Caroline: The biggest thing for me is that I used to think that divorce was a bad word. I used to be ashamed to tell people I was separated and that I was divorced. I used to not want to talk about it and I’ve kind of done a 360 on that and I think it’s something that we need to talk about and we need to talk more about both men and women that go through it. It’s not a dirty word and you can kind of rebuild your life.
Nicky: What’s up CorrNation! I am your host Nicky Correa, CEO of CorrWealth Management and you are listening to another episode of Coin for Thought.
Nicky: What’s up CorrNation! Welcome to another episode of Coin for Thought! Today on the show I have Caroline Angus from Thistle Design Studios and Caroline is here to talk about her own divorce and how she overcame the challenges of her own divorce. Thank you so much for joining me on the show.
Caroline: Thanks for having me.
Nicky: Yeah so tell me about how it all started because you know now you’ve gotten to a really good place but you know how did you guys meet?
Caroline: So it was I took a year off after high school to do some work. My best friend went to college that year and met him at the college and thought we were a good match so she set us up. Now that was back when I was 19.
Nicky: Oh wow you were young.
Caroline: A very long time ago and it just kind of progressed from there.
Nicky: Oh okay, so did you feel like when you got together it was the right fit? Did you did you feel like he was really the one for you?
Caroline: Not right at the beginning I think because I was so young. I’m all I’ve always been a person that has had like longer relationships I wasn’t really a dater very much.
Caroline: So before him I’d really only had two pretty serious boyfriends that had lasted a couple of years. So we kept going year after year and sort of as the time went on and I got a little older, it just became you know I did obviously love this person and sort of the natural next step was obviously to get married and and start a life together so
Caroline: That’s how it kind of progressed from there and I think I pushed the issue of marriage a little bit more than he did.
Nicky: Did you feel obligated to get married, did you feel like that was just the natural progression, did you were you ever pressured into getting married, were people ever asking you because you had been together for some time.
Caroline: I wouldn’t say I was pressured by anybody, certainly not by parents or family or friends or anything like that. It was more my own pressure I think that you know you’re getting to that age where you need to get married and start thinking about having children and and being an adult and having an adult life. So I think it was more my own pressure that put it on.
Caroline: Myself to to take those next natural steps. There was never any hesitation though that it should be with him there wasn’t any
Caroline: on my end there wasn’t any issues
Caroline: that that it shouldn’t be him
Nicky: yeah, so you guys got married and did you find that you enjoyed the early years of your marriage?
Caroline: Yeah like we had dated for quite a long time we did the long distance thing because I did eventually go away to college.
Caroline: from the town so we were together for quite a long time before we got married but the early days were great because we did you know we’ve got our first apartment and you know you have your bare minimum of furniture and hand-me-downs and stuff like that and just sort of creating that life from there and getting jobs and seeing each other progress into becoming working functioning adults with a with a life and then we bought our first townhouse together and then started to have children after that.
Nicky: So when did you feel like was the first time you felt like wow this marriage is starting to crack a little bit?
Caroline: It’s actually kind of funny because there were signs very early on that I ignored and pushed aside. I would say when I was pregnant with my first child so that would be about three years after we got married, some things happened that clued me in that you know what’s going on here and so I’d ask those questions and he would answer you know it was just a joke or whatever and I think at that point I just wanted the marriage to succeed so much that I took him at his word and
Nicky: You wanted to really believe him.
Caroline: Yeah I think I did because I when I got married I got married forever
Caroline: Divorce was never a question or separation divorce was never a question in my mind because I’d never been around it. Nobody I knew had ever gotten separated or divorced no friends no family.
Nicky: So what happened when you got pregnant? What what were you questioning him about?
Caroline: It was a couple of things, it was finances. I did look after the finances primarily and he was never really exceptionally good with managing money so there was odd things within the finances that he couldn’t explain and he had gone away on a boy’s trip somewhere and I had gotten I was on the computer for some reason and I noticed that his picture was on a dating site.
Caroline: and so I phoned one of my best friends and I was crying and everything and she said well you need to confront him about it and when he’s back and see what that’s about. So I did and he played it off that it was just the guys at work, dared me to do it. It was just a joke you know. I haven’t done anything about it or whatever and he took down the profile and
Nicky: That must have been so hurtful because you were pregnant at that time and you know you would want your your husband to be so excited and only thinking about you and this baby and not about like practical jokes or pranks
Nicky: Even if it was a practical joke you wouldn’t want their head to be going in that direction.
Caroline: I think I was two steps ahead of him.
Caroline: Whereas I wanted the good marriage and the kids and the house and good careers and everything like that I think he was still a little bit behind in in that aspect that maybe he wasn’t quite ready for that. I wouldn’t say he ever commented that I pushed or anything like that. It did seem natural like a natural progression to me.
Caroline: So if he did have those feelings they weren’t made apparent but I think he was still you know like to go out and have fun with his buddies and not that he would come home late or anything but he still liked to party per se.
Caroline: and go out and have a good time and so he’d often go out for weekends with his friends and then I just don’t when we had my daughter that was more apparent as well that he wasn’t necessarily ready for those things because any time that I worked, he would always phone my parents who lived fairly close to us and asked them what they were doing like he just couldn’t be alone with her because he didn’t know what to do with her.
Nicky: So he like wasn’t ready to be a dad just yet, he wasn’t ready for the commitment of it, he wasn’t ready to like get down and dirty with all of us.
Caroline: Yeah I don’t think he was ready for the responsibility yet. I think he still wanted to be a young man because we’re talking maybe mid-20s, we both were at this point
Caroline: So I think he still wanted to be in his mid-20s and go with his friends and drink and not worry about having to come home and oh my gosh we have a mortgage so I maybe can’t get that extra drink tonight or whatever I just want to still be out. He just didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t mature enough at that point I don’t think.
Nicky: How did you manage having a baby by yourself?
Caroline: It was pretty easy because like I said before I was ready for that part so it was okay for me and he he was a fairly, I can’t say he was a bad dad, he would play with them and he would help and change diapers and do all those things. He just wasn’t necessarily ready for that responsibility I think on his own. So I would always help him along with it and show him what to do and you know suggest that maybe we go to the zoo and stuff like you know
Nicky: Yeah, yeah
Caroline: that you would do with kids
Caroline: that he didn’t necessarily
Caroline: really know how to do. He was also the baby in his family. I’m also the baby too but I think women seem to have a little bit more of a
Nicky: maternal yeah
Caroline: an instinct
Caroline: so and I don’t think he really lived near any young cousins or anything like that so he hadn’t really had experience with babies and stuff like that but he wasn’t terrible
Caroline: as a father
Nicky: Yeah, he just wasn’t, he just didn’t know how to be engaged.
