Today I bring you chapter 3 of my book, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s. This is one of my favorite chapters and pieces of advice I give friends after any breakup. Write a Good Riddance list!
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Write a “Good Riddance” List
There are two essential items every newly divorced woman must have within reach at all times: a pen and a notebook.
There are going to be times, especially in the beginning of the divorce process, when nostalgia hits, tears fall and we find ourselves mourning. That’s when we need to read our “Good Riddance” lists. Nothing is a better snap back to reality than reliving all the moments that led up to D-day.
It’s important that as divorced women, we always remember that our marriages ended for a reason. If our marriages were just based on the moments that made us smile, then they would still exist. The reality is that those memories were likely few and far between. The large gaps are filled with disappointing events, annoying habits, lonely nights and irresolvable issues.
Because I regrettably didn’t maintain a diary during my entire relationship with Max, when we first split up, I decided to make a “Good Riddance” list. I wanted to make sure I would always be able to remember why it ended and could never look back and doubt my decision.
Every time I thought of something negative about Max, I jotted it down. This process was a huge release of pent up anger. Every drip of ink from my pen sent my feelings to the wind. Today, an arsenal of “Good Riddance” pages later, I no longer blame myself for getting married and divorced. Instead, I’m proud I took a risk and removed myself from the situation.
Now, whenever any of my friends are going through a break-up, I recommend they make a “Good Riddance” list, too. My advice actually made it into a song! My friend was particularly upset about the end of a long-term relationship. I suggested he make a list of all the negative things about his ex-girlfriend. He not only did that, he mentioned it in a song on his next album.
Of course we can’t all record songs based on our “Good Riddance” lists, but we can still write off our ex-husbands!
My “Good Riddance” list consists of 63 items. At the top of that list is the day I found a stray dog with a big scar by his eye on the street during a thunderstorm and Max wouldn’t come help me get him to our local animal shelter even though I pleaded and told him how important it was for me to help an animal. He didn’t want me to get attached to the dog. It evoked the biggest fight in the history of our relationship. Even though he won the initial battle, I prevailed in the long run. Weeks later, finally with Max’s approval, I ended up adopting the dog (Lucky) after no one claimed him at the shelter. Lucky has been my shadow since the day I brought him home, offers me unconditional love and puts a smile on my face every day.
There’s one particular reason I considered adding to my “Good Riddance” list, but then decided against because I was actually grateful for the incident. It was the last time I saw Max before I moved out. With both my dogs on leashes, I opened the door of the home I poured my heart and soul into building and told Max I didn’t know if I’d be back that night. He didn’t reply. He just let me go. As much as I knew I had to leave, I wanted him to plead with me to stay and tell me things didn’t have to end, that we could find a way to mend our marriage. I was scared to start over and leave a life in which I was comfortable, even though I was miserable.
While it hurt because Max didn’t put up a fight, it was the best course of action. I acknowledged that he really never completely had my heart. Rather, I loved him like a best friend, an essential person but not my life partner. I’m not sure how he viewed me.
I took drastic measures when Max and I spilt up to reclaim my life, or at least my hair. I went to a cheap chain salon and instructed them to chop bangs. He had convinced me to grow mine out. The new look was exactly what I needed to say goodbye forever to Max. If we were to cross paths, he would know that he no longer owned my hair. It was liberating.
I’ll admit that haircuts were the only time I slightly missed Max. Once, after we split, my professional-quality blow dryer broke and Max was nice enough to get me a replacement. However, I felt guilty calling upon him for my own selfish needs, so I adjusted to life as a regular hair consumer. All the discounted and top of the line beauty products in the world couldn’t force me to stay in that unhappy marriage or continue an unhealthy friendship. I had to let go of everything to truly move on.
When I left Max and closed the door of the condo I called home for the final time, I knew I deserved better and made a vow to find my real soul mate. Naturally, I made a list to assist in my mission.
Don’t miss chapter 4!
Trash the Dress is a collection of stories based on a series of interviews with empowered young women who raised their naked left ring fingers high and waved their ex-husbands goodbye as they took charge of their futures. It has been featured on Huffington Post, Yahoo! Health, Cosmo Middle East, Sunday Times, Globe and Mail, International Business Times and other leading outlets.
Empowering girls of all ages and life stages.
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