Have You Lost Your Identity?



Jessica: Has your divorce made you question your identity and who you are? Do you feel like if you’re not married, then you aren’t sure you are because maybe your identity was tied up in being part of a “they”? Those are the things 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.: Today, we are bringing back Dr. Elizabeth Cohen. We have so many favorites. It’s like hard to pick your favorite children. But at this moment, she is our favorite. She is a clinical psychologist who runs a practice in New York City. She is also the author of Light on the Other Side of Divorce. She is a top favorite because she delivers messages and guidance in a way that we can all understand. Super simple, no big words here, just super simple, actionable things that we can do. Welcome to our show.

Jessica: Thanks for being here again.

Elizabeth: Aw, thanks for having me. I love talking with you all here. It’s just a great conversation.

Jessica: We appreciate that. We feel like this is a recurring theme from a lot of people that reach out to us from our exEXPERTS community. It’s certainly something that I identify with very personally, because I met my first husband when I was 18 years old, as a freshman in college. We were together for 18 years. Then we split up when I was 36. I did have my own successful career going on, but I was part of Jessica and Daren for so many years and for so long, I mean, literally half my life at that point. It was a really devastating thing for me to have to acknowledge that I wasn’t part of that anymore. How can people work with that? What do you tell them to do? And like, what are the ways to be able to move through it?

Elizabeth: It’s a really good question. I think you’re absolutely right, Jess. I think a lot of people struggle with that identity crisis once they let go of a relationship. In your case, one thing that is occurring to me is thinking about different developmental stages in which we enter relationships. So entering a relationship when you’re 18, in a lot of ways, while you and Daren romantically were involved, you were also growing together.

Jessica: That’s what T.H. and I always say. We’re like, we grew up together.

T.H.: Yeah  

Elizabeth: Exactly.

Jessica: We were kids.

Elizabeth: Yeah, not to be weird, but it’s like siblings. Of course not, because you were also romantic. But it’s this kind of going through life together, figuring out classes together, picking out dorm rooms together, and graduating together. It was like you had this best friend—is probably better—going through the same time together and learning together. Some relationships are able to move through that time, and some are not. And so I think it’s really important also for you to honor the difficulty that you might have had with your identity is because of that really unique time period in which you two connected.

T.H.: Right.

Jessica: Right.

Elizabeth: Kind of separating out Daren from that time. He represented so much that time of you.

Jessica: Right, and I feel that’s such a good point in terms of the developmental stage in which you meet people, because that is a conversation that also we have a lot of times. I got married a second time, and I have always felt when you meet someone young and you get married young, or you start your relationship young, it’s a totally different kind of foundation than when you meet someone later. Even though I didn’t go to high school with Daren, and even though he was a couple of years older than me, I knew all of the things. I knew all of his high school friends. I knew all of the stories of all the shit they pulled in high school. We knew each other’s families in a more intimate way.

T.H.: She didn’t know all of it. She didn’t know all of it.

Jessica: Right, because he and T.H. went to high school together.

T.H.: I have some extra stories. 

Jessica: When you meet someone older, they don’t get to become necessarily as close with your own family and with your own friends. I mean, I just feel like the foundation is different. Is it the amount of time that people are together that gives that loss of identity? I’m sure there are people who are married and together far fewer years than I had been in that relationship, who are also struggling with that lack of not being part of the married couple anymore.  

Elizabeth: For sure. I think if we speak about people who identify as female, I mean, we have to acknowledge that in our culture, we are taught that a huge part of our identity is being in a relationship. So we take that on, right? And so we don’t say, “I want to figure out what kind of food I like, what kind of sheets and pillows I like, what kind of trips I like to take.” We don’t give women generally an opportunity to figure out who we are. We give them the focus of finding someone, and then you’ll be complete.

T.H.: And then finding it.

Elizabeth: And then just finding it, exactly. So I think when we come out—I mean, in some ways, this is why I think it’s a gift to be divorced, the work that we get to do as women who need to figure out who they are without a relationship, it’s really work that all women should be doing.

T.H.: Agreed.

Elizabeth: Right?

T.H.: Reclaim your life. Who are you? Forget about everything else going on. I mean, I want to take it in a slightly different direction. But I want you to finish your thought here. Also, if you’re married 27 years, and it doesn’t include college and those formative years in your life, is that a different type of way to handle an identity crisis? Or does it really not matter?