Caroline: Yeah and he just didn’t know what to do with them.
Caroline: when he was by himself and how to entertain them
Caroline: or keep them happy and when do I feed and he got there but
Nicky: So fast forward like you had then your son
Nicky: Right and what was the time in between like? So you had your daughter and you started to face these struggles and you’re managing you know your daughter and like all the finances like by yourself and then you decide that you’re going to have another baby with him. You have your son. What was that like afterwards?
Caroline: I think he had grown at that point, he was a little bit older, I was a little bit older. He had had the experience with my daughter so I think he had, I think he felt ready for my son to be born more so than he was when my daughter was born I think. The time in between was was good. We made decisions together. I was going to stay at home with the kids until they went to school. He was going out less, like that that actually probably in our marriage was the best time that we had together. We’d go on vacations, we’d visit family. His parents were separated at that time so you know if we ever went to visit one we had to go visit the others so we would split our time. Yeah, I would say probably that was the best time. We bought a house and moved to Burlington. We had been living in Stoney Creek in a townhouse. We moved to Burlington on a quiet court with a you know in a single family home, made friends with the neighbors, all that good stuff. He had a good job so we were doing well at that point for sure.
Nicky: Okay and then your son came along and then, was everything still okay?
Caroline: Everything was still okay at that point. He was possibly moving around jobs a little bit and then sort of around when my son went to school, things changed in the household. I went back to work part time and I don’t think he was resentful of that in any way. We had discussed that it would be good to bring in some extra income.
Nicky: Did you feel more free though going back to work because I feel like I felt so good when I went back to work I felt like I got a little bit of my life back because you’re not talking to kids you know you’re
Caroline: all the time
Nicky: all the time right, you get to interact with other people and they’re, no one’s looking to you as a mom. They’re looking to you as an equal and for me, it gave me a little bit of my freedom back too. I got to actually eat a warm lunch. I got to like put something in the microwave and eat it right away so versus having to reheat it and then eventually throw it in the garbage because you know it was just so busy with the kids all day
Caroine: Yeah, it was it was nice to talk to other adults and have adult conversations. The schedule worked out really well, he was doing shift work and I was working primarily like evenings and weekends. Sp we kind of switched off our our duties. He was always the cook in the house. I’m not a fan of cooking very much so that was always great. He’d make the meals and at that point he was able to successfully kind of be with the children on his own and and do things with them but certainly I found when I went back to work I wasn’t just a mom anymore I was actually back to being Caroline who had other interests and
Caroline: friends and and stuff like that and that job kind of became a saving grace when the divorce and separation happened for me.
Nicky: What was that break in your relationship where you realized this is absolutely not working, you know this is not gonna work, I can’t do this anymore?
Caroline: So it totally wasn’t me at all. It was actually him
Caroline: that decided the marriage was over.
Caroline: We had been having some issues within the marriage. We had started seeing a marriage therapist where we were talking about our feelings and our emotions and everything and I thought we were getting somewhere and then out of the blue, I actually got a text message that said I’m no longer wish to be married.
Nicky: that’s that’s brutal
Caroline: Yeah, yeah that’s that’s the funny point for me now because I tell people that all the time like I phoned in a radio station once
Caroline: and they asked how I think the question was like what was the worst way that somebody broke up with you and I phoned in and I was like my husband ended our marriage over a text message and they were like what
Nicky: What do you think he should have done? What would you have liked for him to do?
Caroline: There had been discussions of whether or not like while we were going to the therapist whether or not the marriage should should continue, more on his end and me trying to convince him that it should continue so it’s not like it was completely out of the blue that he was having these feelings.
Nicky: Were you surprised were you surprised?
Caroline: Oh yes
Caroline: 100 percent surprised.
Nicky: What do you think that he was feeling at that time?
Caroline: I think he was in recollection, oh that’s a hard question because originally I just thought he thought something was really wrong that we couldn’t necessarily get past and I didn’t know what that was, finding out later what the truth was, it was that he was cheating so the grass was obviously greener on the other side.
Nicky: So we met somebody and he was seeing somebody else.
Nicky: For how long?
Caroline: For quite a while, months
Caroline: which I found out afterwards and again the signs had been there and I just think I was just I don’t know if I was too dedicated or really willed that the relationship was working but there were certainly signs.
Nicky: Where did he meet this person? Who was this person?
Caroline: The first person was at work
Caroline: was a co-worker and there had been like times where he had said oh I’m taking the kids to the park with so and so
Caroline: Okay fine like you know, I had male friends you can have female friends that’s fine. So and so’s son is in the hospital, so we’re gonna go visit. Okay fine you know, that should have probably been my clues that they were spending more time with her and her children as opposed to with me.
Nicky: So, was she divorced? Was she with somebody?
Caroline: I believe she had never been married but had one child.
Nicky: Okay, okay. So that was the first person that he cheated on you with?
Nicky: okay and who was the second and what how long was that first person for?
Caroline: Oh I would, I don’t exactly know
Nicky: yeah from you can never exactly
Caroline: no I don’t think you can from what I recall I think it was a good I would say four to five months.
Caroline: because I think it was March that he started possibly seeing her and he didn’t ask for us to separate until July
Caroline: June or July
Nicky: Okay, when did
Caroline: the dates escape me
Nicky: When did the second person come along?
Caroline: They were not shortly after we separated
Caroline: So not necessarily cheating anymore but we technically were still married and I was still trying to figure out like, what is going on, why are we in this position, what are we doing?
Nicky: Did you feel at that time when you asked for a divorce that the separation was permanent?
Nicky: that it was going to head into divorce, it wasn’t a temporary hiatus, it wasn’t a vacation from each other?
Caroline: No I don’t, I didn’t think so I think he was the way, because what happened was after when I got the text message I was actually visiting my parents with the kids and we were downtown where they live and we were getting ice cream, I remember it so vividly, and I got the text and I told my mom and I broke down crying and so I remember her saying to my dad take the kids into the drugstore because there’s a drugstore there. I’m taking Caroline away because they were still quite young and so we kind of went. It was like a mad scramble. We kind of went our separate ways um and there were many conversations after that like my dad, my mom, his dad, his mom. Why do you want to not be part of this relationship anymore, why do you not want it to work, why
Nicky: So his parents were kind of on your side.
