Let’s just say you’re a woman and you’re about to divorce. We know, crazy, right? But stay with us on this. When you walk away from your marriage, what is it that you most want your former spouse to know? If you could wave a magic wand, not to somehow recover your relationship, but to cast a spell that would ensure that your former spouse truly understood your perspective, what would you say?
This week on the Toaster, Michelle Dempsey-Multack joins us from the Moms Moving On Podcast and she is here to wave just such a wand. She has turned her own divorce into a thriving practice, writing, podcasting, and coaching others. And after we talk about the value of that shared perspective, we dive deep on the importance of finding your own community for support and guidance through your divorce process.
And make sure you follow the links below to sign up for notification about Michelle’s new book… coming soon!
Links & Notes
- Moms Moving On
- Get notified about Michelle’s new book, Moms Moving On: Real Life Advice for Conquering Divorce, Co-Parenting with Conflict and Becoming Your Best Self
- Subscribe to Michelle’s Podcast
Pete Wright: Welcome to How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships, from True Story FM. Today, what does your toaster need you to know about it?
Seth Nelson: Welcome to the show, everyone. I’m Seth Nelson. I’m here with my good friend, Pete Wright. Today, Michelle Dempsey-Multack joins us from the Moms Moving On podcast. Michelle has turned her own divorce into a thriving practice, writing, podcasting, and coaching others through the divorce process. Michelle, welcome to The Toaster.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Thanks for having me in your toaster or at your toaster, or on your toaster.
Pete Wright: In the toaster, on the toaster, we’re unclear on the positioning of the toaster. It changes week to week. Michelle, we’re so excited to have you here. You’ve got such a valuable perspective that you have positioned on your website and your coaching process and the podcast I’ve been listening to. It is really focused on helping women, helping moms move on through the divorce process. Such a valuable perspective. As men in the divorce podcasting biz, we were hoping we could start with a little perspective shift. Can you lead us through what you need or what women need men to know about what it takes to move on from this process?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yes. Here’s the thing, and I talk about it with my new husband all the time. He happens to be a family court judge, so he sees men and women all day every day.
Pete Wright: Talk about you still marrying into the biz. Wow.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Wild. Right? You can’t write that stuff. But he said to me one day, and it made so much sense, he said, "You know, I see these couples every single day. They come to me and they get divorced, and everybody’s upset and angry, and their egos are fighting each other. Then they come back a few months later, a few years later for post-judgment issues where they need to amend the parenting plan or one parent isn’t letting the other parent know when the kid needs a haircut, whatever the issue is. The woman comes back strong and looking amazing and happy and less in the mood to fight, and the guy is still exactly where he was when he issued that divorce a year or two ago." He’s like, "I get it now. These women read the books, they join the communities, they listen to the podcasts, they go to therapy. They find the women’s group where everybody’s sitting around and bitching about their ex-husbands, and they move on physically. Whereas guys don’t always do that. It’s not because they can’t, but they don’t have the opportunity to shift their perspective." So, I think what men really need to know is that at a certain point, you’ve got to shift your perspective on this divorce. You can’t just sit there being pissed and being hurt and having your ego destroyed for whatever reason. At a certain point, it’s time to say, "Okay, this didn’t work out, just like that job I once had in college, just like that friendship with that dude who ended up in jail. It didn’t work out." It’s all about a perspective shift where I think women get the unfair advantage with all the female support that’s out there and the empowerment on how to shift that perspective. Men don’t really get access to that.
Seth Nelson: You raise a good point, because it sounds to me in a few simple words, the women do the hard work.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: They do. Listen, I’m not saying that men don’t. I just think they do it in their own way that takes a lot longer.
Seth Nelson: Do you think that when men who are divorced and are dating women who are also divorced, that they need to understand when they start complaining about their ex, that, one, they’re showing all their cards on how bad they are, but two, their "ex" could be the woman sitting across the table from them at dinner, because that woman might be receiving alimony. That woman might’ve fought for more than 50/50 time sharing. That woman might’ve been put through the ringer about, "Well, you should be back in the workforce making 150Gs," when you’ve only made 80 grand in the history of your career. So, that’s a big warning sign to guys. Do you think that’s something that they should be really thinking about before they start going down that path?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Absolutely, because in my work with women, which very often involves consulting dating experts, one of the first things we talk about is that red flag, how he speaks about his ex wife and the divorce process on a first date. If he’s harping on it or he says anything other than, "Well, it just didn’t work out. We tried. It got messy and gross, and that’s that," then you got to go for a number of reasons. One, he’s probably not over the end of the marriage. Two, he very well may have a personality disorder that is not allowing him to understand his own faults in the demise of the marriage, because it takes two, right? Three, you just don’t want to be around that kind of bad energy. So, less is more on that topic. I know many guys, friends, my ex husband, who have admitted to the fact that they’d showed too much anger about the ex-wife on a date, and it sent that woman straight out the door.
