Divorce is a life-altering moment, but in no way should it be a bad one. It can be your door to healing, freedom, and self-discovery. Today’s guest is Alexandra Eva-May, author of the bestselling book, Her Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Healing After Divorce. She joins host Kim Hayden to share her story and how opening up about this major shift helped her heal. Falling in love with the wrong person can happen, and choosing to leave can be the right choice. Tune in as she shares lessons and valuable advice on relationships, self-love, and independence.
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Alexandra Eva-May On Healing After Divorce: Lessons On Relationships And Self-Love
Webster dictionary defines resilience as capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture, tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. This woman has a story to tell you. I’ve watched women over the years that have come and gone through a divorce, some with huge size of relief and others with absolute devastation.
Alexandra Eva-May took to the keyboard to work through her entire journey. She is a best-selling author, divorce coach, motivational speaker and mental health advocate. She is a divorce warrior. Her debut book, HER Awakening, is a firsthand account of navigating and healing through life-altering experiences of divorce, full of heartfelt truths, life lessons and soul work.
This book is a personal guide to seeking the light within your life when all you want to do is fall apart. You can often find Alexandra on Instagram, her blog or Pinterest, sharing how she healed and thrived after her split. Let’s all give a huge welcome. Thank you, Ms. Alexandra, for coming and sharing your time with us. Welcome to the show. How are you?
Thank you so much for having me on. I’m doing great. Thank you.
We’re going to dive into what the meat of the subject is, which is around divorce, but I first want to commend you for getting your book published. Your book just came out, correct?
Yes, it did, on November 2nd, 2021.
First of all, you have to be commended. You’re a hero in your own right for getting that to the published state. Eighty-five percent of North Americans, a poll said, they have a book in them, they’re going to do a book or they’re working on a book, yet only 3% cross the finish line. That’s a pretty three-percenter. Tell me a little bit about your journey of getting published. There are many ways to tap that arena. Tell us about what your journey looked like and the choices you made.
I had started blogging a few years ago. When I started blogging, I didn’t know if anybody would read my blog. It was my little piece on the internet that I decided to use. I was blogging about my healing after divorce, all the complicated emotions and it was pretty raw. I started to get messages, people commenting and people mentioning how much it was helping.
From that, it gave me the confidence to be like, “Maybe my writing is resonating with people. Maybe it is helpful.” I also realized that I enjoyed it. I was blogging for several years and eventually, I got to a point with my blog where I realized, “I might have a book here. There’s quite a bit of content. I could expand it and create a book.”
I put together a pretty full manuscript on my own and then I started to go on the journey of, “How do I even put this book out there?” As you mentioned 85%. I don’t know what the percentage that’s written a book is, but I bet you there are lots of people out there that have written a book or almost a full book but still don’t get to that finish line because it is challenging. The whole publishing game is a tricky thing. You can go to self-publishing routes. I considered that for a while and I decided that it wasn’t quite for me.
I have a few friends I connected with on social media that have published books, so I talked to them. One of them led me to the publishing house that ended up publishing my book. When I connected with the owner of that house, she was a woman. She only published nonfiction female writers. It aligned with myself and it felt right. They had a great team there. Once I signed on with them, they helped me through the whole process of expanding the manuscript, coaching, editing and getting it out into the world. That was my journey.
They’re helping with all the marketing and everything along those lines, even your book jacket and everything.
I had mentioned self-publishing. Some people consider that, but as you had touched on, with that, you have to do all that yourself. You have to do all the editing or hire people to do it. Hire someone to do not just the technical edits, but maybe the creative edits. You have to hire someone to do the book jacket and to market the whole thing.
When I went with this company, they had a whole team that did the editing. They did all those things for me. We went back and forth. I’m the yes or no girl on my end in regards to the design. They even expanded. There are many creative things we did with the fonts in the book. That wouldn’t have happened on my own. They had all the people and in regards to marketing, they helped with marketing this book.
I jokingly talked about the holidays being or maybe this Christmas if you get this book. The holidays can be stressful and you compound that with COVID and so many of us being in pivots. Is there anything from your childhood that you can think or recall that maybe prepared you for not the journey of the published author, but the content, the purpose of what you published, your story of divorce? Is there anything you can pull from there?
