S3, E1: Your Post-Divorce Exit Plan with Tonya Carter

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Season Three, Episode One of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Podcast: Your Post-Divorce Exit Plan with Toya Carter

In this empowering season premiere of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club, host Erica Bennett sits down with divorce coach Tonya Carter to navigate the turbulent waters of ending a marriage with wisdom and grace. They delve into the therapeutic intricacies of recognizing and breaking the victim-rescuer-persecutor dynamics, setting boundaries, and growing personally post-divorce. Tonya sheds light on the importance of self-audit and the courage to challenge destructive narratives. Together, they provide actionable strategies for planning life's next steps, embracing multifaceted roles as women, and finding forgiveness. This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to regain control and joy in their journey after a divorce. Join us as we explore the path to thriving beyond the ties of past relationships.

Full Transcripts Below

Learn More About Tonya Carter

Tonya is a Marriage & Relationship Exit Strategist. She uses her knowledge, personal experience, and expertise to help women‎ navigate through the process of uncoupling by providing support, advice, resources and tools ‎that will help mitigate interruptions in their business, work performance and household obligations. ‎
She’s the author of “Divorce Your Story: A Woman’s Guide to Heal & Thrive after Divorce” and ‎she also facilitates her signature program “T.H.R.I.V.E” - a 12 week program to gain the strategies and tools to exit out of a relationship properly, heal intelligently, and enter & evolve into a life of freedom and fulfillment.
She also hosts a podcast called “ Divorce Your Story Podcast” and she’s a graduate of DeVry & Central Michigan University.
She is from Atlanta where she resides with her two children.



Your FREE Gift:
Visit https://www.tonyacarter.com/7waystothrive  to download Your Next Chapter: 7 Ways to Thrive After Divorce


Season Three Episode One: Your Post-Divorce Exit Plan with Tonya Carter FULL TRANSCRIPTS

Erica Bennett [00:00:00]:
Here we are again, you guys. Season three. Super excited for this season. This season is all about learning how to thrive in your new normal. How do you tackle the things that are now a part of your daily life? Co-parenting with your ex, communication, managing conflict, being able to still maintain your happiness, your best self, amidst a whole bunch of conditions that you might not have any control over. Super excited to kick off today with our guest who's going to help us set ourselves up for success.

Erica Bennett [00:00:34]:
How are we going to look forward into this new chapter and have a plan and get there with grace? So let's get started. Welcome to the Crazy Ex Wife's Club, a podcast dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional journey that is divorce. I'm your host, Erica. And if you're trying to figure out life after the big d, welcome to the club. Whether you're contemplating divorce or dealing with the aftermath or any of the many phases in between, the club has got you covered. Each week, you'll hear stories from women who have been in your shoes. This isn't about spilling tea on divorce details. This is about giving you the tools to take control of your own healing journey. Listen in weekly for advice, tips, and tools to help you move through each stage of the process.

Erica Bennett [00:01:15]:
Welcome back to another episode of the Crazy Ex Wives Club. I'm your host, Erica, and I am super excited for today's guest. Today we have Tanya Carter with us. Tanya is a marriage and relationship exit strategist, something that, when I first heard, I was like, that is the coolest job ever. Right? Planning your exit gracefully with purpose and knowing how you want to move forward is definitely 90% of the work of being able to start in your new normal. So thank you for joining us, Tanya, it's great to have you here today.

Tonya Carter [00:01:58]:
Thank you so much, Erica. I'm super excited to be here. I enjoyed when we chatted. It was very organic, and so I was very excited to be on your podcast, and I thank you so much for having me.

Erica Bennett [00:02:11]:
Yeah, absolutely. I also enjoyed our first chat. I knew I was going to enjoy it. I was like, I wish we lived closer, but I do plan on looking you up when I'm in your neck of the woods, because I was like, I just want to get to know this woman and see this woman and hang out with this woman as much as I can. She absolutely is inspiring and just you're so calm and yet so confident, right. That there's something that is really just attractive about that in, like, she just seems like such a beautiful, powerful, stable woman and friend to have. So excited to share her with you, you guys.

Erica Bennett [00:02:47]:
Yeah, you're welcome. One of the things that we first chatted about, and I think is so crucial, especially as here we are, episode one of season three, is getting your head in a clear space, because for so much of anyone in the divorce process, if you're. Before filing and the "Do I leave? Do I stay? Do I leave? Oh, it's okay. Today I can stay. Oh, it's horrendous. I better just get out." It's super exhausting.