Pete Wright: Yeah. It feels like there are two important messages. One, I’m sitting across the table from a potential partner. My ex-wife is an amazing woman. She is in the present tense, still, currently an amazing woman, and our marriage didn’t work. The second one is, I’m also an amazing person and I’m confident enough to know that I’m a good person, and we both came to this marriage as good people and we leave it as good people knowing the relationship didn’t work. There is also something about owning that bit of confidence, that the marriage didn’t work and we’re still okay.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Right.
Pete Wright: Is that something? Am I just totally… when did I start lying? Just now.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: You’re not lying. I think ultimately, and this is something I say to women all the time, they come to me with, "My ex-husband is the worst. He’s an asshole. He’s so bad. He’s so this." I’m like, "Very few people on this planet are inherently evil." People aren’t born, all of us, to be these evil people. We go through things in our life that force us to act in certain ways. Maybe it was some trauma in your ex-husband’s childhood that led him to feel insecure and need to cheat, or maybe it was your trauma in your childhood that couldn’t wrap your head around trusting your ex-husband. We all come to the table as good people with bad qualities.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Right? So, every woman calls her ex-husband and every ex-husband calls his ex-wife crazy, right? I think that just seems to be the narrative. It’s about-
Pete Wright: Easy stereotypes, right?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Easy stereotypes. But it’s about understanding that unless your ex-husband was Jeffrey Dahmer, he’s not inherently evil, and we have to focus on the fact that there were good things there that led you to walk down the aisle to him and make children with him. Those are the things to focus on when you move forward.
Seth Nelson: On that same topic, I’m very close with my former spouse. I never even used the word ex because I think it has a derogatory connotation. We don’t use the term stepdad. He’s got an amazing male role model in his life who happens to be the person married to his mother now. Now, when he’s saying, if he’s introducing his friends, "This is my stepdad," we call him the bonus dad. It’s like the icing on the cake. It’s the cherry on top. It’s a bonus. Steve, my, Kai’s bonus dad, is amazing with him, and he’s so loving and caring and has his back. When Kai was little, I dropped him off and I pulled an ex-husband move. I’m dropping the kid off totally sugared up. You know? Steve goes, "Don’t worry. He’s a great kid, especially when he’s sleeping." You know? I mean, that kind of stuff right in front of him. But I think that’s something to think about, how do you also view the new person in your former spouse’s life? Because sometimes they’re your best ally and you might not even know it. Maybe they’re the one keeping your former spouse in check a bit. What do you think about that?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: First of all, I wake up every day hoping and praying today’s the day that my ex meets somebody. I’m going to say exactly because baby daddy just sounds a little…
Pete Wright: A little much, right?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: A little much. But I think your greatest power is it’s your frenemy. It’s the best person you could align yourself with, because from their side, they really do want your approval. I am my husband’s second wife, and I do enjoy the approval of his ex-wife in some strange way. When she thanks me for doing something for their daughter or recognizes that something was done that wouldn’t have been done if there wasn’t a woman in the picture. I once put out a post on Instagram and I got skewered for it by all these women who had been recently cheated on about honoring the new woman on Mother’s Day. People like came from me. I had to take the post down. But I believe in that. I got that example from my mother, because I’m a child of divorce, a heinous divorce with a heinous father who did heinous things. But something my mom always did was align herself with his new woman, even though she was the mistress. I didn’t understand at the time, and now as a mom, I fully get it. That was her way in. That was her way to make sure our teeth were brushed, that was her way to make sure that if I cried, there’d be someone there to dry my tears because my dad was not good with emotions. You know? So, that person, really, you need to put in your back pocket and cherish, because they’re not there to hurt you. Again, our egos are so wrapped up in, "This person’s there to take my place." No, this person is just the new person in your ex’s bed, and it’s not the worst thing to have a happy ex, you know?
