The best revenge is to have enough self-worth not to seek it.
When your divorce is over but your ex is still connected to you through your children it can be hard to not compare your lives. Maybe he’s able to take trips with your kids that you can’t afford, maybe he’s introduced his new girlfriend to your mutual friends, or maybe he’s just being a jerk and refusing to let you move on. This episode is all about dropping bitterness towards your ex, which is why we wanted to open with this quote about choosing self-worth over revenge.
We will be joined by Laura Lifshitz, a fan favorite you might remember from our second episode about dating after divorce. Laura keeps it real here too, and we think you’ll definitely be able to relate to the stories she shares.
Audrey: 00:00 Welcome to Divorce and Other Things You Can Handle, a branded podcast from Worthy. I’m Audrey, and I’m your host. The best revenge is to have enough self-worth not to seek it. When your divorce is over but your ex is still connected to you through your children, it can be hard not to compare your lives. Maybe he’s able to take trips with your kids that you can’t afford, maybe he’s introduced his new girlfriend to your mutual friends, or maybe he’s just being a jerk and refusing to let you move on.
This episode is all about dropping bitterness towards your ex, which is why we wanted to open with this quote about choosing self-worth over revenge. We’re gonna be joined by Laura Lifshitz, a fan favorite, who you might remember from our second episode about dating after divorce. Laura keeps it real here too, and we think you’ll definitely be able to relate to the stories she shares. Divorce and Other Things You Can Handle is a weekly podcast, so make sure you subscribe to keep up with new episodes we’re curating to help empower and uplift you as you embrace your fresh start.
This podcast is for you, so join our Facebook group, Worthy Women in Divorce, to let us know what you think and what you want to hear. You can also get more at worthy.com/podcast. We’re going to take a quick break, and then we will be right back with Laura. When you sell a piece of jewelry, you can’t control how much it’s worth, but you can make sure that you’re selling smart with a team of experts and advocates behind you at Worthy. Your engagement ring can be a financial asset that allows you to embrace a new and fulfilling life after divorce. Let us help you get the best deal possible for the jewelry you’ve outgrown. Go to worthy.com/podcast to learn more.
We couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming Laura Lifshitz back to the podcast. Laura, welcome back.
Laura Lifshitz: 01:52 Hi. Thanks for having me again.
Audrey: 01:55 Well, you know you are always welcome. We’re so happy you are here. We did our first episode together. We talked about dating, and it is such a popular episode, you wouldn’t believe it, and I had so much fun talking with you so I’m really excited that we’ve got you back.
Laura Lifshitz: 02:09 Well, I’m glad that you guys want me back. It’s not like I’m one of those relatives that you don’t want to show up at the house.
Audrey: 02:15 Oh, right, right, right. It’s like the relatives by choice, not by blood. Sometimes they’re just better, what can we say? This episode, we’re gonna be talking about finding ways to remove yourself from feeling bitter towards your ex and dropping that bitterness, so you came up with this idea. We had talked about having you back on and this was a topic that you wanted to talk about, so I’m hoping you can give us a little bit of an introduction to the topic and why it’s important to you and why you think it’s something that our listeners can relate to and wanna hear about.
Laura Lifshitz: 02:51 There’s so many different layers of why I wanted to bring up this topic. One is that as I’m out there and I’m meeting people, whether as friends or dates, I notice that there’s a theme of people who are either accepting of their ex and at peace with who the person is, and then there’s a group of people that it’s almost like they’re still married. They’re still way too enmeshed with the person’s life, still way too angry about stuff that has happened, and it becomes almost a baseline of everything else in their life and this measuring stick. It’s like their ex-husband or wife is their yardstick, and it’s funny. My ex-husband is remarried, and people would say to me, “Well, don’t worry. It’s not gonna last.” And number one, I think that’s a terrible thing to say, and number two, I’m like, “Wait a second. That’s not me. I don’t hold – “
Audrey: 03:51 Yeah, like you’re not rooting for his-
Laura Lifshitz: 03:53 No. I hope for it to last because I would hope for happiness for somebody, and especially the father of my child. I want him to be happy rather than not happy, so I think a lot of people feel that way.
Audrey: 04:09 Yeah, like there’s a reason that people think that that’s a polite thing to say to you.
Laura Lifshitz: 04:13 And I don’t think that they mean it harmfully, and you know what, sure, I mean, I get it, so there’s that. And then the other thing is one of the biggest things was my dynamic changed with my ex-husband and it went very just sour. There was just a year of upset, guilt, anger, all sorts of feelings, and eventually I was like, “This is just how it is. This is how he is. This is how it’s going to be, and I’m going to try hard to do my best, and even if I do my best and even if I’m nice, this is how he’s going to be, and I have to accept it.”
For me, I think one of the key things is whether you have a wonderful ex-husband, a horrible ex-wife, whatever the case is, you have to accept it. You have to let it go, and for me, I have a hard time letting certain things go. In this case, I didn’t, right? In this case, I mean, I would say it took me maybe … I don’t know, I guess I battle with it every now and then where I’m like, “Oh, this is so frustrating,” and when I say letting it go and not being bitter with your ex-husband or so, I don’t mean that it can’t bother you if the person is mean, or it can’t bother you if the person is a bad co-parent. It just means that your life does not revolve whatsoever around this person. I don’t think my ex cares about what I do, and I don’t care about what he does as long as my kid is happy and healthy.