Elizabeth: Well, it’s a good question. I mean, I think you really need to go back. My suggestion for my clients would be to go back to even when you met or before you met, and what was going on for you? How did you feel about yourself? How were you feeling about your interests and your hobbies and your curiosities? What was your approach to the world? Really connecting back to you before you felt like you had to be part of a team or someone else’s identity. I mean, I think the best thing is, as you were talking about, Jess, when you meet someone later, and I met someone after being divorced, was that I really knew a lot of who I was, and I could give him my blueprint. I could say, “Here’s my blueprint. And what’s your blueprint?” and it doesn’t match, as opposed to becoming more like him. I think it’s really a gift for people, and it’s really, really hard. Most people, who stay married or get divorced, don’t ever do this work, especially women.

Jessica: Well, how do you re-find your own identity? We’ve talked about a lot of things of things that you can do to figure out what makes you happy, and pick up new hobbies and things like that, but really, how do you move forward emotionally, if that was all you knew was being part of a couple for whatever significant period of your life, even if it was fewer years and not 27 years? But what are the things that people have to do?

T.H.: What are the steps?

Jessica: Yeah.

T.H.: Like, where you start?

Elizabeth: People aren’t going to like this, because people like the idea of “Try this” or “Do a yoga class.” I would really say as a therapist, the first part is to feel the grief. Before you can actually build anything, you have to figure out—you have to kind of knock down the foundation. And so I would say to sit with the feelings, to be with your grief, to allow the loss and to process that, so that you can then become present, and I’m going to use the word a lot of people use, but I’ll define it better – mindful, so that you can figure out what you like. It’s all an experiment. I mean, this world, this life we live is all an experiment. If we have cleared out a lot of the grief, what can we start learning about ourselves? The only way we can really do that is being mindful. So for me, it turned out I really liked a kickboxing class. My girlfriend, she didn’t like that at all. She actually liked a book club. I would have hated a book club. But I try it and I see if I like it. I go, I try it, and I leave if I don’t. So it’s really being tuned into yourself and what really lights you up. It’s all an experiment. There is no answer for each one of us.

T.H.: Right. But it’s being brave enough to take the step to show up for yourself. So, show up for kickboxing, which by the way is totally me, and Jessica is the book club. But I said in a video I recorded this morning that you can have plans for yourself. So today, I’m going to go for a walk, or I’m going to work out. You wake up and you’re so low energy, which is what I was today. It’s gray outside, and like, what the fuck am I going to do? I could just stay in the pajamas. That’s always an option. But in the split second where I said I wanted to walk, I just went and put on my sneakers, put on my workout pants, and went out. I didn’t let anything else come into my mind. I said I wanted a walk, and I’m going to walk. I feel so much better for it, only partly because I honored it, but I also didn’t procrastinate. I didn’t let it take me down. I think it ‘s gray, a million excuses. It’s great day for PJs. Every day’s a great day for pajamas now, you know?

Elizabeth: I think you’re absolutely right though, T.H. Part of it was that you honored it, and then it sounds like you also asked yourself for some feedback after: am I glad I did this or not? You could have gone out and turned around half a block, which would have been totally fine. Constantly checking in with yourself, I think this is the important part of identity. I think when we’re in a relationship, a lot of women check in with the other person. Like, if the other person’s happy, then we’re doing the right thing, as opposed to if I’m happy, then I’m doing the right thing for myself. It’s really shifting your perspective in a way that again, I think is a gift, but I know it can be really hard too.

Jessica: Yeah. Well, I mean, T.H., that was your perfect segue into wanting to talk about the grief part of it.

T.H.: Well, I want to talk about grief, but I think that I want to talk about name change. Because if we’re really going to talk about identity, Jessica can tell you her whole quandary with multiple ex’s last names, and not choosing her own. My name is T.H. You either know me as T.H., regardless of my last name. That’s my perspective. Although some people are like, “Oh, you changed your name? I wasn’t sure if it was you.” Really? Is there another T.H. that you know? But anyway, I changed my name when I got married. When I got divorced, I decided to keep my married name. My kids were eight, six, and four. Again, teachers only know me as T.H. No one ever called me Mrs. Waldman. If they did, I probably didn’t answer the phone. Then several years into my career and after my divorce was final, I was working with this young girl whose parents were divorced. She was saying that her mother just changed her name back. I go, “Oh, you know, I was thinking of doing that.” She goes, “You should just do that as a gift to yourself.” But that’s several years after. So I always identified as T.H., right? Except during my marriage, T.H. became a shell of a person. I could not check in with myself. Everything was what he wanted, not a shared decision when he was around. So I had no identity, honestly. I was their mother and I was his wife. That’s kind of how I existed in my marriage. Then when she said, “Do that as a gift for yourself,” I was like, “God, that’s a great idea.” And I did do it. It was a pain in the ass by the way. You have to put it in the newspaper, you got to go to court. Do it when you’re getting a divorce, if you’re ready at that time. But a lot of people also hold on to a last name as like, “Well, I don’t want to lose that identity.” And is it an excuse or not—because I’m T.H., so I’m different—to hold on to the last name and the name of the kids?

