Unhooking From Your Divorce Story

Do you ever feel like your divorce has you almost living 2 lives, The life within the legal arena to deal with the divorce details and then the life you’re living outside of that, more the emotional side?

You’ve heard us talk about the importance of being able to separate those sides of yourself as you go through it.

And in today’s episode of the Divorce Etcetera podcast, that’s exactly what we’re talking about, unhooking from the story of your divorce, we’re the ex experts, Jessica and TH We help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life.


Let’s bring in today’s.

Guest Dear Divorce Coach Cherie is joining us.

She is one of the OG ex experts with us and so we welcome you to the show today.


And I am actually very excited to talk about how to unhook yourself right from your story, your divorce, your acts.

So welcome, welcome, thank.


It’s so good always to see you TH and you, Jessica.

It’s a privilege to be here with you.


We’re glad you’re back.

So people are going to be like, what is this unhooking myself from the story of my divorce?

And I feel like we need to 1st like define overall kind of what we’re talking about for people to follow along.

I would love to suggest that from my perspective, unhooking is just what it sounds like.


I actually like people to visualize that fish hook.

We can all imagine if we’ve been fishing or seen people fishing where you are literally gauged.

You took the bite, you took the hook, you are there.

You are invested in your narrative, in your story.


Of course, it means you have trouble distancing, getting off the hook.

Imagine that fish.

Once they’re hooked, they’re on it.

They’re fighting to even get a friend and they can’t.

So when I talk about unhooking, it’s how to let yourself off the hook.


Because sometimes we have real trouble doing that.

I I think also it’s a huge turn off to your friends and family if all you do is talk about the divorce and your ex and your everything.

And we always say, you know, divorce doesn’t define you, but that’s a choice.


I feel like a lot of people feel like it’s a safety net.

Like I’m going to and not consciously, but, you know, just kind of using it as, like, feel bad for me, you know?

Can you believe this?

And she or he is such a bad person and like, kind of carrying that around with them.


So why do people do that?

I think we do it for a lot of reasons.

And I love you brought up friends and family because I think in part we do it because at first, right?

They’re like, I’m so sorry, this must be hard and they mean it, right?

But, and if I say this, please listen with clarity and know that it’s said empathetically, nobody else really cares as much as you do about your divorce.


And and I say that to me, you also don’t need to reel them in.

You don’t have to hook them right.

You need to create boundaries for yourself in this space so that you are processing and able to make good decisions.

And sometimes, if you’ve gotten yourself on that hook, you just can’t do it.


You know, it’s funny you say that though the whole, like no one else kind of cares, which is like said, with love.

We totally get it.

But see, I, we, I always use the reference in terms of getting a divorce is like, it’s like when you have a a new baby an infant and everyone around you is like how’s the baby and like.


No one, really.


All anybody wants to hear you say is like, the baby, It’s the baby’s great.

Unless you have a friend who also has a brand new baby.

And then you’re like, they’re in the weeds with you.

Like how many bottles did you feed it?

How many diapers did you change today?

How many ounces did they drink?


Like all of that stuff, it’s so true.

Like no one cares unless they’ve also.

They’re also like going through it.

And it’s interesting, Jessica, because I also see the analogy to that friend asking about your divorce.

There’s a projection about what they’re worried about, maybe in their own marriage.


Oh my God, she’s really going through a lot of shit.

At least that’s not going on for me.

So and then they internalize that story a little bit, and then they project back on to you what they really think of you, and there’s a little bit of judgement.

And then you’re feeling shame.

So it’s this vicious cycle, right?


It’s just like that with the baby sometimes.

So I really appreciate appreciate that analogy and I think we have to think consciously to unhook for all these reasons.

I also want everybody to be clear.

I mean, Sherri’s also divorced, remarried.


So we’ve all been in these weeds with you guys.

It’s not that your friends and family don’t care about you.

They just don’t want to hear the story anymore.

So don’t put them not caring to hear about the divorce.

Meaning they don’t give a shit about you.

They do, but you’re like kind of making it hard for them to show up for you if you’re only that’s.


Talking about that thing.

Right, right.

So it don’t take it like, oh, you’re saying my family doesn’t care about me.

Don’t go there.


This is all about the narrative and and the way you present yourself to the world.

Like how do you want to present yourself to the world based on like tragedy or you know, sadness or huge pivot for success and future and what’s next, right?