A lot of people are not that way. They spend a lot of energy invested in going for tit-for-tat and it’s not healthy. You’re never gonna move on that way, and I see it a lot, and that’s what made me say this would probably be a good topic because people struggle with it. Heartbreak is hard.
Audrey: 06:03 Totally.
Laura Lifshitz: 06:04 Heartbreak is hard.
Audrey: 06:05 I think one of the things that, since we opened our new Facebook group Worthy Women in Divorce, we’ve really been able to hear a lot more from our audience and understand what things they’re dealing with, and this is for sure the most popular topic. We hear a lot of people talking about their ex or their ex’s new girlfriend or what’s going on when the kids are with the ex or what the ex wants the kids to do over the weekend, and it’s a real thing. I think it’s a really common issue that people deal with after divorce, and a lot of the stuff that we talk about on the podcast or things that people talk about in the group, it has to do with during divorce, but our favorite topic is really life after divorce, and this is I think an issue that doesn’t really get easier necessarily as you get further away from your divorce. It’s something that’s an ongoing struggle.
Laura Lifshitz: 06:56 For some people. For some people, and that’s why I’m saying I think one of the first things that we should talk about is that yardstick, right? Because I think that a lot of the problems resolve around that, and we’ll talk about girlfriends and kids’ activities on the weekends. We’ll definitely get into all that, but one of the biggest things is whenever you break up with somebody, sometimes there’s two people that are devastated. Sometimes there’s two people that could care less. Sometimes there’s one person that just seems to sail off into the distance like “I have this,” and then the other person’s like crying like, “Why are you leaving me?”
It’s natural to somewhat compare your grieving or your process of the breakup or divorce to an ex, so I just wanna state that off the bat. We all know that. I’ve seen friends of mine who get divorces and it’s like they’re in mourning for years, and I see others who it’s like they’re exiting their divorce with a new partner, so it’s so variant.
Audrey: 07:58 But don’t you think that even in those cases, let’s say that you’ve found somebody before your divorce is even finalized and you’ve got a great relationship, it’s like you’re still so tethered to your ex that you’re just going to know what’s going on with them and you’re going to care. I think that you can be comparing yourself to your ex without wanting to be with your ex, right?
Laura Lifshitz: 08:23 Yes. Yes. Okay, most people, and I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it from people who are happy and healthy and moving on, they compare their lives to their ex’s life, and this usually comes down to a few categories. One is financial. It’s always an assessment of who has more financial. Romantic, who’s married first, who’s gotten a partner first. Physically, who’s left the divorce looking haggard, who’s left the divorce looking like a supermodel-
Audrey: 08:56 Who got the revenge body.
Laura Lifshitz: 08:58 Who has the revenge body, and I think psychological, and I feel like people need to cut that out because okay, my ex has more money than me, my ex remarried and started a new family, but I don’t feel like I’m sitting here like, “Oh my gosh, why did he do that?”
Audrey: 09:20 Right. That’s his story. It’s not really your story anymore.
Laura Lifshitz: 09:24 Yes, yes, so what people need to see is, your life is your story, and you really don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors ’cause sometimes I hear things and I’m like, “Wow, it’s interesting. Karma seems to be playing its part without me doing anything.”
Audrey: 09:42 Especially when it’s somebody who you really shared a life with. I mean, you know what their worst qualities are, and you can only imagine this new woman is dealing with the same issues that you have dealt with.
Laura Lifshitz: 09:54 Absolutely. At the same time, this person could also bring out good things that I didn’t, so what I tell people is that’s their story. You have your story, they have theirs, and the other thing is, everyone is different and has different needs. When we got a divorce, his career was already stable. I mean, he’s been in the same field for ever and ever, so he didn’t have to worry about those things, but I did. I had to worry about growing my money, growing my finances. He really wanted to have more children. I didn’t. You can’t compare our stories. We had two different needs.
Audrey: 10:30 Right. It’s like you had different cards in your hand, but you also were not playing the same game. It’s apples and oranges.
Laura Lifshitz: 10:37 Yeah, and that’s why I have to tell people, it’s like, “Yes, your ex-husband could have found somebody already, but you don’t know how good the relationship is. You don’t know how long it’s going to last. You don’t know if it’s going to be forever, and most importantly, that relationship didn’t serve you, so you’re sitting here crying over something that didn’t work out for you.” I think where the problem becomes complicated, like in my case, I wanted my divorce. There are people that don’t want their divorce, and I think those people are the ones that have the most difficult time because it was handed to them and they didn’t want it.
Audrey: 11:14 Right, and it’s a totally different kind of healing too.
Laura Lifshitz: 11:18 Yes, it is, but I think if you were someone whose ex fueled the divorce process and you didn’t want it, and you’re sitting there comparing yourself, I think that you need to step back and say, “Whether or not I wanted to stay married, this person didn’t.” You can’t cling onto an imagined future. Sure, you guys could still be married together and everything would be great, but it’s not. I think sometimes you have to accept what is, and that’s been very hard for me at times in my life. Not with the divorce, but let’s just say I met somebody and I really liked the person and they didn’t want to move forward in the relationship and I did. I’ll admit it, I’ve sat spinning my wheels being upset over it. It is really hard to let go, and I think it’s okay to acknowledge that it’s not easy.
