"I wish that someone had told me to just do it. Pull up your big girl pants, it’s going to be horrible, he’s going to hate you, his family is going to hate you, and no one’s going to be sending you beautiful emails, it is going to be ugly and messy and you’re going to feel like crap, but you just have to do it. I kept trying to put off that hurt and pain and confrontation. I wish someone had just told me to keep doing it. It’s not going to get easier until you get through this. That’s something that I’d wished I’d known and I hope that other people will know that denying the pain and denying the process isn’t going to make [divorce] any better.” - Rosemond Purdue, blogger at RoundandRoundRosie.com
We have an awesome interview with Rosemond Purdue, one of the best divorce bloggers out there. She is going to share her experiences going through a what seemed like a never-ending divorce that took over six years. She is open about her experiences — the good, the bad, and a lot of ugly. This is an excellent interview you do not want to miss!
To find out more about Rosemond Pudue:
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Shawn: Today on the show I have a very special guest. I have Rosemond Perdue. She is a blogger and writer about divorce, on her website roundandroundrosie.com. Rosemond, welcome to the show!
Rosemond: It’s so awesome to be here. I’m so happy to be talking about divorce.
Shawn: One of the few. And you have a great website, personality and voice, particularly when it comes to sharing the issues that you faced in your divorce. Before we get into that why don’t you give us a little bit of a background. Where did you grow up, and how long were you with your spouse? Then, get into the story of your divorce because it definitely has a lot of lessons that you learned that other people should definitely hear.
Rosemond: Well thank you. I’m excited to be able to share my story. I am originally from a really small town in the delta part of Arkansas; a town called Pine Bluff with probably about fifty thousand people. I have been living in Los Angeles for way too long and I like to say, “You can take the girl out of the delta, you can’t take the delta out of the girl.” So I think I still carry that small town sense around with me.
My former spouse and I moved out here to Los Angeles and we were together for nineteen years before we decided to divorce. It was the majority of my life I was with him. I forgot what it was like to be a me and not a we.
Shawn: And so what year did you start the divorce process?
Rosemond: We started having trouble in 2009, and we, like so many couples tried therapy and marital counselling, and I think often we wait too long to try that. You think it’s going to be expensive and you don’t realize divorce is even more expensive, so go and do the therapy. We started than in 2009 and then we actually filed in 2010. My divorce … are you sitting down?
Shawn: I am.
Rosemond: My divorce took six years.
Shawn: That’s a lot of time. Why did it take so long?
Rosemond: It took a really long time for several reasons. I think one reason why was because I was too nice. I didn’t want conflict, and divorce is conflict whether you like it or not. Its process is one spouse versus the other spouse, and I was not comfortable with that. I kept trying to find a way around the conflict. There’s no way around it, you have to go through it.
Then I think the other thing with my spouse, he doesn’t like to make decisions. So I think the two of us together were a toxic mix, and it really took so long that it was laughable. All of my friends would say to me, “Are you divorced yet?” It became the joke. I actually then lived in my guest bedroom, and we lived in the same house for a year and a half, which is another level of hell. If you’ve ever had to be in divorce proceedings and facing someone in court, and then go home and have dinner with them it is bizarre.
Shawn: Do you have kids?
Rosemond: I do. We have a fifteen year old daughter.
Shawn: Okay, wow.
Rosemond: As you know, when you have a child it complicates everything. The good news is my ex is a wonderful father, and has always been a great father. That was really never any of the problems but it’s still really tough on kids even in a good divorce. It’s still tough.
Shawn: So what goes on over the course of six years of purgatory? What is the day to day? I mean, you have attorneys the whole time but is it months going on without any progress? What’s actually happening? Or not happening?
Rosemond: One thing that I think happened in our case was we both changed attorneys a couple of times. I stopped paperwork at one point and it was the worst thing I could have done. But again, I didn’t want conflict, and I kept trying to say, “Okay, we’ll do mediation.” We got rid of our attorneys and I said “Let’s try mediation.” That didn’t work.