Caroline: In some ways yes
Caroine: in some of the conversations there were comments made where they weren’t on my side but I don’t think they necessarily wanted the marriage to end completely because theirs had they were separated at that time as well and so they knew kind of the ins and outs of that their children were grown when they separated
Nicky: and they didn’t want that for their son obviously
Caroline: No I don’t think so
Caroline: and their their other son was also separated
Caroline: recently from his wife so I think his mom for sure was more upset about it. His dad would relay comments about you know things like housework and he does all the cooking because you don’t like to cook and you know so there were stabs in there
Nicky: So they were trying to figure out these menial things that you could do to save the marriage while not really admitting the core foundational issues that were actually present in your marriage.
Caroline: Yes and I don’t know if they actually knew about the cheating or if they know to this day about the cheating but I think they just thought it was like a disagreement and maybe I needed to do a little bit more cooking and take some of the burden off of him and maybe he needed to do a little bit more of the child minding and take a little bit of the burden off of me and we would be fine.
Nicky: that’s so funny because they’re like kind of treating you like kids who are just not getting along
Nicky: yeah, it wasn’t very helpful
Caroline: to say the least
Caroline: So getting to the core reason of of why it was done was probably never really established I think between all of us including him and I
Nicky: How did you feel when you just separated and then he got with somebody else right after?
Caroline: That one stung a little bit because that relationship actually lasted for quite a while and he ended up having a child with that woman
Caroline: and I had always wanted a third child but I was always told no we don’t need a third child so he did give me the courtesy of phoning me and letting me know that they were having a baby
Nicky: Was it a planned practice no, like it really matters but like was it planned or was it an oopsy baby or?
Caroline: Oh the fallout that came from that relationship I think it was planned on her part
Caroline: not planned on his part
Caroline: I think she needed a fool to have a child and she found one in my ex
Caroline: yeah and then that opened a whole other bag of worms
Nicky: Okay, was it hard now because he is now responsible for three kids and throughout this whole time how old were your kids because they must have been seeing all of this go on and I don’t know what your relationship was really like, were you guys openly fighting, was it more passive, what was it like during during this time?
Caroline: So yeah, they were quite young, my daughter was about grade three, my son was maybe in junior kindergarten. So the hard part was after the separation because my daughter was in school at that time and my son we wanted to wait to move out of our house until school was finished so we actually lived together separated for over a year or so if not a little bit longer so like he would sleep in the basement I would still sleep upstairs in bed we would have our weekends with the children
Nicky: Was it hostile during that time because I mean during that time it’s it’s like he’s still seeing this other person so it’s not like you guys are even just separated and he’s still he’s not engaged kind of like in a relationship he’s you know he’s moved on but at the same time he’s in this house and why do you think that he was in that house if he was already kind of he’d already it seemed like he already kind of like left right he he already wanted he really wanted out of this relationship he wanted to move on with somebody else but at the same time from a living perspective I feel like he should have moved out in that situation.
Caroline: Yes and there was every opportunity for him to do so and lots of pushing but I don’t know if it was the pull of the kids still being there and he didn’t want to miss out on anything with them or if it was he didn’t think that I would take care of the house so that it would sell properly when we decided to put it up for sale. There were good days and bad days for sure there was sometimes when we got along okay and we said very little to each other but we made it work and there were some days where tempers would flare and certainly there would be yelling and storming out of the house or whatever somebody had to do to cool down so it was a tumultuous time but we made it work
Nicky: and during that time your parents were super supportive too.
Caroline: Oh definitely
Nicky: Yeah yeah
Caroline: They were living quite far about an hour or so away but every weekend that I had the kids or every chance I had when I wasn’t working I would go and spend the weekends with them and we’d kind of sort of house hunt but not really because we weren’t I wasn’t at that stage yet where we were selling the house but very supportive, couldn’t have done it without them at all.
Nicky: So you were mentioning that you didn’t have friends around you that were divorced and during this time did you feel lonely did you feel like you weren’t supported by your community by your friendships
Caroline: It’s very funny because when you go through a separation and divorce I think you find out who your true friends are. I would say one of the people I thought of as a best friend kind of disappeared didn’t really say anything
Nicky: Do you feel like she was, she felt like it was none of her business, she didn’t want to ask questions, she felt awkward, what do you think she was, she was kind of feeling?
Caroline: I think it was probably she didn’t want to cry too much but also possibly a bit of almost guilt maybe that she was still
Nicky: in a relationship
Caroline: in a relationship with her husband and everything was fine and maybe mine wasn’t I haven’t actually ever asked what the issue was but perhaps a little bit of guilt and and you know people have their own lives and and stuff
Nicky: I feel like a lot of times you know when you have a friendship and then all of a sudden you know it’s none of their business because they don’t want to get involved it’s really sad because sometimes people don’t really know what to do but I think the right thing and correct me if I’m wrong but like I think the right thing would be to ask to be able to say hey you’re going through a hard time I don’t know how to support you I don’t know what you need can you tell me can you guide me through it is that something that you kind of is that something that resonates with you?
Caroline: yes I would have given anything for somebody to say to me how are you doing how are you getting through this how can we support you through this I’ve certainly had tons of support from my parents but I think too
Nicky: it’s different yeah
Caroline: you don’t
Caroline: you know
Nicky: because they also worry about you in a different way than a friendship and
Caroline: sometimes you just can’t you know say what you want to say
Caroline: pull out swearing
Nicky: whatever yeah
Caroline: you know put a few drinks in me and i’ll really tell you what I think
Caroline: kind of situation right
Caroline: where with friends I think you can do that more. I also had another couple that we were friends with as a couple that phoned and asked me how he was because they hadn’t heard from him in a while and they were worried about him.
Nicky: Why didn’t they just call him and ask him that?
Caroline: Well they tried but they couldn’t get a hold of him but the first the the first question was hey do you know how he’s doing and I was like how about how I’m doing why wouldn’t the first question be how I’m doing and then you can lead into that because obviously we’re still talking we still have children but
Caroline: you know ask me first and and then there were like my best friend was obviously the one that introduced us was very supportive but she lived in a completely different city so as supportive as she could be
Nicky: Did you need a call every day, did you need somebody to come over and have coffee with you, did you need, what did you need, what did you need at that time, what were you just yearning for at that time from a friend?