Erica Bennett [00:03:13]:
And you start to lack, or at least I did. I lacked the ability to make a decision and stick with it because I was having so many doubts and am I going to do wrong and what do I need to do? And so being able to get my head in a clear space was really hard.

Tonya Carter [00:03:29]:
Absolutely. I totally agree. I think especially when you're deciding on whether you should stay or should you go, that's a very discerning decision that only you can make. And one of the things that I did, I battled with that myself a lot, even though it was very clear that leaving was the best and safest decision. And I think I can respectfully say that was for the both of us. I think one of the things that I encourage people to do is really be intentional on who they have around them in terms of having this conversation, because I've seen both sides where you can have people who, unfortunately, are still hurt from past circumstances, which can often be, the advice may not be as healthy. Okay. And you can also have people who are just so strictly gung ho about staying no matter what and it can be very detrimental.

Tonya Carter [00:04:25]:
So I think what's really important is really getting someone who's very unbiased, who can really get you to think more logically, more so than emotionally. Let's get really clear on what this looks like and what this will be long term and helping come into that decision, because it's not an easy decision. It doesn't even matter what the dynamic was. I tell people this all the time, it has nothing to do with that. It's your safety, it's your stability. Even if it's unhealthy, it's still what you know because it's familiar. So stepping out of that is unfamiliar territory, no matter what it was.

Tonya Carter [00:05:05]:
And so you need someone who's really going to help you make the best and safest decision in the most challenging time of your life. I think divorce outside of death is one of the most, very challenging transitions to face. And actually, it's actually very equivalent to death. Sometimes I think it's worse than death, to be honest with you, especially depending on why you're leaving. Seeing your spouse, your ex move on so quickly, seeing them living a life that you're no longer a part of, it's so much with that. You really need someone who is on your side, who's going to speak with compassion and truth. That's going to help you see things a lot more clearly.

Erica Bennett [00:05:43]:
Yeah, it's interesting, the death and divorce. I agree with you. I think that they are so similar. And when I was going through my divorce, I was also paralleling the fact that my dad had passed away a few years earlier. So I was watching my mom go through the loss of a relationship through death, and then I was watching myself go through the death of a relationship through divorce, and seeing all those parallels. I 100% felt what you just said. I felt that it would have been easier to have lost somebody due to death, because then they chose not to fight for it. Right? They left.

Erica Bennett [00:06:17]:
And there was something that felt so much more painful in somebody choosing to not fight for a marriage and choosing to just walk away from it. But it is a hard decision and having that right support team, because at the end of the day, you're the one who has to make the decision, and you're the one that has to walk the path, and you're the one that has to live with it. So everybody's got opinions on it, but you're the one that needs to deal with it daily.

Tonya Carter [00:06:42]:
You do.There were three questions that I posed to my audience a while back on discerning when to dissolve. And these aren't the only questions, but these were a start. And I would like to share them if you would like me to. One of the questions that I posed for them to ask themselves was, does both people honor their commitment with themselves, with one another, and with others? I think that's really important to really see how both people truly value marriage, not necessarily on what they say, but more so on what they do. Another question that I posed was, what fruit has been consistently produced from the current foundation that our marriage is standing on? And so when I refer to fruit, I'm talking about the outcome, the success or unsuccess and the results, because you got to start looking at the outcome of things. Because when you are in this space and when you made a covenant, you take it seriously. I know I did. I don't think anybody who gets married plans to get a divorce.

Tonya Carter [00:07:44]:
I don't believe that at all. Actually, however it is to see, we got to look at the fruit of what's being produced and what I normally refer to as the heart of everything. Where the heart is, everything follows from that. And that will indicate a lot of how your marriage or what your marriage is standing on. Another one is, are both people willing to take mutual accountability and action? I find that some people, one person is maybe overly accountable, under accountable. And we got to stop living from blame, excuses, pointing the finger, justifying our actions, not wanting to be vulnerable, being entitled to do what you want to do, those types of things. And you have to look at that maybe from a more consistent basis to help give you more clarity, because the mind will tell you anything to stay or to go. And so those are questions that I really want people to think about and ponder on. I mean, I did a whole breakdown of it for each question, but I just wanted to pose those questions for people because I know that this can be a difficult time.