Audrey: 12:09 Yeah. I think as far as your ex goes, I mean, there is definitely something to be said about the idea that their success or their happiness does not equal your unhappiness. Your ex can move on, and maybe it happened before you found your person, but it’s not like only one of you gets to be happy after the divorce.
Laura Lifshitz: 12:32 Put it this way, there’s no happiness pizza, right? It’s not like this person took the pizza out first and took a few slices.
Audrey: 12:40 I’m just picturing what a happiness pizza would look like. I love that.
Laura Lifshitz: 12:44 A happiness slice is like eight slices of pizza and you took four and now, well, there’s only four left, but one of them has a big bubble on the crust, or worse, one’s gluten-free, so you definitely don’t want that piece of pizza.
Audrey: 12:57 Yeah. I think what’s inevitable about all of this is that when you were married, you were sharing a pizza, and it can be hard to think of it now as two separate pizzas, but one pizza having love doesn’t mean the other pizza doesn’t get … I think we’ve lost the pizza, but …
Laura Lifshitz: 13:13 I think we took it too far.
Audrey: 13:15 I think we exhausted the pizza.
Laura Lifshitz: 13:17 Here’s a great example. Okay, my daughter the other day had a little play date, and there was another girl there that was older, and she’s like, “I think she liked her better than me,” and I said to her, I said, “Honey, you have a stepmom, and do you think that I’m mad or jealous of her?” She goes, “No.” I said, “Absolutely not.” I said, “I’m glad you have an extra person there to love you, and hopefully this person does.” I really don’t know honestly, but I said, “I hope that you get extra love from this person,” I said, “because you don’t just have one friend. You don’t just have one person that you love.” I said, “The more people that love you, the better, so yeah, your friend might really like that person, but she likes you also.” And that’s hard to learn when you’re little, when you’re in elementary school, but as adults, it’s something that we need to remind ourselves. Just because one person is happy doesn’t mean we can’t be happy, and just because this person loves someone else doesn’t mean we’re not lovable, right?
Audrey: 14:16 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 14:17 I think that’s what it comes down to. Ultimately, for some people, they see their ex moving on, they see their ex getting remarried, starting families, and they’re thinking, “I’m not. What’s wrong with me? Am I not lovable?” And really, somebody else is not a measure of you.
Audrey: 14:31 Totally, especially when you are living a separate life at this point. It really is just so unrelated, but I have a question for you. Do you think that when you’re married, you really are sharing your life with somebody, and after you have separated and you’re rebuilding your own life and he’s rebuilding his, you’re living these two separate lives. I mean, after sharing a life together, do you think it’s inevitable that you’re going to keep tabs on your ex’s life, and if you have an ex, do you think it’s just inevitable that you’re going to see what’s going on in their life and it’s going to make you feel some type of way?
Laura Lifshitz: 15:10 Well, let’s just put it this way. There’s three categories of people when it comes to this, and yes, I think in general, for a little while, that does happen, right? I mean, think about it. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you guys break up. “Oh yeah, well I heard John’s already has a new woman,” or “I heard such and such,” or, “Did you see how good she looks ever since such and such dumped her?” Of course, we all wanna know the dirt about somebody who I guess broke our hearts or we broke theirs, but there’s a level of healthy keeping tabs all the way to extreme not.
If you’re sitting there Googling your ex-husband every night, you have a problem. You have a bonafide psychological problem. If you know every single thing that your ex does with a new partner, if you sit there and you’re keeping tabs on every single tiny thing they do, that’s a problem, right? It’s normal to one, wonder about who might be around your kids and to do a little bit of Googling like that, and in the beginning, if you find out your ex has a new partner, it’s normal to do a little assessing. That’s normal. It’s the people that never let it go, right? Who sit there and question their kids, “What did you do with mommy?” or “What did you do with daddy?” It’s normal to keep tabs, but if you’re doing it all the time, my question to you is why? Is it helping you to know every single thing? Do you feel like a better parent? Do you feel like a better person? Do you feel sexier? Do you feel happier? Do you feel smarter?
And some people are like, “Oh, well, such and such my ex is not doing well,” and it’s like look, there’s nothing to be gained from that either, so if you’re doing better or they’re not … I find that sometimes my ex gets a little bit I think happiness about me not doing well, which to me doesn’t make sense, but …
Audrey: 17:07 That’s a terrible way to feel.
Laura Lifshitz: 17:08 You need to just sit there and take the past and put it where it belongs because if that relationship was meant to serve you, you’d still be in it.
Audrey: 17:17 Yeah, I think that’s true. I think there’s also something to be said for we already talked about how you really can’t change a person, and you talked about how you, at a certain point, you thought about your ex and you knew that he is who he is and this is just how it’s going to be, and all you can do is control how you are in the situation, but at the same time, it’s like you have already decided to not share a life with this person, and you do have control over how much of your time they take up and how much of your thoughts they occupy and you’ve decided to separate from this person or maybe it wasn’t your decision, but it’s happened, and so now you get to pick how much of your life they are, and why pick to let them take up so much-
Laura Lifshitz: 18:00 They are, and you know, why pick to let them take up so much space? I mean, and that happens, you know. I’ve seen people recently where they’re comparing themselves to their ex’s new partner and really, here’s the reality.
