Jessica: Do you sometimes feel stuck moving on after divorce or even after you’ve just decided to get divorced? Is the “recovery” part hard for you, maybe even overwhelming at times, feelings of guilt, shame, all the stigma, feelings that go around with it? Because these are some of the things we’re talking about on the Divorce etc… podcast today. We’re the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H., we help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out www.exexperts.com for tons of free divorce related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest.
T.H.: Our guest today is Leah Marie. She has the greatest energy and positive force behind her as a divorce recovery coach, but also just as a woman who’s lived it, gets it, and she’s going to make it easier for you for your time around than it was for hers. We are thrilled to have you here today, Leah.
Jessica: Thank you for joining us.
Leah: Thank you for having me. Yes!
Jessica: We were just saying before we started that Leah Marie has the best TikTok account. So if you aren’t following her right now, you have to go on there. Because we love that she’s always bringing a little bit of comic relief and humor to the dark side of divorce. So thank you for that.
Leah: Thank you.
T.H.: She can be your daily mantra. You can just set her, after exEXPERTS of course, to check in, both of us. But she’ll get your butt up every single day with purpose.
Leah: You’ve got to have a little humor.
Jessica: You are a divorce recovery coach. T.H. and I talk to a lot of divorce coaches, and we understand that people out there have an idea of what a divorce coach is. But tell us specifically the difference between a traditional divorce coach and what you do as a divorce recovery coach.
Leah: Yeah, so a divorce coach is usually focused on the process itself, helping you navigate through that. A divorce recovery coach is more specifically helping you with the mental and emotional obstacles that you’re facing afterwards, like moving forward, guilt, shame, feelings of failure, rebuilding your self confidence, and gaining self love.
Jessica: So literally everything that all of us are feeling and feeling bad about ourselves when going through divorce?
Leah: Yup, totally!
T.H.: So when does someone call you though? Like, I’m thinking of getting a divorce, is it time for recovery? I’m in the thick of divorce, is it time? When is it time for recovery? I know what it is for me, but if someone’s like, “Okay, sounds like a great idea,” when do we call you?
Leah: I have had clients reach out when they’re on the precipice, when they’re knee deep, and then when everything’s already said and done. It really is just about where you need the most support. If you’re dealing with low self esteem, you’re feeling like a failure, you’re feeling guilty, oh my God, I’m destroying my kids’ lives, I’m going to be alone forever, if you don’t feel good about yourself, if you’re struggling to find acceptance, that’s when you would want to reach out so that we can help you work through that and just feel better, so you can move forward.
Jessica: So one of the things that T.H. had talked about previously was we’re huge advocates of therapy. We believe that everybody needs to be in therapy, even if they don’t think they need to be in therapy. Talk to us little bit about that. Because what you do, it sounds like what some people might be going to a therapist for. Is there a difference? Would they need one, the other, or both?
Leah: Yeah, I love therapy. I think everyone should have a therapist, maybe two. Yeah, so I have clients that do both. I have clients that come to me who are also seeking therapy. The main difference is therapists tend to focus on your past and helping you work through things that maybe you didn’t process, or things that are keeping you stuck. Coaching is more future-focused. It’s helping you basically determine where you want to go, and then gives you clear actionable steps to help you get there. It’s almost like a consultant too. It’s like, okay, here’s where you’re at, here’s where you want to go, boom, boom, boom, here are the steps.
Jessica: So what does that look like a little bit, some of those actionable steps? I think that the mom guilt is something that most people feel if they have kids when they get divorced, or the shame of getting divorced and having to talk about it, especially around your inner circle of people that knew intimately your relationship with your spouse. What are some of the things that you help people do and take those steps?
Leah: Yeah, well, it’s about gaining that self acceptance and forgiveness, learning how to forgive yourself, and not basically holding yourself hostage for these mistakes. That guilt comes from feeling like you failed somebody, or you failed your relationship, or you failed your kids. But really, that’s just not the case. Your relationship ran its course. And so doing things to help find acceptance, doing things to help create that self love again, part of that would be learning how to celebrate your strengths, learning how to really look at it in a more objectively, and not looking at it like somebody who did something wrong, releasing that judgment. Really, all of that stuff stems from self love and self forgiveness, right? Because when you’re so harsh on yourself and you’re being judgmental, you’re not going to be very kind to yourself. Some things that you could do for self love, one of the things that I love to share is if you have a journal or a notebook, write down your strengths. Write down the things that you’ve accomplished in your life. Start focusing on the things that make you feel good, and stop focusing on all of these things that you think that you did wrong.