Pete Wright: You just said it, ego. I mean, my sense is the things that get in the way of men moving on are their inability to get out of their own way. Right? Yeah. It’s to get out of your own head and be able to see and live in fact and truth. Anything that causes me to get upset about this new person in my ex’s bed, they’re all stories I’m writing about this fantasy of a marriage that might have actually worked out. I’m letting myself get repeatedly disappointed about a thing that is never going to happen.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: I say that to women all the time who have been cheated on. You know? They’re so mad at the mistress or whoever, and I’m like, "Well, let’s take a look at your, your manager for a second. Had this affair never happened, was your marriage everything you wanted it to be? Was this your dream man? Were you the happiest you had ever been? And 100% of the time the answer is no." So, we’re able to look past the person who we’re casting all the blame on and really look at the bigger issue. That’s helpful too, is to sort of take a bird’s eye view of the situation at hand and not just the one thing that seems to hurt so much. That’s helpful in moving on as well.
Seth Nelson: What about the woman who’s dating a man now, he’s divorced, and he hasn’t moved on yet. He still has that anger. But the woman’s like, "You know what? He treats me great, and they just have a bad relationship. They just didn’t work and they still don’t work, and they’re raising kids together," kind of almost compartmentalize. Do you think that’s healthy? Can people do that? Should there still be a red flag when it only seems to be directed at the former spouse or ex-spouse, but, "Hey, our relationship’s great."
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: As divorced people being in a relationship with a divorced person, there has to be a level of understanding there that maybe right now things are great with the ex, but he’s very up and down, and in a couple of months, things could be really shitty there. There has to be some sort of level of understanding that there was an emotional attachment there that that person may still trigger your new partner emotionally. That doesn’t mean that they’re not over it. That just means that it’s divorce. That’s what it does. There’s very few people in the world who can say that their ex doesn’t trigger them in some way, shape or form when it comes to the kids. Right? We’re human. So, I don’t think that that is necessarily a red flag or a deal-breaker. It’s when the person is just constantly carrying around that anger and that baggage, that they can’t get a sentence out with, "Oh, yeah, my ex did that all the time because then it pissed me off," type of thing.
Pete Wright: Seth, I got a question for you, not as the divorce attorney, but as the previously divorced individual, what resources did you… and again, I think Michelle said she has the unfair advantage of the women’s groups and the women doing the work, there’s a national tendency. Did you find any of that when you were divorced? Did you call on any sort of resources to help you through that process and to get over yourself?
Seth Nelson: Oh, yeah. I went to therapy. It was great. I’m not being sarcastic about that. Thank you.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: I love a man who goes to therapy. Honestly, we have to normalize therapy for men. We really do.
Seth Nelson: Yeah. It was absolutely the best thing that I could have done. That’s for a number of reasons. One, in that 45 minutes to an hour every week, which I started weekly, sometimes I went more than once a week at the very beginning, that therapist’s job was solely to focus on me, and no agenda. It’s not like when you’re out with your buddies and they’ll listen to you about things for a little bit, but then they want to talk about their lives or their kids or the sports game or whatever else is going on. It’s not like when you’re talking to your family members that are concerned for you, but also kind of tired of hearing about it or judging you, like, "Those are bad mistakes," and, "How could you have done that?" Or X, Y, and Z. The therapist’s job is to focus on you. I went to more than one and I found one that fit for me. The one that fit for me didn’t let me get away with shit. She called me on my shit. Right? So, they were focused, and I had to look inside and unpeel the onion, and whichever analogy or metaphor or simile you want to use. By doing the hard work, I am a much more secure person in who I am. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. I’m a thousand times better at communicating. I still have those triggers, Pete. We’ve talked about them.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Seth Nelson: I have this whole trigger about being included. I feel that sometimes that my girlfriend will say something and I feel excluded, and I know she doesn’t mean it that way, but then we talk about the conversation we’re having as opposed to the substance of it, and that immediately, my chest gets tight, but then it relaxes. But I practice those skills. It was no different, Michelle, than going to practice for a sport, and, "Okay, we have practice, we’re going to learn these skills and go home and practice on your own." Or, "Hey," the piano teacher, "Did you practice when we’re not in the lesson?" So, I viewed therapy as going to practice, but then I had to take what I learned in practice and go out in the real world and see if I could then implement those skills.
