When I look back over my divorce period, I remember the times, tears and triumphs -- and the people who moved me toward and away from each. Whether your divorce winds you through hell or feels like heaven once it's over, you'll likely find these folks along the way.
1. The money-devouring divorce attorney. You'll seek his or her advice, solace, reassurance, assessments, sympathy, empathy and expertise. And you'll pay. And pay. And pay and pay. It's too much to hope for. You might get one or two of those things. Don't think your attorney has all the answers to all the questions -- legal, perhaps, but not emotional, logistical, financial or social. Remember, he/she is not your fortune teller, parent, therapist, banker or friend. Set your expectations accordingly. The last thing you need now is the weight of another failed relationship.
2. The steadfast and sympathetic friend. Surprisingly, it may not be the person you consider to be your best friend. She may not live nearby, know what you order at Starbucks or be anything like you, but she's the one who will call you consistently to see how you're feeling and not get mad when you can't name your feeling or want to chat about the weather instead. When you're getting divorced, some things simply just depend on the day - and she understands that.
3. The dreaded parent coordinator. Initial meetings with a parent coordinator may have you driving away in a rage. Nothing quite touches a nerve like being in a small room with your soon-to-be ex talking about custody and feelings of your kids, pointing fingers and trying to avoid the whole thing seeming like couples therapy. The parent coordinator's face can morph into the bull's eye of a dart board and her words may be wise but can get lost in the rush of emotions and negotiations. It's not fun.
4. The divorce-dreaming female friend. She and others will come out of the woodwork. You meet her to tell her you're getting divorced, and she bursts into tears! You're doing what she wishes she could. Now that you're going through with your divorce, she comes to terms with her feelings and marriage problems. Don't be surprised if you find yourself comforting her and nodding through her tears. The best thing you can do for her is order another drink, hand her a Kleenex and add your divorce attorney's email and phone number into her Blackberry contact list.
5. Yourself. Meet the stronger you! She's emerged with some new skills, hidden strengths and sense of confidence. She's survived the relationships above, signed the divorce agreement and has gotten up to face another day. She's kept her sense of humor and gained some financial savvy. She'll never forget what she's gone through, and the people that helped and hurt her along the way.