Caroline: I think so often even in life we don’t off we don’t say to people like how can I help you how can I support you what do you need from me just even something as simple as that or you know it didn’t have to be take me out for dinner and drinks and dancing and all that kind of stuff although I did have a few girlfriends that did do that which was great but you know how would I come over today and we have tea or how about you know is he home can he look after the kids for an hour while we go to the mall and just walk around and you can just get out of there for an hour or whatever but I think more just the knowledge that people were behind me would have been better than what I feel like I received not from everybody there were certainly some people that were extremely supportive and stuff but it was very surprising how many friends kind of disappeared almost after everything happened.
Nicky: I feel like when people go through transitions like you move from high school to university you shed a lot of those friendships you gain new ones
Nicky: and then you know when you go from single to having a boyfriend now all of a sudden you can’t hang out with your single friends as much and then when you go from you know I guess having a boyfriend to getting married or even having kids right like it’s like okay I can’t have all this couple time with all my couple friends because now I have like a one-year-old or a two-year-old and it changes like that social dynamic
Nicky: right and this is just one of those transitions I think that that that really alter your social dynamic but the problem with this is that you feel so alone during this transition which is very different from other transitions where you know you’re kind of like a monkey where you’re I guess you have your hand on one branch and you’re letting it go but you have your hand on one branch
Nicky: versus like in this case you’re just sort of letting go and jumping into the abyss and you’re not really knowing where you’re gonna fall and what your new life is going to look like and what your goals are and what you want and what you need and you’re still trying to articulate all of the things that you’re feeling
Nicky: You know and just trying to get through your day day by day and that’s really tough you know.
Caroline: So I think even like if somebody had said to me you know I’ve never experienced this what do you need help with, can I help you look for a lawyer, can I help you start packing up the house and
Nicky: Did you get a lawyer?
Caroline: I did get a lawyer
Nicky: Did you feel like you were satisfied with getting a lawyer versus doing it yourself?
Nicky: okay, why
Caroline: The lawyer was recommended to us through a family friend and we met with him my parents came with me because they were always supporting and he was he was good and he advocated for what I wanted but there were certainly things that I wanted that he questioned me on
Caroline: and I don’t
Nicky: like what?
Caroline: He questioned me on well the whole issue of custody first of all we do have joint custody but it was arranged that they would visit him only on the weekends so there were questions like well why can’t it be 50-50, why do you not want it to be 50-50 or why can’t they spend Christmas day with him, sometimes or have two whole two weeks holiday with them in the summer
Caroline: or you know random questions that I’m sure he had to pursue to try and make it a very even keeled and easy separation agreement but I was adamant on some issues that I don’t necessarily think he should have questioned me on yeah
Nicky: Okay so you guys sold the house and then you got your share of it.
Nicky: Okay and then you moved out and then you got a new place.
Caroline: I did I moved myself and the children about an hour away to be closer to my parents because I needed their support at this time I was now working full-time
Caroline: my job my part-time job had transitioned me to full-time with the support of my manager so I needed my parents to look after the kids before and after school because I was traveling for work
Caroline: back into Oakville
Caroline: Yeah from Brantford so about an hour and a half
Nicky: So how did they support you during that time because if you’re leaving super early in the mornings trying to get to work, how do they how did they work it out you know
Caroline: So my work was really good they were willing to work with me on what I needed but obviously I had to put in sort of a full work day
Caroline: So they would get up in the morning and they’d come to my house and they’d be at my house for seven. I’d be ready to leave and I would leave for the morning and I had asked if I could make my hours 8.30 to 4.30 because of the commute because I’m not getting home till six because my kids were so young they’d obviously in the morning get them ready take them to school and then they’d go home they’d come back after school pick up the kids give them a snack and they’d usually start dinner or make dinner so that was ready when when I walked in the door.
Nicky: Your kids are probably really close with your parents
Caroline: very, very close which is something I didn’t have so I like that but at the same time I in dealing with a separation in a new house and a new job and and all that kind of stuff I also felt the burden that I was taking advantage of them a little bit too much so during that time when they were doing all that I didn’t really make plans with friends or date or anything like that because I didn’t want them to then have to babysit again
Caroline: in the evening time for me. I felt like they were doing enough that eventually transitioned when the kids got a little bit older to them just coming over in the mornings
Caroline: and then the kids at first did after school care with the YMCA and then ended up just coming home on their own and letting themselves in
Nicky: Yeah because they’re old enough now
Caroline: Yeah definitely around 12
Caroline: they started to do that
Nicky: yeah but that’s a that’s amazing support that you received from your mom and dad
Nicky: and you know it’s nice that you at least from them you didn’t have that judgment and they really took care of you and they took care of your kids during that time. I think your kids were really lucky to be able to still have that love and not feel the wrath of like a traditional like broken home I guess
Caroline: Yeah I know it was I don’t I definitely could not have done it without them moving closer to them them babysitting us spending time with them weekends and stuff like that because what else are we gonna do we’re in a new town we don’t really know anybody
Nicky: So how was the other side how did your husband what did he do he took his half and then what happened with that?
Caroline: Yeah he moved into I think a basement apartment
Caroline: somewhere in Hamilton
Caroline: and then eventually moved in with the woman who he had the other child with, that fell apart. Then he ended up I believe living in his car for a short amount of time and then
Nicky: So he was homeless. Is it because he genuinely didn’t have because he’s working he’s he was working full-time so why wasn’t he able and he got half you sold the house you were able to take your half and purchase a new place why wasn’t he able to take his half and do the same?
Caroline: I just think he didn’t have the money sense to do that he was still he was never good with money and I don’t think he’s still ever learned how to be good with money
Nicky: What did he blow it on was it just social stuff or did he buy nice things or
Caroline: Yeah he would just go buy things when he wanted or on his weekends with the kids it was like eating out all weekend like breakfast lunch dinner was always a restaurant still is most of the time and I just don’t think he I think having to pay child support was probably eating some of obviously eating some of his paycheck as well
Caroline: so I just don’t think he knew how to budget and kind of get back on track with all that stuff. His parents ended up moving from Eastern Ontario up here or up here up to where I am in Brantford and they all live in the house together now.