Pete Wright: I think that’s a really great metaphor, Seth, too, because it’s an easy way into a lot of men’s heads, right? Consider it like a sport. It’s just like your golf game or your tennis game. You got to practice this stuff. You got to do the work.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: But how do we get more men to go to therapy? Because I, full disclosure, in my therapy session just before we started this podcast, and she’s great, she gives me homework and she gives me things to think about, and she also calls me out on my bullshit. I said to her, "Do you realize that so much of what we talk about could be avoided if the people in my life that I’m talking about chose to have their own therapy?" She said, "I know, but we can’t force that." We wish we could, but so many issues could be avoided if that person went to therapy.
Seth Nelson: My simple way to motivate men is you don’t force it, you incentivize them. It will help get you laid.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Right, but I can’t guarantee that, because I’m certainly not.
Seth Nelson: Right. I understand. Not necessarily with you.
Pete Wright: Not with you.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It’s just, I don’t know, I feel like women, and I see it all over Instagram and social media, all the empowering quotes from women about healing and getting in touch. I do a lot of work around trauma and resilience and getting in touch with those traumatic things so that you can work through them. Those quotes are not being posted for the guys. They’re just not.
Seth Nelson: I will tell you, though, from my perspective, I was single before I was dating my absolutely phenomenally, intelligent, hilarious, beautiful partner that I’m with now, just making sure she’s listening, I’ll hear about it later, is I would go out on dates, and I’m a divorce lawyer, and the topic would come up. "What do you do?" I would say, "Attorney." "What kind of an attorney?" I would say, "Well, I’m a divorce attorney, but I really work hard to leave that at the office and not bring it home with me." Then if my date started talking about her divorce, "Oh, I had the worst ever," I’m like, "Check, please. I’m out." Right? The reciprocal, though, is if they ask, "Oh, are you divorced?" And I would say, "Yeah." They would say, "Well, what happened?" I would say, "Two really good people that have an amazing kid, it just didn’t work out between us." I would try to just leave it at that. I would also talk about if they asked, "Well, what is she like?" I’d be like, "She’s amazing. I could not ask for a better mom. We work really well together." I would always compliment her. By the way, it happens to have the benefit of being true. My former spouse is phenomenal. We are very close, and people would tell me, when my friends’ wives wanted to set me up, I would say, "Well, how do they describe me?" One thing they would always say is, "He really gets along with his former spouse." That was an attraction to the women that they were setting me up with. Guys, if that doesn’t get you motivated to go to therapy and do some work, I don’t know what’s going to.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yeah. Last week, I was in Utah for a good friend’s wedding. She was getting remarried. We happened to get divorced around the same time, so it was very meaningful to be there. Her ex-husband was there, like in the front row cheering her on, sitting with their daughter because mommy was now marrying somebody else. I know them from their life together, and he’s just an amazing dad and co-parent and may have had too much to drink, and I’m literally in tears, like, "Josh, you’re so amazing. Can we please get ex-husbands to be like you? You’re here and you’re happy." He said, "Yeah." He said, "You know, the best thing I could have for our daughter is my ex being happy. I just don’t understand how people couldn’t feel that way." I’m like, "Oh, trust me, there are many ex-husbands who don’t feel like you." It was a Jewish wedding, he’s holding the chair, she’s up in it.
Seth Nelson: That’s awesome.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It was the most beautiful thing. I’m like, "Man, I would be this person for my ex-husband." I know so many women who would be this way for their ex-husbands or baby daddies. I don’t know a lot of men that could be that emotionally involved to be in that same position.
Pete Wright: Well, I know they’re out there, and I think that celebrating… we love to celebrate the value of therapy, and Seth and I are both, we’re clients.
Seth Nelson: And longtime listeners, first time callers.
