feeling my blood pressure rise. I will very quickly start getting to the place where I just want to start yelling and screaming. I can tell now is not the time for me to react to this. I might still feel this way five hours from now. If that’s the case, like okay, then maybe it’s a legitimate feeling. But right now, I feel like I’m just pissed off. I’m not going to be able to have a productive conversation and get my point across. I don’t know how I’ve learned how to do that though. But I feel like—

T.H.: Practice.

Meagan: Yeah.

T.H.: Practice. And we practice on our kids all the time. Like, am I really going to pick a fight with them and talk about what they’re doing right now? Or am I going to let them calm down and get to a place and then go?  

Meagan: I love it.

T.H.: I use that on my kids.

Jessica: Literally last night, side note, I said to my daughter, she was in living room, I said to her, “Before you go to bed, please”—I live in an apartment building in New York City—I said, “Please lock the door from the inside and the outside.” Because as with any door, you can push the button in on the side, then on the outside, you can walk in. I said, “Please lock the door from the inside and the outside.” She said “Okay.” I got up this morning, and the door was unlocked from the inside and the outside. I come in back into my bedroom—my boyfriend stayed over last night—and I was like, “I fucking asked her last night before she went to bed to lock the door.” She didn’t want to get up off the couch at that moment, and I didn’t want to make it into a thing. I just was like, “Okay.” I’m like, “And she didn’t do it.” He said to me, “It’s not the first thing you have to say to her this morning.”

Meagan: Ooh…

T.H.: That’s good.

Jessica: And I said to him, “How do you know that’s the first thing I’m going to say?” He was like, “I know.”

T.H.: Because you’ve been thinking about it all night.

Jessica:  No, no, I wasn’t thinking about it till this morning that I realized it. But I’ll tell you, it 100% would have been the first thing out of my mouth when she opened her bedroom door and came out. I was like, he’s so right. It doesn’t need to be the first thing I say.

T.H.: So is it like the fourth thing? When did you say it?

Jessica: I was leaving. I had to go to work. And so I said to her, “Do you remember I asked you to lock the door, and you didn’t? When I woke up this morning, it was completely unlocked on both ends.” She was like, “I’m so sorry.” I mean, I had to say something to her. Anyway, this is a total sidetrack, but just the idea of being able to control yourself or not, if he had not said that to me, that would have been the first thing that I said to her today. That’s the kind of thing that I feel in my divorce process, when I had not yet learned that skill, I would immediately react to things which can totally throw you off course.

Meagan: Yes.

T.H.: It’ll send you down the wrong rabbit hole. That’s the problem. Keep your eye on the prize. I just had a session with someone, and she’s getting all of her homework together before she files. She’s kind of like “It’s quiet right now, so now’s the best time to get her stuff together.” She goes, “Should I tell him? Should I tell the kids?” I was like, “Well, what’s that going to do?” She goes, “Well, it’ll probably make him really angry, and it’ll get my kids really upset.” I said, “So, are you enjoying the quiet? Are you productive?” She said “Yes.” I said, “So what do you think the answer is?” She’s like, “I’m going to wait.” Good answer.

Meagan: That’s so good. Yes.

T.H.: But yeah, people need to talk it through sometimes, because you are so emotionally charged, especially in divorce. Then you add infidelity or addiction or whatever else. You know what? You are a human being. I love, Meagan, that the first thing that you mentioned is that your therapist said. I also had a therapist early on, and it definitely helped me handle many situations. I’m sure I made a lot of screw ups, but I like to think I was 50/50 good and bad.

Meagan: That’s all we can ask for.

Jessica: I want to ask Meagan, as a coach, and as someone who’s been divorced, and as someone who clearly has control over yourself and your reactions and that kind of thing, what you see as the most common obstacles as people are going through the process and post-divorce.