In my family, we’re Catholic, so there’s not a lot of divorce in my family. There weren’t many people I could look to show me how I’d get through a divorce because I didn’t have an example. I do have a very powerful mother. We have a matriarch in our family. She grew up in a background of poverty as a child. She showed me how to get through tough stuff, to soldier on and get through those things. I did have her as an example, but I didn’t have an example of how to get through a divorce.'The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.' - Dolly Parton Click To Tweet
That’s originally why I went online in the first place and started on Instagram and blogging. It was to connect with people who were going through it or who had been through it to help because I felt lonely and isolated. That’s how it started. That’s a big reason why I wrote this book to help others. If you’re out there, reading and you feel alone in this experience, grab my book. It gives you a gazillion tools and strategies for healing and getting through it. I did the hard work. I went through it, so I put it on paper so that you don’t have to struggle quite as much as I did.
With that being said, we know that around divorce, there can be feelings of shame, failure and a lot of self-doubts. When you did have to go to your family and you did have to broach this, what was that gut feeling you had?
I was so low. When we split up, I hadn’t told my family that there were problems. They thought everything was fine. When I finally told them, it was a big surprise. I felt so much shame about it. That was a huge thing for me. That first six months, even a year, I was working through shame. I felt so much shame about not only the destruction of my marriage and my marriage ending but also the shame of disappointing my family, my parents.
I was relatively young. Now, I’m a few years older. Maybe I’m more sure myself. At the time, I’m so ashamed about disappointing them. I also didn’t have many friends who were going through it or who had been through it. At the time, I was 30, people in my life were all getting married, forming families and having children while I was blowing life up. I felt a lot of shame about that. I’m a Catholic school teacher, so that added to it.
You have security on the line there, too. I get it.
I had changed my last name from my maiden name to my married name while I was teaching. Here I was going through a split and feeling that I wanted to change. Some people don’t end up going back to their maiden name, but I wanted to. I didn’t for years because I felt a lot of shame in regards to my job and I would have to admit to people why I was changing back. It wasn’t quite as simple as maybe being in public or a non-religious job. There was so much shame. When you said that word, it resonated with me.
We don’t start anything thinking that we’re not going to be able to do it. I, myself, am divorced once. I got married when I was eighteen. I married somebody as trauma-based as myself, which was also abusive. Within 24 months, I got married, divorced, had a baby and left my state of origin. I understand that shame, fear and self-disappointment. I was like, “Seriously? Am I so stupid I didn’t see all this?”
That was another big question. My mom got over that pretty fast. She’s so loving, so it was okay. She wants me to be happy, but that was something she asked, “Didn’t you see this?” It was very toxic once we got married. “Didn’t you witness any of this stuff? Didn’t you know?” I was like, “No, I’m sure there were red flags, but they were never pointed at me. I never picked up on them or I didn’t think it could happen.”
Would you mind sharing with us a little bit more of the meat or the depth behind the red flags and what some of the triggers were for you having to make that choice? Nobody chooses to be divorced. You become divorced because the choice has been stripped from us.
To not go into detail, my ex could be quite toxic and verbally abusive towards friends and family before we got married. In my immature state, there was always logic about that. It was never fine, but it’s not towards me. We were best friends and he could be wonderful. The thing with abuse is it’s not all the time. That’s why people do stay because they can be wonderful.
He can be your best friend or whatever it is. That also impacts not leaving. Before we got married, it didn’t happen. After we got married, I became the target. If you are now reading and you’re in a relationship or dating someone where you are seeing things concerning other people, just know that it’s highly likely that you may eventually be the target, so really reflect on that.
For me, that’s what happened. I became the target. I couldn’t make sense of it because I had never gone through it in my own family. I had never gone through it with friends or ex-boyfriends. It was foreign to me and I couldn’t handle it very long. I couldn’t live with it or I couldn’t see myself living a life like that. I couldn’t see him being the father to my kids because I was concerned about how he would treat children. I thought this should end before there are children. I didn’t want to put any child at risk of that.
A line my mom said that was valuable, “With a divorce, a lot of people focus on until death do us part.” That’s the vow. They’re like, “Until death do us part,” but they forget many other vows that you say, “To honor and to cherish.” That’s a vow you say and that’s something I said in front of God. We broke that vow of, “Until death do us part,” but he broke the vow of honoring and cherishing a lot in the marriage. That choice was stripped away from me because he completely crushed that vow. He broke his promise.
