By Dr. Elizabeth Degi DuBois, PhD
I was one of the girls that bought into the lies. The lies our TVs, our ministers, our mothers, and a million magazines tell us to believe about ourselves. The lies that tell us that the sole sum of our worth as women rests on our ability to get a guy to put a ring on it.
The dieting, the achieving, the shopping for the perfect dress to land the perfect guy…I did it all, all in the service of one day attaining that sparkling social marker I thought for sure would signify that I had made it, that I was worthy of love and attention and success and acceptance.
So much weight, resting on the 1.1 carats that finally made their way to my left hand when I was 25.
My marriage unspooled over the course of four years, in fits and starts of blow up fights and tearful reconciliations, of promises on both sides to try harder, do better. In the end, there were no victims, no villains, just two people trying hard to stay true to the love and friendship that brought them together in the first place. Through it all, my ring sparkled on my finger, even as recriminations tarnished the respect we once had for each other.
Two or so weeks before I left, the platinum band on my engagement ring cracked.
Really, that’s a thing that happened.
I walked into our house after a particularly rambunctious dog park outing, and I looked down in horror to realize our puppy’s antics pulling the leash wrapped tightly around my fingers had snapped the delicate band of precious metal.
Although I’d been contemplating divorce for more than a year— going so far as to consult an attorney the spring before— the sight of my broken band hit me with a physical jolt of pain, a sharp stab of the heartache I felt every time I poured my heart out in my therapist’s office about the deteriorating state of our union. We’d been steering in the direction of a shared vision for our future for so long that the idea of changing course was terrifying, and laced with grief.
As one is wont to do in the wee hours of a sleepless night, I turned to my good friend, the Internet. I needed to hear from another woman that I was going to be ok.
The night our marriage ended, I left the home we’d built together with my dogs, our son, and an armful of clothes in tow. I cried a few tears with the friends who hosted us for the evening; tears of resignation, yes, but also tears of relief. It was time to put the emotional, existential angst of deciding whether or not to go behind me and focus on forging a path forward.
I can’t remember if I took my ring off that evening. The night passed in a surreal haze, made more so by the glow of the red colored nightlight in the bedroom my son and I stayed in. I slept a bit, but at 3 am woke with a rush of adrenaline as fear enveloped me. The financial and legal logistics felt overwhelming. Could I really pull this off?
As one is wont to do in the wee hours of a sleepless night, I turned to my good friend, the Internet. I needed to hear from another woman that I was going to be ok. That my kid would come out the other end better off than the anxiety-ridden toddler he had morphed into as our household became increasingly tense. I needed to know that this was all going to be for the best— maybe not now, but one day.
As I went further down the wormhole of the web, I started to stumble across other women saying what I needed to hear: I could find happiness on the other side of this mess. I could thrive despite the financial murkiness of the immediate future. There were single moms in the world not only surviving, but straight up kicking ass.
Again and again, the Interwebs were taking me to the same blog, some company called Worthy. Who are these people?, I thought. I clicked on the logo at the top of the blog, curious to find out more about this group that seemed to be curating a list of divorce-spiritual-guru writers. My eyes widened a bit as I read, “Sell your diamond ring for more. It’s fast and easy.”
It was such a ‘duh’ moment for me. I knew I didn’t want to see my ring, knew I didn’t want to have it anywhere near me. It was too painful. I also knew that I was broke. I worked part-time, as I was the spouse responsible for dry cleaning runs, household management, and default-parent mode. If I was going to make this whole single mama thing happen, I did indeed need more money, and I did indeed need it fast.
Over the course of the next week, as I found a rental to call home, signed the retainer with the lawyer, and had half a dozen conversations with my son’s teachers and the school social worker, I mulled over whether or not to jettison my ring.
I made the ultimate call to sell my ring with Worthy for two reasons: First, it felt like a physical metaphor for the emotional process of letting go of the marriage. Second— and let’s be real for a second— I needed money. It would be another eight months before I saw a child support check, and my husband was pushing me to come up with half of the mortgage payment and money for my health insurance. Cash fast, without the schmarmy-grossness of a pawn shop, was a proposal I could say yes to.
My ring sold within weeks of putting it in the Fort-Knox-security-level packaging Worthy provided. The money showed up in my PayPal account just a few days after the sale. I turned around and cut a check to United Health Care. Health insurance? Check! One important step toward my independence and my New Normal was complete.
Did selling my ring magically make my divorce pain-free? Of course not.
Did it help make it financially feasible? You bet your badass it did.
About the Author
Dr. Elizabeth Degi DuBois, PhD, is the Client Relations Director of Z Family Law, and the Executive Director of the Eos Initiative, a collaborative effort of family law practitioners, academics, and survivors of intimate partner violence committed to making family law proceedings safer and more equitable for people fleeing abusive relationships. As a Divorce Coach and happy divorcee, Dr. DuBois is passionately committed to helping other women navigate family law proceedings, and find joy on the other side of divorce. Over the course of her career, she has served in executive leadership of numerous non-profits, and has been a consultant to organizations including the UNICEF and USAID on a range of issues related to gender-based violence and women’s empowerment. Dr. DuBois’ personal experiences with the family law system during the process of her divorce inspired her to partner with Z Family Law founder Christy Zlatkus, Esquire to create Eos Initiative to ensure family law proceedings are safe and accessible to all families, regardless of race or socioeconomic background.