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Making Peace with Divorce and Opening Your Heart To Love

Erin: Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating. Today, I want to talk about endings and beginnings. For me, this has to do with divorce and a new relationship.

My divorce is final. A year and a half after we separated, we went through a mediation process and we spent a lot of time hashing out the ins and outs of how we disentangle 17 years of being together. I'm sharing this not because I'm proud of any part of the process or how I showed up in it. I'm sharing this because I think many of you have been divorced or thought about being divorced or are getting divorced or have friends who have gotten divorced and you've sat on the sidelines and watched the whole thing go down and had your own thoughts about your own relationships in relation to other people's divorce stories.

I never wanted to get divorced. I never wanted to get married. Maybe that's the problem in the first place. I always thought I would find someone and live with them and have kids together. And we would be in this thing that was open ended because we would constantly be choosing to be there. We wouldn't be there through some legal obligation, some commitment that we made to the United States government that would affect our taxes. That didn't feel relevant to me. But then I met and fell in love with my ex husband who wanted to get married and who wanted to proclaim his love for me and our commitment to each other in front of everyone we knew.

And I thought, well, that's really nice. That's lovely. I can do that. And I found that I really liked being in the closed endedness of marriage because it made it possible for us to stay in it when it got hard and to not ever have the easy option of, well, I'm just going to bail. Not that just bailing is ever easy.

We were entangled. We chose that entanglement and somehow that entanglement created a net for us to stay inside of the parameters of the relationship and continue to come back to it again and again for 17 years, uh, until it stopped working. And I have to say that I am so grateful that I didn't just continue to stay.

That I didn't decide, well, this is my lot in life and this is what I committed to and this is better for the children because it isn't my lot in life and it is what I committed to, but I also have permission to change my mind and to grow and evolve. And that's what happened. I grew and evolved in such a way that was not compatible with what the relationship was.

And the divorce was mutual. It was not one of us storming out on the other one and saying, I'm done with you. It was more like we have hit an impasse. We have come to a place where we cannot conclude this with both of us on the same team. I am grateful that it was mutual. I am sad that it is over. I am sad for the kids that they have to go through now the rest of their middle school and high school years in a custody situation, going back and forth between two homes, but It is the right thing for me and I think it's the right thing for them too because there was a lot of conflict in our home and now at least they have peace and I have peace and the happier I am, the more possible it is for me to show up in a great way for them.

I learned a lot from this marriage and I got really, really tired from the fight. And in some ways I am mystified as to how we made it work for 17 years. I think a lot of it was stubborn optimism that I could somehow figure out a way to make it work. A lot of it was denial where I didn't tell myself the truth about what I was actually feeling, what this actually felt like to be inside of this marriage, inside of this relationship.

You know, I do feel some grief and some regret about the ways that I acted and the things that I allowed myself to take in the relationship. And the fact that we couldn't figure out how to be on the same side, that it really ultimately became adversarial for many, many years. And that my kids had to witness that.

I regret those things. I feel. Ashamed that I allowed myself to be treated the way I was treated. I feel embarrassed about the way I acted in the relationship some of the time. And I'm also still in a relationship with my ex husband. And I see him every day. And he takes the kids to school. And he actively participates in their lives.

And he really loves them. And whatever my frustrations are with him, he's their dad. And we are going to have to work it out one way or the other for the rest of our children's lives. And that's okay. An interesting thing that has happened to me since I started this podcast is that people have said to me, Oh, does your husband know you're doing this podcast?

First of all, ex husband. Second of all, yes, he knows I'm doing this podcast. Does he know you talk about him on the podcast? If he listens to it, then he knows that I'm very interested in why people care about that, why people are worried that I might be hurting his feelings by talking about him. That's the way I read that reaction.

I wonder if they're concerned for my safety or they're concerned that he might be sensitive? I'm sharing my truth. I'm sharing my life. I'm sharing my life experience for the benefit of people who are listening in the hope that they will relate to the things that I say and the things that I share about my personal experiences.

I have drawn the conclusion that it's more about the people who are worried about my ex husband and his reaction than it is about me and my actual ex husband, if that makes sense. I think it makes people reflect on how they would feel. If they talked honestly about their partners or their ex partners in a public forum and it brings up all the stuff for them that they would be concerned about, but it has taken me a long time to allow myself to have my say and to have my own voice and to express my honest point of view and I do not do it out of contempt or anger, even though I still feel Some anger, I do still feel some regret about the ways in which we treated each other.