You’re not dating that person. You don’t know how great it is or what. You know what you see like on the outside, but we all know we’re adults. We all know that what we think is reality is not always reality. There’s Facebook reality and then there’s reality.
Audrey: 18:29 Right. [crosstalk 00:18:30]
Laura Lifshitz: 18:31 Then, there’s Snapchat reality, which is even like more twisted. You know what I mean?
Audrey: 18:36 Sure, yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 18:36 It’s censored. I mean, you only know what you know and I think that one of the biggest things is when people let it eat them up inside.
I had a friend, wonderful, adorable woman, and just really couldn’t let go of her anger of her ex’s new partner. I just said to her, “You’ve gotta let it go. Like, he wasn’t a prize. He wasn’t that good to you. Basically, it’s like this woman just won a crappy Cracker Jack box prize and you know that, so why are you sitting here upset about it? If you saw a piece of trash in the road, you wouldn’t be treasuring it, so just like let it go and don’t be upset.”
Audrey: 19:18 I know like of course, it’s easier said than done. I mean, the truth is that nobody wins a breakup or wins a divorce, but I can understand why people worry what it looks like when their ex has a hot new girlfriend or someone who’s 20 years younger than you or whatever it is. Like, it hurts and it can be embarrassing, but of course, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because that’s their life.
Laura Lifshitz: 19:44 Yes. I’ve seen quite a bit of that. I haven’t dealt with that, but I’ve seen quite a bit of that out-and-about where like one person is like, “Oh, did you see who like such-and-such ex husband ended up with?” The other person feels bad and sits there and feel bad about themselves. You know what?
The reality is, looks fade. Just because someone is attractive doesn’t mean they’re a good person. Any of us who have been on a date more than once should know that. The other thing is, the guy chasing like the young girl, looks like an idiot. So, keep that in mind.
Audrey: 20:17 Yeah. One of our favorite quotes is that the best revenge is to have enough self-worth not to seek it. I think that’s really applicable that it’s like again, you can’t win a divorce. You can’t win a breakup. Like, we were talking about the pizzas before, how you’re not like splitting the slices of happy, but also like there is actually no score. There is no actually keeping track.
Laura Lifshitz: 20:40 Yeah, it’s not a game. You’re not playing bingo, you know?
Audrey: 20:41 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 20:42 It’s not like someone hits all five … Sometimes, it can feel that way.
Audrey: 20:46 Of course, it can. Like, we talk a lot about the stigma of divorce and like people are not always as kind as they should be and it makes it harder when you’re going through something and if it’s like your religious community. The people at your kids’ school or whoever it is.
Like, you probably feel like people are paying closer attention than they really are, but like, of course, it can be hard when that’s going on, but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. The reason that I brought up that quote is, because it’s just like, if you can make your life more about you and find your own happiness, it’s going to matter less-and-less to you.
Laura Lifshitz: 21:24 Yeah, but you know what? I can say for like people who are listening to gossip about the divorce situation, that can be really hard, because it’s your personal life, and it’s kind of like being plastered all over.
I guess my advice to people who are going through that is don’t contribute to it. Don’t bash your ex negatively to the other person. Try to stay out of it and most importantly, just realize that eventually, there’s going to be something new for people to gossip about because there always is.
Like, eventually, you’re going to be an old news’ feed reel and there’s going to be another blaring Facebook ad in your face and it’s going to be somebody else’s problems that everyone’s talking about and not yours. It’s temporary, so keep that in mind.
Audrey: 22:09 Not that just the gossip is only hot for a minute, but the gossip is only the truth for a little bit. You were talking about how you don’t really know what’s going on behind closed doors and beauty fades. Life is full of ups-and-downs and it can be really hard when you see your ex at an up moment and you’re in a down moment, but that’s not forever.
You have happiness ahead of you too, so you might have to wait it out, but it is part of it too. Your ex being happy or your ex moving on, doesn’t take away from what kind of potential you have for an amazing life.
Laura Lifshitz: 22:41 Yes, absolutely, but I think also there’s certain things that you need to do in order to kind of guarantee that you’re focusing on yourself and one of them is, don’t have your ex on your social media and don’t be connected to them.
Audrey: 22:53 [crosstalk 00:22:53]
Laura Lifshitz: 22:53 I mean, I know people feel differently. I mean, I’ve seen people’s ex’s. They’ll tag each other on things and I’m like, “Okay.” In a couple of situations, they do have really good divorces and I think that’s great.
In other cases, I feel like, it looks like a good divorce, but I know that like the boundaries are blurry, but I think having … Don’t follow them on social. Don’t ask questions. Tell friends like, “I really don’t want to hear certain things so don’t get back to me.”
I remember a friend of mine, I hadn’t talked to him in quite a while. He messaged me because he was friends with my ex on Facebook and I’m not. He was just like, “Oh, sorry to hear about your ex’s engagement.” I was like, “Number one, I don’t care. I assumed that this was going to happen eventually.”
Audrey: 23:40 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 23:41 “Number two, don’t contact me to gossip.” You’re not that sorry. You haven’t talked to me in like a few months. You just want to join in. There’s a reason I didn’t find out because I wasn’t following him because I don’t care. He doesn’t follow me because he doesn’t care, at least, I don’t think he does anymore. That’s the point. You know what I mean?
So, don’t follow your ex on social. Tell friends, “You know what? I only need to know so much. Tell me something if it impacts my kids or you think it’s going to impact my health, otherwise, I don’t really need to hear it.”