Pete Wright: Yeah, right. Right. So, celebrating the value, mostly because angry, divorced men, even my dearest friends who have been through divorce and aren’t doing the work are such a bore. I love them, and they’re a bore. They aren’t doing the work, and it’s obvious they’re not flossing between appointments, and they’re a bore. There’s nothing less attractive than that. If they’re my dear friends for 20 plus years and they’re a boar, what are they like to the new potential new women in their lives? Right? They’re a bore. I think that’s really something to just recognize, that even your closest friends might not be telling you you’re a bore if you’re not doing the work. So, let’s talk then a little bit about the value of healthy communities and what it means to find those affinity relationships with people who understand what [inaudible 00:22:07]. You happen to have created the Moms Moving On community, and let’s talk a little bit about the value that folks get out of that.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: I think that there is so much power, as parents, we’re taught to validate our children’s emotions, right? But who’s validating ours, the adults? I think there is so much power in validating another woman’s feelings of loneliness, fear, anxiety about the divorce process, or that pain that comes those first few weekends when you’re adjusting to co-parenting and you don’t have your kids. I didn’t have that. I was the first of my group of friends to get divorced. Then my friend who just recently remarried got divorced, and we were both kind of the blind leading the blind, because we didn’t know where to turn for that community.I remember Saturday nights, I normally would have been out with other couples, and everybody’s still out and I’m at home watching The Affair on Showtime and eating potato chips. I’m like, "Well-"
Pete Wright: It has to be The Affair? The Affair is what you’re watching?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It made me feel better, okay? Don’t judge. I love that show and I’ve watched it twice. But anyway, the point is, I didn’t have where to turn, and so I created it. Now I get hundreds of DMs every day, most of them questions from women just starting to process, and also a lot of them from women saying, "Thank you. I can’t talk about this to my friends because they don’t get it," or, "Everything you post, it’s like you’re in my head because that’s what I’m going through."
Seth Nelson: Michelle, my girlfriend says that all the time, that no one gets it until they go through a divorce. If she hears of someone going through a divorce, I wouldn’t say in a tight friend group, but even someone that might be an acquaintance, she will reach out and say, "I’ve been there."
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yeah.
Seth Nelson: Yeah.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: When I first started, and I’m now co-parenting a two-year-old in diapers, going back and forth, leaving her mommy and her heart broken, and I would say something to my friends who are now pregnant with their second and third kids, they’d be like, "Oh my God, you’re so lucky you get a break." I wanted to hit everybody with my car because that was not the answer I was looking for.
Pete Wright: Yeah.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Whereas now I have a whole community of women and I have a paid membership group with a Facebook page where one of the moms will write, "Okay, I need help this weekend. My little one is at her dad’s for the first time and I’m losing it," and everybody chimes in to make her feel better. That is so invaluable. Something I don’t allow in my community is ex bashing. I’ll take it right down off the Facebook page, because we’re not there.
Seth Nelson: Good for you. Good for you.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: We’re there to empower. I don’t bash my exactly. Maybe to his face, joking around, but there’s no value in that. It doesn’t help anybody move on, and it certainly pulls other people into a negative space. So, I don’t allow it. But it’s really more of a place to say, "Hey, I’m in this situation. I don’t know what to do. Has anybody else been here? How did you handle it?" I just saw somebody posted, "How are you guys handling Father’s Day?" They know in my community, we celebrate and support the men that we’re divorced from because our children deserve it. That’s the running theme. So, to have a community is to have power, and knowledge is power and advice and perspective. Again, it all comes back to perspective.
Seth Nelson: Michelle, I want to just touch on this, because I can’t help but have my lawyer brain on, everything that you’re saying is advice I give to clients if we have to go to trial and argue about a parenting plan. I will ask, I will advise my clients, "Hey, Father’s Day is coming up. Make sure you’re sending a gift or a card with the kids. Send a thank you for being there, dad." It can be that simple, because you’re in litigation. You’re not going to go on and on about how great you are when you’re about to go to court and have to point out their flaws as being a parent, but you can at least send a gift with the child. If you’re doing that type of stuff, when you get to court and the judge is looking at it like, "Well, yeah, this person’s trying to co-parent. They’re the ones trying to heal. They’re the ones focused on the children. The gift is from the children." Right? As opposed to, "Did you send your co-parent a father’s day gift? Did your children have anything for them?" "No. No." What kind of message do you believe that sends to your child? I’ll have a field day with that on the other side, but I’m doing that when I’m advising clients from a "litigation" perspective, that does have positive outcomes, even if it never comes up in litigation again and we settle, but you’re doing it for the real reasons, right? The heart of this is showing the kids what’s important. This is how you heal. This is how moms move on.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It’s not about your ex, it’s about your children always at the end of the day. If you can lay your head down at night feeling okay with not empowering your child to celebrate their dad, then I don’t know what planet you’re living on. You have to encourage that relationship, because whether you like it or not, that person is half of your child. You know? My ex made a joke the other day, my daughter got her report card and it was amazing, and she’s the top reader in her kindergarten class. It’s like porn for me because I used to be a teacher, and I’m like, "Look at this child we created. Isn’t she amazing?" He’s like, "I gave her to you." I’m like, "Yeah, that’s just the reminder I needed that she is half you." We forget that. Again, it’s ego. We’re so mad at our exes that we’re not going to celebrate them out of spite. You’re basically shitting all over your kids when you do that, and it’s awful, and I see it all the time. Yes, I have a lot of lawyer perspective because as you can imagine, I have many a nights at dinner with family lawyers because of what my husband does for a living.