And I think it’s really important that we recognize that we have a role to play every single day and 1000 times a day, right, as we start to unhook and what that looks like is we are being responsive rather than reactive to what’s happening around us.


So when someone asks us either how we’re doing or, you know, ask us directly about our ex, we can understand that to show up for ourselves and for our kids, we don’t need to say something negative.

We can be.

Now I’m not asking you to be a Pollyanna.


Trust me, I’m the last one to put a bright spot on every every sunny day.

But what I do say is it’s better for you to slow it down, to slow down the thoughts and the actions so that when you do respond, it might even be with, you know, today’s OK or today I decided to do this for me.


And that takes a conscious thought and it happens, I think, only over time.

So in other words, don’t be hard on yourself if you are reactive at first, but take the time to learn the tools to be responsive instead.

So but when you talk about like separating these two aspects, like the legal aspect from like the pulling back from over processing and naming your ex with a personality disorder and all of the things that everyone no, I shouldn’t say everyone that a lot of people do how saying take a step back is great, but like there are people who out there listening who are like I can’t fucking get out of my own way.


So I think the key is a simple exercise and I have an acronym for it.

I’m going to give this little tool and tip right here.

And then I want to say why it impacts your legal decision making as well as things in your personal life.

So first of all, you’re confronted with the opportunity to say something negative, to be reactive.


So what do you need to do?

How do you do it right?

Like you said, people can’t get out of their own way.

So what you do is a really brief body scan.

You’re going to slow it down.

And the acronym is self and self is S slow it down.

So as soon as you feel overwhelmed, as soon as you notice someone said something to you and you know, we know, especially I think as women in this space, you have this intuitive, I’m hooked.


I’m going in, right.

We know that feeling.

I’m asking you, slow it down, slow your breath, do a body scan, notice what’s going on, and then the next thing you’re going to do is notice that you’re still safe.

You’re in the space.

You don’t have to catastrophize.

Like these are thoughts.


I want you to have these conscious thoughts.

So slow it down.

E is, emphasize this moment.

Stay present.

Next, you’re going to look at options.

What needs to happen right now, Not the next moment, not the moment before.

And then F is figure out a plan.


So it sounds like a lot, but it’s really quick and the acronym is self.

So in the self moment you’re basically slowing it, slowing it down, emphasizing the moment, looking at options and figuring out a plan and that helps you find calm.

So do that body scan quickly and before you say something out loud, you do this internal work and then you respond rather than react.


So the actual answer, Jessica, that was a long winded way of saying you do have to take a moment, right?

You take a beat, but the more we do it, the more it becomes an internal response rather than reaction.

And a habit, as we know very well, is built with practice.


And this is how we build that habit.

Just to clarify TH before before you say anything.

So when you’re talking about when to do this and how you know you’re hooked, like for some people, are you saying if you feel like you’re triggered?

And I feel like, is it like the catchphrases that we’re all using, where you’re all of a sudden, like teeth clenched in that moment, That’s when you can use right this.


That’s when you can use self.

And sometimes it happens even when you don’t, you least expect it, right You.

You’re on a block with a friend, you’re going somewhere to celebrate with family, and then somebody mentions your divorce or you and it.

You’re just hooked.

And so often times, especially if we’re verbal, we just say something before we think about it.


And I’m asking you to slow down that process.

Welcome to my world, Jessica.

I’m there too.

That’s me.

Speak before I think.

It’s a.


And look, sometimes it helps us, right?

We can do OK when we’re talking to people about something positive, but it also means we can get in our own way.


So you know, it’s the the yin and the Yang here, but there is a process to really do better for yourself.

And then what I find is when you practice and make it a habit, when you’re in the decision making process in mediation or with your own counsel or even in your own therapy, you’re able to slow it down for yourself then into.


So now we are putting into practice the habit we’ve created which is amazing and you do magnificent work and especially if you’re in litigation let’s hope you can take a step back from that.

But that means you can make better decisions and rather than spend a lot of money in fighting.



I I, I love that acronym.

I love it that it’s the word self.

I when we speak to a lot of people we encourage them to write things down on on post its or put it as your screensaver on your phone because you’re not just going to remember.


I mean it’s just really not that easy.

But the more reminders, hints put it in your makeup drawer.

Put it in your purse.

Like, put it in places that you look at and then then it will be something that might come to mind, more likely, right Than not, I love the idea of slowing down.