Erica Bennett [00:08:49]:
Yeah, I love that. And I think I hear those questions and I sit in a place of now having moved through the divorce, right. Of having that what was the really just in love experience like? We didn't have a lot of communication. We weren't really talking through the things, the structure of what it needs to be a good relationship was missing. All the beginning, the passion, the fun, Let's just explore, was there, but we missed the other part. And so now when I sit and I hear some of those questions, right, it took me some time to also get to the point of the Disney marriage of fireworks over the castle is not necessarily the right fit.

Erica Bennett [00:09:32]:
And even right now, I hate even saying that out loud because I still am such a little optimistic, princess loving girl on the inside. But there is this thing that nobody teaches you, that it's a balance of the both. You can't just have the structure. You can't just have, hey, we're great life partners. We really divide and conquer, but we don't love each other. And the other side of, well, we really are obsessed with each other, but we lack all the healthy boundaries that need to happen. And so those three questions kind of help you see both of it, because in reality, a marriage is still, there's a business agreement aspect of it. It's a job that you're willing to say, I can commit fully to this job and I can love working on this job for x number of years while you're together.

Erica Bennett [00:10:17]:
And it takes two people.

Tonya Carter [00:10:18]:
Yeah, it really does. No matter. You can do all you can, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee the desired outcome. It really does take two, because a relationship, marriage is a shared responsibility.

Erica Bennett [00:10:32]:
Yeah. And one of the things, when my ex and I had done just a handful of therapy appointments together, it quickly moved from, oh, we had one therapy appointment to he showed up. The second one is like, I'm not working on it, to, I don't know what they call it, like discovery. We arrived together, but we each met separately to explore whether or not we even really want to work on it. But one of the topics that came up, and you reminded me of it when you mentioned it, was that there was this triangle, right? And there was this triangle of somebody either plays the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor, and we were stuck in that triangle.

Tonya Carter [00:11:06]:
Drama triangle.

Erica Bennett [00:11:08]:
Yeah. My ex was fully, like, he was the victim. He was justified in why he had cheated. He was justified in why he didn't have to work on it. Everything about it was like, oh, he was always the victim. And he really, truly did believe he was justified in what he was doing. And that's where, again, the brain is so powerful, and this is not like I have zero judgment on that he felt that way.

Erica Bennett [00:11:31]:
That was his reality. And I spent years going between rescuing, I'm going to take on more. He's just really depressed. How else can I help out? If I take on more, he'll get out of his funk. He'll own his own funk, right? Get out of it and move on. Or when that didn't work, what happened then? I moved to the persecutor, the picking, the nagging, the you better get it done, the push, push, push. But he was rooted. Like, even the therapist was like, dude, you are in it, like, a lot.

Erica Bennett [00:12:00]:
And until somebody steps out of it, there is nothing you can do to save it, because it takes each person being accountable for their own actions, their own belief system, their own how they're choosing to show up.

Tonya Carter [00:12:12]:
Absolutely. Actually, I use that drama triangle in my program.

Erica Bennett [00:12:16]:
I love it.

Tonya Carter [00:12:17]:
And I find that a lot of my clients are rescuers, enablers. And so much happens from that place because so much underlying resentment comes with that, too, even though you're helping them. And then you can find yourself turning into a persecutor because the outcome is not meeting the expectation, because what you're doing, you're doing it in hopes that they will be someone different, and that's not going to happen unless they actually see it for themselves. And so I use that, and I believe in that thing wholeheartedly, and I'm going to tell you, I had to look at myself, too. I was a rescuer and a persecutor. I was a bully. And I'm serious. I mean, it was just really to a point where it was just really unhealthy and I would bounce back between both.

Tonya Carter [00:12:57]:
And I found that in myself quite a bit. Not just in my romantic relationships, but also just how I function, because I thought I could control people.

Erica Bennett [00:13:04]:
Yeah, it's super powerful. You guys can definitely google it. I love it. And you know what I partnered with afterwards was the book Women Who Love Too Much. Okay. Because I was like, why am I always rescuing people? Why am I always taking on more? Why am I in this? And then I read this book, and it literally talked about kind of like, the psychology behind why do we pick somebody who we think if I just love them enough, they will change? If I do all these things for them, they won't ever leave me. Right. And it was like, I got goosebumps right now.

