How divorce helped to changed my life for the better

I met my husband when we were both performing in Pantomime, funny how that’s how our marriage ended up- a pantomime!
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Andrea Binks

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I met my husband when we were both performing in Pantomime, funny how that’s how our marriage ended up- a pantomime! We were married in 2006 and our first child was born just over a year later with our second son coming along just over a year after that. I thought I had everything figured out. I was married to my best friend, had two beautiful sons that were kind, loving, funny and intelligent. I had a great job that I loved – Life was spot on. How wrong could I be but how right could it all turn out in the end.

As a shopping channel host I brought in a great income for our family and managed to balance the pressure of combining a successful career without losing out on precious time with my boys. I was proud of how I had it all worked out. Then 2014 happened and everything changed. In 2014 I found out that my husband was having an affair. The shopping channel I had been working for was going to close down, my dog Tia had to be re homed due to aggressive behaviour and my beloved mum had breast cancer. Just the year before I had also lost a child through miscarriage. All I could think was what had I done to deserve such awfulness.

I found out about my husbands affair via a text message that he had sent to me but was meant for her. I confronted him and of course he denied it- but I knew! We spent that night going round and round in circles and I told him that I would file for divorce in the morning which he begged me not to do.

We had our annual family holiday booked so we still went, and I remember just feeling sad every day. My ex-husband told me that he really didn’t want a divorce and asked if we could try again. I agreed for the sake of our children but soon found out that he wasn’t going to change. This of course is the very condensed version of the pain and torture I experienced from not just his words and actions towards me but those of my own mind and here is where my story starts and what I want to focus on.

During this time my own mind was such an enemy to me. Negative thoughts filled my head almost every minute of every day- What was wrong with me? Was I not pretty enough? No one else will want to be with me. I am such an awful person to live with. It was constant. I remember crying myself to sleep, waking up thinking it was all a dream then realising it was actually my reality and crying all over again. I felt so unbelievably lost. I had always been such a strong person (I thought) yet everything I thought I knew was gone. Suddenly there was no security, no familiarity and I had no idea who I was or what I wanted.

I started to look for a new career, ways to make an additional income to support my boys and I as now financially it was all just down to me. I felt like I needed to make enough money to cover ‘two parents’ incomes instead of just one and that was hard. Through looking for a new start- a change of direction- and more income I realised that I wanted to help others. I wanted to be able to help my children navigate their way round a painful family breakup and also help others and their children going through similar experiences avoid all the mistakes I had made. If I could help just one person avoid all the pain, then my life would have meaning again. Something I strive for in my life everyday since. Victor Frankl says in his book ‘A Man’s search for meaning’ that the meaning of life is to find purpose and to have laughter. Two things I now hold dear to my heart and I encourage everyone to look for also. Mind made up I decided I to retrain to become a counsellor.

It is a requirement when training to be a counsellor to have personal therapy- this put me off at first as I had a preconceived idea of what counselling was for. Again, how wrong could I be. I had visited counsellors a few times in the past, but they had never amounted to anything. I guess I just wasn’t ready to make a change back then. Now things were different

Through my own studies, personal therapy sessions and self-reflection I am now a completely different person to who I always thought I was as a wife. I had been with my ex-husband for 20 years and I fully believe I lost myself during that time. Luckily through my horrendous divorce I have re discovered ‘me’ and learnt to love ‘me’ again and for that I am truly thankful.

Self-love is so important. I am so glad that self-love is now accepted as the norm rather than being a dirty word. Being able to look after yourself and your needs is just as important as looking after someone else’s needs even your children’s because if you aren’t ok then who is going to take care of them. Self-reflection can really help on your journey to self-love too. Simple things like writing a journal can really help you to look at how your mind is behaving and how you can make changes for the better. Writing things down can really relieve stress too. Just putting pen to paper can put a completely different perspective on situations and allow you that thinking time to really know your true emotions. Too often during my divorce I would rush in with my responses and when your emotions are fragile this really isn’t wise. Now I try to wait before I reply so I can be sure my emotions have well and truly settled back down. I also thoroughly recommend talking therapies. I am a talker- I will talk to pretty much anyone and am lucky to have shared my story with many of my friends BUT it’s not the same as seeking professional help from a trained therapist. They will offer you a safe place to be able to explore you own emotions without any kind of pre-determined judgement. If you do choose to seek a counsellor then I highly recommend finding one that has completed their training, is a member of a professional body and also one that you connect with as the therapeutic relationship between you ‘the client’ and them ‘the counsellor’ is quite possibly the most important aspect of all.

I am truly passionate about helping others through their divorce and breakup experience because I have lived it and can fully appreciate what my clients are going through. The feelings of overwhelm, loneliness, sadness, confusion and anger that a divorce or breakup brings are all too present within me and I can totally relate to women and families who are in that situation. I also thought it would never end. I remember crying myself to sleep wondering if I was doing the right thing or just feeling like I couldn’t cope.

It is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life. BUT, I am here to tell you that you WILL get through it and that all the emotions will die down and that one day you will suddenly realise that you haven’t had to manage the other parent’s behaviour or even had to communicate with them with, well, you won’t even know how long it’s been and it’s a lovely feeling. I do advocate trying to be as amicable as possible with your ex whilst going through your divorce but sadly that is one of the hardest parts of all. No matter how good your intentions are there will always be two sides and two opinions, and two different peoples wants and needs. Then the minute money is mentioned, or the childcare arrangements are discussed it’s like showing a red rag to a bull. That said I truly believe being as amicable as possible is by far the most beneficial thing you can do for your children during this difficult time.

I do encourage you to find self-love, so you are better able to cope during these difficult times. For self-love and self-worth is what is needed today and always for a brighter future following divorce. If you are on the journey of divorce or separation, then please do reach out and connect. My links are below.

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