We also tell people, just take a breath.

Like literally you feel it like in your gut.

You’re like, Oh my God, I’m going to go there.

And then you have to just if you can just take a breath, reset your head and your body and everything, then you can move forward with the El and F but it I I love that, love that.


So we’re just going to take a quick pause here because.

Have you ever said this?

Oh my God, look at this bag.

I’ve never even used it, but I spent so much money on it or I have to deal with my closet.

It’s a mess.


I really should consign some things, but I don’t have the time.

Or Oh my God, look at these old Gucci sunglasses.

They’re so out of style.

What am I going to do with them?


Call the real real.

You basically have a closet full of money waiting to be put into your pocket.

They come to you, they pick it up, they put it online, they sell it.


You get paid.


Yes, it’s true, and I can personally.

Tell you that.

I have done this myself and recouped.

Thousands of dollars from.

Clothing that I’m not wearing, bags and shoes that I’m not using.

It’s definitely worth it if you’re interested in consigning.


With the real real.

Just click the link in our show notes or in our link in bio on Instagram or Tiktok and fill out the form.

Make sure.

To add X experts.



PERTS next to your last name, so they know the.

X experts sent you.


I promise.

It’ll be worth it.

When Jess and I were getting divorced from our exes, we hope someone would take us by the hand and make sure we didn’t make any mistakes with our kids.

Dealing with our ex, our friends, dating, letting divorce define us, all of the things that we’re talking about today.


So you’re in luck.

Just like building ex experts for you, we also created a divorce rule book to share what we wish we knew back then so you don’t make the same mistakes we did.

If you want your copy, all you have to do is visit and it’s right there for you.


You don’t know what you don’t know, but the X experts do.

I So to get back to this so Sherry, like part of what would in the preliminary conversation leading up to the this episode about what we’re going to talk about.

You had said how every day we have 1000 choices that we can make to shift our actions and our thoughts.


You know like I don’t think everybody knows how to do that.

How can you help us to get there?

So one of the things I think, and I was just going to say, I I added for the listeners, if it’s of interest to them, I have a great PDF because I love the notion of hanging this up.


So if there’s a way for you to send it out, get it to the listener, they can hang it on their makeup mirror, right?

And this is a great way to do it, make it bigger, make it smaller, whatever works for them.

But I think the way people do it is to take that pause.

What I love that you said, Jessica and TH, is we literally tell people to take a breath and that’s it.


So that can be your signal to self.

There is no magic here.

In other words, I don’t know how to do it.

The doing it is, is the learning of it.

So you take a breath and then the rest follows.

Now at first it’s really hard.


We all know it’s really hard.

And there’s some moments you’re not going to get it right.

And that’s the other thing.

Be gentle with yourself.

It’s OK to make a mistake.

It’s OK to be in that space, but over time, what you’re really doing is creating boundaries for yourself with other people.


So they go there less often too, because if they don’t know that they can provoke you or trigger you, they’re probably less likely to do that.

So you also can have a canned response.

One answer I love is, oh, I’m doing OK today.


Whatever your thing is that you need to say I I don’t really like, fine, because we all know fine means not so good.

But you know, today I’m OK is a great one.

Or I really appreciate you asking.

I’m not talking about that with people right now.

I the reason I really love that one is I think people, a lot of people come in, even friends and family, ’cause they’re a little bit interested in the dirt, right?


We always like somebody else’s stuff and then then we don’t have to look at ours.

So if you say you don’t know how, I totally understand that.

But the how is in the doing.

So try it.

Try this practice of doing exactly what you said, taking a breath and the rest can follow and then you can do the little self mantra.


Because taking care of yourself is taking care of the family system, and that has to come first.

I spoke to somebody today and she goes, you know, I’m doing this for my daughter.

And I said you really need to think about it slightly differently.


You are.

You’re doing this for yourself.

And I’m giving you permission to say that to yourself every single day because then you’re doing it for your daughter and for your friends and for everybody else.

But if it starts with you, like when you get a cold and and you can’t do anything, then nobody else is going to benefit, right?


You’re not making dinner.

You’re not talking to anybody on the phone.

You’re like fully shut down.

So I I I really wanted to say that.

And the other thing I want you guys all to know is that on Sherry’s Dear Divorce website she has an advice column which I love and kind of think we should have that on X Experts.