Jessica: I think that could be easier said than done, though. Because I was journaling for a brief time a number of years ago, and it started off as a positive activity. I felt like I was in a funk. Everyone talks about journaling as a way to move forward in an uplifting way, and so I started a Joy Journal, where every night I was writing three things that I felt grateful for that day. It really started out like it was going well. But then I felt after a little bit of time, I would add in one or two things that really didn’t go that well that day. Before I knew it, my Three Things were quick sentences, and then I had pages about all the shit that went wrong, that I hated. I felt it was bringing me down.
Leah: Yeah, so you had shifted. Let’s say for example, feeling guilty for your kids, thinking that you’ve you know destroyed their lives. Well, let’s try to look at it in a different perspective. How about we look at it like, you’re teaching your kids not to settle. You’re teaching your kids that your needs are important. You’re teaching your kids that not every relationship is supposed to last forever, and that’s okay. Try to put yourself in your kid’s shoes. If your children were in that same position, what advice would you give them? Would you say, “Well, suck it up and stay anyway?” Or would you want them to be happy? Would you want them to move on? I think people look at divorce thinking that only negative things happen and you only ever have negative impacts on your kids. And that’s just not true. There are been actually studies that show growing up in a household where there’s a lot of friction in the relationship is a lot worse than having two separate happy parents. So it’s really about a mindset. It’s shifting your perspective. Instead of thinking about you’re just ruining your kid’s life, let’s try to focus on the ways that this divorce actually benefits you and your kids.
T.H.: Yeah, I mean, Jessica and I are 14 years post separation, or post phone call, whatever you want to call it. I mean, I will speak for all of our kids, you lead by example. I was actually pretty hard on myself, especially the last four years of my marriage, only officially a marriage, because my son was really struggling with anxiety. I didn’t even know what that was. I was like, “You’re the third kid. We’re all getting in the car. Let’s go now.” And he’s like, “I’m not going.” “What do you mean you’re not going?” I thought it was my fault. That was also the messaging I was getting from my ex husband. “Well, this only happens when I’m not around. So you must be doing something wrong.” Then I was really telling myself like, I just wasn’t that good of a mother for the last four years of my marriage because I was just not in a good place. So how could I be a good mother? Now looking back, you talk about forgiveness, and I did the best that I possibly could. My kids, for me, were everything. That’s how I got through my day. Healthy or not, that’s what I did. They saw a lightness in me when, in my mind, I was free. For me, that’s what the end of my marriage meant. It was an opportunity. I was out. And it was one of the best days of my life because I was suffocating in my marriage. There’s no way that my kids suffered by seeing me rediscover myself and me rebuild myself and put myself out there and be vulnerable and honest and true and communicate. I was like a functioning robot as their mother for many years. Understanding, forgiving, appreciating what I could do, and then celebrating where I go now, you lead by example. So do the best you can. Don’t beat yourself up. But doing for yourself, as we’ll talk about in a few minutes in this podcast, is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Leah: It’s so true.
Jessica: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see women making after divorce?
Leah: So one of the biggest and most common I see is hopping right into another relationship. That was me after my first divorce. That’s why it led to my second divorce, which was a super fun time. So don’t do that. And it makes sense, right? There are all these reasons as to why somebody might want to do that – if they’re feeling lonely, if they need a confidence boost, if they haven’t had that positive kind of intimate connection with somebody in a long time, if they’re just afraid of being alone, and they want to pass the time. There are all these reasons to do it. But those aren’t great foundations to build a relationship on. You want to make sure that you’re not seeking that external source or validation to fill any kind of void you have within yourself. You’ve got to get yourself to a place where you feel good and whole and happy and fulfilled. Then that relationship is just like the cherry on the sundae, right? You don’t need it, but you can want one to add value to your life.