Also, you know what? Getting rid of your old junk. You know? Like, I only kept wedding photos for my daughter. That’s who I kept them for, so she can one day look back. Like, the other day, I found a picture of the three of us and I was like, “I’m saving this for her.”
I’m not going to just erase her history at all. I just want her to have this and it doesn’t hurt me. I don’t care. I actually, we had a great time at our wedding. Like, we had an awesome wedding. I still look back at that day and say, “It was a great day.” It was a fun party, you know?
So, I kept those memories, but I got rid of other stuff that I just didn’t need, like we had a Celtic ceremony where you handfast and you tie the hands together. I threw out those things so there were things that I just got rid of. So, get rid of old mementos. Sell your engagement ring. Get that money back. Put that towards something. Put it towards bills, debt, a vacation, whatever you need to do. Childcare, God forbid. But, do whatever you’ve got to do.
And lastly, make a map for yourself of like what your own goals are because your life is going to be different. Like I said, he and I had two different trajectories. Anybody who is divorcing, you’re going to have different goals than they are, which is why you’re not together anymore.
Audrey: 25:29 Exactly.
Laura Lifshitz: 25:29 So, now it’s like, what are you going to do? For me, it was okay, I need to work on financial stability and it’s been a process ever since. It was getting back into dance. It was just, I’ve always worked out, but diving into it more. It was really making sure I had a good community of friends and people to support me. Then, it was deciding to date.
Then also, I think the last thing is, like getting used to being alone. I’ve been alone for a long time. I don’t even know if I remember what it’s like to be with anyone else. I’ve been single for four-and-a-half years.
So, but my map looked different then his did so you need to figure out where’s your journey going? What do you need to do in order to be a relatively sane, single parent?
Audrey: 26:17 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Laura Lifshitz: 26:17 You know? It’s okay to have crappy days but overall, you want to see it as, “I get another chance to figure out the things I did wrong and to make them better.”
Audrey: 26:27 Yeah. You know, I have to say, I think that’s one of the themes that is really a big part of your writing and I think it’s something that people really, really resonate with.
I mean, you do such a great job of talking about things you’ve learned from your past and new things that you’ve tried and how it’s allowing you to build your new life. We’ll definitely post some of your articles at worthy.com/podcast so that people can find it easily.
Laura Lifshitz: 26:52 Thank you.
Audrey: 26:53 Yeah, always, but I think we’ll take a quick break and when we come back, we are going to talk a little bit about you’ve given us all of this great advice and sort of thinking about different ways that you can separate your life and focus on yourself and really live in your worth, but even if you’re doing all the great things that you can to make it as positive of a situation as possible, your ex still might be acting like a jerk, so we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about that.
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So, if you’re going to sell, sell smart with Worthy. Go to worthy.com/podcast to get started. We’re ready when you are. We are back with Laura. Laura, we were just saying that we’re going to talk a little bit about what to do when your ex is just being a total jerk.
Laura Lifshitz: 28:10 Yeah, I think a lot of people can relate to that. It’s unfortunate and there can be multiple reasons for someone behaving that way. Sometimes it’s because you left somebody and they didn’t want you to. Sometimes, it’s because the person has personality disorder issues. There could be mental health or substance abuse problems.
Sometimes, a person is just, this is what they grew up with. A lot of arguing and fighting and they like it. You know? I guess their norm. It’s a learned behavior. Whatever the case is. It can be really hard, especially, I don’t know, I just feel like when you’re trying to do the right things, you’re trying to be a decent co-parent. You’re trying to do the best and be fair and be reasonable and, you know what?
Sometimes, your ex is not reasonable. I think this is one of the hardest things. Like, for example, if you are somebody, and I’m sure there are many of us, who is divorced and your ex is a narcissist or difficult or mean, it’s hard because other people kind of see it as, “Oh, you have a bad divorce,” or, like, “You’re not amicable,” or like, “Everybody should be consciously uncoupling and being friends.”
Audrey: 29:29 Oh, gosh.
Laura Lifshitz: 29:29 You know what? Honestly, we all know that that’s what’s best for kids is for people to get along. You know what? But, there’s some situations in which one person makes it really difficult for the other person. Sometimes, it’s two people, right?
But, try as you might, there are some people that it doesn’t matter what you do, they’re not going to consciously uncouple with you. They’re going to stab you from far away with their eyeballs, if possible, and trip you and put a black cat in your past. You know what I mean?
Audrey: 30:00 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 30:00 Metaphorically speaking. That’s hard, because people are like, “Well, you know? Why is a person like that?” It’s like, you know what? You can’t control your ex. You can’t make them nice. You can’t make them easy. You can’t make them reasonable. You can’t make things go well. You just have to accept that this is how it is.
Audrey: 30:00 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 30:21 Like, a friend of mine has an ex that really does nothing. I mean, he’s really just useless. He really is. He’s very selfish. He’s preoccupied. Never takes the kids for overnights and it’s like always a source of frustration for her.
I just said to her, “This is who he is. He’s never changing.” People don’t change unless they really want to, so if you accept this now, start to completely not rely on this person and create your own little community to rely on. It’s easier for you.
Audrey: 30:52 Well, it’s that phrase that people say about having low expectations, so you won’t be disappointed?