Nicky: okay but that’s nice because when the kids go over there there’s something stable for them to go over to
Nicky: because if you’re living in your car how do you have proper visitation?
Caroline: Yeah, there were there was so much stuff that happened. I remember one Christmas when he was with the other woman and they took my kids to her parents place and my kids had never met them before and it was Christmas day and they just didn’t know what to do with themselves there was a lot of tumultuous time in there
Caroline: and tumultuous things that happened
Nicky: What was it like for your kids to see their dad with another woman other than their mom?
Caroline: it’s a very interesting question because I don’t think they’ve ever commented on it. They like she had a dog, they liked the dog, they were quite happy about having another sibling, a half sibling. They seemed to like that and they didn’t seem to mind going over. There there was never any like push from them to stay home with me or anything like that.
Nicky: Was she nice to them?
Caroline: I believe so.
Caroline: I never met her or had any contact with her at all. I think there were just situations that the kids were put in that weren’t necessarily of their best interest.
Caroline: but again I think that just goes back to his immaturity and he
Nicky: Yeah just doesn’t clue into those types of situations.
Nicky: Were you worried when you know the kids went over, did you feel like out of control a little bit ? I find that sometimes you know if you’re the responsible parent and if there’s concerns on the other side you know when the kids have to go and spend that time during visitation it’s it’s stress you know because you don’t feel all at ease about the whole situation. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
Caroline: At first, so I will say this; I will say that my ex is a better dad now than I think he was when we were together. So I will say that there was never any worry from my standpoint of him hurting them or his girlfriend hurting them or them being put in precarious situations
Caroline: It was more of a lonely feeling. I didn’t know what to do with myself when they went there for the weekend was kind of like what do I do with my time I don’t know or what to do and missing them obviously and stuff like that. I’ve learned what to do with my weekends when they’re with him.
Nicky: Was it easy for you to kind of I mean, I know that you recognize that you’ve lost this social aspect right when you got separated, but was it easy for you to get into a new routine socially?
Caroline: Yes and no. It was surprising to me like I said how many people sort of fell by the wayside and and disappeared when we got separated and then there were other people that rose to the occasion. I had two friends that I worked with at the club and they are now like two of my best friends in the world. So we they would make sure that we went out and did things or they’d call and check on me and see what I was up to, that kind of thing. I haven’t made a ton of friends in the new city that I’m in and whenever I haven’t been to a lot of social gatherings and stuff like that. I’ve obviously met some people through my kids’ activities and things like that but yeah I think it’s a different dynamic after a separation and divorce like you said I think you lose some friends because they’re just maybe not sure how to deal with what’s going on in your life and you gain others in different ways and then you have your trident like my best friend but she lives far away she was always very supportive I’m sure she would have come up 100 times if she could have but so yeah I think the dynamic changes and you have to learn how to socially go with the flow. I invested more time in myself in doing things that I’d always wanted to learn.
Nicky: What was, what was some of that?
Caroline: Calligraphy would be one of them which is
Nicky: Is that where you kind of started Thistle?
Caroline: yep yeah
Caroline: I went and always wanted I’d always had good handwriting but I’d never learned calligraphy and I’d always wanted to so I went to a course that was a whole weekend of learning a specific type of calligraphy and that kind of started my journey on that end and I just kept working on it and stuff like that and then eventually turned it into the business but
Nicky: That’s amazing because you make cards and you make wedding invites and you do all sorts of things you know that you can put on t-shirts and all these different things right
Caroline: Yeah, it’s kind of developed into a small business which is great for additional income wedding signage, envelope addressing
Nicky: and your work is beautiful!
Caroline: Oh thank you
Caroline: very much!
Nicky: yeah so it’s you’re really good at what you do and so what were your what were you what were your biggest lessons from you know the divorce from the relationship you know if you could look back and and say like these are these are like the three things that I’ve learned what would you say they were?
Caroline: I the biggest thing for me is that I used to think that divorce was a bad word. I used to be ashamed to tell people I was separated and that I was divorced. I used to not want to talk about it and I’ve kind of done a 360 on that and I think it’s something that we need to talk about and we need to talk more about both men and women that go through it. It’s not a dirty word and you can kind of rebuild your life and I wouldn’t say I was unhappy back then but I kind of have realized that maybe I wasn’t as happy as I could have been and you can kind of create a happy life for you, a successful life for yourself even after a major traumatic event because I do consider it a trauma like that happens to you. You can go on be successful in different areas of your life but talking about it is probably the number one thing.
Nicky: Would you
Caroline: why I’m here
Nicky: Would you have, if you could go back in time, what would you have done? Would you have left earlier, would you have fought harder, what would you, would you have created more boundaries in the beginning, what would you have done in your marriage whether it was to leave or to stay? Is there anything that you would have done differently now looking back because hindsight is always 20-20?.
Caroline: I don’t think I would have done much differently. I don’t think I did anything wrong per se. I think if anything I would have more conversations, more date nights, more, less focus on like who’s doing the dusting today and who’s making the dinner today and who’s taking the kids to daycare today and all that stuff and just check in more with your partner you know not even about kids and housework and stuff. How’s your job, how are you doing, what are you feeling today, deeper meaningful connection that I think sometimes gets lost in the busyness of of life?
Nicky: Do you regret getting married?
Caroline: Not at all.
Nicky: So you’re happy, you’re happy that you went through your relationship and you obviously you had your kids in this relationship and you know it’s not something that you regret at all
Caroline: No because I have the two children and I was actually talking to my son the other day. My son’s very inquisitive about the situation and and what happened. My daughter turns a blind eye to it. She doesn’t want to hear anything about it or any of the struggles or
Nicky: Is it because she feels awkward or she just doesn’t care or she’s grown out of it and she’s gotten used to you know the separation and everything like that, the divorce.
Caroline: I don’t think it’s that she doesn’t care. She just doesn’t want to hear anything bad about her father I think and I’ve tried really hard especially when they were younger to never say a bad word about their father in front of them. I would never call him names or get mad and if they knew I was in a bad mood or whatever I’d never say you know it’s because your father did this or whatever. I always tried to hide that from them because there’s no sense and he’s still their dad, there’s no sense in turning them against him right.