Erica Bennett [00:13:39]:
I was like, oh, this is me. We overly function. Yeah. And so doing all that to try and make sure they could never leave me, that I was then safe. Right. But then you give all and you get resentful and it never changes. And they just kind of walk all over you. And that's where boundaries come back into play, because boundaries are not about what they do differently, it's about what you do differently.

Erica Bennett [00:13:59]:
So removing yourself from the places that no longer work, which is really where you're at right now. Right, in season three. But as we've talked around kind of all of these things, the reality is that, yes, it's hard, but your life truly can be better because of this. And I know, Tanya, you've seen your clients have moved through that phase to be know you're in the first year in the dark and you have no idea how you're going to get through it or what it's going to be like or if you even want to. But we're telling you it gets better on the other side.

Tonya Carter [00:14:30]:
It does. It absolutely can. It can get a whole lot better, actually.

Erica Bennett [00:14:34]:
Yeah. And you know what? I love that you said it can. It can if you put the work into it. And the work is like a good work. Right? The work is learning out: Who are you? What do you want? What's your plan for this next phase? What's important to you? What do you want to prioritize? What needs healing? What did I contribute to the downfall of my marriage? And what did I learn from it? So when you do the work then life truly can be better on the other side. You are no longer the victim. Don't get stuck in that triangle, you guys.

Erica Bennett [00:15:05]:
Don't get stuck that now you're the victim of what this other person did to you.

Erica Bennett [00:15:13]:
Hey, fabulous ladies. Are you ready to join the club where understanding and transformation collide? Erica here, and I am extending a golden ticket to you, the crazy ex wives club cohort. Imagine a place where understanding, shared goals and unwavering support come together. You guys, this isn't just a club. It's a badge of honor. This is a community that grows and learns together. Join us weekly on Zoom calls where we unite, share and uplift. And this is your chance to ask questions, to explore, and to learn the secrets about moving forward from your divorce.

Erica Bennett [00:15:47]:
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Erica Bennett [00:16:06]:
So what kind of questions do they need to think about as they're planning this next phase? As an exit strategist? The strategy? The plan. What are some things that they need to be thinking about or getting clear on as they move into this new phase?

Tonya Carter [00:16:23]:
That's a really good question. I think one of the biggest things is really getting into an audit of your current life. And I say this because one of the biggest things I hear from quite a few women, and maybe you felt this way and maybe you hear from other women, is that they don't know who they are. They lost themselves. And we can unconsciously wrap our entire being can be rooted in our marriage, it can be rooted into even motherhood, sometimes even in our careers. It's just where we disconnect from who we really are. And having that authentic audit requires radical self honesty. And this is where you step outside of victimhood.

Tonya Carter [00:17:03]:
This is where you actually step into being a victor. Now, the thing is that when you get into this place of radical self honesty, it doesn't always feel good. But this is where you're going to step on the scale. Like, I know when I used to be 240 pounds, I dreaded getting on the scale to really see that number because I didn't want to face the fact that I got up to 240 pounds. But it was stepping on the scale that allowed me to really face the fact that I had allowed myself to get to a weight that I just wasn't satisfied with. And it's the same thing with your life. You have to do an audit over your life and step on the scale in different areas of your life to see where you are, whether that's your spiritual life, your mental and emotional health, your physical health, your financial well being, your relationships, the way you are as a parent. This isn't about judging yourself in a negative way, but this is about being 100% authentic that we can be in that moment to just really see where we are.

Tonya Carter [00:18:02]:
This just gives us a stepping stone so that we can plan, so that we can design. Like, this is about taking back your power. And I look at honesty as a courageous act, and I think when you start looking at it from that perspective, you're able to not be so hard on yourself. Because I can be hard on myself easily. But understanding that, wow, it takes a lot of courage to be honest with you. It's easy for me to tell people, well, Erica, you need to fix this. Like, it's easy for me to tell you about yourself, but for me to tell me about myself in a way that doesn't glorify me, it takes a lot of courage to unpack or peel back things that you may have never just allowed yourself to really face. And so just getting down to an audit is really where it starts.

Tonya Carter [00:18:51]:
And this where we're moving from a place of logic now and not just our emotions. And so that's the very first thing. This is what I do with my clients. This is not even something that I'm just, like, freestyling. This is something that we have to do. I did it. I had to get to that radical self honesty. Like, I really don't like my life.