Going into my second marriage after my divorce, I looked at my husband. We’ve been married for many years. He is my best friend. I told him, “These are my three hard limits.” I knew what I wanted, “Don’t beat me, don’t abuse my children and don’t cheat on me.” It’s those three things. Everything else I can work through.
Those were what I took from my first experience. My first experience was very physically abusive. Knowing that we take a piece of those experiences forward, what were some of the things that you said coming into this new relationship, into getting married again and into going, “I want to have babies with this man?” What were some of those decisions and those conversations that you had?
If you’re coming out of a divorce and you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve healed, which is a long time and then you decide you’re going to stay, don’t jump into anything serious. Date for a while. I had done that for a bit. Eventually, I got to the point where I felt I had gone on enough dates with enough people that I was ready to have a relationship.When you go through a split, you can be very shortsighted about your pain. Click To Tweet
It was a month before I met my current partner. I told my sister. It was like Manifestation 101. I said, “I’m ready for a relationship.” He came into my life. I was at an age where I wanted children. I was around 32 when we met. I looked at men not just as potential partners but also, are they caring, empathetic and patient enough to be a potential father.
I didn’t base my decision on who I would be with if I wanted to have kids with them but it was in my head. When I think of a good father, I would be very caring, empathetic and patient. I was looking for those qualities in a partner. He happened to have them. I thought he’d be a good father before I even thought I was in love with him. That was interesting. We fell in love and the rest is history, but he’s also a divorcee. He had a divorce as well as myself.
We were both divorced. We’ve had so many honest conversations along the way about what didn’t work in our marriages. I mentioned abuse on this show, but there were other things, too. My non-negotiables were that I needed not a boyfriend or someone I loved but a life partner. As anybody who’s been married knows or in a serious relationship, life is not just love, roses and laughter.
Every week, you got to get the groceries. You got to clean the house. You got to run the errands. You got to do this and that. You got to call or whatever might be. You meet someone that can pick up the slack and make your life easier. At the end of the day, you work together as a partnership. For me, that was a big non-negotiable. With my ex, I took care of a lot of things and I didn’t want to do that again. I wanted someone that could also take care of their own life and take care of themselves regardless of whether I was there or not.
I needed someone kind. I didn’t want to go through verbal abuse again. I needed someone that could communicate in a healthy way when stress came their way or when they were upset. Those are my two non-negotiables. It was kindness and a partner. I wanted someone who was handy. That was a desire. I want someone who could do stuff around the house.
I get that. My husband is my partner. For me, I was always looking for a protector or that gatekeeper because I’d gone through significant trauma that I needed to know this person would protect me from others and ensure that he would do no harm himself. Now that the book is done and out, is there a story you’ve heard that triggered a thought pattern? We are always growing. Now, that you’re moving into the coaching realm in this, is there something that you go, “I wish I’d put that in the book?”
Yes. I wrote about it on Instagram. There was a play I had seen years ago at the fringe festival where I live. I’m sure lots of places in the world have a fringe. It was something about Victory of the Recycled Virgin. The woman that wrote, produced, directed and starred in the show was 80 or 90 years old. She was on the stage. She did this whole show. It was 1 hour or 2 hours long. The entire plot was how she had gone through a divorce at 40 back in the ’60s.
If there’s a shame, you can only imagine it would’ve been in the ’60s to go through a divorce. She had gone through that, but then she had had this whole other life after. Here she was, part of her journey and story was that she would grow to be 80 or 90 years old touring across North America in a fringe show that she had directed, produced, written and starred in herself.
She also had all sorts of experiences along the way and an amazing partner. That was a big a-ha moment. I wish I had put it in the book because it shows that when you go through a split, you can be very shortsighted about your pain. You can think, “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m never going to move past this.” You very much focus on that.
This story shows a whole other life after that you have no idea what’s coming your way. You could be that woman on the stage at 90 touring across North America or, like I did, writing a book. You have no idea what’s going to come your way. You may find the greatest love of your life or have children. I had a child. The story of that woman resonated and I don’t know if I included it.
