Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re T.H. & Jessica.
T.H.: Welcome everybody to the Divorce etc podcast. We are thrilled to have Ms. Renee Bauer with us today. She is a divorce attorney, author, and host of Happy Even After Divorce. Welcome to our show today.
Renee: Hey, welcome ladies, I’m so pumped to be here.
Jessica: We’re so glad that you took the time so thank you so much.
T.H.: Every time we see Renee, we’re like, oh my god, rainbows and unicorns. She doesn’t even have to say anything. She just exudes this positive energy that we thrive on. We love that and that’s really what exEXPERTS is striving to do. You might get in a funk, you might have a shitty day, you might get bogged down, but you know what, we’re good.
In the end, you’re going to be good. It’s going to be okay. Renee has an interesting story, and as we interview more and more people on our podcast, we realize that so many of us who have gone through a divorce has made it a passion mission to make a difference for other people going through a divorce so that they’re not going to experience it the way that we did.
It’s really cool and should be celebrated that there are so many of us out there because we’re bringing you guys all together, all the Renee Bauers of the world, into our platform so that you can see that it will get better with whoever you resonate with.
So without further ado, Renee, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your story? Then we’ll get into the podcast and what you’re working on now.
Renee: Sure. So I’m a divorce lawyer, and I’ve been doing that for almost two decades. The funny thing about that is I’m also twice divorced, but my personal world and my professional world were completely different and separated from each other intentionally because I did not bring the two of them together.
So for years, every single day, I would show up, I’d do my job, I’d be all buttoned up, I’d kind of click-clack into court on my heels and put on an act and play a role that I thought that I was supposed to do.
I never shared my story because when I went home at night, I would like to kick off my heels, and I was a broken version of myself because I had two divorces under my belt.
So while I was helping people every single day get through their own divorce, I hadn’t really faced all of the feelings and the shame and the guilt and all of the embarrassment from having two divorces, being a divorce lawyer. I didn’t talk about my own divorces, and for years, I kind of operate that.
I did my job, and I came home, and I had shame, and I was embarrassed.
I thought, hey, maybe just love isn’t meant for me. Then one day, a friend of mine had said, listen, I have podcasts. I’m like, what’s that? I don’t listen to those. Just come on, she’s like, I’ll bring some sushi over, we’ll have a drink. I’m like, alright, I like sushi. You had me at sushi, that’s good. She comes over, we have a martini, she clips the mic on me, and she starts asking me about my divorce.
And for the first time ever, I spoke about it publicly. When that episode dropped, two things happened. One, I had to call up my mother and be like, mom, you might have come up, and it might not be flattering. And two, I got bombarded with messages from other women who said thank you for sharing your story. I too sat in the shame, I was embarrassed to talk about it, and oh my god, you’re twice divorced? I thought I was the only one.
That’s when I realized that keeping it in was not the right thing to do, and I had to talk about it. I had to drop my own feelings about it and work through what I needed to heal so I could share my story and I could talk about it.
Now I can joke about my two husbands, and I do frequently. Well, I have three husbands now…actually, two exes, and one current. So I can joke about it, but that’s because I started talking about it and I stopped being ashamed.
Jessica: We’ve had so many conversations–there are so many pieces of what you just said that resonate so deeply. We’ve had so many conversations a) about the stigma, the shame, the embarrassment, the guilt around divorce, coming from women as women, and then separately, personally resonating with the twice-divorced aspect because I really thought that was going to make me a pariah, that people would be like what’s wrong with her and have even the more specific and worse judgment of me as a person because of the fact that two marriages were not successful.
But then separately from that, we also talk all the time about the importance of talking about things and normalizing things, whether it’s divorce or other circumstances in our lives, things our kids are going through, things that we just as human beings may feel averse to talking about. But then when you do, all of a sudden, all of these people come out of the woodwork and they’re like, oh my god, I am also dealing with that, my kid is also dealing with that, whatever the case may be. It just builds community and it bonds people together. When you hear other people’s stories, not in a negative way, like misery loves company, but if they’ve gone through it and they’ve been successful figuring it out on the other side, then maybe I can too.
I just love everything you just said because I feel like it hits all of these different points that go directly to the intention of exEXPERTS also.
T.H.: The other thing that you mentioned is your career was helping all these people, and then you couldn’t help yourself.
T.H.: And when you’re in the thick of it, I totally get it. I could not climb my way out of my marriage until I literally was given the exit sign and racing shoes. I mean, I just could not get beyond it. It’s sad to think about. I mean, look at us, we’re strong, successful women, and we couldn’t find our ways out. We couldn’t help ourselves. But wait, hang on.
The lesson here really is, I know for me, I know Jessica, and it sounds like for you too, the minute you start talking about it you start healing.