Seth Nelson: I’m so sorry for you. I apologize.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: [inaudible 00:28:20]. But I love the attorneys that will take that sort of collaborative mindset instead of the litigation mindset of, "Well, fuck them. Let’s piss them off more." You know? So, I appreciate that a lot.
Seth Nelson: Yeah. That doesn’t help anybody doing it that way.
Pete Wright: For those people listening who think, "Hey, I don’t need a bespoke community for divorced people. I have friends. My friends are going to be enough for me," what do you say to those people?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Okay, have fun with that.
Pete Wright: I just realized I totally outed myself because I look at my own friends that I love dearly and call them a bore on a podcast when they’re going through trauma. That’s probably not the right friend group you want to be associated with. I need to rethink it.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Listen, I have amazing, amazing friends. I’m really blessed, but a lot of them aren’t divorced, and those are not the friends I go to with certain issues. Those aren’t the friends that I call and cry to when I miss my daughter. You know? There’s different friends for different things, right? You have your fun friends that you know are going to want to go to the bar and not leave until last call, and then you have your friends that are fun just to talk about-
Seth Nelson: I gave up those friends a long time ago. I’m like, "I’ll meet you for happy hour. Good luck to you the rest of the night."
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: There are different friends for different things. I don’t think as divorced people we can only have divorced friends. So many of my friends are happily married and have been for a long time, and I just think you got to find your people when you need them. What was the saying they taught me in nursery school? Make new friends but keep the old.
Seth Nelson: You raised a good point about a lot of your friends being married and you were the first divorced person in that friend group.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yes.
Seth Nelson: Did you experience where they would invite you to dinner, did you feel like a third wheel, or you would invite them over and say, "Hey, I’d love to get together with both of you and not just maybe the girlfriend," because maybe you guys would do that historically anyway.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yeah. I think I felt confident enough to give a third wheel, I just didn’t want to be. So, I really focused more on girls nights. You know? We do a lot of that anyway as young moms in the mom chat. It’s like, "Ladies, we need a glass of wine. When are we finding a night to go out?" I was fortunate in that my friends were always down for a girls night, so I wasn’t third wheeling so much at all. I just wasn’t. If it came down to that and I knew that people were going out as couples and they invited me to go along, I just wouldn’t go, not because I felt weird, but what’s the point? I would just be doing it to avoid sitting at home alone when sometimes sitting at home alone is really great.
Seth Nelson: Yeah. It’s interesting, because I did both. Sometimes I would sit home alone, which was really healthy for me to learn how to be alone. That was some of the hard work I did.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Me too.
Seth Nelson: Then sometimes friends would invite me or I would call them out and say, "Hey, I’d love to go out with you guys," or whatever, and then sometimes maybe I’d meet my buddy for a drink, and then his wife would show up and we’d all have dinner together, and then maybe I’d leave and they’d have dessert or something. But I actually found that it wasn’t all the time, but when it did happen, I found it to be really nice where I didn’t feel just like, "Oh, I only have guy friends now." Now, I think there’s a lot more support for women, there’s more girls night out, guys kind of do different things, but I just was wondering how you impacted that and how you played that out?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yeah. I, like you, had a very hard time being alone. I had never been single. I went from relationship to relationship, and that was a lot of the work that I needed to do that was anxious attachment and abandonment trauma. I also don’t like feeling left out, you know? So, I had to work through that, and it was painful, but it was very necessary for me to be able to know that I could say no to a plan and sit at home alone and still be worthy.
Seth Nelson: Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It was a tough pill for me to swallow. If you asked my childhood friends that I knew in my teen years, in my twenties, "Michelle was always on the go and she was never single." That’s what they would say, because I did not know how to be alone with myself. That was something I really needed to learn. Just as I got comfortable with that aloneness and that Saturday night home alone with Showtime, The Affair, great show.