I just have to remind myself that it's okay to say what I need to say, even if it does hurt his feelings. Because what's true about the relationship from my perspective is true about the relationship from my perspective. I'm not here to malign anyone. It's critical for me at this point in my life to tell the fucking truth.

I think the way I kept the marriage together for as long as I did was by lying mostly to myself that things were going to be okay, that the behavior I was experiencing was okay, that I could deal with it, that I could tolerate it. But I want to set the bar so much higher for myself in this phase of my life.

I want to be brave and be willing to be vulnerable. I want to take everything I've learned from having my buttons pushed constantly, from the relationship that I was in that when I look at it from a big picture perspective has helped me really to untangle my daddy issues and the things that I inherited from my relationship with my father that I brought directly into my marriage.

I want to take all that as learning and growth. And I want to be proud of the example that I'm setting for my children, that you can change your life, that you can take control of your situation, that it's uncomfortable and it's hard, but sometimes it's necessary to start over. Sometimes it's necessary to quit.

There is virtue in trying, and there is virtue in quitting. And for me... Since the moment that my ex moved out, I have felt the freedom to become the woman that I want to be in the world. And when 80 percent of my energy was going to maintaining a relationship that was ultimately quite toxic and unhealthy and unhelpful.

And I felt I had to fight battles on the home front instead of having the support on the home front to go out into the world and succeed. I was fighting to succeed in my professional life. And then I would come home and I was fighting to succeed or survive in my personal life. And something had to give.

And for frequent listeners to this podcast, you know, everything went, everything went, the marriage went, the job went, the whole thing came apart at the seams. And thank God, thank God, because it gave me a clean slate to start over. And now in my relationship with my ex, we are learning how to be ex spouses and still co parents.

We are learning to manage the pickups and the drop offs. of the custody relationship. We are figuring out how to manage doctor's appointments and logistics and scheduling and communication. What I think has happened since the divorce was the wires have finally been cut. I don't experience the same reactivity as I did closer to the separation.

I can sometimes override a triggering text. Increasingly. I cannot take the bait if bait is offered. I cannot hear the criticism. I can shut down my reactivity to the criticism, my need to defend myself. When he disagrees with something that I say or do, when I disagree with something that he says, it's like the wires no longer connect.

I still have the buttons, but they don't go to anything anymore. That's not all the time. That's not foolproof. But boy, is it more true now than it has ever been before. And I hope that with time, I just won't ever be triggered. Because I have let go of the expectations of the relationship and I have done a good job of setting boundaries about when I want him in the house and when I don't want him in the house, how I deal with texts from him.

I don't have to respond right away. I can take time. I don't have to be on his pace. I'm a separate whole human being. With control over my time and my communication and how I handle this relationship because the stakes are no longer such that I feel like I'm going to lose everything and everything is going to be ruined if I don't communicate in exactly the right way in exactly the right timing.

That's no longer true. What is true and what is most important to me is my opinion of myself, my power over my own behavior, my responsiveness, and responding in the way that I want to respond. I want to be kind, I want to be respectful. I want to be friendly. I want to make life easy for my kids. I don't want to shit talk him.

I don't want him to shit talk me, but there's nothing I can do about that. If that happens, I don't know if it happens. I don't want to put my kids in a position where they feel they need to defend him to me or put them in a position where they feel like they need to defend me to him. I want the transitions between his place and my place, his time with them and my time with them to be easy for them.

I don't want them to have extra stress because we have conflict. That was the divorce that I grew up in. I'm not going to replicate that divorce. It needs to be more porous. It needs to be more fluid. When I was growing up, I would go to my father's house on the weekends. And I wouldn't call my mom. I didn't have a phone.

I didn't have a way to reach out. I was expected to go, to disappear out of my mom's life for the weekend, be with my dad, and then have a clean handoff to return me back to my mother's home. And... I felt so isolated by that. I felt so powerless over that. And I know that custody and having two homes is really hard for kids.

And at the same time, they need a relationship with their father and their father needs a relationship with them. And they are going to have to figure some things out without me. And they're 12, almost 13. And that's age appropriate. That's hard. And uncomfortable some of the time for them, and they are going to figure it out.

I've done my part. I've eliminated an environment of conflict and stress for them. I've made a peaceful oasis of our home and I do everything I can to try to grease the wheels of my relationship with my ex, but I also don't have to do it perfectly. And I don't have to protect him from my actual feelings anymore.