Meagan: Yes. So it’s actually along the same lines is that we tend to believe the story our nervous system is telling us. I don’t control my nervous system. I don’t have the power to do that. I wish I did. Sometimes I’m crying to my coach, I’m like, “Please help me. I’m so tired of this cortisol. It’s so miserable to feel this way.” But I can control taking action from that place. I help my clients build in a pause, because the fear, the anxiety, the stress, the grief, the guilt, and the shame, all of those survival-based emotions are interpreted by our brain through a certain lens. That story is not always supportive of where we really want to end up. It’s usually how do I get safe in this moment, which would be to fight, run away, freeze, or fawn. Those are our four choices when we’re in survival. We don’t want to take action in our divorce or afterwards when we’re co-parenting or making other big decisions from survival. How do I calm my nervous system down? Take a breath so that I can make a strategic decision based on what I want most, not on what would feel really good right now. 


T.H.: Right, right.


Jessica: That’s a really conscious—


Meagan: Literally it is. It needs some practice.


T.H.: We’re going to take a quick pause. But I want to ask you when we come back, what you do get upset about, and what is worthy of screaming from the rooftop. We’re going to pause for a quick moment. Because we know it’s hard to get honest and reliable information about your divorce and life in general, so we’ve done the work for you with exEXPERTS and our Divorce etc… podcast. Jess and I had one another to ask all of the questions and figure out the answers. Now you have us too. We are your no bullshit, no nonsense girlfriends through divorce and life beyond. Ask us anything about life and all that comes with it. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get exEXPERTS in your inbox and find out all the updates on the latest Divorce etc… podcast and upcoming events. Don’t miss out on information and tips you really need to know going through your divorce and beyond. If you want some one on one time with us girls, you can sign up for a private session. We know that the work really begins when the divorce is over and your team has kind of dispersed. You can connect with us and get all this information at We’ve lived it, so we get it. So let’s get to that question, what makes you mad? What qualifies as okay?

Meagan: Now that I’m divorced and co-parenting, what really gets me going, it’s anything to do with my kids, right? When they’re having big feelings or their relationship with their dad is unsettled in some way, or he has done something that I wouldn’t do as a parent and that I feel is extreme, I get really worked up, like, next level. I’m buzzing; I’m like walking around my house doing Lamaze breathing.

T.H.: Oh my God, I told you she’s one of us, Jessica. Didn’t I say that?

Meagan: Great. I have learned, because I’m not perfect, and sometimes I used to do this more, I thought that we were co-parenting, and that’s not true. We’re not really doing that. And so before, I would just react and I would send a text message, usually or an email, and be like, “Hey, this isn’t working. Should we try this?” Which is really just me trying to control him so that I can feel better and not worry about my kids, and my kids don’t have negative emotions, and all of that. I have learned that that gets me nowhere. It backtracks us if anything. So I have to Lamaze breathe, walk, and just keep repeating, “You’re not going to do anything right now. You’re not going to do anything right now,” because my brain wants me to take action. It’s like if a lion is chasing you, you run. So it might as well be a lion, but it’s only chasing my kids now? That’s worse. Like, eat me, but don’t eat my kids. And so that urge as a human, that primal instinct is really powerful. And so I have to literally lie on my bed and I will say, “I know you want to, but you’re not going to take action right now.” I will message my support system, whoever that might be in the moment, and I will vent and get it out and work out some of that energy. Then I will say, “Okay, what do I want to do here? How do I want to show up here? Is it worth saying anything? Do I need a record of something? Do I want to send an email so I can save it and mark the date? Then I can just make clearer decisions, and I know it’s not going to change anything.” It has yet. I have not figured out how to change other people. If I could, I’d be a bazillionare, right?

Jessica: Let us know when you do.

T.H.: There’s no such thing as fixing. Everybody thinks they’re a fixer. That means you do nothing except waste your energy.

Meagan: That’s right.

Jessica: Assuming people are able to have the incredible self control that you have learned, and that we’re all on the path to try and get ourselves, you talk a lot about being the CEO of your own life and being the CEO of your life after divorce. That’s a lot of the core principles of the coaching that you do and how you’re helping people. Explain to us what that means.

Meagan: Yes, it means taking radical responsibility for your life.

Jessica: I love that. Wait, say that again.