But she has a whole blog about tools for unhooking ourselves that you also need to check out.

And you all you’ll have the one cheater here take a picture of it on your phone and make it your screensaver.

Super easy Done.

But this advice column is very easy to navigate also.


And what I mean, there are many things obviously we love about Sherry, if you haven’t noticed, but she has legal training in addition to being a divorce coach in addition to have gone going through having gone through her own divorce.

You’re getting the whole package here and that’s why we really like showcasing ex experts like Sherry because they have so much knowledge and education to share with you.


And you know, I just, I really didn’t want to miss saying that because we pick our ex experts very intentionally.

And you know, I think that cherry is really could benefit you in terms of figuring it all out regardless of where you’re at in your process.




It’s an experience from every angle.

I really appreciate you saying that.

And one of the things I want to say about why I coach rather than give legal advice now is I had a lot of clients.

I could solve their legal problems and they were still unhappy.

So the real work in my view, in divorce is not in the legal arena.


I know there can be big problems and you have to address them, but the real work is on self and in the emotional arena and that means doing the work yourself because you and only you can control that.

So what do you think?

Because you didn’t have this acronym and all this experience when you were going through your own divorce?


Like what do you wish you knew when you were going through your own experience, looking back now?

It’s so funny you asked that TH because although I’d like to say I was practically perfect, one of my big things was being hooked into my story.

You have to understand my ex is a super narcissist.


I have to tell you what he’s done today and yesterday and tomorrow with the kids and how.

And guess what?

Not only did people not care, they started to insert themselves into the story.

Well, but you and them and they and and people.


You know, all of us, whether we are the victim or not, whatever that term really means.

Everybody brings their own stuff.

So I had friends that stopped talking to me and uninviting me from book groups.

And to this day I’ll never forget that.


Like me.



‘Cause we were talking about it too much.

I was talking about it too much, but also I think they took my former spouse’s side of things and we’re like, we don’t want you as part of this group.

We actually think the divorce is your fault because you decided to leave.


So I think it was it’s and and they brought their own lens to it, right?

Because they had had infidelity in their marriage and I was dating my new guy and it was too soon and blah blah blah, the details don’t even matter, right?

I mean they they might know that can be another podcast, but the point is.


I think what I didn’t do right was thinking that I did in fact have to justify to everybody and what did I fail to do?

Take care of myself.

I became all about the external instead of the internal.

And that’s when I start.

When I finally started that journey, it transformed my whole life, including my practice.


I left lawyering all together.

I was commenting to Jessica and to a few other people, like within the last few weeks, you know, we tell our story ad nauseam.

We’re on shows, We tell our story.

We go through the whole thing, Oh my God, you know, we look for the reaction.


And I was saying, God, I feel a little, I don’t know how I feel about the fact that I have zero emotion attached to it anymore.

It it doesn’t.

I don’t feel anything when I tell this story, which is a terrible story, and it’s a great happy ending for the two of us.


I’m not really concerned about their happy endings, but I can tell that horrible story without feeling anything.

And as we’re talking about this on the show right now, being unhooked from your story, from your ex, from all of those things, I was feeling like, God, is that a bad thing?


Like, who am I to not care about that?

That’s horrific.

Like, am I unfeeling?

But now listening to what you’re saying, I have fully unhooked and it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t play a role in my life anymore.


Except it’s a story that we tell, and it’s a thing that happened a long time ago.

But you know, it’s.


Not to feel anything you nailed.



No, you nailed it.

And what I wanted to add to that layer is that doesn’t mean THI suspect.


And I would love to hear Jess’s perspective on this too, that you can’t still get triggered in an unexpected way, not by the story of but by something.

Because we do still Co parent forever and always by something that happens and that’s the time we get to practice the unhooking right?


And we still get to practice, and we still may not get it right every time.

But that I think both things can be true.

You can have unhooked from your story in a good way and still get triggered, but it’s another opportunity to practice with the tools.

I totally agree with you.


All I was going to say is I feel like isn’t the whole thing they say like apathy is really the opposite of hate or anger.

Like when you if you’re if you hate someone or you’re angry and feeling like resentful about the situation then you are still harboring feelings in one way or another and and how.


And some people would say you’re still allowing that to kind of control the way you feel.

If you feel like you’re completely unhooked, I don’t think it’s that you don’t care.

