When you're in the process of divorcing, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and depressed. You're not only emotionally detaching from a marriage, but you're also trying to deal with the logistics of your life, which may include housing, bills, and more. Then to boot when you're a mom, you have to manage your child/children's feelings and situation surrounding the divorce. And in that case, your feelings often get shoved to the wayside because the kids have to come first. In the midst of this "hurricane" called divorce, you may or luckily may not run into a few people who either are looking to capitalize on your assumed vulnerability or are so negative (intentionally or unintentionally) that they will bring you down right with them whether they mean to or not. I call these people "sharks": they're emotional bloodsuckers chasing the world for a scent of fresh vulnerability or looking for a negativity breeding ground, and sometimes they're downright evil.
But before you start to panic, realize you're ahead of the game. Just because you're getting divorced does not mean your world is ending. It may feel that way today, but the fact is a few months down the line, you will stand up and dust yourself off. The phoenix will rise from the ashes. And since you've got me in your tool belt, read on to discover five "sharks" that may or may not swim your way as you head for the finish line called divorce. Now that you know, you won't fall prey to these soul-killers, and as they say, "Knowing is half the battle."
Shark #1: The Slimy Married Guy "Friend"
When I started to slowly leak the news that I was separated, I found this little, or not so little, man swimming in the pool. Slimy Married Guy Friend had been complaining ad nauseam about his wife. They had many troubles from financial to adultery, and I did my best to give him solid advice I would give any friend. I had shared that I myself felt lonely and that the intimacy had fallen apart in my marriage and that it was time to move on. He incessantly complained that he wasn't having sex with his wife anymore and thereafter, whenever he felt bored or the spirit moved him, I guess, he would say to me, "Well, if you ever need a back massage . . . " or he would mention, "At this point, she doesn't care if I sleep with other people — " hint, hint.
It was these little hints and sexual suggestions that made me realize something fishy was going on here. This dude thought I was a vulnerable, lonely, about-to-be-divorced woman, and so he figured maybe he could score some booty on the side since, you know, his wife doesn't care anymore.
News, Jaws? I don't blame her if she doesn't want to have sex with you. You're a loser. And PS, I don't either. Ever.
PS — Be wary of married or taken guy friends who suddenly think you're "OK" with inappropriate flirting. Don't be. You may feel lonely and unlovable, but getting in bed with a grade-A jerk isn't going to make those feelings any better, buttercup.
Shark #2: The Legal Help
I had a male attorney consult me when my ex and I first separated. It was an acquaintance's recommendation, so I figured I was golden. The attorney offered me advice, and I thanked him politely and said I would get back to him when I decided with my ex-husband what we wanted to do. It seemed simple enough, right?
Suddenly, the attorney was saying things to me like, "Well, if you want to meet for a drink to get some advice, you can join me at X bar."
Are we dating, counsel, or are you supposed to help me understand the legal process involved in matters like divorce?
Eventually, these requests dropped.
Perhaps they were friendly gestures — I will never really know, but I felt as if I were getting hit on, and in my opinion, that's not a great way to score a client.
Just be wary of people offering to help — and that goes for anyone. If the offer seems genuine, take it. Don't be too strong to refuse help. But if there's an air of uncertainty or "fishiness" around the offer — just say no.
Fellow Shark Bomber
Shark #3: The Negative Divorced Person
Look. There's this cycle that one goes through with divorce (in my opinion): shock; anger; grief; renewal. It's not easy to always be Sally Sunshine when you and your kids are going through the tidal wave of divorce, but — even still — if you're going through a divorce, be wary to invite the Negative Divorced Person to the wading pool. I highly recommend you saddle up with someone who is divorced and feeling good about him or herself, as this will give you some hope for sunnier days.
The Negative Divorced Person is positive that everything that happened to him or her is going to happen to you, and it was usually something awful. The Negative Divorced Person is stuck in a cycle of despair, anger, and regret. He or she can't see the light at the end of the tunnel because he/she is too busy simmering in bad stuff. So instead of looking at your situation accurately in order to give you some friendly advice, all that person sees is gray, gray, gray. Every time you mention that you think you've worked out something with your ex, NDP will be there to point out every single horrible thing that could go wrong from here on out. NDP doesn't mean to harm you, but it's harmful to be around that gray cloud too much. You've got to take a time-out from this person here and there and, possibly, for good. In my case for the few NDPs I met, some I evicted and others I simply keep my distance from. Trust me: it does get better, even if your ex isn't wonderful to deal with and even if someone tells you how god-awful divorce is. Eventually, everything gets better with the right outlook and strength.
Just Taking Out the Negative Trash,
The Shark Evictor
Shark #4: I'll Just Squeeze Right In and Add My Two Cents
It's funny how getting a divorce makes even married people experts on, well, divorce. The "Add My Two Cents" Shark knows everything and anything about your life and what you should do. This person will be the first person to step up and question your choice in custody arrangements, ex-partner communication, housing scenarios, and more. While it's imperative to get good, sound advice from people you trust, it's not mandatory to take every single piece of advice you get from everyone, and believe me you, strangers will share their divorce stories and tips if you just give them five minutes of airtime. The AMTC individual wants to feel special in many ways and often hasn't been in your shoes in order to assess that what he or she says could be hurtful, annoying, or wrong to someone about to lose her marriage. Be very wary of any two-cent tidbits this person offers you.
Who is worthy of a listen? When it comes to matters involving the kids, pediatricians, teachers, and trusted positive friends who have gone down the divorce path are great sources for help. If it's your finances, seek an attorney or financial expert. In my opinion, family members and friends get way too heated when it comes to discussing divorce and the almighty dollar. Stick to the professionals.
A Shark Destroyer
Shark #5: The Ex-Hater
I am lucky in that none of my family or friends hate my ex. They think we are both great people but a terrible match. And if anyone I know even tried to say one bad whisper about my ex in front of my kid, that person would get a swift smack. We may not be Mr. and Mrs. anymore, but he is the father of my child and I regard him as a coparent and friend. However, many of the people I've met along the way had issues with family members trash-talking an ex in front of anyone who will listen. Even if your ex is hell on earth, talking smack about the ex in front of the kids is an absolute no-no. I'm sorry, but at the end of the day, all your child/children know is that is their parent. They didn't choose who their parents would be, so if the Ex-Hater can't keep his or her comments to him/herself when the kids are around, you need to kick that person to the curb. It's detrimental to your kids.
Face it. Your child/children will learn down the road who your ex truly is simply by his actions. Why do you or anyone else need to "paint" the ugly picture for him or her? If your ex is a real "winner," and by winner I mean a total loser, keep the nasty comments to conversations that don't include the kids. And as a side note, how healthy is it for you — an amazing woman looking to move on with her life postdivorce — to continue the cycle of anger and negativity? Let it go. Your ex is who he is. Make peace and pave the way for a yellow brick road, because Oz will surely find you.
Killing Off Sharks One Article at a Time,
The Shark Slayer