Laura Lifshitz: 30:57 It’s just like you don’t expect anything.
Audrey: 30:59 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 31:00 Or, know what? Just accept that this is who the person is. For me, I started to really create a community of people that I could rely on and could count on when emergencies happen because emergencies would happen. I would turn to him and I would get shut down.
I’m like, “All right. This person is not going to be like a co-pilot, co-parent. I have to kind of parallel parent where I do my thing. He does his thing and just try to keep the peace as much as possible and try to be kind and try to do the right thing and just try to be a good parent.”
So, I say to those people who are dealing with difficult ex’s. “Just try to be your best you. You’re not going to fix this person. You’re not going to change them. They’re most likely never going to change. Just try to be your best you. Let your kids love them without your judgments of the person. Let them figure out on their own who that person is. Just step away. Give them the chance to have a relationship with the other parent and one day, things will become clear to them, right?”
Like, I have friends that are like I don’t understand. My kids just glorify the other parent and don’t they see all that’s going on. I’m like, “They’re children. Children are going to love both parents. Let them love the person. Eventually one day, they’ll realize everything you did for them.” Right?
I think that’s a really big thing, especially for moms mostly. Because I think moms tend to get the brunt of kids’ emotions, in general. Divorced or married. You know? But, I think like the two biggest things is accept this person is not going to change most likely.
I mean, the chances of them changing is like one in a million, and that you need to have some sanity beyond it. You actually have to like build a mental fort. So, you’re like, okay, I’m not letting this bother me.
Audrey: 32:48 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Laura Lifshitz: 32:49 And, it’s hard. It’s hard, especially if, like, for example, you want to go to work. The two of you are working. The one person doesn’t want to pay a childcare bill. Now, you’re sitting there like, “Gosh, I’m strapped.”
Or, like in the case of you have a co-parent that won’t take the nights for overnights so you’re with them day-in and day-out and you’re feeling burnt out. Whatever the case is, it can be really hard to not be bitter, to not be angry, and to not feel like life has dumped on you so much. You know what?
I think it’s okay to have a pity party for a few days, maybe even a month or two, but then at some point, you just have to say, “Okay, this is how the cards were dealt for me. Now, how am I going to strategically make this better for me?
What am I going to do to help pay that childcare bill? What am I going to do to help myself not burn out? What are some things I can do to accept that this is my situation, but it doesn’t have to kill me?”
Audrey: 33:44 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 33:45 One of the biggest things like with people who have difficult ex’s, is you really just need to let it go, and you also need to let your kids have their relationship and let them figure it out. You know, like you’re not there to tell them how to feel. It’s their parent and sometimes you just have to sit there and swallow a lot of pride, and a lot of hurt. It’s not easy. I’m not going to tell anyone that it is because it’s not. But, when someone’s like that, it’s like you’re really not going to change them.
Audrey: 34:20 Yeah. I think one of the things that you said earlier, you were talking about how as long as it doesn’t affect me. If my child is safe, I don’t need to hear about it. But, I think one of the things that we hear from the Facebook group and something that we know that goes on with a lot of people, is that sometimes you can feel like maybe your kid isn’t safe.
I know this isn’t an experience that you’ve necessarily had, but like in general, what kind of advice would you give for people deciding when to turn to lawyers and stuff when it comes to like it’s your child, where most of your love in this world goes. Into your kids, right?
They’re going away to your ex for a while, if that’s the arrangement. What would you say to somebody who worries about their kid’s safety?
Laura Lifshitz: 35:14 It’s really hard because sometimes you have kids who don’t want to go see the other parent. They just don’t want to do it and they cry, but you kind of have to be like, “There’s no choice.” Then, you have kids who probably don’t even realize. I think that you need to document anything that you hear going on.
Obviously, if there’s signs of like physical abuse or the other person is abusing drugs, alcohol, not feeding the kids. Then, you’ve got to step up and call services. The problem is, it’s got to be extreme enough to warrant that. The reality is, that there are plenty of times that it’s really difficult to prove a situation, especially if it’s an emotional abuse situation.
Audrey: 36:03 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 36:00 … [inaudible 00:36:00] the situation especially if it’s an emotional abuse situation. That’s when I say to people if it’s a hairline situation why not recommend family counseling for everybody-
Audrey: 36:10 That’s good advice. Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 36:10 … so then both co-parents are there. Because then the therapist can sit there and say, “Oh, I’m seeing this.” You know what? Maybe that other person needs just some help and maybe you just need some help with learning how to deal with it.
Audrey: 36:26 Yeah. I agree with that. I mean I think when it comes to how painful this is, it can be awful without being dangerous. I think sometimes we have to find ways to deal with awful. I think what you were saying before is it’s hard and you’re not going to say that it’s easy but it is something that you can get there. Of course, you want to look for the red flags but it’s okay if it’s awful. It can be part of what’s going on.
Laura Lifshitz: 36:54 I mean it depends on how awful you mean. So here’s a good example. I think when people first separate and divorce and the other person has a new partner around them, it is completely normal to obsess or worry about the other person being around your kid.
Audrey: 37:14 Right. Laura, how do you talk to your kids about that? They’re meeting this new person. What is it like when a new person comes into the family dynamic?