Elizabeth: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I changed my name when I first got married. Then I remember feeling, I mean, this was such a beautiful microcosm of my relationship, but when I realized I could change back to my maiden name, I was like, “Thank God.” Let’s start with I never even really wanted the marriage. I mean, it’s the truth. It’s a really interesting question. I work with a lot of young women, and I’m always shocked when they are now changing their names. I’m shocked that women are still doing that in some respect.

T.H.: Yes! I would be surprised to hear that.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and asking them why, I think a big one are the kids names. Again, I couldn’t agree more about that idea. I mean, I think it’s really important for people to again, understand why they’re holding on to it, or not holding on to it. Even using that word “holding on”, because that’s what it sounded like in your story, T.H., “holding on”, how can we hold it lightly? We don’t want to give it too much significance either way.

T.H.: Right, right. Well, I want to get to Jessica, but I want to take a quick break. 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 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… podcasts. Don’t miss out on information and tips that you really need to know. And if you want some one on one girl time with us, you can sign up for a private session. We know that the work really begins when the divorce is over. You can connect with us and get all of this information at We’ve lived it, so we get it.

Jessica: So the name change thing is an interesting topic that T.H. and I have talked about that she alluded to. Because I got married when I was 23 and I changed my name to Herzberg, there was never a question in my mind as to whether or not I would take his last name. Then my kids were two and four. At that point, I was really in my professional career, and my last name was Herzberg. It didn’t even really make sense to me, or really occur to me all that much to change my name. When I got married a second time, I didn’t really want to change my name, which I don’t know, to your point may be a precursor of me having felt maybe we weren’t totally compatible. It was very important to him that I take his name. I felt I really needed to still have Herzberg somewhere as part of my identity because I still had young kids. I traveled with them, I needed our passports to somehow sync up. Just logistically, I felt it would make my life easier at some point. The truth is all the teachers at school and whatever, people in my kids’ lives, always called me Mrs. Herzberg. So it was fine. I did change it to Klingbaum. Now I’m divorced again. I’m still Klingbaum because the divorce just finally went through several months back, but I’m planning on changing that. I thought about what do I want to do, and I’m changing it back to Herzberg, which was my first married last name. Because even though my kids are older now—I mean, my daughter is still technically a minor—most of my life, that’s how people know me. My parents said, “Well, why wouldn’t you change it back to Ramer?” I’m like, “No one has known me as Jessica Ramer for almost 30 years.” That would be a more jarring change for me because Herzberg has still been part of my identity all of these years, for the last 15 years even since the divorce. I have a lot of people in my life who are like, “That’s so weird.” And like, I don’t know that I think it’s weird. To me, it seems natural. I’ve always still had people referring to me as that last name for all these years. I understand that it might seem unusual to a lot of people, but I don’t know that I feel that my maiden name is really the right identity for me. Does that make sense?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. I mean, thanks for sharing that. That’s a great story and really interesting. I mean, I think what you’re pointing out is that what’s most important is your relationship to the name, not that it’s a name that now has to do with you versus having anything to do with your ex. I actually hear you talking a lot, Jess, about your identity. In fact, you’re saying that your maiden name is not your identity, and that this other name is your identity, simply because it’s your name and your kids’ name. It’s has nothing to do with him. I think it’s really important to say that you are talking about your individual identity. It happens to be a name that came from someone else, but that’s really who you feel like you are. I kept hearing you say, “I don’t know who that is.” This is about who you are. We don’t know who you’re supposed to be. Other people don’t know who you’re supposed to be. You know what really lands best for you. It has nothing to do with that he also shares it.