T.H.: 100%. We’re going to pause here for a quick moment. Because we know it’s hard to get honest and reliable information about your divorce, so we’ve done the work for you. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get exEXPERTS in your inbox, join our virtual open house events where you can ask questions to top experts live, and sign up for private sessions with us so we can help you move forward and thrive. You can get all this information at www.exexperts.com. We’ve lived it, so we get it. Seriously, try to say exEXPERTS quickly three times. It’s easier to spell it out. I’m just saying. Okay, back to our show.
Jessica: I feel the relationship situation has got to be something that most women and men struggle with coming out of divorce. I feel, for me personally, so I imagine it has to be the same for a lot of people listening, after coming out of two failed marriages, and maybe that’s not even the right words to use, but those marriages did not work out, I feel one of the scariest things you’re saying now is to make sure that you understand why you want to be in a relationship, and to make sure that you’re not using it for outside validation or things like that. But I really feel sometimes, how are you supposed to be able to tell? If you think you’ve done the work, you’ve been in therapy, and you feel you’re ready for a relationship, and now you’re not able to recognize whether something’s a red flag or not. Maybe things that weren’t the same situation as your marriage that didn’t work out, but you’re kind of like, I don’t know if this works. T.H. and I have a lot of conversation sometimes about compatible fighting styles. At the end of the day, if you’re fighting, you’re fighting. I don’t know how compatible people can be in that. But obviously, the goal is to be able to work through it in a productive way. But I just feel knowing whether or not you’re in a relationship that actually is good and healthy, you feel like it is, but then this thing happens over here, and now you’re like, “Oh, my god, could that be a red flag?” So how do you help people figure out if they’re ready for it, or if there are things that they should be more cognizant of that they may be settling for?
Leah: Yeah. Well, it’s important beforehand to really know yourself, know what you need, know what you don’t want, and know what you want in a relationship. So having your standards and being really specific there. And your deal breakers, like what things are just a no go, that if it comes up in a relationship, you know you want to walk away? What things do you not want to tolerate? What things do you not want to repeat? So getting to really knowing yourself and ask yourself the questions so that you know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. Nobody has a crystal ball. You can’t predict what kind of shit might come up in a relationship. The only thing you can have confidence in is no matter how that shit unfolds, you can handle it. You have to have enough faith in yourself to know that you can either walk away, or that you’re going to work on it.
T.H.: I would also say that you live and learn a little bit. I mean, if you have the confidence, whether you’re going on a date because you want to have sex, or you want to go on a date because you want to have a free drink, or you want to just socialize with someone new and learn something about someone, just kind of manage your expectations. But you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. That’s the only way you’re going to grow. But sorry, I’ll go back, because I think Leah is going to correct me on that anyway. You make mistakes that you are paying attention to, and then you learn. I made a lot of mistakes in my marriage and just life in general, and I sucked it down. I didn’t learn shit because I didn’t want to know about it. If you’re going to invest in yourself, now you have an opportunity to do that. You’re starting on a clean slate; let’s go. How do you want this to look? What do you picture your life as, not even just with another person, but for yourself? How do you see yourself? How do you want to see yourself? Work towards that. That’s how Jessica and I and Leah honestly have gotten where we are. We’ve done the work to help ourselves. Whatever, we all make mistakes. Just make sure you’re paying attention so you can learn from them.
Leah: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Jessica: Leah, you and I both have been married and divorced twice. You have said that you are doing what you do now as a divorce recovery coach because you’re the person you wish you had to go to when you were going through all of this, the person that you wish could tell you all the shit you’re doing wrong, all the things you wish you knew. So tell us maybe the top three things that you wish you knew that you’re helping other women deal with today.
Leah: Yeah. I wish I knew how to be alone. I mean, I was just so terrified of being alone that I just kept hopping from one relationship to the next like they were the buoys that were keeping me afloat. I wish I knew how to adjust to being alone, and how to like myself. You know, self Love is an important thing, but what is that? What does that even look like? How do you even do something like that? And setting boundaries, I wish I knew how to do that. But I think that also comes with self love and self respect. When you love yourself, then you’re more apt to be more picky about the kinds of relationships you have and the kinds of things you are or are not willing to tolerate.