A lot of it was, his attorney would file paperwork asking for more time, and then he would get a new attorney and then ask for more time. It was just a comedy of errors but I think the big lesson that I took away from it that I hope other people will take away from it is, you just have to do it. It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be messy. There’s a Winston Churchill quote, and I’m probably going to get it wrong but it’s something like, the only way through hell is through it.
Shawn: Yeah, it’s a favorite of mine. It’s, if you’re going through hell, keep going.
Rosemond: That’s it! Thank you, that’s it. And don’t you think that’s exactly it? Especially going through divorce? It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be messy, but you have to keep going because there’s no way around it. I think that’s something that I learned that I would hope to share with other people. You’ve just got to keep on going because it’s going to be ugly, I know it.
Shawn: You brought up an issue about having changed attorneys a few times, and mediation not working. Why don’t we get into that? I think it would be useful for many of the listeners to hear. Kind of just the rationale and why a lot of times that ended up being a mistake. Why change attorneys? Were you unhappy or what was the cause?
Rosemond: I changed attorneys once because I didn’t feel like my attorney was listening to me. My attorney was trying to be very aggressive and assertive. I understand you have to be aggressive to a certain point, but it was making me uncomfortable. He was doing things and saying things that I wasn’t comfortable with, and my former spouse and I had been together since we were children, and we had grown up together. Even though we had fallen out of love and weren’t getting along anymore, I didn’t hate this person. I wanted to try to make the process real and be who I was so at the end of the day so I could feel good about what I did. Does that make sense?
Shawn: It does. It sounds like when you initially picked an attorney, perhaps there was an error in judgment.
Rosemond: There was an error in judgment because I listened to everyone else. Everyone said you need a bulldog, this person, that person, and I started down the path with this person and you know when you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach and thinking something does feel right? It didn’t feel right and it wasn’t who I was as a person. I eventually ended up finding an attorney that understood and actually listened to me. I think I actually have a blog post about dealing with attorneys.
I really think it’s important to find an attorney that you feel actually listens to what you are saying, listens to the actual words you’re saying. Yes, I would listen to his counsel because certainly he knows more than I do, but he also had to listen to what kind of a person I was.
My goal in this divorce was to sever the marriage, to not be married anymore. Also, I wanted to be able to say that I could sit at back to school nights with this person. I can go to soccer games with this person, and school events, and be able to sit side by side. If I had behaved in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with, I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to sever the friendship so much that we would never be able to be in the same room.
Shawn: No, I think that makes perfect sense.
Rosemond: I’m a child of divorce, and my parents divorced when I was five. It was like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. You thought a handgun was going to come out at any moment, it was so bad. I think I carried that with me, that I want my child to have to have two parents who were so at odds with each other. So I really wanted to model to her that yes, you can do this, but you can still be a good person. I would just advise anyone, when you’re talking with attorneys or meeting with them, yes get someone who is a good attorney and who is good at their job and can get you the closure that you need and any financial resources that you need, but you have to do what you as a person think is the right thing. Find an attorney that mirrors that for you.
Shawn: I think that makes a lot of sense. I think you hit it best. You see in the media that people advise a certain style of attorney, which makes for good television, meaning the super shark or the bull dog or the person with the fancy office. Seems aggressive, but in practice, most of the time that might not be a good fit for many people.
Rosemond: That’s exactly it. Go with someone that you feel comfortable with, and that represents you in a way that you want to be represented as a human and as a person. It’s not going to be pretty but you can at least make it so that it’s not so horrible that you’ll never heal from these wounds.
Shawn: You said something else that was interesting. You said that mediation didn’t work for you. What was it that wasn’t good?
Rosemond: I don’t know if this is just my former spouse. He felt like mediation always favored the woman.
Rosemond: I’ve never heard that before. I tried mediation with him but he went in automatically with a bias towards it. When you go in with a bias thinking it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work. So we wasted money on mediation. Looking back, I should have known that he was really opposed to mediation. Don’t keep trying this he’s not going to let it work. So much of this comes back to just listening to yourself and that strange little feeling in the pit of your stomach. If you think it’s not going to work, and especially if your spouse thinks it not going to work, it’s definitely not going to work. For us it was just that he had such a bias to it. I should have not pushed it. I should have said we should just unfortunately go back to attorneys.