Tonya Carter [00:19:11]:
And at this time, this was five years post my divorce. Sometimes we can't see that we can find ourselves in a vicious cycle of being a victim. Like, I was a victim. I used to think that because this happened, this is why I am the way I am. Because my ex husband moved out of town. Now you left me, the parent, alone. I can't do, like, all of that. You can easily remain a victim, and it can be justifiable when you talking to the right people who co-sign on what you say, not realizing that you can wake up five years later and still find yourself stuck in the same story.

Tonya Carter [00:19:41]:
And so when my father had his heart attack in 2015, I was already divorced for five years. But his divorce caused me to pause, meaning that I went to a complete full stop. Because divorce can cause you to go into survival mode, you can go into autopilot, and you don't even realize that's what you're doing because right now you're stepping into uncharted territory. So you're trying to pick up the pieces of your life, getting things together, not realizing that maybe I need to just pause for a second and really see, is this the direction I want to go? And that's what I had to do. And so that's one of the biggest things you have to do before you plan anything, is to do an audit of where you are currently.

Erica Bennett [00:20:22]:
So many thanks to unpacking that. But the structure, right. Doing this audit, you guys, having a plan in place is the tool that helps you avoid doing an emotional reaction instead, even if we just stay on with the weight loss part. Right. Same thing. I was emotionally eating. I was putting on picking up extra weight because, well, it was hard today, or he was a jerk today. And so I get to give myself this thing.

Erica Bennett [00:20:50]:
But when I have a structure around how I want to act and operate and what's important to me, that then when that emotional thing comes up, instead of me just diving into the ice cream or the cookies or whatever else, I can be like, okay, hold on a second. Yeah. You're upset. Yes, it was hard, but this doesn't get you towards your goal. This doesn't get you towards what you want. And so the plan, you guys, it's like your safety net, it's your thing that helps you stay on track towards what you want to achieve. Yeah.

Tonya Carter [00:21:21]:
And it also helps you get back in control. Right. Because divorce can cause you to feel powerless. You may feel like, I don't know what to do. You feel hopeless, helpless. And so you're regaining back a level of power that you may feel like you have lost on the journey, because again, no one plans to get a divorce. This is the plan. This supposed to work.

Tonya Carter [00:21:43]:
And when that doesn't work, it changes the plan, and you don't know what that plan is, which is why doing an audit is extremely important and feeling all the feelings while you do it. I tell people, your feelings are very valid, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're right. But we need to work through those feelings because it's actually very connected to your plan, really knowing how you feel all the things, knowing what you value. Some of us lose our values in marriage or may not. Never knew what they were. So getting clear on those things helps you move forward.

Erica Bennett [00:22:16]:
Yeah, because that when you guys do this audit, I used to do a behavior, an activity in my corporate role where we had you define your different roles. Right. I'm a dog walker or dog mom. Right. I'm a mom, I'm a partner, I'm a friend, I'm a daughter, I'm the finance guru of the house or whatever it is. Put your roles down and then assess how well you're doing them on a scale of zero to 10, 10 being your extraordinary and know that you're not going to move all of them at the same time, but doing this audit, same thing. Put down those roles and say, okay, how am I as a parent? Where do I wish I was better? What do I want? How am I as an independent woman? And that was a role that I had put aside, like you were saying, I had a corporate job that I had to do that was paying the bills. I had a child that had to be taken care of because he's just still a little baby.

Erica Bennett [00:23:10]:
Right. And then came the rest of the roles. Right. Then came, was I a friend? I wasn't really talking to anybody outside of some playdates with some other moms where we kind of just complained about how our husbands weren't doing anything for us. Right, right. That was kind of it, right? You got together and you bitched for 3 hours and then you went home and you were supposed to now be in love with your partner when they came in. And then we didn't have a babysitter, so he went out and I stayed home. Right.

Erica Bennett [00:23:36]:
So now my role as being a partner was failing, but the key one that I realized I had put aside was the relationship to myself. Like, did I feel beautiful? Did I feel attractive? What turned me on, not sexually turned me on, but like in life, what was I jazzed about on a daily basis? And I had lost the connection to all those pieces. And that's so important to do that audit and to figure out what would light you up during the day. What do you want to have in this aspect of your life?