Meagan: Take radical responsibility for your life. Your divorce did not happen to you.

T.H.: Radical.

Meagan: Right? You may have been victimized by someone or a system or whatever, but that does not mean that it serves you to carry a victim mindset through into the rest of your life. I really believe that divorce creates so much emotional resilience and so much emotional fuel, that you can have a life that blows your mind afterwards. Because you can do things that other people who haven’t been through hard stuff are too afraid to do.

T.H.: Yeah

Jessica: Yeah.

Meagan: But I’m like, whatever. Let’s say I humiliate myself on a reel on Instagram. Okay, so what, right? That’s nothing. Bring it. And so I really want to empower women especially to dream again, and to want more for their lives than just the default of whatever they’re left over with after the divorce.

Jessica: Don’t you think, though—and I think your answer is going to be yes, just based on the fact that you said that your therapist had started prepping you on how bad everything was going to be—I mean, don’t you feel part of the problem is that when we talk to people about divorce, every—listen, T.H. and I will always say divorce sucks. And it does. There’s no getting around it. Whether you initiated it, whether it happened to you if your ex cheated, whatever happened, it sucks getting divorced. But there are so many people who are still so stuck in that place of being a victim, and in the anger and the animosity and the vindictiveness of what happened, that that’s all you’re getting from the outside. And so don’t you feel a lot of the times people are walking around like, “Oh, woe is me,” because that’s the common reaction from—

T.H.: Right, you’re playing the victim.

Jessica: —probably the majority of people who get divorced.

Meagan: Yes.

Jessica: So we need to shift that whole mindset.

Meagan: Yes, that paradigm. I’m like we’ve got to trash that. I always use Olympic athletes as an analogy. An Olympic athlete trains eight hours a day. They get up at four; they eat a very specific diet; they’re not having the time of their lives every day. It’s hard. They do it because they want a certain outcome. Well, divorce can be the same way. Yes, it’s really hard, and it’s really painful. Also, you can decide that you’re going to be okay, and that it’s going to make your life richer, better, with more possibility. I think a big piece of this is encouraging women to have a vision for their post divorce life. Because if that’s just blank, our brain, of course, goes to the past, and the present starts to mull over it and fester on it. I’m always encouraging my clients and the people that follow me to start to think about the future and what they want, not just about the pain of the past. Because then we just recreate more pain, like you were saying.

T.H.: And it’s all in the past.

Meagan: Right.

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: It’s done. You have to start with where you are standing right at this minute, and just look forward. I mean, that’s what the three of us have done here, everybody. I’m not sure I had a vision for my life after divorce in terms of where I’m going to live and all this other stuff, but I was so freed on the day that I got the phone call that I told her that she saved my life that day, because she literally did. I just knew I was going to be okay now. Whatever it is, I’m going to be okay, and I’m going to be way happier. I don’t know what that looks like in terms of location or job or anything like that, but my outlook was I’m going to be so much better than I just was yesterday, actually, or even last week. I never want to go back there. But you know what’s interesting is when you’ve been through a difficult marriage, and it kind of just came up because I was with my girlfriends for a day and a half, and we were talking about a lot of stuff. One of my girlfriends was saying, “You know, T.H., I told you that he was cheating. I told you to get a private detective. I saw him snap instantly.” I said, “Well, what did I say?” She goes, “You didn’t want to hear it. You literally said, ‘Don’t tell me anything else. I don’t want to hear it.’” Because I couldn’t process it.

Meagan: You weren’t ready.

T.H.: Right, but when you’re in that place, I saw nothing. I heard nothing, because that’s how I could exist but not live. I was going to live now for the rest of my life—no more existing. Like with Meagan saying about a vision for your life, in my mind, it’s an emotional state.

Meagan: Yes.

T.H.: I am going to live my life and whatever comes with it. There will still be mistakes; I’ll be upset; there’ll be disappointments, but there’ll be great loves. There’ll be laughter, fun. But I am going to be so aware of it all so I know how to move forward. Was that kind of what you were talking about?

Meagan: Yes.

