Whenever I told someone that I was writing a positive book about divorce — not an advice book, and certainly not a gloom-and-doom tell-all — but a collection of my upbeat post-divorce stories, that person would literally grab my hand and say, "I need your book!" or "I need your book for my sister... for my best friend... for myself." I kept this encouraging sign in mind when later, trying to market Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey
, I would occasionally be asked, "What qualifies you to write a book about divorce? Are you a family therapist? A mediator?"
I'm none of those, of course. Which only partially explains why Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey does not offer advice. But here's the real reason, which was perfectly summed up by the late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture:
"Don't tell people how to live their lives," he said. "Just tell them stories, and they'll figure out how to make those stories apply to themselves."
So here are my stories: Going on a bicycling weekend one gorgeous Vermont autumn to get away from anger, only to discover that I was still angry, but with prettier scenery. Meeting my husband at a local diner to propose that we negotiate a custody agreement without involving lawyers or a judge, despite the fact that we were barely speaking. Taking my sons to an amusement park and finding myself laughing and actually playing miniature golf with them, instead of just being the one to pack lunches and backpacks. Finding the courage to put my toe into the scary waters of dating, which included maintaining a sense of humor when I let my imagination run a little too far during an online courtship.
Yes, there were tough moments — pain, guilt, fear. But there were also moments of exhilaration as I overcame challenges ranging from changing the light bulbs after my husband moved out to starting a new career. There were tremendous opportunities for growth, like relocating and, for the first time, buying a home in my own name. Now that I was no longer in a tense marriage, I learned to have fun with my sons and develop close, new relationships with them. I discovered strengths and capabilities I didn't know I had, and learned who I truly was. And after this glorious new life was rebuilt, I found love again.
This is the encouraging message that I hope readers will apply to themselves. That not only is divorce not the end of the world, as I had feared it would be, but it can be the beginning of the best life one has ever lived. I wrote Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey to be like a good friend sitting across the table from you, cup of coffee in hand, to say: Let me tell you how it was for me... Yes, it was tough. But I got through it. Which suggests that you, too, will get through it. And wait — just wait! — to see what riches you will find.