And that is the kind of liberation that I wish for every person who's in any kind of relationship where you don't feel like you have to protect the other person from how you actually feel. I knew that a lot of the time in my marriage, if I had expressed how I actually felt, it would have blown everything up and I wasn't ready to blow it up until I was ready to blow it up.

What's so interesting and incredible to me about life is that you can't fucking plan it. And certainly in my experience around matters of love, you can't orchestrate things. To be how you want them to be. The universe has its own plans, has its own schemes and designs. I don't get it. I don't claim to get it.

I don't need to get it. But what has happened to me is I've fallen in love. I've fallen in love with someone new and that relationship started as a hookup relationship, a sexual relationship, an intense, passionate connection between us that I had no design to make anything other than what it was and what has happened over time, gradually.

Bit by bit, day by day, is we've fallen in love with each other. Holy shit! Holy shit! I could cry. Because I never thought that I was the kind of girl who could have the kind of love that I have now. And maybe I had to go through everything. That I went through with my marriage to get to a place where I felt like I deserved the kind of love that I have now, but I did not orchestrate it and I did not plan it.

And, you know, with my ex on our first date, I told him, I'm slow. I'm slow. It was my way of trying to say, Hey, don't rush me into this. Don't push me like things are going to unfold the way they unfold. But that's not what happened. He was so excited about us being together. He was so excited about me and I was so excited about him.

I let him push me. I let him speed things up. I let him move us forward faster than I wanted because I was so grateful for his passionate interest in me. And I let that override so many things. In the beginning of our relationship and all the way through I let his interests and his desires and his urgency dominate everything because eventually it became too hard to fight it.

And maybe it started as too hard to fight in the very beginning. Maybe it was too hard to fight, but it was that way all the way through. And the relationship that I'm in today with the Marine, I think it took us six months to talk about any notion of us. We didn't talk about us. We just let it be hot and sexy and fun and we let it evolve and it will keep evolving.

And here's what I know is that I don't know how it's all going to go and that if we remain as open and communicative and loving towards each other as we are today, we will figure it out. We will figure it out. I have never had a relationship that felt like A place of refuge, a place of joy and laughter and fun and good times and openness, a relationship that is not adversarial, but actually feels like we're on the same side.

Even when we don't agree about things, the goal is to find the connectedness. It's not to win. And in my marriage, eventually it became about winning and losing. I think that happens. You calcify into your positions. I don't ever want to be in an intimate relationship like that again. And what's so interesting about the relationship that I'm in today is that we both know what we don't want.

We both know that we don't want to be in a thing where there's disrespect. We don't want to be in a thing where we're adversaries. We don't want to be in a thing where we're not open hearted and open minded with each other. Sometimes it's so peaceful in my current relationship that I wonder if something is wrong.

Because the model of relationship that I grew up with and the model of relationship that I had in my marriage was so intense and so dramatic and so full of conflict and Sparring, whether it's playful or not. A psychologist would have a field day with that, right? Like, it's so peaceful, I wonder if something is wrong.

It's so good, I wonder if something is bad. That is fucked up, and that is stuff for me to work on with my therapist. But, I've never been with someone who settles me, who contains me. Who isn't scared of my extra ness, who doesn't see me as too much. We don't feel like we exist to fill a deficit in the other person.

We are taking on, as adults, our own responsibility for our own psychological and operational well being. And we come together for the fun parts, for the support, for the sex, for the connection, for the adventures, for the kindness. And that is remarkable. I've heard people talk about this kind of relationship.

I've just never had it. I don't think I've ever been in love like this before. I'm fully in possession of myself, of my mind, my wants. I'm not ruled by people pleasing or insecurity. I really do see this as the work of the universe. This is not something I could have ever contrived. And we say to each other, we would never have connected if it wasn't this moment in time in both of our lives.

We're so different. And yet what we are and how we are and who we are with each other, it makes total sense. We both need space. We both need sex. We both need tenderness. We both need lots of fun. We both need to feel like rebellious teenagers. You know, And he's such a secure man. He's so secure in his own masculinity, his own sense of self.

He is not intimidated by other men. He likes other men. He cultivates his friendships. I really admire that. He works really hard. He keeps his life simple and straightforward. He knows my life is complicated. He wants to make my life easier, not harder. And of course I'm scared all the time. Of course I'm scared.

I'm scared because I've never experienced anything like this. I'm scared because I've never been willing to be this vulnerable. I've never been willing to be like, God, I fucking love this guy for whatever thousands of reasons against whatever weird odds. I just want to love him. That's what I want. And he deserves it.