Seth Nelson: That’s what I’ve heard. I’ve heard it’s an amazing show. I’m going to put the link in the show notes.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: That’s when I met my now husband, which is so ironic, but I’m finally empowered enough to be alone, and I feel confident. I know deep down I’m not going to die alone. I’ll meet someone when the time is right. I wasn’t actively seeking it, and that’s when I met my second husband.
Seth Nelson: I could not agree with that more. That was very similar to my experience. When I finally became comfortable being alone, is it almost opened up a different side of me that was never there, to the point that I think people responded to it. For me to say, "Yeah, go have your girl’s night. Maybe we’ll catch up later," or whatever the case may be. I didn’t feel like you always had to be with someone and I didn’t always have to have plans. Hey, I could wake up on a Saturday morning and not have plans. I’m going to fill my day. I’m going to enjoy my day. It’s going to be either productive or relaxing or content taking the dog to the dog park, just chilling out, whatever I decided to do. That was a huge shift in my life. I am very social and I’m definitely an extrovert, but I do now even enjoy some alone time in any way, shape or form that that comes to me throughout the day.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: I don’t know about you, but for me it was also like you come out of a marriage and when it’s bad at the end, there probably isn’t that much intimacy. So, you’re like, "I wonder what I could get into here," right? The old me would have really responded to a lot of these Facebook messages from all the guys that somehow got the smoke signal that I was single again, but for me, it was like, sure, that would be great to have like a casual one thing or see if I’ve still got it, but I didn’t want to do that and be that person and have a daughter at the same time.
Seth Nelson: Right.
Pete Wright: We got to make a transition here. We’ve got so much to talk about. Since we’ve been talking about the value of the community, can we start with that? What other stuff do you offer in your community? And then we got to talk about your book and we got to talk about your podcast. You got a lot to do, so let’s do it.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: The podcast is Mom Moving On, and that is everywhere you can listen to podcasts, and it’s doing really well. We have great, great desks on, and everyone from the seasoned divorce attorneys and therapists to the occasional Housewives of somewhere, and it’s been great. So, that led itself to my book, which is coming out from Simon & Schuster later this year, Mom Moving On, Real Life Advice on Conquering Divorce, Co-parenting Through conflict, and Becoming Your Best Self. That is a labor of love that I’m really excited will be available to the people of the world.
Pete Wright: Now, I was looking at your website, are you giving pieces of it away now if people sign up for something, or is just a waiting list?
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: It’s a waiting list.
Pete Wright: Okay.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: However, I’m going to be doing free workshops and stuff for people who pre-order.
Pete Wright: Outstanding.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Get on the list so that-
Pete Wright: Get on the list.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Yeah.
Pete Wright: Link in the show notes directly to that list.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Link in the show notes. Then I’m on Instagram, which people find helpful. I post a lot about going through the process and co-parenting and overcoming all of that. So, you could find me there at The Michelle Dempsey.
Pete Wright: Wonderful. This has been great.
Seth Nelson: That’s great.
Pete Wright: Yeah. Michelle Dempsey, you’re fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time for sharing your time with us and our community, and for just you being you. You’re great.
Michelle Dempsey-Multack: Thanks.
Pete Wright: Yeah. Everybody, thank you for your time and attention. Thanks for doing the work on behalf of Michelle Dempsey and America’s favorite family law attorney, Seth Nelson. I’m Pete Wright.
Seth Nelson: Gets me every time.
Pete Wright: I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you right here the next week on How to Split a Toaster, divorce podcast about saving your relationships.
Speaker 5: Seth Nelson is an attorney with Nelson Costa Family Law and Mediation, with offices in Tampa, Florida. While we may be discussing family law topics, How to Split a Toaster is not intended to, nor is it providing legal advice. Every situation is different. If you have specific questions regarding your situation, please seek your own legal counsel with an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Pete Wright is not an attorney or employee of Nelson Costa. Seth Nelson is licensed to practice law in Florida.
Seth Nelson is a Tampa based family lawyer known for devising creative solutions to difficult problems. In How to Split a Toaster, Nelson and co-host Pete Wright take on the challenge of divorce with a central objective — saving your most important relationships with your family, your former spouse, and yourself.