T.H.: And I was like, “God, why am I even worrying about how I felt all those years ago when she told me this?” Which has to be like 17 years ago at this point, but those things are pivotal moments, just to remind you of how far you’ve come. Don’t live in the past. But when it comes back and peers it’s little head, just be like, “Oh, look at me now.”

Meagan: Yes. We’re not going to skip over the pain, and we’re not going to skip over the grief and bypass all of that. We’re going to allow all of it in because it’s creating contrast. You’re getting clarity on what it is that you want. I don’t want anyone to get bogged down in a detailed vision board and like, “Oh, but where am I going to live? What will I be doing?”

T.H.: No, they do that. The pictures and the clothing and the— 

Jessica: Well, that’s okay if someone wants to do that. I mean, I think part of that stems from there are as we know, a lot of people out there who are in situations where emotionally, they’re not happy. They aren’t happy in their marriage, and they aren’t happy in their life, but they’re living comfortably. The bills are being paid, they’re able to live, and they’re not worried about things. As we know, for many women, getting divorced now all of a sudden means you’re the underdog. You’re going to have to figure out how to maintain your life, even if it’s not to the level at which it was. Just how are you going to pay your bills? Can you afford your own rent your own car, all of those things? And so I feel like some people vision board because they have to literally break it down to the minutia, in order to process. 

T.H.: They need to visually, like actually see a picture of it.

Jessica: Right, you’re like, “Holy shit, I’m going to lose the house. I’m going to lose this. And I’m not going to live the lifestyle that I’ve been living.” They can’t even imagine in their head. So yeah, some of it is emotional, and that’s really important. But I do think that some people get really bogged down in those details in order to figure out how they’re actually going to move forward.

Meagan: Yes, so figuring out the how of the next step is one thing, but figuring out where you’re going to be in five years and clinging to that, and not being able to take action because you don’t know exactly how you’re going to make this work, is where we sometimes get stuck. I will encourage people to go back to the five senses and be like, “Okay, what does your life feel like, taste like, smell like on a day to day basis?” Most of us can come up with something like “I have a chair in the sunshine in a window, and I’m at peace, and I have calm, and I have security, and I’m independent, and all of this.” We do know what that looks like. Sometimes it’s easier to tap into that than it is like, “I’m going to live on Second Street in an apartment,” right?

Jessica: Yeah.

T.H.: It even starts with baby steps. I remember as soon as we separated, and Jessica and I talked about this, after I threw out the mattress, I got a really pretty scent for my house that I didn’t have to ask anybody else if they liked. I walked in my house, and my house smelled a certain way. Then I bought really pretty towels. I didn’t spend a lot of money, but I had things—you’re talking about the senses make so much sense. I had a really nice, yummy, pretty place to put my head at night and go to sleep. I had yummy pajamas. I would walk into my home and be like, “This is my home. It smells beautiful.” I would plant flowers. Now I have these flowers sitting at my desk and I love it. Now I have that flowers everyday sitting at my desk fresh. But that’s $10. I can do that. I can budget $10.


Jessica: You can pick them out of your garden depending on where you live.


T.H.: No, the deer eat them first. I can’t. But I pick tomatoes. But anyway, all I’m saying is you can create those comforts as part of your vision slowly but surely. You may not all come together, but make it so where you sleep at night is safe and feels warm and delicious for you. You can do that today.

Meagan: Yes, you just literally listed everything I did first.

T.H.: Mattress.

Meagan: You do the things that matter. The pajamas, I had to throw them all out and get new ones. Even if they’re just from Target or Walmart, I didn’t care. It was just refreshing to have a change of scenery and to have the textures change.

T.H.: Yeah.

Meagan: Yeah.

Jessica: Yeah, all that stuff makes a big deal and goes to the whole bigger point of being able to be in control of how you are going to handle and manage things, and be in control of your process, and be the CEO in your whole process and your life afterwards. For everyone listening, if you enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then can you help a girl out? Because when you subscribe, rate, and review, it gets the word out to more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Meagan and all the services she offers. And of course, share with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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