After illness and mourning the loss of a loved one, I’d venture to say divorce would go up there as one of the hardest things one would go through in their life time. While I can’t speak to divorce from personal experience, from those I know who have gone through the dissolution of a marriage, it’s never easy. However, it’s truly inspiring when one rises above it and makes the very best of the situation.
Enter: Beth Levine. Beth is an Executive Assistant by day and a blogger and yoga accessories business owner by night. Basically, she’s a ‘Jill of all trades.’ But, not only that. Beth very recently went through a traumatic divorce, but rather than dwell on it, she has taken the high road. She’s truly turning her mess (and according to Beth, it was a big, big mess) into a meaningful message. And, that, my friend, is what life is all about.
Life isn’t always going to go your way, and sadly, unfortunate things might happen, but, as we spoke about last week, it’s how you handle the situation and how you take control of your life and your happiness. In today’s interview, Beth is opening up about her divorce, the aftermath, and what she’s doing now, in the hopes of helping others who go through something similar. Whether you’re single, dating, married, or divorced, I think you’re going to really enjoy this one. Keep on reading!
Earlier this year, you went through a massive life change, a divorce with your now ex-husband and partner. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yes, earlier this year I divorced my husband. Towards the end of 2016, I filed and decreed in the span of barely 3 weeks (yep that fast), after uncovering a myriad of infidelities, among other things on the ex’s part. It was and still is a public divorce, given his occupation (he was a foreign touring sound engineer, now working locally for some prominent venues), my writing for various publications locally and nationally, immigration allegations, and that the case involved several close friends, family members, co-workers and many acquaintances in the states and overseas (it’s been a running joke that we need an NCIS who’s who chart to keep track of everything).
Did you see it coming at all or have an inkling to what was going on? I imagine even if you did, one can still be caught by complete surprise when your fears become reality. How did you first respond? Shock? Sadness? Anger? Can you walk us through your initial emotions?
That’s a hard question to answer. To be brutally honest with myself and your readers, I did and I didn’t. Yes, there were “Red Flags”: mutual friends catching him on Tinder, questionable behavior with other women, things that simply just didn’t add up, etc. However, like so many women on the receiving end of this type of abusive behavior from a partner, my heart was doing most of the decision making. In hindsight, I was so blindly committed to trying to make my marriage work (my first, his second), that I wound up an easy target and easier prey, not heeding that inner voice we all have, nor the advice of close friends to leave him prior to this.
Even in today’s modern times, I think that, as women, we are taught there is not only a shame in failing at a relationship or marriage, but also in being without a partner once you are past a certain age. Sadly, there is also a shame or stigma in talking about it, something I am experiencing now as I continue to share my story. And, that things like this should be swept under the rug or not talked about for fear of backlash or appearing bitter or vindictive. In my case, the decision to take a stand and share my story has given me the opportunity to connect with other women (and even some men) who have had similar experiences, many of whom have not had an outlet or resources.
Shock was definitely a first response. It can rock you to the core of your soul when faith in others is so misplaced. Sadness and anger were not far behind, though the most prevalent feelings that constantly float to the surface during the recovery/healing phases are those of being able to be heard, to be understood. I’ve been doing a lot of research and self-discovery in this area, and I think this applies to both men and women who have found themselves on the wronged side of any committed relationship; that in the aftermath, there is a strong sense of moral outrage, a desire for justice which can easily be misconstrued as resentment, if not properly dealt with.
It is said that nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce, and while it may be fairly common, I imagine it’s never easy. What advice would you give to someone currently going through a divorce?
Luckily for me, I’ve been truly blessed with an amazing support system ranging from a larger network of close friends to a smaller inner circle that has been invaluable. One of my best girlfriends also recently went through a divorce, and thanks to her experience, was able to give me some incredible advice: Expect the unexpected, every emotion, every thought, that there is no right or wrong way to this. Divorce is brutal. Cheating is brutal. Betrayal is brutal. Expect that one day you will feel fine and the next you’ll have no idea what you’re doing, and that is OK.