Jessica: Right, because it goes directly to what you might settle for. T.H. and I talk all the time about what I wish I knew. For everyone listening, that’s a lot of what we do in our newsletter, and a lot of the stories of the people that we interview on the podcast. Bringing other people’s knowledge and stories and thoughts about what they wish they knew is part of our huge goal to be able to help people move forward. Because you hear things like that, and you’re like, “Yeah, I totally wish I knew that,” and helps as you’re moving forward, because like the boundary thing in particular, it’s crucial. That’s exactly how people will fall into the traps of like, “Well, it’s good enough. I really am not okay with this, but he has all of these great things. And so can I overlook that?” I feel like that’s one of the biggest fears, being alone, coming out of a relationship and feeling, is this the best that I’m going to be able to get? So what are some other things? I know in the past you’ve talked about mantras and affirmations. I feel there are a lot of people out there who are like, it’s all woo-woo. But you don’t think so?
Leah: No! No, there’s like tons of studies that show that it literally reprograms your subconscious. Because 95% of the things we do are subconscious, like we’re on autopilot. We really don’t even think about it, we just do it because it’s just a pattern that’s in us. Affirmations are a way to cultivate a more positive mindset, a more supportive inner dialogue. So I love them. They’re free, and there are millions of them on the internet, right? They’re so easy to access, and you can put them everywhere. Write them on post-its and put them on your mirror. You can put reminders in your phone. You can put them in your office or in your car, wherever you need them, so that you have those reminders to speak to yourself kindly and to believe more positive things, and to understand what’s possible for yourself, and that you are worthy and deserving of everything that you want.
T.H.: I have subtle reminders in my mug that I choose every single morning with my tea that resonates with what I feel my day should be like. I probably have 30 mugs. Then I’ve got signs up. If you’re moving into a new home, or you’re still in your home, make a space, even if it’s a little part of the wall, or a part of your desk, or a place in the kitchen, or even up on your phone every day that has those subtle reminders that you can do epic shit. “The plan might change, but the goal is still the same”, “You’re not here to be okay; you’re here to be awesome,” those are the some of the things I have in my gym. It always makes me feel good to see those things. Then Jessica has few choice ones on some rocks and some sweatshirts. But they always make you feel good. So put them where you are at – in your car, on your phone. I’m sure there’s something that will send you a message every day if you want it.
Jessica: I feel like I need to find some of these. I have these. It’s from a company called Karmic Stones. This one is, “If you don’t mean what you say, shut the fuck up.”
T.H.: The one that we share is, “A wise woman once said, ‘Fuck this shit.’ And she lived happily ever after.”
Jessica: I don’t go there a lot. But I feel people are always going out and buying these rocks that say like, “Patience… gratitude….”
T.H.: So I do have one that says “laughter and gratitude” next to the “a wise woman once said…”, so it’s okay to balance it out. I’m all about balance in my life. I don’t need like one–it’s just balance.
Jessica: I need snarky affirmations to keep it fun.
T.H.: As long as it’s healthy.
Jessica: That’s right.
T.H.: The same goal, to move forward.
Jessica: But I mean, look, the recovery piece for anyone going through divorce is definitely crucial, because we’ve all been through all of those feelings. That’s really, I think, what the hardest part is, like walking around with a chip on your shoulder, being stuck in either the anger or the sadness, or the woe is me. I love the fact that you’re helping women get themselves out of that place, because you should be able to move on in an optimistic and positive and empowering way, and that’s exactly what you’re doing for people.
T.H.: You mentioned that you only help women, but I have to say a lot of the messaging applies to anybody.
Leah: It does.
T.H.: It really, really does. Jumping into another relationship, checking in with yourself, doing for yourself, I feel it’s equally as important for everybody to go through those steps that you’ve mentioned.
Jessica: For sure.
T.H.: So this isn’t just for women. These messages are really for anyone.
Jessica: Yes. So thank you for all of that, Leah. And if you enjoyed listening to this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then help a few girls out. Because when you subscribe, rate, and review our podcast, it helps us get the word out so we can support more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Leah Marie. And of course, share this with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.