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There is plenty of life the other side of divorce

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SUZANNE BELLING

Stacey Lewis was filled with anticipation when her husband returned home from an overseas trip in 2008. But he fobbed off her welcome and out of the blue the next morning he announced, “I want a divorce, it’s non-negotiable.” He told her he loved her, but was not in love with her.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the tsunami,” Stacey told guests at a launch of her book, “Divorce 101: Survive and Thrive”, in Johannesburg recently.

Stacey “fell apart”, losing weight, becoming “passively suicidal”.

“I was scared, lonely, anxious and utterly heartbroken. His businesslike and matter-of-fact approach to our pending divorce added to my devastation.”

After sleepless nights, starvation, chain-smoking and endless crying, Stacey saw a psychiatrist, a social worker, several life coaches and healers.

Eventually, confronting her pain and taking ownership of the situation, early the following year, “I emerged victorious and classified myself as a successful divorcee.

“I made a promise to G-d that if I emerged from my situation whole and healed, I would always be there for other divorcees in need.”

Thus Stacey gave birth to the Divorce Source, an organisation aiming at helping others going through the trauma of divorce. It provides online support for divorced and divorcing women, giving them a wealth of information. The site is www.thedivorcesource.co.za

Now remarried and the mother of four girls – three from her previous marriage – her newly-discovered talent for writing led to her collaborating with publisher Batya Bricker, “my partner in conceptualising and creating” the book.

The book contains expert professional advice on a wide range of issues that commonly arise in a divorce. Her resources include psychologists, counsellors, mediators, attorneys and pro bono legal advisers, coaches, financial advisers, a dietician, a money coach and a divorce support organisation.

The professionals wrote the chapters of the book and their details are invaluable for anyone going through a divorce – listed in what Stacey calls “My Little Black Book” at the end of the volume.

There is important advice regarding imparting the news to children according to their age, with the main consideration being the best interests of the child. Children love both their parents and parents should try to adhere to the same rules as they were prior to the divorce, is the advice.

Throughout Stacey’s “Hiroshima”, she even considered placing an advertisement in the classified section of the newspaper stating the availability of a “sassy 30-year-old – three children free” to someone with a low sperm count, looking for love. “Must have money and villa in Seychelles. Call 0800-in-sane.”

On a more serious note, Stacey underwent plastic surgery and disabused herself of the notion that a partner makes one whole. She even wore a ring with King Solomon’s words, “This too shall pass”.

Her practical advice was to accept assistance; create a routine; schedule “happy time”; and surround herself with people who uplifted her. She strongly advises letting go of revenge and moving on.

“Every ‘first’ can be difficult after divorce. Your first birthday, your spouse’s first birthday, what would have been your anniversary, the anniversary of your divorce, children’s birthday parties, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, weddings and celebrations.”

She urges divorcees to reframe their status and market themselves.

“My divorce… gifted me with an enhanced sensitivity to people in pain… allowed me to empathise with emotional as well as physical pain…

“Through my process, I have helped many other women along the way. I have seen that with faith, consciousness, a commitment to improving your life and someone to guide you, that it is not only probable, but most definitely possible, to create a good life for yourself after a divorce…

“My hope for you is that you are able to wade through the pain and are able to reach a place where you can start to slowly rebuild and reinvent,” Stacey told the guests.

The book will be available from mid-October at R250 (including VAT) from Exclusive Books, Bargain Books or from info@thedivorcesource.co.za

 

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