Some people, it takes years to finally acknowledge that it’s done, call it a day and decide to go through a divorce. A lot of us focus too on, “I can stick with it.” What do you want your life to be in a few years after? Do you want to be married to this person? Do you want to stay in this spot for several years? If the answer is no, if in your heart this is wrong, toxic or not working, you need to have maybe the strength to decide to seek out joy in your life and love for yourself and happiness. If that’s outside of your marriage, it’s okay to take another path. That might include divorce and that’s okay.
There is a lot of thought around monogamy, marriage and all of these things because we, as human beings, are living longer. The average adult will have twelve different careers in their lifetime. The explosion of 50-year-olds going back to university is crazy. What’s going on? It is amazing. Divorce is an action. It is not an identity. That’s the big thing. If you are reading and you’ve been divorced five times, maybe you should put a halt to it, get some counseling and find out what the common denominator is.
Maybe to not get married again. It’s okay. I’m not married again and I have a child with him. I don’t know if we’re going to get married again. I’m not sure if I want to and I’ve been divorced once. After five divorces, maybe you don’t need marriage.
We will go on to some fun things. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
It’s mint chocolate chip. A lot of people don’t like it, but I love it.
Do you eat ice cream in winter?Establish yourself as an independent person first before you even think about getting married. Click To Tweet
What’s the one book you think everybody should read? What’s your favorite book?
It’s The Body Keeps the Score. It’s about trauma. Bessel van der Kolk wrote it. He’s a doctor. The book is all about the people he’s worked with throughout the years. They all have either a critical illness or a disease. Every single one of them ended up having a traumatic experience in their past. His whole premise is, “If you are living through with trauma or living through trauma, it could result in critical illness or disease in your future, so you have to think about your life.” That’s a great book.
What’s the one piece of advice or a quote that is your North Star quote, the one that you love?
It changes with the days and the mood. You have a Dolly Parton, one that you love. It says, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.”
I love that quote.
Dolly Parton is crazy cool. Who better to quote when we’re talking about triumph over challenge? With all these life experiences and being a mother, what is the one piece of advice you would give your son when he hits 18, 19, 25 and he thinks he’s desperately in love? What would be that piece of advice you’d want to share with him?
There’d be two things. First of all, there’s no rush. I don’t know what it’ll be on social media when he’s older. There’s a lot of social media going around if you go down the right path of young people talking about getting married or marrying their high school sweetheart. That’s fair. That’s for some people. There is this wedding industry that pushes ideas into people’s heads that it’s the end game or the end goal. Life becomes great once you get married and it doesn’t change anything.
All of a sudden, you’re married. If it’s the wrong person, you’ve all of a sudden married the wrong person. There is no rush. One piece of advice is to find yourself. If you want to travel, travel the world, work a few different jobs, establish yourself as an independent person first, before you even think about getting married. That would be one thing. The second thing would be looking for someone who can get through the storms with you. Look for a partner, not someone you love deeply because we’ve all loved the wrong person. You need to look at who you love but also be an amazing partner in life.
Look for somebody who is your friend. Friends don’t treat friends poorly. Friends are there. They’re the port in the storm. That’s a very underrated value, especially because of platforms like Instagram. We see what the sizzle reel of success looks like. They’re hot. There are all these cool things. The reality is, your partner shouldn’t be considered less than if they don’t fit that sizzle reel that we see on social media. Look for somebody that is a good friend.
On a final note, what is a piece that you are taking away from this entire process of putting all this out, doing the blogs, being vocal, being visible and putting your book out? If something is rolling around in your head, what would that be? This whole thing is a crazy ride, but you’re only halfway through.
What I’ve learned is don’t be scared of taking risks, of making shifts in your life and the biggest thing being a yes person. Many things have happened in my life because I’ve said, “Yes,” even if I was scared. Many of us hold ourselves back from taking risks, taking leaps of faith or doing things because we’re afraid. We were scared we might fail, nobody will want it or that it’ll turn out bad. We’re fearful we can’t do it. We say no, but being a yes person and taking risks and diving in, you have no idea what will come of it.