The longer you suppress it and ignore it, even though your stomach is going to be a shit show, maybe literally, the longer you ignore your gut, the worse it’s going to get. You’re going to be stuck in that spiral until you start letting it go. Putting the words to the universe, putting them on paper, mouthing Om, I don’t care what you do, but you have to literally get it out of your body. And then it’s like, god, you shed that skin. That’s really, really terrific.
Jessica: But Renee, I’m curious, as a divorce attorney, I’m sure a lot of people say this to you, you know better than to feel there’s a stigma and shame around divorce.
So I find that actually quite fascinating that as a divorce attorney, you personally were feeling guilt and embarrassment and that around divorce. Can you talk about that?
Renee: Yeah. Because, you know, and maybe it wasn’t as bad for divorce number one, but when you roll around to divorce number two, it gets really embarrassing. And when people know, it was like, hey, for me, it was a super short marriage, like a blip on my radar, and it was like, didn’t you just get married? It just happened? I was married and divorced in a year and a half, so it was that fast.
And so you start to say, okay, well what’s wrong with me? That was part of it. I internalized all of it and was like, even though this was definitely not a “me problem”. And that spouse, and I don’t like to go into the negativity of it, but was all the bad things. Any bad thing that someone could say, that was that marriage. You still can’t help but say what’s wrong with me, and I was so broken when I came out of that. My self-confidence, my self-worth, all of that was really down in the dumps. Even though I showed up and did that job every single day helping people dealing with the legality of it, that didn’t mean that my head was on straight.
Because when you go through something like that, you can’t help but turn the blame, and you look in the mirror and say well, what the heck? What’s happening here? What bad choices have I made? And why can’t I get this right?
I think that it’s only natural that we do that. Jess, my worlds were so compartmentalized, I was just living two different lives. Even though the rational side of me told me, hey, this is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, that other side was not catching up. She wasn’t getting the message. And so yes, I should have known better. And yet I still had to go through that in order to really heal because I was quick fixing my emotions. I was trying to pretend everything was okay and yeah, I’m the boss, I’m the professional, I’m the perfectionist, my life is all in order and good. It was absolutely not in order. It took me to recognize you don’t have to be in order. I think that that’s something that happens a lot as you have high achieving women who have everything together, who put out into the world that they have everything neat and tidy, and really we know that that’s not true and it’s really hard to show up and be like, you know what, I’m imperfect. That’s a really hard conversation to have with yourself and then put it out there.
T.H.: And taking ownership of it. I mean, I don’t recognize the woman I was for the last several years of my marriage. I don’t even know. I can’t even relate to her. She’s nothing like me. It also could be like a slow burn. You just disassociate and you bury it, and then that’s how you get through the day.
T.H.: I mean, if you don’t take it in, even though you are taking it in, but you kind of silence it in your ears, then you can just function like a robot every day and show up for work, and help everybody be great, and go home.
You just have to get to the next day, and then you can go and you can do it again. And all you’re doing is digging a deeper and deeper hole.
I’m really glad that you’re sharing your story. It’s really important that people know that there is no such thing as perfect. There’s perfect for you. Your perfect is different from mine, and it’s different from Jessica’s, and it’s different for relationships. You just have to find your groove, and that’s perfect.
Jessica: It’s not even about perfection though. What I love about everything that you’re sharing, Renee, is honestly,
I’m sure I’m not the only one that sits out there and thinks anyone who is a divorce attorney who has been divorced has their shit together because they know what goes into the process of divorce. They know what they have to be prepared to do. They know or probably understand a little bit better that there’s the emotional side and the business side and how to compartmentalize that.
I just would have thought that a divorce attorney would maybe be better prepared for divorce because we don’t always think about, okay, well how emotionally devastating is it for them too.
It is for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your background is and what your job is. So I feel there’s a little bit of comfort I would imagine for people listening to know that even if you’re a divorce lawyer, it’s still a shit show behind the scenes. That’s what it’s like for all of us. We all wake up and we try to put our best foot forward and it’s like, give me a break. It’s like a piece of scotch tape in the back holding it all together.
T.H.: Yeah, right, by a thread. Susan Guthrie talks about it too. Susan Guthrie talks about being a divorce attorney. And Kate Anthony started her coaching because of the shit show behind the doors. Like really, I think the only way you get through most of that is to keep the shit show behind closed doors, because as soon as it comes out, you’re going to have to face it and deal.
Renee: The only advantage I had was I knew how to fill out the financial paperwork. That was it. That was the only advantage I had.
T.H.: Did you save a lot of money on your divorce? Your divorces should have been very inexpensive.
Renee: Well, yeah, we didn’t have lawyers. Neither of mine did we have lawyers, so it was worked out really easily. That’s the other thing too is I wanted the divorce for both of them. I asked for the first, and then the second, I had no choice. That had to happen. And it still really sucks. Just because you’re the one who says okay, I’m making this decision, doesn’t mean it’s any easier than someone who has it thrust upon them. It sucks both ways.