Shawn: So let’s jump on a slightly different train of thought. When did you start writing roundandroundrosie.com?
Rosemond: It’s funny, I was in such a bad place. I guess it’s not funny.
Shawn: In retrospect.
Rosemond: Yeah. There I was in my bedroom in my little twin bed in my little guest bedroom all alone on the other side of the house. My spouse kept the bedroom and I would move out to the guest bedroom. I was on my computer, and I was desperately trying to find stories of women who had been through divorce and stories that could just make me realize that others had been through this and made it through. I felt so alone, and I felt so completely wrong. I just wanted someone to throw me a lifeline, and say “You know what? You’re going to be okay. Other people have been through this and you’re going to be okay.” I didn’t find that, and so I started writing it.
I had these big journals, and I would write it all in journals. Then I thought, you know what, I bet if I’m feeling this way there are probably other women out there who are feeling this way. That’s the reason why I started the blog. I basically started the blog that I wanted to read.
Shawn: Yeah, I think that’s great. I think one of the biggest challenges is when you’re going through, for what many people is kind of the toughest extended period –yours taking six years –of your life you can feel isolated or alone or no one else knows or is having the same experience. It turns out thousands of people are having it every year and it’s hard to find a place to turn to for encouragement, wisdom, or just people sharing the same experiences.
Rosemond: I felt so isolated and so alone and when I started writing the blog and I started getting responses from other women. I would sit down and sometimes just cry when I was reading these comments or responses people would send me on the Facebook page or my blog and it was so wonderful to connect. People would say, “I thought I was the only one who felt like this.”, “I’m going through this right now”, “I’m in the midst of this.” And “Thank you for writing this. Now I know I’m not alone.” It was helpful for those people and in turn helpful for me to know I’m not the one who feels this way. I’m not the only one who wears dark glasses. I was always crying, and I never knew when I would start crying. I would wear big dark sun glasses whenever I’d pick my daughter up from school, or go to a school event. I think I looked like Ray Charles. I wrote about that and other people laughed about it and said, “Oh I thought I was the only one that did that.” It was really nice to share and you know you’re not the only the crazy woman going through a divorce, there’s a whole country full of us.
Shawn: You also had a great post about why Fridays were difficult for you. Just something that people don’t think about. Do you remember some of that experience?
Rosemond: You know it’s something that when you are – I like to say I went from a we to a me – your weekends are totally planned out. You’ve got the soccer game, you’re going to Costco, you’re going to a barbeque at the neighbor’s house, and your weekends are full. You get separated or get a divorce and suddenly Friday looms and people say, “What are you doing this weekend?” and I hate that question. That question just looms, what am I doing this weekend? I don’t have any plans. Should I have plans? I need plans. I’m not dating anybody, I need to go find something, and it would just panic me. 3 o’clock or 4’ o’clock on a Friday was the hardest time. So I had to start figuring out, “Oh my God, I’ve got to make plans.” Even if it was something as simple as going to a movie alone on Saturday afternoon. And on the weekends when I didn’t have custody of my daughter it was like this big vast wasteland of time that I had to fill. You don’t realize that you have to learn how to do that again. You have to learn how to be single and be a singular person again. That’s funny because weekends can be challenging for those of use who are divorced.
Shawn: I think that’s an interesting thing that you might not think about going into the process.
Shawn: If we look back with some hindsight and you’ve been very self aware and almost therapeutic in a way just reading your posts from tough days, funny moments, from the whole process. What are the things that you kind of wish you had handled differently throughout the six years.
Rosemond: I think one of the biggest things –and I alluded to this earlier –was like Nike says, “Just Do It!” I wish that someone had told me to just do it. Pull up your big girl pants, it’s going to be horrible, he’s going to hate you, his family is going to hate you, and no one’s going to be sending you beautiful emails, it is going to be ugly and messy and you’re going to feel like crap, but you just have to do it. I kept trying to put off that hurt and pain and confrontation. I wish someone had just told me to keep doing it. It’s not going to get easier until you get through this. That’s something that I’d wished I’d known and I hope that other people will know that denying the pain and denying the process isn’t going to make it any better.
