real life

"I hit rock bottom after my separation. Three years later, I'm in the best position I've ever been."

Westpac
Thanks to our brand partner, Westpac

A marriage might end in a single moment, or in a crashing realisation, or in a sudden new thought.

For me, my marriage ended as I lay next to my husband one night, totally awake, processing a new reality, wondering who he even was; who I was now.

It was a Ground Zero. A complete levelling of my life as I knew it.

And yet, as a mum, you have to somehow function.

Over the next few days, I did things like pick up my wedding photo and remove it from the wall. One step. I called another friend, made another cup of tea. I cried, I hugged my family and friends and talked to my daughter about what was happening.

The chats I had with my friends were hard, raw, but also so honest. Comforting. And slowly, little pieces began to make sense. New thoughts began to form.

I can do this. I am going to be OK.

Me, feeling much better about life. Image: Supplied.

I spoke with a lawyer. I evacuated my first spider from the house with my daughter! A hilarious comedy of errors. (She wouldn’t let me kill it.)

I had to immediately close a joint bank account and ask my bank what to do next to set me up- I used any expertise I could find.

Trust me, you'll find plenty of loose ends to tie up, but things like Westpac's Separation Checklist, Support guide  and the Davidson Institute's personal money management guides can help make you feel in control of "Future Me". 

Yes, it was all new, but it was all important. I had to think about things like our mortgage and loans. I called friends to get their advice. I relied on my family. I made an appointment with my bank and discovered I was in a better position than I had even realised. I re-negotiated my home loan. I began to educate myself about my finances and I felt empowered.

I kept it up. One step, one task, one day at a time. I absorbed new things, this new reality I was in.

I shopped at the supermarket slightly differently, mixed things up. We went out for dinner some nights, just me and my daughter.

One day over lunch at work, my friend said to me "This is your second chance, Kate". He’d had a second chance too, and had emerged from his Ground Zero a happier person, a better dad, with a new lovely partner.

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And that’s when I started to see it, that little tiny spark on the horizon, way, way in the distance. The belief that things could be better. I did my best to never let it fade. I held onto it at night, when I lay by myself in bed. And I started to make plans.

You have to think positively. Recent Westpac research shows that 84 percent of people who finalised their separation did something positive or financially significant within a year of their separation - like paying off debts, taking a holiday or starting a new job.

And it often happens bit by bit.

As I made plans, my little tasks turned into lists, and weeks turned into months again. I said yes to things, instead of allowing my world to get smaller. My friends and family encouraged me.

I decided I would take my daughter overseas the following year, to New York and LA. I started to see a new future forming, and this was the first big step.

Another new idea was forming too: maybe I’ll be better than just OK.

In NYC feeling smarter and stronger than ever. Image: Supplied.

The first year was hard, I’m not going to lie. But I made it, though each new experience, the first Christmas, the first social events walking in as a single woman. I cried, I journalled, but I also worked hard. I refreshed my wardrobe. We painted upstairs. We got good at catching spiders as a team! I cooked new meals, I made new friends, and I worked hard.

Now, only three years after my marriage ended, I can say this truthfully: my relationship with my daughter is the best it’s even been, and that makes me happy to my core. My career is also the strongest it’s ever been, and my relationship with myself is the healthiest it’s ever been. I like myself. I am proud of who I am and I feel smart, and strong.

I am social, I am active, I am financially stable and I am happy in a way that is fed by the good relationships and things in my life. I have more plans - bigger plans.

None of this was what I expected when I lay there that sleepless night, when I thought my world was ending. Actually, it was just changing, and it changed for the better.

What's your life like after separation or divorce? Tell us below what has helped you through one of the trickiest times in your life.

Westpac

Negotiating the financial side of a separation can be complex, which is why Westpac has made available a range of checklists and resources to help support Australians through what can be an overwhelming and difficult time. If you or someone you love is going through a separation visit westpac.com.au/separation, call Westpac's Customer Assist line on 1800 067 497, or speak with your local branch staff.

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