And as he treats me really well, he treats me really well. He fucks me really well. He wants to give me what I need and he knows the shit is complicated and he's seen some stuff and he's been through some stuff and somehow I make sense to him. And how fucking fun and romantic and wonderful is that? The sex is still off the charts.

It's almost a year in and all the time I'm afraid it's going to go away, but maybe it just won't because it's so important to us. And maybe there's a built in. Desire mechanism, because I can't be with him all the time. I have kids. They're my priority. And so. The goal is not for him to be their dad. They have a dad.

The goal is not for him to be a part of our domestic life. If that happens one day, great. If we figure that out, great. If not, he is for me. He is for me and I am for him. And we're not pretending like life isn't complicated. Maybe because he was a Marine, he has a sense of how short life can be. And he says it, he says, life is short and I love you.

So we'll figure it out. That is a big fucking deal. He feels like my consolation prize for the divorce. It feels like the prize I get for taking these risks in my life to be more authentic and to be more real and to be more who I want to be. And then this good man shows up and it's important that he's responsible and he takes care of things and he helps me with things and I dote on him.

I dote on him in a way that like, I don't, does it make me a bad feminist to dote on a man? That's what I want to do. That's how I feel about him. I want to be so nice and so thoughtful and so kind and so sweet and so sexy for him. I want to be so supportive and encouraging. I want to be the person that is behind every risk he wants to take and every ambition he has because he's that for me.

He's that for me. It's very even in a lot of ways. And he's very handsome. He's very handsome. Yeah, I'm like proud of him when we go out places. I'm like, yep. This is my younger man and he's fucking hot and he's a delight and I'm so fucking lucky. And maybe I'm bragging a little bit because it's just, I'm just so shocked.

I'm just so shocked and delighted that this has happened to me. But here's what I'll say. The takeaway here is you never fucking know. You never know what life has in store for you. And if you change, the world changes around you. And if your point of view shifts, the world shifts. And if you end something, something can begin.

And if you take risks that you know will move your life in a different direction. That ripples out and new people and new experiences are drawn in to the space that is left there. If you open up space, life will rush in to fill it. If you take action on your own behalf, the universe will conspire to give you good things.

I really believe that. I really believe that. And that is what I want for you in any area of your life where you are putting up with something that you know you shouldn't be putting up with, that your spirit and your heart and your soul tells you, this is fucked up. I don't want this. And you're saying to yourself, it's okay.

I can tolerate it. I can handle it. Here are the thousand reasons why I can't do this and I can't do that. We tell ourselves I can't all the time. What if you told yourself you could? What if you allowed things to end so that new things can begin? One life ends, another begins. Someone dies, someone is born, fall turns to winter, winter to spring, like to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn, you know, it sounds so trite.

However, it's the cycle of life. It's Hakuna Matata, baby. The universe responds to our actions and our tolerances. If we are willing to tolerate things and be miserable, Then we will remain tolerating things and being miserable. And if we decide, you know what, this chapter seems like it's coming to a close, or I need to change the rules of this dynamic, or I'm going to give it one more shot, and then maybe I need to call it.

It's okay to call it. It's okay to let something end. A job, a marriage, a friendship, a dynamic with a relative. It's okay. You have to look out for you. And the more you take care of yourself, and get in touch with your own true needs and wants and desires. The more the universe will give you what you want.

Not in your time. I didn't expect to fall in love. I thought I was just fucking a hot guy. I just thought we had amazing chemistry. Turns out it's so much deeper than that. Turns out we're both willing to be vulnerable. And we both love being in love with each other. Oh my god. I have become so soft. How wonderful.

I wish it all for you.

Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. If you have enjoyed this meditation on love ending and beginning, I have only one request for you. Please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Share your feelings about what you've heard in these conversations, how they have made you feel, what thoughts were inspired by the conversations I've had with incredible women.

I think with the personal stories that I've shared, we are so not alone in this world. We are so in it all together. I hope you're finding insight and inspiration when you listen to this podcast. If that is the case, please rate us five stars. and write a nice review on Apple Podcasts. Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions. Our interim associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.

Come back next week, hotties. I have been doing interviews with the most extraordinary women and I cannot wait for you to hear these conversations. I'm feeling so hopeful and so mushy and so optimistic today.

Come back to Hotter Than Ever and I'll continue to share all of it with you.


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