Because I took the risk of creating a blog, I ended up publishing a book. I’ve got things coming down the pipe. I have no idea where this is going to lead. The biggest influential people in our world, the biggest inventors, took the risks. They said yes when probably people thought it was crazy. People probably thought Microsoft was crazy, but Bill Gates was like, “I’m going to say yes.” Look at Microsoft. Be a yes person, maybe not on a massive scale, but even yes to that weekend away with your friends. You have no idea what that will lead to.
From an academic point of view, because you are a teacher and have a certain skill set and life experiences, can you tell us a little bit about what you offer through your coaching?
I launched a new program. It’s called Heal & Thrive After Heartbreak. I work with women who are specifically healing after a breakup or a divorce. I help them get through that. I help them with feeling safe, taking care of themselves, accepting what’s happened, moving through the grief, the loss and moving through it all. We work on rewriting false narratives that you might have in your mind. It works into emerging as a new evolved person, the new person that you are and thriving after all of the darkness.A partner is not just someone that you love deeply because we’ve all loved the wrong person. Click To Tweet
Throughout the whole program, it’s not just that, but I’ll offer ways to save money because I wasted a lot of money in my divorce. If you’re going through a divorce, I can teach you how to save a lot of money. Beyond that, we have weekly one-on-one calls. I have activities, things and specific-targeted strategies for whatever you’re dealing with. That’s what you get if you work with me.
Can you tell the audience where we can find you and how they can engage with you?
You can find me on Instagram @TheAlexandraEvaMay. You can find me on Twitter @AlexandraEvaMay and on my blog at www.TheSplendidPath.com. I started TikTok. It’s crazy. It’s very strange to be an older creator on TikTok. You can find me @AlexandraEvaMay. Grab my book. It’s on Amazon, HER Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Healing after Divorce.
I want to thank you for your gift of time because, as we know, time is the non-renewable resource that is the most precious resource we all own.
Thank you for having me. It’s been lovely.
I want to thank everybody out there for sharing your time with me. Without you, I would be talking to myself as I usually do in my home because I’ve got adult children and a husband of 27 years. That’s what we do when we get to this stage. Until next time, please go like Kim Talks. You can follow me through KimTalks.club or the ResilientSeries.club. I’d love to hear from you what your journey is. In the meantime, remember to join the movement. Be part of the club and remember, your past does not dictate your future.
- HER Awakening
- Pinterest – Alexandra Eva-May
- The Body Keeps the Score
- Heal & Thrive After Heartbreak
- @TheAlexandraEvaMay – Instagram
- @AlexandraEvaMay – Twitter
- @AlexandraEvaMay – TikTok
- HER Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Healing after Divorce
About Alexandra Eva-May
Welcome! My name is Alexandra Eva-May and I’m excited to connect with you. I’m a divorcee, podcast host, wellness warrior, mental health advocate, new mother, survivor of infertility, writer, blogger, motivational speaker and recently, a best-selling author of the book, Her Awakening. You can grab your copy on Amazon!
The mission here is to destroy stigma about the experiences that have the potential to bring us to our figurative knees! Whether you’re facing judgement about your divorce, feel alone in your mental health struggle or suffer from infertility silently, know you’re not alone.
I’ve been through struggle and suffered my own dark thoughts and emotions. My divorce and the shame I felt during that time almost destroyed me. I’ve lived through trauma and mental health struggles. My journey with infertility almost broke me. I’ve felt hopeless and grief-stricken. When I was suffering, I felt so alone and isolated. I know that many others continue to suffer in silence and it’s time for this to end!
However, I’ve survived it all, and more than that, I’ve thrived. Through work, resiliency and perseverance, I was able to pull myself out of a black hole I wasn’t sure I’d emerge from. I’ve come out a positive person filled with hope for the future, self-love, happiness and optimism.
Now, I am in constant pursuit of peace, light and happiness. I make wellness my mission. I make self-care a priority and actively practice self-care habits that work for me. Most importantly, I love myself every day, no matter what I look like, what job I have, how much I weigh, what relationship I’m in, what my health is like, or where I’m at in my journey.
We all have a path and I want you to know that no matter what hardships you face or where you’re at on your journey, it’s all okay. Despite the storms, you can cultivate wellness, happiness, acceptance, peace and self-love. I know this because I’ve done just that. In the darkness, I found light and I hope to inspire that in you.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here and I can’t wait for you to walk your very own Splendid Path!