Tonya Carter [00:24:07]:
Absolutely. I love how you said, knowing that your role as a woman, we lose that or we may not even know that we could have that and other things. So that word and is so powerful because it helps you realize that I can be a woman, a wife, a mom simultaneously. Right. And just really understanding what that looks like. I find that many women drop their womanhood and say, well, I'm a wife and I'm a mother. And it's often praised and glorified. But I will also say that in all of that, you really lose what matters to you? Knowing that your voice is very important.

Tonya Carter [00:24:47]:
And so doing this kind of inner work, because, as I tell people, this is more of an inner work that produces an external outcome, getting in tune with what you want, what you need, as opposed to thinking, well, what did my ex want? Or what does my kids want, or what does my parents want of me or my friends or culture? We listen to all the voices of what everyone else says we should do, and we mute the voice on what's inside. And so doing this audit is a stepping stone for other things. And the more we're allowing ourselves to connect to the core of who we are, the more we able to have a plan that aligns with what we value. That is very important. Oh, my God. I can't believe sometimes even thinking about some of the things that I sacrifice just to be validated. I just couldn't believe that I got to that point about myself now. I'm very aware of who I am.

Tonya Carter [00:25:42]:
There's no gray area. It's very clear on who and whose I am. And I love this woman that I've become, and that's what I want to teach my clients as well.

Erica Bennett [00:25:50]:
Yeah, it is so powerful when you land in that space. And you guys, it's one decision at a time. It's one step at a time. I got stuck for a few years, too. All of a sudden, I was like, wow, my divorce was x number of years ago, and I'm still talking like it just happened to me.

Tonya Carter [00:26:06]:
That part, that is powerful. Absolutely. You will stay stuck in that story. Yeah, seriously.

Erica Bennett [00:26:13]:
I know exactly why. I was driving home from work. I was calling my regular friend that I called a chat about to be like, oh, the ex. He did all these things, and now I'm stuck because he did these things to me, right? Like, we have all been there. We've all been there. And then one day, I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. It's been too many years. Like, it happened a long time ago.

Erica Bennett [00:26:32]:
It's time for me to move forward. And I think one of the coolest parts about being a woman that I didn't. Full confession, I had no idea until only a few years ago, is that the variety of different roles or energies we can take on while still being comprised in one human body is so amazing. So if you want to pick up the mom energy for right now, you can. And then if you want to pick up the partner sexy energy, you can. And if you just want to pick up the empowered single female, you can. And you can flow through all of them all the time. I thought you had to pick one.

Erica Bennett [00:27:12]:
I am a mom now, which means that you don't wear crazy sexy outfits like you did in college. I'm too old for that, or I don't feel beautiful like that anymore. You can be all of them all the time, and it's just about finding little ways to keep each of those personalities, we really do have a lot of personalities, alive and fueled.

Tonya Carter [00:27:34]:
Absolutely. Oh, my God. You said so much in that, and I totally agree. That story, you will hold on to it for dear life. And that's the title of my book, Divorce Your Story. That is what I really aim for, is for people to really challenge the narrative that they're telling themselves, because you can wake up year after year. It'd be a different year, you're a different age, but your story is still the same. And so I had to change the narrative.

Tonya Carter [00:28:00]:
My narrative wasn't elevated at all, and that took a lot of honest effort. I had to stop talking about the story to remain in pain. I had to now start talking about it from a place of purpose to move forward. And so that was a huge shift in my journey. Like, I got just to a point where I was just tired. I'm like, I got to stop talking about this story. And most importantly, I had to stop talking about it to people who would listen.

Erica Bennett [00:28:25]:
Yes. That's like, the kickoff to learning to thrive in your new normal. You just have to make the choice. And when you make that choice, is all the old energy and the old stories, are they still there? Yes. And when they pop up again, you make the choice that that's not where you're going to spend your time anymore. So I made the choice to stop calling certain friends that I knew were going to activate the need to complain and blame and bitch about the things that had happened. I made the choice to intentionally focus on, how do I want to learn from this? What do I want to do from this? How does this serve me in moving forward? And it always comes down to making the choice believe you get to choose everything you do. It doesn't mean it's always easy, but you always can choose to be moving forward, to learn to grow and to thrive from whatever is in your current reality.

Tonya Carter [00:29:20]:
Absolutely. And it goes to show that divorce is deeper than just a legal process. There's the mental and emotional part that you need to divorce from, like, detach, disassociate, disconnect. That's from the story that we tell ourselves and the more we reaffirm whatever that story is, we only can move in a manner in which we believe. And so when you make that x become so relevant, and I always tell people your ex is a non factor to your healing, I believe that wholeheartedly. I don't believe they are as relevant as we give them relevance. When we start to realize that who they are is who they are and who we are is who we are, we can learn that, you know, what, it's up to them to change or not. However, despite of what they do or don't do, that's not going to dictate how I function.