Jessica: I also think that when I did change it when I got married the second time, I kept Herzberg as my legal middle name for the sole purposes of what we’re talking about, my driver’s license and my passport to be able to match with my kids for things like that. I never really stopped using Herzberg in some aspects of my life for all these years. So it doesn’t seem like a jarring transition to go back. But for everybody listening, thank you Elizabeth for validating what I’m doing. But people should hear that, because I’m not changing my name back to his name because of him or anything like that. For 18 years of my formative career years and development in my life, that’s who I was. That’s really I feel the natural progression for me. So you should just do whatever feels right to you. If what feels right to you is keeping the name that you have from your marriage, there’s nothing wrong with that, obviously. And to T.H.’s point, it is a pain in the ass to change your name.

T.H.: So make sure you really want to do it.

Jessica: Part of the reason why I haven’t gone down and actually done it yet is because I’m like, oh my god, it’s going to mess up my whole TSA PreCheck, and it’s going to mess up my Global Entry. It really is going to be a pain in the ass. But I think that on some level, everybody has to really struggle with identity, even if it doesn’t have to do with your name. Here I was leaving that as a kid, and now 15 years later, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m going to go back to that.”

Elizabeth: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that’s also really important to think about, which literally just flew out of my head, so.

Jessica: Okay, there we go. But okay, so you had mentioned before, talking about one of the important steps of being able to figure out your new identity and reclaim your new identity if you are struggling with that after divorce is really being able to feel the grief.


Elizabeth: Yeah.


Jessica: I mean I feel like I handled my divorce really well. I was lucky that I had a job that kept me so focused, that during the days, I couldn’t get into all of the grief. I was so laser focused on what I was doing. But that first weekend when I first found out about the affair, I mean, I literally lay in bed and cried for 48 hours. I definitely had my moments after my kids went to bed, where at night, it’d be like—

T.H.: I remember being on the phone with you when you were crying. In my mind, I’m like, “What are you crying for? This is a hallelujah moment.”

Jessica: And for me, it was really a huge part of like, “Well, then who am I?”

Elizabeth: Exactly. I did remember what I was going to say, and then I’m going to get to that. What I was going to say is also just this really interesting piece, Jess, where you’re talking about your career. I just want to say that that’s such an important piece, especially for someone who identifies as a woman. If that’s how you are known, it would be another way of sublimating your power if you went back to a maiden name where nobody knew you. Because that’s such an interesting thing, right? You started with that name when it was early on in your career, and you felt it would be hurting you. I mean, it would be actually not honoring you and all you’ve done to go back to your maiden name. So I think it’s really interesting how you’re actually honoring yourself and what you’ve accomplished.  

Jessica: That is interesting. I can tell my parents that because I had not thought of that.

T.H.: Right, your accomplishments, when you Google you, are all Jessica Herzberg.

Jessica: Right.

Elizabeth: Otherwise you’re erased. You erased. And like, that’s the thing, and then you never have to be erased like that.

Jessica: Wait, before you get to the grief, I think that what you just said is really impactful and really just resonated with me, not just for me, for everybody listening, for everybody out there. Maybe you just put words to it, that we feel like when we’re divorced and we have tied up so much of our identity in this marriage, that maybe we’re feeling somewhat erased, and particularly if you’re changing your name back to something that people hadn’t known you as since high school or college, and it could be years down the line. I’ve never actually thought about that on a conscious level. But that really just made me be like, “Oh, my God, the fear of feeling erased from a certain period of your life, that’s really scary.”


T.H.: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and then erased as the mother because you don’t have the same name. It’s all these ways that you’re being erased, and you’re already coming to it with so much grief and loss from the change of the relationship. And so I want to honor who you were then too. It’s also not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, like, yes, Daren cheated, and yes, there were painful things in the relationship, and there were really wonderful things.

T.H.: Right, right.

Jessica: Yeah.

T.H.: Jessica talks about that all the time. I mean, there are so many great things about their relationship, and they have a great relationship now. All of that together, they can commiserate about and remember when and when this happened.

Jessica: Although he did tell me that I’m going to have to pay him a licensing fee to go back Herzberg.

T.H.: Yeah, well, okay. Now you can bring him a bunch of fees too that he owes.

Jessica: That’s right. Back to the grief part of it. Elizabeth, you were going to say something when after I had talked about just being able to sit in the grief.