Also, all of those things like asking about the 401k, asking all these tough questions, I kept putting them off. I would email him a little, “So you said you’d give me the 401k paperwork.” No, you have to really live in the moment, live in that space, and do it. That’s a thing that I really wish I’d done differently and I really hope other people hear what I’m saying and ask these questions. They’re going to be uncomfortable but you just have to do it.
Shawn: I think that’s great advice. One other thing I did want to ask is, how did you break the news to your daughter.
Rosemond: I wrote a blog post about this. I’m sorry, I get really emotional when I talk about this.
Shawn: No, it’s okay.
Rosemond: I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve as you can probably tell. I wrote a blog post about the day that I told my daughter we were divorcing. She was in second grade and we both told her together, which I think is a very important thing to do, so that it comes from both of you. We sat her down on the couch, my ex sat on one side and I sat on the other, and we took turns telling her that we loved her and we would always be her parents but we couldn’t live in the same house anymore. She had heard the fighting and the arguments and the screaming. I think somewhere in the back of her brain she could maybe connect it, but she wasn’t able to really connect it at that moment of the cause and effect. So it was the worst moment of my life because I felt like I was just doing her such harm. I feel like in the long run it was the best thing because no child should live in a house where it’s constant screaming and battling, and people going to other sides of the house.
My blog post about the day I told my daughter we were divorcing was one of the ones that tears were hitting the keyboard as I was writing it because it is the toughest thing I think you will do if you have kids when you’re divorcing. It’s that moment that you sit down and you see that pain in their eyes. I can’t describe that feeling but I will never forget the look on her face when we told her. It was like her whole world just moved, just shifted, and I could see that. For the longest time she would say, “Well you know you and daddy aren’t getting a divorce. You and daddy and going to get back together again.” In that little second grade way she would go from eating purple popsicles and watching Dora the Explorer and turn around and say, “When you and daddy decide not to get divorced…” It was heartbreaking.
Shawn: Yeah, that’s tough.
Rosemond: It is but anyone that’s been through it knows there’s no easy way around that, but you have to be the adult and tell your child in a respectful way, and let them know it’s not their fault, that they didn’t cause this, and that both parents still love them. That’s what we kept trying to reiterate with her is that we both will always love you and I will always be your mommy and he will always be your daddy, and that won’t change. We’ll have two houses, you’ll live in two different places but there will still be one mom and one dad that love you to the moon and back.
Shawn: Thank you for sharing that. I know people listening really appreciate that, as do I. For the people listening who are thinking about divorce or about to go through the process, do you have any parting advice or words of encouragement you want to share?
Rosemond: One thing I think is if you and your spouse are thinking about getting a divorce, I would definitely do whatever you have to do to feel like you tried everything so that you can walk away saying we tried everything. Definitely, if you want to try counseling, try it. Give it a go. At the end of the day I think that it’s worse to be in an unhappy marriage and model that for your children. I think that’s far more dangerous than a child seeing two adults that are both happy in their new lives. I would definitely say, don’t use the excuse of “staying together for the children” because at the end of the day the kids are like, “You guys don’t like each other and we know it.” So that’s one thing that I would really recommend.
The other thing that I would say is you’re not alone. Find your support systems online, in real life, make sure you have your support system. Know that you’re going to be okay and that it is definitely going to be tough, but the hottest fires forge the strongest steel, and you are going to be stronger than you ever imagined, after going through this experience. I think in a way, that’s a gift.
Shawn: Thank you for that. What is the best place for people to contact you?
Rosemond: If you want to contact me you can go to my website: roundandroundrosie.com, you can also find me on Facebook at Round and Round Rosie as well. Lot’s of other people chiming in with their advice there as well.
Shawn: Excellent. Well I will include a link to both your website, and your Facebook page in the show notes. Rosemond, thank you so much for coming on to the show.
Rosemond: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been so much fun.
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