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Entertainment Like Adele, I found it hard to tell my children about our divorce, but I’m proud of the new life we’ve made

12:10  22 november  2021
12:10  22 november  2021 Source:   inews.co.uk

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I never planned to raise my children as a co-parent, and divorce was something I feared when I was a married woman. I thought I wouldn’t cope or survive alone.

The reality, I now know, is that we lone parents are strong, resilient, free and happy. Sure, we are very tired, and are doing ALL THE JOBS, but, dammit, we are proud of ourselves. But all this takes work, and lots of good communication with your children.

My heart went out to the singer Adele when she talked about her divorce from Simon Konecki last week in an interview with Oprah on the TV special Adele: One Night Only. She was open about the fact that her new album, 30, was written during her breakup, and said that the hit single “Go Easy On me” is a message to her son, Angelo, explaining why she and his father got divorced.

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In the song “My Little Love”, she sings: “I’m so sorry if what I’ve done makes you feel sad.”

I remember very clearly the day 18 months ago when we told our children their dad and I were separating. My ex and I had decided to do the deed about two weeks after our marriage had suddenly collapsed. I had spent a fortnight hiding my tears and the anger of betrayal, and now came the moment to open up and reveal how our future would be.

I remember looking at my children, who were eight and 11 at the time, watching TV and laughing, and thinking, “we are just about to break your hearts, this isn’t fair, this isn’t your choice and this wasn’t my choice.”

But I put on a brave face, took some deep breaths, and placed a massive bowl of Skittles on the kitchen table. (I highly recommend having lots of sweets on hand – for both the kids and the adults.)

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All four of us sat down and my ex and I took it in turns to speak, and to gently tell them how our family was changing and how much they were loved.

Helen Thorn wrote about her divorce while her breakup was still raw (Photo: David M. Benett/Getty) © Provided by The i Helen Thorn wrote about her divorce while her breakup was still raw (Photo: David M. Benett/Getty)

There were tears, naturally, and just so many questions: “Why is this happening, who is living where, why, Mummy, why?”

We did our best to answer in the most appropriate way, and gave them all the hugs they needed. There is absolutely no perfect way to do this, but this seemed right for us. And this was not going to be the last time we spoke of it. In fact the conversation continued and still continues, and this is a good thing.

When I wrote my book, Get Divorced, Be Happy, which is a part-memoir and part-self help book about the first year of separation, I interviewed more than 40 experts, as well as women who had experienced separation, about getting through these significant milestones.

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I spoke to psychotherapist Philippa Perry, author of The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did). She wisely told me: “What is important to remember is, it’s not something you tell your kids once. It’s something they will need a lot of time to process and talk about.

“So it’s not like we’re having THE conversation and we never have it again,” she says. The conversation will be ongoing, she told me. “So it’s like, ‘your mum or your dad isn’t going to live here any more, we’re getting a divorce, I think you might find it a big change’, and then ‘how are you feeling about it today?’, and then ‘how are you feeling about it all today?’ and ‘what’s the worst thing about it? What’s the best thing about it?’, and so on, so that the conversation is always open.”

This is the best advice I have been given, as I found the kids’ grief and how they dealt with their new circumstances was and is never linear or predictable. We spoke a lot in the first year, especially, as I had separated at the beginning of the lockdown in March 2020, meaning I was always around to talk to them when they needed me.

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As a comedian who has written and performed live shows and podcasts about parenting in the Scummy Mummies duo with Ellie Gibson over the past eight years, I have always talked about the ridiculous highs and hilarious lows of motherhood.

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And when I became a single parent, I wanted to document everything I was going through honestly and with humour, too. Instagram and podcasts are saturated with stories of couples, and I wanted to address that imbalance.

I began writing my book late last year, and like Adele’s new album, it was created during a time of great upheaval in mine and my family’s lives, while I was still in the depths of sorting through the divorce and my feelings.

I am glad I wrote it then, as the book is raw, honest, but also infused with all the joy of me discovering just how happy my life has become because of being by myself and out of a dysfunctional marriage.

During the hectic deadline time, I was very up-front with my kids about what I was writing about and who it was for. As I took over the house with post-it notes, coffee cups and piles of drafts, I told them, “I am writing this book for other mummies and families going through what we have, and I want to help them.” They were supportive and appreciated the endless nights of take-aways and oven pizzas as I reached the submission date.

The book goes into detail about why I separated from their father, and how I have found a better life on the other side. I haven’t shied away from how I hit rock bottom through depression and alcohol, but it also clearly documents how I recovered and rebuilt myself with exercise, therapy and with the help of brilliant friends.

I would love my children to read it one day, maybe in a few years, when they are old enough and they have processed this whole situation fully. I know that they will be very proud of me and of themselves for this new life we have built and continue to build together as a family of three.

It has certainly turned out that divorce is our happily ever after – I very much wish the same for Adele and her family.

Helen Thorn’s book, ‘Get Divorced, Be Happy: How becoming single turned out to be my happily ever after’ (Vermillion, £16.99), is out now

Adele's Audience With: The best crowd moments you missed, from cheeky jokes to celebs dancing .
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