Tonya Carter [00:30:11]:
And that is your power, that is your ultimate switch is really making them less relevant to your healing.

Erica Bennett [00:30:19]:
Yes, we have given them a lot of power through the marriage, through the divorce, through the pain. And when you take that back, it also creates what was a very hard lesson, too, of I had to forgive myself. What he did is what he did, but I had to forgive myself for not choosing to leave earlier. I had to forgive myself for choosing to stay in it for two years. There was so much shame and guilt that I'm sure everybody else was like, well, duh, Erica, why are you being so stupid? Right? Like, he's obviously still lying, he's not showing back up. But I was adamant that I was going to stick this out. And so it wasn't about blaming him that he didn't show up sooner. It was about forgiving myself for not being ready to move forward.

Erica Bennett [00:31:06]:
And it took me longer. Everybody takes a different amount of time, and there's no right or wrong in that. But the day that you are done feeling how you're feeling, you're the one who makes a new choice.

Tonya Carter [00:31:17]:
Yeah, forgiveness is a huge part of my program. It's something I talk about a lot more self forgiveness than anything. I think when you start to learn how to genuinely forgive yourself, you're able to extend it to other people because you see that you're human, you're imperfect, you're not going to get this thing called life right. And so giving yourself that genuine forgiveness is the gateway to moving forward, because if you honestly forgive yourself, you need to prove it by doing what's required to move past it. And I think that's where I don't deserve forgiveness. Well, forgiveness is not a deserved act. There's no amount of work you can do externally to feel as if you deserve forgiveness. It's a very undeserved favor, meaning that no matter what you've done, forgiveness is already there you just have to allow yourself to truly receive it and embrace it and move on from it.

Erica Bennett [00:32:12]:
It's an internal job of what very done.

Tonya Carter [00:32:16]:
It's very internal. And forgiving yourself for thinking that you were wrong for staying. I don't believe a person is wrong for staying. This is your marriage. It's something that you took very seriously, and you wanted to make sure that, hey, I gave it my all. I don't want to feel like I failed. Because that's what ties with divorce, is failure. Feeling like you let your family down, feeling like you let your kids down, feeling like what you've done wasn't enough.

Tonya Carter [00:32:43]:
But the goal is to not stay in that energy and emotional state of failure. Okay? And that's really important. And elevating a new perspective requires grace, requires compassion. There's no way you can elevate your perspective around this whole entire situation if you don't extend that to yourself.

Erica Bennett [00:33:03]:
Yeah, I think in every instance, we always make the best choice possible. We make the choice that we're able to make right then. Then we might look back, and that's where you look back and there's regret. But in the moment, you did the best thing you could. You made the choice that you were ready for, even if now you're ready for something different. But it's about being okay with the choices you made. Putting them to rest, giving yourself grace, and just continuing to try and move forward and know that it's two steps forward, one step back. Like nobody's business.

Erica Bennett [00:33:34]:
Especially in this phase, no matter how much visualizing you do or lining up to the energy, you're not going to be perfect. You made really good movement forward, and all of a sudden you wake up and you just feel like you're a victim again and that this all sucks and you don't want to do it. And that's okay, too.

Tonya Carter [00:33:51]:
Yeah, it is. It's a roller coaster in the beginning. But the more you decide that no matter how I feel in this present moment, I'm going to still move forward. The more it becomes a distant memory, more than it being in the forefront of your life and next thing you know, you've created a life that you couldn't even think or imagine at the time. All because you keep deciding. Every day you have to consciously choose to decide, especially when you're in the thick of it. It can be a lot of things that are unfolding that it just becomes very challenging to see beyond.

Erica Bennett [00:34:30]:
Yeah. I had to make the choice. I had visualized. I wanted both of us to win at the end of this. And there were a lot of days when I really wanted to send the zinger text and I really wanted to hurt him back. And sometimes I did, but it was that, like, no, this is not what you want. Walk away. Put it down.

Erica Bennett [00:34:47]:
Write it in your journal instead. But stop the momentum. Stop continuing the pattern to give it some space for something else to shift and move into.