Elizabeth: Yeah, so I think, again, our culture, it’s like grief, we just hate talking about it. We picture it lying in bed for days and days, like in the movies where people have pizza boxes and tissues. It’s like, okay, that’s one version of grief. But really, what I think about with grief is allowing yourself to notice those little moments where you feel the ouch of something has really changed. I share a story in my book about I had been divorced probably 11 years, and my ex husband and his son came to our country house, and we were all swimming in the pool with my kids too. I have no interest in being with my ex husband. I was sitting there and I just suddenly felt sad, and I thought, “Oh, shit, this is what we were going to do.” That was actually our plan. My husband was barbecuing for all of us. I was like, “Thank God, I’m married to that guy.” And so in that same moment, I felt grief and gratitude. I always say like, the two G’s, you can feel both at the same time. It was just the grief of what I thought I was going to have. And so I didn’t push it down. In fact, I shared with my husband, “This came up for me, and I’m feeling sad in this moment,” and I just allowed the feeling. And so it’s just allowing the feeling when it comes to you spontaneously. It’s not falling apart. It’s allowing it. It’s not pushing it away, and it’s not suppressing it.

T.H.: I think that in our culture, or definitely in my family anyway, it’s a weakness. It’s a weakness, especially for a woman, because now you’re a basket case. Now you’re not just weak. Now you’re a hot mess, and you can’t do anything well. All those negative messages that were put into, I’m sure not just my head, like, “That is not tolerated.”

Elizabeth: Exactly. And also, T.H., I’m having this feeling of like, “And of course that’s why he left you.”

T.H.: Of course. “You’re the problem.”

Elizabeth: “You’re so emotional and you can’t get yourself together.”

T.H.: Right.

Elizabeth: Right. There’s also all this implication that having emotions is somehow your fault, you’ve hurt something. Then also, that thing that people do where they’re like, “But why? You don’t want to be with him anyway,” as if you can’t feel both of those things that the same time.

T.H.: Right, right, of course. I mean, mine was the greatest day, to this day, above birthing my children, was the day that I knew I was free from my marriage. I love my children with every shred of my heart. But my process for divorce was four years of him just trying to humiliate me. There was a point when I was away with my kids at my parent’s home, and I went into my room and I was crying. I didn’t expect it. Like, what the fuck am I crying for? I didn’t even know what I was crying for. I have to be honest with you. But my kids walked in and they were worried. I’m like, “You know what? I’m normal. I’m sad too.” I didn’t have to tell them I wasn’t sad about not being married to him anymore. But I’m sad that this process is suffocating me. But I was sad, and it’s all intertwined in some way. I mean, I get sad sometimes when there are issues with my kids with him, and like, how did I marry somebody like that? Then you start questioning yourself. So to feel emotions, whether it’s an amicable situation where you grew up with your ex, or mine, where I met him young, we married young and whatever, it’s okay to feel. If I don’t feel, then I do not embrace being alive, being present, being aware, which I was not for so many years. This is a great therapy session by the way. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Elizabeth: Anytime. I always love doing it with you.

T.H.: This is free therapy. Do you want to meet once a week?

Elizabeth: Exactly. Once a week, I’ll come out to practice. I mean, there’s that saying, “You have to feel to heal.” I think you have to feel your feelings, as we said earlier, to be able to start healing and having a new identity. And T.H., I mean, I think it’s so great that you could show your kids that you had grief, because also, they’re going to have grief, and we want them to be accepting of it. One way where people might find it is, sometimes when I feel my kids are acting like my ex, I can feel a lot of grief.

T.H.: Yep.

Jessica: Yeah.

Elizabeth: So those can be more subtle, but you want to let yourself feel it instead of going into shame, or blame of yourself or of the other person.

Jessica: Right, right.

Elizabeth: You can start really figuring out who you are when you clear that out first.

Jessica: Yeah, well, I mean, so much great information. I feel like I want this conversation to go on for another hour, but I know it can’t.

T.H.: No, I’m good for right now. But I think we need to check in, in a few weeks.

Jessica: But also, I feel some of the things even that were said in this, I wouldn’t say I’m grieving right now or feeling super sad, but I had a little pang, Elizabeth, when you were just talking about that story with your family together at the pool at the barbecue. Because I have been with my ex enough times in enough situations to know exactly what that feels like. Not wanting to be together, but that should have been my life kind of thing. But then I try to think to myself, like, okay, but then I would not have had this opportunity over here, maybe even things that are unrelated to the marriage, when you think about just your bigger picture, places that I’ve lived, other jobs that I’ve had, other life decisions that I’ve made that I think would not have been made, had we stayed married. So I try to look at the positive of like—

Elizabeth: I’m going to do some therapy for you. Now it’s your turn.