Nicky: I agree with that
Caroline: As they’ve gotten older and they if they ask me questions, I’m a little bit more forthcoming on things
Nicky: Well I think you’re trying to be age-appropriate too with this information you know and it’s really hard to kind of gauge when’s the right time to be able to share and what is oversharing
Nicky: you know because at the end of the day, they they you know they didn’t ask for their parents to not be together
Nicky: and they’re entitled to have answers but I guess the detail of those answers is up for question.
Caroline: My mother would tell them everything she could. She’s just dying to let them know. You know, we’ll always be connected because of the kids so I try and make it as cordial as I can even like I just had a scenario that happened this past weekend that still is bothering me.
Nicky: What happened?
Caroline: So I was out visiting a friend and I lost connection on my cell phone. So when I came back into service, I had a friend request and a message request from a woman. Now sometimes because of the calligraphy business and my dance studio, I don’t, I get requests like that from people I don’t know
Caroline: So I always look into them
Caroline: because it might be something business related
Nicky: right right and your page is personal and business so you only have one page so
Caroline: So I got home because I was driving at the time I didn’t want to look at it when I was driving so I got home and the friend request and the message request is deleted. They’ve removed them so I probably shouldn’t be so nosy but I wanted to know what this was about. So I found her profile and she had a status that said something along the lines of you know I normally don’t post about my personal life but I so heartbroken because he was telling me how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me but he was cheating on me at the same time. So then in her comments on that post, she’s talking about my ex.
Nicky: Oh wow
Caroline: So I don’t know why she wanted to reach out to me, what she was going to say to me or anything like that but
Nicky: She probably found it cathartic. I find that a lot of women kind of reach out to other women because they share that that same thing and it’s cheating is such a violation
Nicky: right because it’s blatant disrespect. It’s really a betrayal right because marriage is supposed to be kind of a unity and then you go someone goes outside of that and it’s it’s so dirty as gross, it’s a gross, it’s a gross thing to do. So I think that sometimes when you have that happen to you and you don’t think that it’s ever going to happen to you and you have that happen to you, especially from someone that you love, you you don’t know what to do and you necessarily don’t have the community to be able to share that with, so your only solace sometimes I feel is going to somebody who you know has already experienced that.
Caroline: Anyway, I didn’t pursue it any further. I just was she’s not the first one to have contacted me and while I’m I wouldn’t even say I’m necessarily open to it because it’s kind of his life. I don’t necessarily want to be a part of that part. I didn’t even know he was dating at at this stage.
Nicky: Do you feel like once a cheater, always a cheater? Do you, do you have that belief or do you feel like it’s something because if this is kind of reoccurring for him, do you feel like it’s just him if, or do you feel like you know, people are cheaters, then they’re cheaters, do you label people in that way?
Caroline: No I don’t, I think someone can change, I’m just not sure he’s ready to change maybe still a level of immaturity but that’s not to say that another person in a situation couldn’t change
Caroline: So I was actually quite surprised that he’s still doing that and I just worry more about things like, how does that look to my son and daughter, like is that a good example like he’s a good dad but is that a good example of how a man behaves and how a man treats a woman and so that’s sort of what my son and I were discussing the other day when he was asking questions.
Nicky: How do you parent that, how do you have an open discussion about that?
Caroline: We didn’t get into real detail about it. We just talked about you know how because they spend a lot of time with me, they obviously know my moods and I wasn’t in a great one so my son had asked what was wrong and I said oh you know just something happened with your dad and he said oh what happened and so I just kind of basically said the same thing I just said to you and it was just like oh okay and then I moved on from that and I said you know I’m very thankful that I have examples of good men in your life like Grandpa, Uncle Daryl your boxing coaches, soccer coaches, because I think that’s important and I’m not necessarily sure at this point that your dad is that person could he grow to be that person
Caroline: yeah but I’m not sure he’s there yet.
Nicky: Your son was really close with his boxing coach.
Caroline: He’s very close with his boxing coach.
Nicky: yeah and that that his boxing coach really helped him get through some rough patches.
Caroline: Boxing in general has been good for him. Austin is definitely more of a mama’s boy I think than he relates a little bit more to me than I think he does his dad but certainly yes his boxing coach has been wonderful. He hasn’t been at boxing for a long time because he’s involved in another project at the moment but like I’ve texted him and said like Austin just really wants to see you, can we come and visit and he’s like yes anytime, come and see me. We were actually just up there on Saturday.
Nicky: At his house?
Caroline: He he was putting on a concert
Caroline: for like a cause that he’s involved with
Caroline: So we went up to the where the concert was on and
Nicky: That’s awesome!
Caroline: saw him for a little bit and stayed and supported him in that as well and
Nicky: It’s really nice that your your son, I mean it’s not that he doesn’t have that with his dad really, but it’s nice that your son still has really great male role models I think that’s so important you know.
Caroline: I think so and if you ask it’s very funny because I ask my son this question all the time because I always want to know if it changes you ask my son who his best friends are and he says number one is Grandpa, number two is his boxing coach, and number three is Mommy
Nicky: Oh wow
Caroline: and then like he doesn’t talk about kids from a school and he’s he’s a friendly kid like he has friends don’t get me wrong but he has a really good relationship with my dad. My dad is the type of Grandpa that goes outside and plays soccer and throws the ball and I mean he’s like nearing 80 and he yeah he’ll take them on bike rides and that for ice cream and all that kind of stuff and then um this boxing coach obviously has been a great influence for a couple of years so
Nicky: Have you dated since the separation, how long have you been separated now?
Caroline: We are coming up on well, we’re two years divorced this past Saturday and we’re about nine years almost 10 years separated in total.
Nicky: Why didn’t you get divorced right away after you
Caroline: That’s a good question!
Caroline: I was under the impression, I I harbored a lot of animosity at the beginning and I was under the impression that he wanted the divorce, he can pay for the divorce. I’m not paying for the divorce
Caroline: because I honestly think I thought he would want one quicker than he did and then I got to the point where I had moved on so much and was so much in a better place with things that I just I wanted to cut ties completely and fully.
Nicky: So you applied for the divorce?
Caroline: So I applied for the divorce yes and I paid for the whole thing.
Nicky: Do you feel like during that time where he was living in this car , do you feel like that caused him to have more of a respect for the things that you did around the house when he was with you?
Caroline: There was a point probably, I’m not gonna, after we moved and like you said after he was living in his car, he he did ask to meet with me and asked to get back together.
Caroline: and I said no at that point. No too much damage has been done.
