The story of Amy Koko could also be called: “How To Keep Your S**t Together Because Trust Me You Will Be Glad You Did,” or “How To Get Out Of Your Snuggie and Back Into the World.”
It all started one afternoon, when the mom of four was doing laundry and heard the dreaded words, “I’ve had an affair.” Following his utterance, it was a blur, but what she did discover was that her wonderful husband of 25 years had been cheating (sexually and emotionally) with a younger, blonde, Swiss pastry chef. A real punch to the gut.
Here’s the story in Amy’s own words:
“The day that changed my life started like any other, only this day was extra special because I was testing out my new front loading washer and dryer, so life was even more exciting than usual. A steam and dewrinkle cycle? Talk about living the dream! I was wiping a smudge from the shiny stainless steel when my husband appeared in the doorway, which shocked the hell out of me because I had no idea he even knew we had a laundry room. ‘I need to talk to you,’ he said and I knew what was coming—Italy.
Finally, he had planned the trip I had been dreaming of for years. With our 25th anniversary right around the corner, the timing was perfect. He led me to the patio, sat me down and took my hand in his. He looked me in the eyes, my heart pounding waiting to hear the words, ‘Rome,’ ‘Venice,’ ‘Business class.’
I’ve had an affair, he said.
Due to this development, there would be no trip. There would be screaming, crying, pleading. There would be new Victoria’s Secret underwear and a mini facelift. There would be four children watching their mother walk around in a blue Snuggie eating Captain Crunch from a box and muttering to herself. There would be lawyers and mediations, one of which nearly resulted in my arrest for screaming so loud the secretaries became frightened after which, my lawyer whisked me away to Macaroni Grill for the endless pasta lunch. There would be a little more pleading, and then, in the end, the young, blonde Swiss pastry chef who stole my husband’s heart and tummy got her man.
Turns out though, I got so much more. A new life that is full of purpose, joy, love and a newfound affection for Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, which I probably would never have tried if I had stayed married. Is it easy? No. It is painful and sad and you may do things and say things you will regret later, but you will get through it and live to tell about it. Trust me. I’ve been through it…you just have to keep moving towards the light."
Here are Amy’s top do’s and dont's when going through divorce:
1. Drink and email
Do not go to your friend’s house with a bottle of Pinot Noir pretending you are going to share it, drink it by yourself, and then start sending drunk emails to your ex, with the words You Are a D**k in the subject line. I know! It feels so good! This’ll show him! Remember, anything you put out on the internet can come back to haunt you later if decide to run for a public office, or in my case, Head of Neighborhood Watch. I was forced to settle for the beautification committee, and was lucky to get that.
2. Don’t get behind the wheel
If there is another party involved, do not drive up to their home, park in their driveway, leave the car running and bang on the door screaming “I know you’re in there open this door!” She will open the door looking calm cool and collected and you look like a raving lunatic, plus your car is running.
3. Don’t answer nosy people
Never listen when people tell you while looking at you as if you’re a child who just fell down and got a boo boo, “I saw them out last night…I mean it’s just awful, can’t believe he/she is doing this to you.” Typically they will follow this with, “How did you find out?” “How are you doing?” and of course, “We’re going to miss you at the club this weekend.” Remember that old Gillete slogan, “Never let em’ see you sweat?” This is kind of like that only it’s more like “Never let em see you scream obscenities while waiting at the deli counter of Publix.” Don’t give them the chance.
4. Don’t talk smack to your kids
Do not talk badly about your soon to be ex with your kids. This may be the hardest thing about divorce because you are angry, you are hurt, you are a little bit out of your mind with fear and uncertainty. Remember your kids are dealing with their own confusion and sadness and need to believe that both parents are in their corner. They need you both right now.
5. You are not a victim
Do not think of yourself as a “victim of divorce!” This does not define you. Don’t be that person who when someone asks you how you are doing, you say, “My ex is a sociopath and narcissist.” Uhm, okay. It may be true, but let’s keep it to yourself. Take charge of your divorce, make things happen your way, don’t let things happen to you.
1. Find a role model
I loved the way LuAnn de Lesseps came back after her split with the count. Happy. Cute young boyfriend. Awesome Hamptons house. Okay most of us don’t come out of divorce with a summer home, but she certainly didn’t appear to be a sad victim by any means. And Ramona? Killing it. When I was dealing with my break up, Christie Brinkley was also going through a hideous divorce and hers was really out there, with her husband sending private pics of himself all over the place. There was a photo in a magazine of her dressed in a pink cardigan and gray pencil skirt walking into court that caught my eye. “How elegant,” I thought. “How classy.” I cut it out and put it on my mirror and every day would tell myself, act like a lady, just like Christie.
2. Find a happy place
Make your bedroom your happy place! You know you always wanted that paisley comforter from Anthropologie but your hubby hated yellow. Go for it! And, sleep in the middle of the bed. Enjoy every inch of that thing.
3. Go to therapy
Find a good counselor or therapist to help guide you through the process, as you may not always be thinking clearly. I can’t tell you how much I spent on legal fees for what I call the “Battle of the Bowl.” A hideous bowl made of creek rock became my main focus for several months. He wanted it, therefore, I wanted it. I won. It’s hideous. It’s his now, I was like, “Please take this bowl. Please.”
4. Be there for the kids
This doesn’t need to be said, but be there for your children. Be there for your children. Can I say that enough? Nope. Be there for your children. Keep their routine as close to normal as possible. Don’t break down in tears when they leave to spend the weekend with your ex. Not in front of them at least! Use that time for you. Trust me, you need it.
5. Talk to people who have been through it
Above all, find support from others who have been there. Your friends will say, “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” Guess what? They really can’t! I don’t mean one of those support groups where everyone cries while explaining why their divorce is worse than everybody else’s. I mean one where people have moved on and paved a new road for themselves. They can help guide you and be a good shoulder to lean on when you are down.
“In closing—divorce sucks,” Amy says. “I know it does, but you will get beyond it. It will end. Now my life is more than I ever thought it could be and no, I don’t have a house in the Hamptons. I do have a wonderful partner, four fabulous children and a career as a writer and coach that fulfills me. I have Pinot Grigio, dirty martinis and Ruby Red Vodka readily available at the end of the day, depending on my mood. I made it to the light and you will too.”
Amy Koko is author of the book, There’s Been A Change of Plans, A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Mid-life, as well as the blog, Ex-wife, New Life. She is a Divorce Coach and co-creator of the Writing Your Way Through Divorce retreat.
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