I mean, maybe it sort of is in a certain way, you can interpret it that way.

But I think it’s like when you are apathetic about it, it’s just not controlling the decisions you’re making, the way that you’re moving through life anymore.


It’s like you’re handling it when you have to, and otherwise it’s not seeping in and infecting everything else.

So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being able to tell our stories without like maybe the way that we used to think about it or feel about it.


I think it’s, I think it’s progress in a sense.

No, I I I totally agree.

It’s just like, it came out to me.

I was like, God, I’m looking at all these reactions, our story, and we’re just like, Oh my God, it’s.

Not ridiculous.

And and the and the way I heard that.


But our feelings about it are so different.

Yes, when we first, we couldn’t even tell our story fully at the beginning, right?

Like, Oh my God, is this really happening to me?

I I also really want everybody to think about it in this way of of the power that you were mentioning.


When when people and stories no longer have power over you it’s it’s fabulously liberating and and when you look at it that way when you’re like yeah he doesn’t have that kind of power over me anymore and holy shit he did for like a really long time but I’m not allowing that anymore.


Like that’s a whole other ball game but it starts with self.

But but really to look at it as like a power struggle and and that you you permitted and got sucked into for a million different reasons and how to really untangle from it.


It’s it’s a journey people.

It is not an overnight thing.

It is a journey.

We are all that is so far in our past but we are your future.

You’re listening to Your Future speaking right here.

I just want to reiterate one thing, Jessica said.

And I tell clients this in nearly every session when we’re doing this important work, hate is not the opposite of love.


Indifference is the place you want to be, and that’s the opposite.

So unhooking is indifference, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the situation.

It means you’re not allowing your motions to rule what you are going to do.


And it’s good role modeling to our kids too, by the way, because by the way, if you think your ex is difficult, you’re going to have to role model to them how to deal with the difficult parent.

And these are tips and tools that work people with all kind of personality, disordered and normal people too.


I think Sherry, we’re going to have to do another show about how we help our kids with a difficult parent because I think we’ve both done a very good job.

I mean Darren’s difficult but not not at the at this level.


But we’re all, everybody’s difficult in their own way, but really like the gaslighting and you know all all the other things that come with it really to dig deep.

So we can help parents with some tips on speaking to their kids and dealing with, you know, difficult scenarios that come come back to you on a Monday after a long weekend.


I love it and I have my my eldest child’s wedding this year, so can we do the podcast after that when I have more tips and tools?

Oh my God, that’ll be so good.

You’re the Guinea pig.

But but like both of you guys are saying, I mean, it really is such a process I feel like.



Learned over the last 15 years like how to even sense in myself.

If I wake up in the morning and I like, I’m about to fire off like a bitchy text to Darren for something like, I know that that’s on me and not on him.


And I need to like wait a couple of hours, even if I’m like learning to do it, like just learning to not react in the moment for whatever reason, it it’s it’s not easy.

I mean it’s it’s not easy.

So TH is totally right and Sherry too.


Like it really is a process to learn.

And TH you said something really powerful that one of the best therapists that I ever talked to and it was actually the couples therapists talks about this power struggle that exists between people, right.

It can be in an intimate relationship or a non intimate relationship and learning to disengage from that is incredibly powerful work.


And it can be as you said Jess dealing with a Co parent and thinking you know I’m going to get in there and tell them what they’re not doing right.

But it’s really more about us.

I have a situation which I came together with my former spouse to gift our child and I put it in his hands and said can you take care of this, which was a big thing for me to let go of that kind of control.


And then I saw an article about something suggesting this might be something she likes and to go ahead and do it this way.

And my biggest work was not sending him that article and letting it be when I let go of it, to really let go of it.

And that’s hard, and that’s hard for many of us to do, right?


It doesn’t even have to be on a topic that seems toxic or difficult, but sometimes it’s just not communicating something.


Yeah, holding them back.



Well, I mean, as we can sit here and say there’s so much more to be said for.


But Sherry, we’re definitely going to have to come back.

I love, actually, the idea that you are navigating your daughter’s wedding and like everything that comes with that.

TH had written a letter in our a note in our newsletter a while ago about something similar.


It wasn’t her child’s wedding, but it was her significant other child’s wedding and kind of navigating between him and his ex.

And I mean, there’s so much meat there that people need to learn in order to get through those situations.

So I’m totally on board for that and for everybody out there.


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