A Pragmatist's Guide To Coming Out Stronger After Divorce

03/11/2015 05:59 pm ET | Updated Mar 12, 2015
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If there's ever a time you need a little distraction in your life, it's during the divorce process. That's why we launched our Divorce Care Package series. With each post, we'll show you what things -- books, movies, recipes -- helped others relieve stress in the midst of divorce, in the hopes that a few of their picks will serve you well, too. Want to share what got you through your divorce? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com or tweet @HuffPost Divorce

Brenda MacCutcheon is a problem solver by nature. When life dealt her the ultimate personal problem -- a divorce after six years of marriage -- she went into full-scale planning mode: she called her realtor to see when to sell the marital home, she hit the gym, and she used funds she'd saved during her marriage to treat herself a little.

"Every single one of these steps helped me get back on track," MacCutcheon told The Huffington Post. "It’s been eight years since my divorce became final and now I wear it as a badge of honor. My credit score skyrocketed and so did my self-confidence. You really just have to make a healthy plan to cope with the turbulence and mitigate the misery because believe me, it is miserable."

Below, MacCutcheon, who is now remarried, shares some of the best decisions she made in the midst of her divorce.

  • The List
    Ezra Bailey via Getty Images
    "I made freedom lists. When my 'wasband,' as aptly labeled by blogger Stephanie Klein, moved out of the house, I nervously anticipated a heavier load on myself, but in actuality, my whole life was easier. I hadn’t realized all of his duties I had taken on over the years, as well as the demands from his large family, so I had a lot more free time. I listed things that I had been wanting to do but hadn't done due to marital compromise. From throwing myself a limo birthday party, to starting a blog, to attending church and spending holidays with my own family, the ideas flowed and it felt so good."
  • The Splurge
    "Since my 'mom fund' savings (to fund my leaving work for a year if we had decided to have a child) were no longer necessary, I purchased a gorgeous, used, Mercedes convertible roadster and downloaded a bunch of songs with my new luxury car’s moniker, like 'Mercedes Boy' by Pebbles."
  • The Self-Improvement Plan
    Brenda MacCutcheon
    "Going through such a turbulent time, I was scared that I might put on weight or start to look as bad as I felt. And who doesn't feel better when they look better? (You know what they say about the best revenge... ) To address my worries, I bought four sessions with a trainer and continued the routines he taught me on my own for free. I ate cereal and veggie trays and frozen healthy meals for one. I wore more dresses, high heels and grew out my chin-length hair. (That had an added bonus: I used the money I saved on hair cuts for a designer handbag!) By being open about my circumstances, I found out some of my friends were going through rocky times and we banded together, making gym dates and calling one another on the fly to stay over for the weekend or grab soup and a margarita to blab about court dates or excitement about a potential boyfriend."
  • The Movies
    Waiting To Exhale Official Facebook Page
    "For obvious reasons, I was a fan of any movie about complicated relationship statuses. Some of my favorites were 'Something to Talk About' and 'Waiting to Exhale'."
  • The Books
    "I read to escape, to find community, to learn, and to remember it could have ended much worse. Mostly I treated myself to novels with divorced protagonists, such as Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary mystery series where a character befriends her ex’s new ex-wife and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series where the laughs keep coming as Ms. Plum tries her hand as a bounty hunter. To educate myself and validate my roller-coaster emotions, I read Emotional Unavailability by Bryan Collins, The Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study by Wallerstein, Blakeslee, and Lewis and divorce bloggers such as Stephanie Klein. In the same 'It could have been so much worse' vein, I tore through fiction where the husband had been living a duplicitous life such as The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve and other books with rewardingly tragic and unenviable marriage scenarios. And then financially, I read Suze Orman and scoured the internet for tips about life after divorce. (One takeaway? Don’t make any major decisions for six months.) I also called my realtor every month to gauge when to sell my house."
  • The Playlist
    Guido Mieth via Getty Images
    "As for music, a sad favorite from college, 'Fade Into You' by Mazzy Star, was dusted off again. My BFF took me to a Deana Carter concert where I sobbed publicly to a breakup song as she strummed onstage. 'The Bed' by Gretchen Wilson expanded my budding country repertoire. 'Give It Away' was a fun and all-too-relatable ditty by George Strait about dividing up the couple’s belongings, and although to my knowledge I didn’t need them, there were a ton of cheating songs I listened to like 'It Wasn’t Me' by Shaggy and 'Homewrecker' by Gretchen Wilson. Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift also have a few worthy picks in that genre. It's the little things -- like empowering music -- that make a big difference after divorce."

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