Nicky: Did he genuinely want to get back together with you or was he just having a low point and he needed a place to stay?
Caroline: Well you know I it’s funny because as I said earlier his parents were separated for a number of years and his dad kind of did the same thing and and had a couple of girlfriends and stuff like that and they got back together out of convenience because they felt it was unfair to make the grandkids and go to two different places when they wanted to visit
Caroline: So they got back together out of convenience but
Nicky: That’s not exactly you know, that that’s still toxic
Caroline: That’s not a relationship in in my eyes whatsoever. I think when I got asked to get back together with my ex, he realized what he had done but also it was a little bit out of convenience because then he doesn’t have to see the kids every second weekend he gets to see them every day
Caroline: and Carolyn was better with money so she’ll handle the finances again and we’ll be, we’ll be back on track and i’ll be good financially and and that stuff. So I think it was a little bit out of convenience and I think it was just out a little bit out of , holy crap like what did I do, I’ve ruined my life. I don’t think the behavior would have stopped. I don’t think
Nicky: Did you feel guilty though saying no, did you feel guilty like even though you know all these things, but in your heart did you feel guilty saying no, I’m not getting back together with you?
Caroline: I still have a hard time confronting him on things. I’m not a big confrontational person. So like my mom has said like the incident that happened this weekend, well did you talk to him about it, and I’m like no, and I probably never will say anything because I just don’t want to get into that confrontation.
Nicky: Well with that thing that happened on me that I just don’t I I don’t even know what what he could say that would even satisfy you.
Caroline: yeah I don’t
Nicky: You know what I’m saying. I’m just trying to forget it and move on
Caroline: So yeah, I think a little bit of guilt but more not guilt for the fact that I was missing out on a marriage, I was missing out on a relationship that I had longed for that I didn’t want to end, more so for the kids not having a complete family unit I think. I felt a little bit guilty in that respect but it no I had, excuse me, come way too far too to go back to that
Nicky: Yeah, what was your happy moment after you left when you found happiness, what did that really look like for you?
Caroline: I think yeah it’s different all the time and it grows every day. There there are moments in the journey that I think you feel proud of yourself like I felt proud of myself when I bought the house on my own. I didn’t need a co-signer I was able to purchase it all on my own. I felt proud two years ago when I bought a new car all on my own, you know budgeted and worked out that I could afford it. I mean it’s not brand new, but
Caroline: the newest car I’ve ever had
Caroline: in my whole life
Nicky: yeah which wasn’t like a hand-me-down from my parents
Caroline: or anything. I chose it. There there’s even moments over the last year with Covid like I’ve started to be a little bit more cognizant of my own health and I try to work out every day, I it sounds ridiculous as a dance teacher but I’ve never ever worked out, never worked out a day in my life and now I’m working out an hour a day.
Nicky: That’s awesome!
Caroline: I feel proud of things like that.
Nicky: It’s little wins really you know, it’s little wins and little steps forward and that gaining that independence back can look so different to so many different people
Nicky: and when you do something on your own, it just empowers you. It makes you want to win again and again and even if it’s in small ways, it’s beautiful really.
Caroline: It’s even small things like I my daughter just finished a two-week camp with Stratford festival and I found the camp and she had a great time and it cost a lot of money and everything but just even like knowing I’m contributing in those ways. My son’s rep soccer team dissolved. I found him a house league team to play on, like just even those small things
Caroline: or small realizations that you know okay maybe I am ready to date, maybe I’m ready to dip my toe into that water and see what comes of it.
Nicky: What what does dating look like to you because now I feel like dating can be so digital which is really, it’s weird right. It’s weird even for me. So the the swipe right and left business like I you know. I told I told Geoff where you know, I was like, oh my God, if we ever if this ever happened like I wouldn’t even know how to go out there and do this I I don’t like it I don’t like this way of meeting people
Caroline: I agree I two funny stories. I actually went on a couple of dates when we first separated
Caroline: they turned out horribly. One was okay
Caroline: One was kind of going somewhere but I strongly didn’t want to my kids to meet anybody because of what had happened with their dad
Caroline: I was very protective of them and
Nicky: and rightfully so, and you wanted to be sure right.
Caroline: It’s actually in our separation agreement that they’re not supposed to meet until six months of dating but that was out the window on one end
Caroline: but so that worked out well but he had his kids on the opposite weekend that I had my kids and like I said way way earlier I didn’t want to burden my parents with babysitting so it just didn’t work out that we could get together often enough
Caroline: and then I gave up on it completely because I’m like you the whole digital thing, it’s not even the digital thing it’s that I feel like you have to wade through all these lots of frogs
Caroline: let’s call them frogs before you find maybe the one, I don’t like I just don’t have time to go on lots of dates
Nicky: It’s not just the time, it’s the energy because all of these take so much energy out of you you know, you’re putting yourself out there again and again and again and sometimes that can be really exhausting
Nicky: right so and also these uh sites can be quite transactional in the way that they’re kind of designed you know. So so how do you meet somebody, what’s an ideal situation for you, how how do you normally go out and meet people, are you still doing it like the old school way, where you know maybe a friend knows a friend and they’re hooking you up and you know
Caroline: I’m actually not doing it at the moment. I’m just thinking about doing it. My girlfriend and my girlfriend who’s also single never been married, we made a pact that we were gonna go speed dating
Nicky: Oh wow
Caroline: and then holy sign from the universe, Covid! I was like both her and I were like okay this is a pretty big sign that maybe the time isn’t now. For me, it’s more people I know. So if it’s I’d rather not do the digital thing you know. If I meet somebody through a friend or something like that that I’ve gotten to know over a small period of time
Caroline: and I know their personality and what they’re like then I might pursue something sort of from there
Nicky: and it’s it’s nice if you meet somebody through a friend too because at least that friend knows something about them they can vouch for them and even if it’s in a small way even if you know they’re just an acquaintance to them or something like that
Caroline: yeah or
Nicky: there’s a comfort level to that I feel
Caroline: and I think like if you’re doing things too like finding people that have the same interests as you like I mean who knows there might be a single dad on the soccer team that we’re going to meet tomorrow or you know someone might walk into the boxing club one day and I might be like woo you know something like that, not necessarily like a grocery store like by chance you know our eyes meet across the lemons or anything like that. Just somebody that you can kind of know and get to know their personality and in in a in some sort of a way as opposed to just how to go for coffee or meet over zoom or whatever they’re doing in the digital department
Nicky: If you did meet somebody, what would that what would you want that relationship to look like?