Tonya Carter [00:34:57]:
Yeah. Energy shifter is a game changer, right?

Erica Bennett [00:35:01]:
So keep working at it. You guys set that vision of, what is your plan? Do your audit figure out where are you at in each of these roles? Where do you want to be? What small steps can you make forward in achieving those things? I'm a big fan of putting it up somewhere so you see it. I don't really cut magazines up for vision boards anymore, but I put big mind mapping bubbles on a big post it, a flip chart, and it's up in my wall or right above my light switch is actually when I visualize who I am in my full energy and my full power and the words around it that relate to that, so that I have that visual cue to keep me focused on what I want until the momentum picks up, until it becomes easier. Because in the beginning, it's hard. But this is the first steps of learning how to thrive. Look back.

Erica Bennett [00:35:50]:
Look how far you have come. I love flipping through my instagram because it was all my little happy moments. I was like, oh, I remember that moment. That moment felt really good. And just keep chipping away at it. But getting your head in the clear place, right, having your plan, doing your audit, those things are going to set you up for success in this new chapter.

Tonya Carter [00:36:10]:
Yeah, I love how you said those moments. I think that's really important. To cultivate joy is appreciating the moments and being in gratitude on the journey, because I do that still every day. I do a lot of gratefulness. What I'm grateful for, what I'm thankful for, that was a habit that I cultivated, and it just rolls with me now because they're going to be moments and seasons where you're like, really? You know what I'm saying? This ain't working, Tanya. You got to get into this energy of saying, okay, what did happen? great today? Even if it's your child saying, I love you, they give you a hug, believe it or not, it will change your energy knowing. And it gave me goosebumps just saying that.

Tonya Carter [00:36:55]:
Because my kids still hug me and they are 20 and 16, so don't overlook the small wins, the small moments of gratitude. Someone just checking in on you. Someone saying, you know what? Let me watch the kids for you, girl. Go. Do you, whatever that looks like, enjoy all of that. I promise you that will allow you to thrive because you're able to see the gratitude along the journey. Yeah.

Erica Bennett [00:37:23]:
And having those, if I got a voice message, I do love that. Now it reads it out to you like the text is on the screen. Because I could screenshot it and somebody's like, I'm just thinking about you today, sending you some love. Right. Screenshot that. Be able to go back through these moments because life gets busy and we forget those tiny little moments, right? And it's those little moments that build a fantastic life. It's not the big things, right? It's not the car, it's not the house. It's not the whatever.

Erica Bennett [00:37:50]:
It's those teeny tiny moments. And we so often forget them because life gets busy. So being able to look back. Well, thank you, Tanya, for joining us today. Listeners, she does have a gift for you to help you guys on this journey. So tell us a little bit about what you have for the listeners.

Tonya Carter [00:38:07]:
Yeah, I created this guide. It was called seven ways to thrive. Well, your next chapter, seven ways to thrive after divorce or breakup. And I wanted to just give seven quick things for people to just start doing. And they are small, they're not big. A lot of the things that I give aren't big. They're very small, and they just add up. And so you can go to my website, tanyacarter.com.

Tonya Carter [00:38:30]:
It's on the first page as well if you want to download that guide to help you see. What can I do? You don't have to do all seven things. You can just do one out of the seven and build on that. But these are seven things that are guaranteed to help you on your journey to renew, restore and reclaim your own personal happiness after divorce.

Erica Bennett [00:38:51]:
I love that. So, you guys, I will have tanya's website is in all the notes, the episode description. It's also on the crazyxwivesclub.com under episodes where we have the full transcript. So everything will be linked there. We'll link it to in social media so that you guys can find it. Because again, it's about creating a plan of how you want to thrive in this new chapter, in little by little, week by week, moving closer and closer towards what you want and allow it to grow around you and change and flex. But you are always on your path.

Erica Bennett [00:39:23]:
You are always moving towards what you want for your best self. It's just about learning how to tune into the joy along the way. So thank you, Tanya, for joining us. And for those of you, we'll be back next week with another episode.

Tonya Carter [00:39:38]:
And that's it.

Erica Bennett [00:39:40]:
Another great episode of the Crazy Ex Wives Club, a podcast for women learning how to heal from their divorce. Tune in next week for more advice and tips to help you figure out life after divorce. And until then, give yourself grace. Do the best you can and know that this is all part of the process. Our channel.


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