Jessica: Okay.

Elizabeth: So Jess, I mean, I’m a cognitive behavioral therapist and do that all the time, challenge thoughts, but I want to encourage you and the listeners, before we do that, to stay with the grief a little bit more instead of going to the positive, that it hurts, that ouch for a moment.

Jessica: I do. I feel it. I don’t know how long I have to feel it for, but like—

Elizabeth: Yeah, but just if you notice that you’re jumping to “Well, it’s okay.” You’ll know when you let yourself—

Jessica: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Elizabeth: Just because we have a tendency, and I do this all the time, I have to do a lot of practice with my kids in particular, of not wanting to sit with it and then getting to solving a little bit down the road. Just a little bit of space. So I just wanted to point that out.

Jessica: Yeah. No, I appreciate that. I remember specifically taking my son to visit colleges and had had the conversation with T.H. I felt a little sad that weekend, feeling this was something that I was doing with him alone, and feeling sad for me and for him, like this should have been something that we had all done together. I definitely sat with it for a few days because I was away with him for four days. When I came home, T.H. was like, “No, I totally understand.” She’s like, “Another way you can think about it though is that you just had the opportunity to take him away on a mother-son trip that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise.” I think T.H. you were the one that said this, it may have been someone else, who was like, “You have no idea that even if you guys still had been together, maybe he would have had a work commitment. Maybe there would have been other circumstances that would have prevented him from going, and you still would have ended up going alone.” And so you have those pangs, but I totally understand it. I feel like for everybody listening too, these are the parts of feeling like you’ve lost your identity, and trying to figure out maybe you’re thinking I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I shouldn’t be feeling sad. I remember being sad at my cousin’s wedding, which was in Europe. I was with a guy that I was head over heels for. It was no reflection on the relationship that I was in at all, but I realized it while I was there crying, it was the first wedding that I had attended since my divorce. I was probably four years out at that point. That whole first dance and the hora and everything brought me back to my own wedding and that feeling of excitement. I went into the bathroom, and I was sobbing at my cousin’s wedding for probably 15 minutes before I was able to pull myself together. But it happens, and it happens in unexpected times, and you can’t control it. You just have to know that you’re not the only one that’s dealing with it. It happens to all of us.

T.H.: And it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you.

Jessica: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Exactly. I wonder if what we’re talking about also is the fantasy identity, the identity that we thought we were going to have, and grieving that and accepting that actually, this is our new identity, that we let go out that.

Jessica: You’re right. You’re right. To be continued.

T.H.: We just celebrated my daughter’s graduation from college. That involves my brother and his wife, my parents, my ex, his wife and their child, and our shared three kids, and me and my boyfriend. So looking around that table, my daughter, who was graduating, had said to me, “When I have a family, I want my family to look like my friend’s family. That’s what I want my family to look like.”

Jessica: A family that’s still married and intact.

T.H.: They’re married, and it’s like, the parents, three kids, they met in college. They love each other. Everyone’s happy. They do all the things, right? So we have this last dinner for her graduation, and we’re all sitting at the table together. The next day, I called her and I go, “I got to be honest with you, Ally, we may not be like her family, but every single person at that table loves you 500%. And so I think this family that you have is pretty freaking awesome.” I really was sad when she said that to me. I said, “It’s less about the way it looks. It’s more about the way it feels and the way people are there for each other. Your grandparents flew in for you. Your aunt and uncle flew in for you because they wanted to celebrate this huge accomplishment. I don’t think everybody can say that. And so I just want you to be really grateful for the way your family looks now, because you’re really lucky. You’re just really lucky.”

Jessica: So for everyone, your family, whatever it ends up looking like—

T.H.: Whatever it looks like.

Jessica: Right, it will work. And so, oh my God, Elizabeth, thank you so much for all of that today. It really was a very cathartic conversation, to be honest with you. For everyone listening, if you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then please help some girls out. Because when you subscribe, rate, and review, it helps us get the word out more so we can help support more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Dr. Elizabeth Cohen and her book, and of course share with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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