Breaking up is never easy. When you're in the thick of it, it's hard to imagine you'll ever come out the other side alive -- let alone smiling. A few months ago, I got in touch with Cat Ommanney, star of the popular reality show "Real Housewives of DC". She'd tweeted about my website, neverlikeditanyway.com, and I thought I'd see if she'd be interested in working together. Cat jumped at the suggestion and offered to sell her wedding dress on my site and donate all proceeds to charity. It was a brilliant idea and I was truly thrilled at the suggestion. While chatting with Cat, I wanted to get her take on divorce and see if she had any pearls of wisdom to pass on to other people in her position. It turns out that she did.
Cat told me that she acrimoniously divorced in April 2011 and was left with next to nothing. She hit rock bottom and was forced to send her daughters to the UK to be with their father while she focused on getting back on her feet. Flash-forward to today and she's happily moved on, in love and expecting a baby!
Why did you decide to sell your wedding dress?
Two reasons -- first, it was the last memory I had left of the wedding and the marriage. I had no desire to see it again. Secondly, I knew that the money raised could all go to Humane Society -- the fantastic charity that rehoused our two year old Labradors sisters and do such great work. I came across neverlikeditanyway.com and loved the name and concept so much that I knew it was the perfect choice.
What was the hardest part about getting divorced and how did you overcome it?
I can't kid myself, all of it was hard. No particular times were any easier, but for me, the toughest part had to be the fallout. The crumbling of my perfect new family in less than two years. I had never been so low and disillusioned with life. As you get older, you are supposed to be a better judge of character, but in that department, I couldn't have failed myself more.
I was foolish for thinking I was qualified to deal with issues in our marriage and I found myself in a hole so damn deep, I couldn't see any glimmer of hope! I lost my home, my family and my anonymity overnight. The day I had to put my daughters on the plane back to their father in England while I tied up the ends of our life, I walked back through the airport absolutely broken. Fans wanted pictures and I didn't even have a dollar in my pocket to buy a bottle of water; it was totally surreal. I sat in the car for hours, just crying and crying. I had definitely hit rock bottom. Divorce without any kind of settlement is hard, and being on national TV at the same time was the icing on the cake for me!
I was saved ultimately by the massive support and love all around me. It's as simple as that. I also wrote in my diary, which was the best therapy of all. Releasing my thoughts and feelings on paper was so important to do to help me let go.
Tell us about some of the best things that have happened since your divorce
I'm free! I'm free to be me again. I found my inner confidence that I seemed to have lost along the way. I got back in touch with myself. The mind is so powerful, that I think once you let go of the sadness, disappointment, fear and all the emotions that go along with divorce, then you allow yourself to remember your dreams and aspirations. That is the most important lesson I have learned. Life is just too short to not focus on our goals of happiness and feeling complete. I was so sure I would never let anyone into my heart again, but thankfully I was wrong about that too. Now I'm the happiest and most fulfilled I have been for as long as I can remember!
What advice would you give to recent divorcees?
One of the hardest things to do is to reprogram yourself -- and that takes time. For some, it takes months and for others, its years before you can stop looking back. You need to move forward and let go of that failure. I think it's really important to start trying to shed the past and get excited about your new life ahead!
Start by sorting out your home and surroundings. Clear out the crap and remove the bad memories. Revamp your wardrobe. Have your hair done. Spoil yourself with a massage. Take time for you. Write down your thoughts down and goals. Make sure you get enough sleep, as a lack of it takes its toll on your emotions and rationality. Take up a new class. Get out and meet new people, but don't go out and drink too much that life feels even worse the next day! If you haven't been laid for a long time, or laid properly, then I would get that checked off your list as soon as you are ready. Don't waste hour upon hour of your newfound freedom talking about what's gone wrong and feeling sorry for yourself, because nobody else can pick you up and get you back on track but yourself. I know it's a cliché, but everything happens for a reason. There are no mistakes in life -- you just have to keep going!
In my new book, Inbox Full Part II (coming soon!), I write all about how I did and didn't cope. If I could survive the hell on earth I went through and reach the other side to happiness, then anyone can!
Cat's auction on Never Liked It Anyway closes on August 10th.
Follow Annabel Acton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/neverlikedit