Laura Lifshitz: 37:24 It really depends on how you and your ex get along because a lot of the times there is no conversation. You just pick up your kid and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I met Daddy’s girlfriend,” or, “I met Mommy’s boyfriend.” And you’re like, “Oh, that’s news to me. I had no idea.” I think in that case, it’s normal … it’s really normal to feel jealous. It’s normal to feel like you’re being overshadowed. I definitely felt that way I think when I knew that my daughter was meeting this woman, this new woman. I definitely felt threatened. I think it’s very normal. But I think ultimately I just said, “This is it. This is how it’s going to be and I just hope this person is good to my kid.” I have to just hope for that. There’s nothing I can do about it. There really isn’t. I see this a lot with many women and men being like, “How can I keep my ex’s new partner from being around the kids?”
Audrey: 38:23 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 38:23 A lot of the times it’s really not grounded in reality. It’s not like, “I want to keep this person away from my kids because they’re beating them,” or, “They’re being emotionally abusive.” It’s really more a feeling of being threatened by the other person. That’s okay. Sometimes the new person isn’t good to the kids. I do get it.
Audrey: 38:45 Or maybe they haven’t been good to you. I mean one thing that I think we’re seeing a lot in the Facebook group is maybe your husband left you for a woman and now the woman is in your kids’ lives. That’s really hard.
Laura Lifshitz: 38:58 Yeah. That is hard. That’s really hard.
Audrey: 39:01 Yeah. Also I can understand why women feel that that’s disrespectful to them, like why they wouldn’t want their kids meeting that woman.
Laura Lifshitz: 39:09 Absolutely. Here’s the thing though. Sometimes the kids know. Sometimes they don’t. So they’re going to have to grapple with those difficult emotions. So I feel like you need to keep those things private. I didn’t have to deal with that thankfully because that’d have been really hard. But I think most importantly my daughter has a half brother. They had a baby and so she’s got a new brother. I just try to think what’s it like for her. She must be tired. It’s hard having a newborn. So I try to think of all these things because I generally don’t want to be hating another woman. That’s not a fun place to be at.
Audrey: 39:46 And it’s bad for you too to have that kind of toxicity in your life.
Laura Lifshitz: 39:50 And I don’t. I think it’s great. I’m like, “Good. I’m glad.” She’ll have a sibling and I don’t have to be pregnant. This is great. I’m happy. I’m fine with it. But I think the best thing to do is just try to be kind and try to understand that it’s not easy for the stepparent. I’m not a stepparent so … but I’m sure it’s not easy. It’s not easy for anybody. It’s awkward for a lot of people. The other thing is you have to keep in mind what your ex might be saying about you to this person. This person isn’t getting an accurate report of who you really are. They’re getting the tainted reality that your ex is giving them so you have to keep that in mind. They’re getting fed a lot of junk by your ex.
Audrey: 40:38 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 40:39 It’s hard though. I think asking your kids, “Well, how was it? Was this person fun?” I think taking it positive. “Did you enjoy it?” But more importantly letting the kid say what they want to say. If you have a good relationship with your kids, most likely they’re going to let you know how they felt about it. I know my daughter tells me plenty because she just does. But ultimately I just turn to her and say, “Be respectful. Be kind and give this person a chance.” I think that people who are desperate to have their kids hate the stepmom or stepdad that’s just … that’s crappy. Why do you want your kid to be miserable? Why do you want your kid to leave your house, go somewhere and be unhappy? Why would you want your kid unhappy for a minute? Because of your pride, because it’ll make you feel better to know that they love you more than the other person? That’s silly.
Audrey: 41:37 It’s almost like … I can’t believe I’m going to say this but it’s back to the pizzas.
Laura Lifshitz: 41:41 Yeah.
Audrey: 41:43 The love that your kids have for you is not altered at all by the love that they have for their other parent and any stepparents that come into their lives. It’s like there’s infinite room for love.
Laura Lifshitz: 41:58 Yes. We teach our kids all the time to be friendly, to be inclusive, to let others in. So if you can’t do it what makes you think that your kids can go out and do it. I mean I’m not saying it’s not hard. For me it’s now easy. You know what I mean? But there are moments that [inaudible 00:42:15] and I’m like, “Oh, this doesn’t feel great.” But overall it’s okay because at the end of the day you have to remember if you’re the mom, you’re their mom and really nobody replaces that. That’s the trump card. Right?
Audrey: 41:58 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 42:27 Everybody else is great but you’re mom. So no matter what even if they love the stepmom to bits I mean you’re still the person that brought them into the world, so just allow them to be happy and hope for them to be. Because you know what? I’ve seen both sides of the card. It’s really hard to see your child unhappy and worry about them when they’re not with you. So you should want them to be happy just because they had a good time with Dad or Mom and their new partner doesn’t mean that they’re not having fun with you.
Audrey: 42:27 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 43:02 And you know look, we’ve all had the situation or we’re all heard of the situation where there’s a parent who’s the Disneyland parent and that can be really frustrating. But you know what? Disneyland parents are like that for a reason because they can’t handle the day in and day out of it. So let it go. At the end of the day when your kids are adults, they’ll sit back and they will look and they will remember who held their hand when they took their first steps, who helped them bike down the street, who held their hair while they puked. They’re going to remember that. So allow it. Allow them to be happy. It’s important. And you know what? They didn’t ask to be born and they didn’t ask to be a part of parents that got divorced, so try and make it easy on them if you can.