Having the right support system is huge. You cannot and should not do this alone. You also may have to take some gambles with letting people know what is going on in your life. For me, it was a BIG deal for me to confide in my boss and co-workers about what was going on, especially since there was so much drama around my divorce. I am glad that I took that leap of faith because it gave them some insight into understanding my behavior and frame of mind.
Yes, divorce will affect all areas of your life, so do not be afraid to ask for help. Even though you feel exposed and vulnerable, you need to keep reaching out and you need to let others help you. I ask for help from one of my best friends almost daily and thankfully he still talks to me!
The other piece of advice is a good divorce lawyer. In my case, one of my longtime friends here in Houston is a great divorce attorney and I went to see him before doing anything. His counsel was a major factor in how everything played out (Shameless plug: If you need a good attorney click here).
How do you stay so positive even when going through such an awful situation?
To continue to be frank, positivity is an ongoing challenge for me. Trying to find the humor in situations like this, even if you have to laugh and poke fun at yourself, also helps. I have no embarrassment in admitting that I continue to see the same marriage therapist we saw, on my own, to help me not only get closure when the time is right, but also hopefully be able to learn and grow from this. She has helped me to understand that remaining positive after being traumatized and/or living through a traumatic experience like this, is a work in progress, so as long as you are working at it, you are doing great!
It’s important to have an outlet; a healthy, safe place to channel your emotions and thoughts. For me, writing this is a cathartic outlet, so thank you Julie!
You’re so very welcome. What would you say has been the biggest challenge of your situation, thus far? And how have you/are you working through that?
The biggest challenge for me has been trying to come to terms with that this will take time. Amidst today’s society of instant gratification and quick fixes, it can be hard to grasp the realization that some things simply cannot be rushed.
On the flip side, what has been the ‘blessing/positive’ through all of this?
Every cloud has a silver lining, right? For me, that lining has been the push from my inner moral compass to try to turn this mess into a message, not just for myself, but also for other women.
In reaching out and deciding to share my story, I have developed a close friendship with my ex-husbands former partner of almost 10 years whose story had jarring similarities to mine. She’s actually coming to visit me next month from Italy. As well, I have made kinships with other women who have had similarly traumatic experiences, some with Green Card fraud concerns, some not. These connections have spurred me to start my own blog, a concept I have toyed with for years, called The Green Card Diaries (and will also chronicle the tales of my misadventures for Houstonia). I’m doing this in the hopes of not just being able to continue sharing my own story, but to encourage other women to have the courage to tell their stories and together try to develop and foster a safe platform for women to have a voice and be heard, anonymously or not. This is with the hopes that through these shared experiences we can promote awareness and help others as well as ourselves.
The ex and I also owned a Yoga accessory company (Yoga-Spots), a company I hope to continue to run alongside one of my best girlfriends and face of the company, who was also embroiled in the divorce fall out. Using our friendship and girl power as the base, we are attempting to re-direct the company’s message towards one of female empowerment and sisterhood, fostering the concept of not just using/finding a physical spot or product, but about finding your own spot within yourself, embracing it and owning it.
Do you still believe in love? What about marriage?
I still believe in love. You have to. Going through something like this can beat you down, way down, but you can’t let it break you. That said, I don’t really see myself getting married again. Not to mention, any possible suitors would have to jump through some serious hoop tests from my friends.
What inspires you?
My support system is my inspiration. You never really know what people, including yourself, are made of until they are put to the test.
What motto/quote do you always try to live by?
I’ve always been a big believer in transparency. We don’t always have to like what others do or say or tell us; heck, sometimes we don’t even like our own actions or responses, but making a conscious effort to be transparent allows us to operate within the confines of mutual respect, honesty and openness. This is something I continually aspire to achieve on a daily basis.
Thank you so so much, Beth!
Photo by Rebekah Flores
See past interviews here.