Jessica: We literally just had that conversation as part of one of our Instagram Live Ask Us Anythings. One of the questions is, is it easier if you’re the one that initiates versus the one who didn’t initiate? I too had initiated, and I was saying it didn’t make it easier for me that I’m the one that asked for it. It still sucks.
T.H.: It’s the bigger picture. It’s a big picture. You have a huge trickle effect if you have children, family, friendships. It’s a full-life disrupter but maybe in a good way to shake things up. But it definitely disrupts a lot.
Jessica: Renee, tell us more about your story. So you personally had gone through two divorces, which I’m sure in a lot of ways gave you other insights for your clients, like benefits to you now seeing from the inside?
One of the things that we’ve spoken about before is you have a divorce lawyer who knows all of the specific ins and outs of divorce but maybe hasn’t experienced it, that emotional side. They may not have the right bedside manner, so to speak. And from there, then you started building up more of this educational program. Tell us about that.
Renee: Yeah, so one thing I noticed is that people came out of their divorce out the other end in an okay place, ready to thrive, and excited about their future had a different way of thinking about their divorce. It was that little switch that made all the difference in how someone came out. It didn’t matter what was in their divorce agreement. It did not matter how much alimony they were getting. It didn’t matter if they got the extra 300 bucks a week that they were fighting for because if they were stuck, their mindset wasn’t right. That extra money was not going to help them in any sort of way.
What I really wanted to do was take the mindset work and combine it with the education piece of it, because so many people are afraid or overwhelmed or scared because they don’t know how the process works. They don’t know what to think about. They don’t know how to get ready for the divorce. They don’t know how to start thinking about dividing property or parenting plans.
I wanted to provide the education piece of it but also under the umbrella of okay, let’s think about the mind.
Let’s think about how you’re treating this divorce and how you’re thinking about it. Let’s talk about expectations and when unreasonable expectations can be really expensive. And so I combined all of that together in an online digital course called the D. Course, which has 12 videos, and it breaks down all of the things that you need to think about. It is not a replacement for a lawyer, but it’s just to get you prepared to start to feel more comfortable with the conversations you’re going to have throughout the process of your divorce.
Jessica: Is this meant for people who are just starting to think about the idea of getting divorced, not people who are in the thick of it?
Renee: It could be for someone who’s in the thick of it too because sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s a really long process. If they feel stagnant and they don’t know what the next step is, this would be a good place to go. They can watch the videos at their own pace, they can pick and choose which topics, and that might help them start to reframe what they think about what a settlement might look like. It’s for someone who’s at the very beginning, or in the middle of it.
T.H.: I was just going to say really focusing on mindset goes back to your whole story and what we were just talking about a few minutes later. We know that divorce is a business. It’s a negotiation, you have a contract, and then you walk away. If you don’t address the mental part of it, it will drag on. Even if it’s over on a piece of paper, you’re still stuck there. It’s like you’re never growing up if you don’t change your mindset if you don’t look at things differently. I think that this is really critical, especially having it–it sounds like you can consume it at your own pace if these are all videos and you’re not locked into 9 am every Monday with your therapist, or whatever that is. That might work for you, but this sounds like a really nice alternative to slowly get your feet wet into realizing that you’ve got to look at things a little bit differently now.
Renee: Yeah, because education is power. Once you start to realize what is involved, how to get organized, and how to start thinking about this, you have the power to start creating the future that you want. . That’s what it’s all about. It’s about getting out of the divorce as fast as you can. Because the longer you stay in the process, the more stuck you’re going to be. It’s going to be harder to heal. It’s going to be harder to forgive and to move on. You really want to get through it as quickly as possible. Sometimes lawyers really don’t do a good job with that.
T.H.: No, they don’t. Then it becomes crazy. It’s really big money that you don’t even have and people are filing bankruptcy. Yeah, you’ve got to get it done so you can move on with your life. Because if it’s going to happen, it going to happen.
Renee: Yep. Absolutely.
Jessica: Renee, I’m curious from the divorce attorney side, had you been a divorce attorney first before your first actual divorce?
Renee: Yes, I was.
Jessica: Okay, so what would you say that you learned or were surprised by that you maybe didn’t know your clients had always been dealing with or going through, that you hadn’t seen that part of it until you had actually gone through the divorce yourself?
Renee: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s that everyone goes through it at a different pace. So in my situation, while I was ready to take that step, my ex was not. I had to show up or meet him where he was in order to get out the other side. Even if I wanted things to move really fast, he wasn’t there. And so just being aware that sometimes you have to slow down, sometimes you have to meet your soon to be ex at the place that they are so then you can both move through it together. You can’t rush it through if someone’s not quite ready to start having those negotiation conversations. I’m not saying you drag it out for a year or anything like that, but you’re just being a little bit aware that if the paperwork gets filed, maybe you’re not going to start talking about how you’re dividing things three days later. You have to let them process it a little bit.