Audrey: 43:50 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 43:51 You actually just really should place your energy on yourself and your kids. When you start to feel like you’re obsessing over the past, you need to realize that that’s a waste of time that you could have just spent on yourself or your kids.
Audrey: 44:08 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 44:09 Ultimately, it’s not about him. It’s not about me. It’s about my daughter. So I’m always going to act in her best interest and I’m always going to try and be a good person. That means try to be a good person to him and try to do whatever really most importantly is best for her. My daughter is everything. I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about her. Right?
Audrey: 44:32 Right.
Laura Lifshitz: 44:32 So you need to change your focus. That’s a big part of it. Putting the focus on your health, your mental health, and your children. I think for me I don’t have any bitterness or anything about the divorce. I’m glad. I’m happy to be divorced [inaudible 00:44:51] parties over here. I think for me it’s now my own journey where I experience financial hardships and things like that and dating and finding that difficult and finding … meeting men of quality, very difficult. Those things frustrate me and they make me sad.
I have periods of time where I feel depressed and people would never know that. They would never in a second know that unless they know me well. So my tricks and advice are know when you’re sad and know when you’re in despair. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have a few bad days and a few bad weeks. When you’re in despair, when you’re not eating, you’re not sleeping well, you’re struggling to find hope, that’s when there’s time for you to say, “Okay, I got to do something different,” whether it’s a new job, a therapist, exercise, medication, meditation, a vacation, whatever it is. Know the difference between being sad and being in despair. Being sad is normal and that’s okay. Being in despair is when it becomes unhealthy. That’s when you really need to say, “Okay, I got to do something.”
Other things is to … If you’re really feeling like, “Wow my life stinks. My ex has it so great.” I would recommend taking a piece of paper out and writing all the things that you’ve accomplished from your divorce. Whether it’s I opened my own checking account for the first time or I got a raise or I taught my child how to swim. Write down the things that you’ve accomplished when you’ve been a person on your own, a single mom. You will be surprised at how much you’ll find good.
Audrey: 46:40 Yeah. Every Thursday in the Facebook group we have the Single Mom Hustle series. We post this little picture and people write comments of something they did in the past week that was a moment of single mom hustle that they can be proud of. So if you’re having a hard time coming up with those items for your own list, you can go and click on that topic and find some inspiration. I bet a lot of the stuff there is something that you’ll read and say, “You know I did something like that too,” or it’ll help reflect back to you how strong you are, how amazing you are and how bright your future really is.
Laura Lifshitz: 47:17 It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be something small like you know what, I took my four kids grocery shopping and everyone came back okay.
Audrey: 47:25 Absolutely. There’s a lot of stuff like that. Those are not little things. When you have so much going on and you are in moments of despair, even just a hard day, a hard moment, these small victories are important. We’re always here to celebrate that and celebrate the amazing women who are a part of our community. Laura, we’re so glad that you are a part of our community.
Laura Lifshitz: 47:49 Thank you.
Audrey: 47:49 I want to thank you so much for doing this episode with us. It’s always such a treat to have you.
Laura Lifshitz: 47:56 I just want to add one more trick. I think it would be good.
Audrey: 47:58 Yes. Absolutely. Go for it.
Laura Lifshitz: 47:59 I think when you’re sitting there feeling like, “Whoa is me. Why haven’t I dropped 10 pounds, met the man of my dreams, met the woman of my dreams?” Or, “Life was so much better when I was married.” I want you to look back and really take a list of all the things that didn’t work in your marriage and chances are you’re going to be like, “Wow, actually you know what? I’ll live with my extra 10 pounds,” or, “It’s okay that I haven’t met the woman or man of my dreams.” It’s perspective and it’s really hard when you’re down in the dumps. That’s why I said the most important thing is walk away from this knowing when you’re sad and when you’re in despair. When you’re in despair, you need to really get some reinforcements in there. If you’re sad just know it’s going to pass.
Audrey: 48:43 Yeah.
Laura Lifshitz: 48:44 That’s it.
Audrey: 48:45 Yeah. You know actually it reminds me of something you wrote recently about looking at people around you who you feel like have it so much easier than you and so much better. The closer you look at other people’s lives, the most likely you are to want to stick with your own. Right?
Laura Lifshitz: 49:01 Yeah. Absolutely. Yep.
Audrey: 49:02 Yeah. Well, thanks again. You always leave us with such uplifting feelings and you’re such a wonderful example of all of the amazing things that can happen for you as you embrace your fresh start and build the life for yourself that you deserve and live life standing in your worth and embracing the pieces that make you incredible. So thank you so much for being on.
Laura Lifshitz: 49:28 Thank you. Thanks so much.
Audrey: 49:30 We look forward to having you back a third time soon.
Laura Lifshitz: 49:33 Yay. Thank you so much for having me. I love you guys.
Audrey: 49:37 We love you.
Thanks again to Laura for joining us and to all of you for listening. Next week we’ll be joined by Nicole Quallen, a collaborative divorce attorney, who does an amazing job of empowering her clients to create a better life post divorce not just by getting them what they need but by creating a way for one family to turn into two happy families that can work together for years to come. We’re so excited to share her perspective with you and to introduce you to Nicole. Make sure you subscribe so you can catch every new episode of “Divorce and Other Things You Can Handle” in your feed weekly. If you like what you hear, rate and review us to help other women like you find us.
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