Caroline: Oh that’s a good question! I think they would be somebody who likes to go out so that we can have conversations that don’t have anything to do with you know like those deep conversations like how are you feeling how is your job how is this relationship going for you but also somebody who likes to stay in and snuggle on the couch and just like a great companion yeah like a best friend
Caroline: in a male form that you’re attracted to
Nicky: I think the foundation of good marriages is friendship you know and I find that a lot of times when you kind of look at things in that way, when things go wrong you don’t need a lover you need your best friend
Nicky: you need to be able to speak openly with them, you need to be able to be open to what they’re saying if they’re going through a hard time you need to be able to work things out and yeah that’s I think that’s a great goal to be able to have it’s a it’s a beautiful thing to want it’s the right thing to want you know
Caroline: yeah and I think it’s just somebody that you feel comfortable enough with that you can talk about anything like there was recently or someone there was recently my aunt recently passed away and it was a very lonely it was my mom’s sister so I obviously we grieved as a family but it was very lonely and I didn’t have anybody to just hug me and say
Nicky: it’s okay
Caroline: it’s okay or you know take time to grieve or you know what do you i’ll grab you a cup of tea or something you just watch tv or be in bed or something like that so that was a hard time but even someone that just says you know I’m happy to see you today I’m glad you’re here you’re you look great or you know that kind of thing
Caroline: I think is nice
Nicky: So tell me a little bit about your business
Nicky: and what you do
Caroline: Well a lot of things with it basically it’s modern calligraphy
Caroline: I’ve added a little bit of illustration into it so it’s tons of things, I make signage like home decor signage, envelope dressing, signage for weddings, I’ve done some custom like t-shirts and sweatshirts
Caroline: Christmas ornaments are always huge, bookmarks, keychains and I really I I’m putting it out in the world, I’d really love to do like a mural installation, somewhere like on a store window or or something like that I have friends in the industry and they do like floor illustration on like a pub window or something like that and it’s something that I really want to kind of branch into if I can I just need to find the right store that’ll let me draw on their windows
Nicky: That’s amazing!
Nicky: and this like you know hobby turned business must have bought some sort of I guess calm because I you know it’s it brings out your creative side right
Caroline: definitely in that
Caroline: that was part of the reason why I took the course it was something I wanted to dive into for a while but at the same time it was just something for me and sort of when I’m doing when I’m practicing or working on a piece or anything it’s just that me time and you feel sort of this calm scenario kind of come over you and it’s just something that brings me a little bit of peace. I tend to do it on the weekends that the kids are at their dads mostly because I do like to spend time with them when they’re at my place on the weekend but yeah and I just I I love it like I love the journey of it and I love exploring different ways that I can change things up like I added some illustration into it and I just do drawings sometimes and stuff like that so it’s good, I really enjoy it.
Nicky: That’s amazing! So how do people reach out to you if they want to work with you?
Caroline: I do have a Facebook page which is thistledesignstudio. I’m on Instagram at thistledesignstudio and I can be reached via email as wel. l I’m hoping maybe one day that I’ll get an Etsy shop going but I don’t have one ready at the moment and and no websites so
Nicky: but I think that you know your work is you know so beautiful and you have a great instagram page and and you do such beautiful work and I’m really glad that you know what you’re doing is really bringing you solace. I think that’s amazing it is something for you and it is something that you can call your own because any time you really start a business it’s kind of like having another child really
Caroline: yeah and I take a lot of pride in it you know what I mean like as I’m sure you probably do too like, if I’m doing a Christmas ornament and I think that it to the naked eye you would think, oh that’s gorgeous but if I see one slip of the pen or you know something like that it’s like nope I got to do that again
Caroline: because you take it you take a pride in it like you said it is like another child it’s it’s just it’s your baby
Nicky: yeah and like you know having that creativity spread and having so many people have a piece of that I think is is really really cool
Caroline: yeah it’s very it’s nice to know I have for example I have a customer every year except for the last two because of Covid and he owns a motorcycle my motorcycle shop and every year he takes there’s apparently this tour that they go on where they go to Alaska or something and they go across different time zones or something I don’t know and anyway he gets these certificates done for all the riders that that complete that ride. I do the calligraphy of the names on the certificates and that’s really cool
Nicky: That that’s really cool!
Caroline: I’m a part of something like that even though I wasn’t part of the actual journey that they went on and then I have a friend who one of the drawings I did she got a tattoo of it and I’m like that’s going to live on your body forever but you know that resonated with her I think it was a poppy and it resonated with her in a memory that she had and
Nicky: that’s really special!
Caroline: yeah so it’s just I feel blessed to be able to be part of those things and and you know or even thinking of the hundreds of christmas ornaments I’ve done and every year they get pulled out. I had a gentleman he had a baby and he’s like I need a new Christmas ornament because now we have to add the baby’s name and I just think you know when you pull out the ornaments at Christmas time he’s gonna have the one when it was just the three of them and now he’s going to have a new one with the four of them and
Caroline: just memories like that
Caroline: and part of people’s
Caroline: special events
Caroline: and stuff is really special to me
Nicky: That’s amazing!
Nicky: Well thank you so much for coming on the show! You know I really I loved having you on the show and you know telling your story I think is really really important because there’s a lot of people out there that I know it’s weird to say, but they don’t realize that leaving and finding happiness is really an option
Nicky: and I think you’re a great example of that and you’re a great example of somebody who’s really gone through a lot and has really kind of phoenixed their way into a better life you know, despite everything you went through and and you’re doing it so eloquently which is what I love about you
Caroline: Thank you
Caroline: No I think it’s important like I said before we we need to talk about it more because it’s it’s not it’s not a bad thing good things can come from what you think is possibly what I thought was the worst day of my life but you know so much has come from it and I feel like I’ve grown into a stronger happier person so I think that that’s a lesson that needs to be put out there it’s not the end of the world
Nicky: Well thank you guys so much for watching this episode! This episode was really one of my favorites. I hope you liked it too. Now if you want to work with Caroline and you know have a little bit of creativity for yourself don’t forget to check the description box below. All her all of her information is going to be there right
Caroline: Yeah Absolutely!
Nicky: Okay Awesome! Thank you so much and have a great day! Bye.