Jessica: Right. I also think it’s interesting that you mentioned that you didn’t really talk about your personal life and your own two divorces within your professional life. I’m not a divorce lawyer, but I almost feel there is an element of I might be more drawn to hire someone as a divorce lawyer if I’ve known they’ve been through it on the other side because they are going to have a different bedside manner than someone–to me, it’s almost like, although most of my life I did go to a male gynecologist, it’s like, what the fuck does he know about how I’m feeling or what’s going on inside a woman’s body?
T.H.: Right. They’re like oh, I heard, or women usually say…
Jessica: Yeah, oh, he’s telling me that that pain is normal? What the…I feel like it’s an interesting choice that you would have chosen not to speak to people about the fact that you’ve been divorced. I would think it’d give you a leg up.
Renee: I know, but not when you’re raised to be the people pleaser, and you’re trying to be a perfectionist and trying to come across like, hire me because I have my shit together. You know, like, look, I’m in my suit, and I have it all together.
Jessica: Right. Hire me because I’ve been divorced twice, and I have my shit together, and I’m still standing here in my suit!
Renee: Right, right. I mean, that was the journey. That was my own journey.
T.H.: Yeah, you had to get there. And now she owns it. And she’s rocking it.
Jessica: So now you’re open about it, your clients all know? I mean, you have your podcast.
Renee: Oh, yeah, there is and I don’t ever talk bad about exes. I don’t go there because it’s not useful. It’s not helpful. It doesn’t help anyone get through it. I really, really focus all my conversations with people, and clients, and on the podcast is okay, how do you create your own happy ever after. You are the creator of what your next chapter looks like. Now, how do you do it? Stop pointing the finger, stop blaming the ex, stop saying all the ways you’ve been wronged, what are you going to do to move forward and be happy? And that’s the key right there.
Jessica: I love that.
Jessica: Pull up your big girl pants and just keep going.
T.H.: Well, but take responsibility.
Renee: Yeah, yeah.
T.H.: You can pull up your pants, but if you’re not taking responsibility like I was in a terrible marriage, and there are all these terrible things that anybody can say like you’re saying, but it doesn’t help me. What helps me is to know that I allowed that to happen. I enabled it to happen. What’s wrong with me? How am I okay with letting somebody treat me like that? That is the shift. As soon as you stop blaming the other person and look at yourself and you’re like, I’m a really good mom, I’m a really good person, I’m smart, I’m everything, what the fuck was I doing? How could I possibly–and so you talk about your mother. I can’t talk about my mother out loud, but I hear you. I hear you. But all that does again, like, what am I going to blame her for? I’m just not going to repeat it.
Renee: Right, right.
T.H.: I’m not going to repeat it to my kids, and I’m going to lead my life differently so thank you for the lesson. There we go.
Renee: Yes. Absolutely. Because if you don’t, then you’re going to end up in that second marriage that then will fall apart–
T.H.: A third marriage, a fourth marriage…
Renee: Because you have not figured it out.
Jessica: Renee, before we wrap things up, what would you say is your number one most beneficial piece of advice for people that are about to go through a divorce or going through a divorce?
Renee: Go to counseling to have some support because your friends are going to rah-rah-rah cheer you on and say all the awful things to add fuel to the fire. And that’s not helpful. Go to a counselor because everyone at some point, if you’re going through a divorce, you should have someone, some professional guidance, so that you can talk through some of this stuff so you don’t think you’re going crazy. And if it’s not a counselor, then a community, exactly what you guys are creating.
Tap into people like you who are doing the work and the professionals who are doing it not from a place of let’s make your ex pay, but let’s look to the future. And so it’s community. It is community and conversations. I think that that’s more important because then you can start to really move forward after you have all of that in place.
Jessica: Love that.
T.H.: This is awesome.
Jessica: Yeah. Well, we have a lot more to talk about as always, and we would love to have you back. But for today, thank you so much for taking the time and for sharing your story. Because for people who are still out there and are still feeling like they have to be closed mouth and that they’re still feeling the shame and the stigma and don’t want to talk about it, I love hearing and being inspired by you that, yes, sharing your story actually is going to be helpful for yourself and for others. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
T.H.: Yeah, very healing.
Renee: Thank you, ladies.
Goodbye: For everyone out there listening, if you know anyone at all who would benefit from what we talked about today please share this episode and everything exEXPERTS. Be sure and click to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and please follow us on social media @exEXPERTS Divorce etc… on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and our website at www.exexperts.com. Thanks for listening!