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Bride in Reverse with Writer Becca Bycott

We’ve talked about divorce and the law. We’ve talked about the emotional rebuilding after a divorce, too. But somewhere in between the legal and the emotional exists the practical: how do you present yourself to the world?

This week on the show we’re talking all about brand YOU. Becca Bycott is a writer based in Washington D.C. and the pen behind Bride In Reverse, a personal branding and lifestyle blog that celebrates how to reclaim autonomy after this big life change.

About Becca Bycott

Becca Bycott is a writer based in Washington, D.C. who specializes in creative non-fiction, feature stories, and blogging. Bride in Reverse is a personal branding and lifestyle blog that celebrates how people reclaim their autonomy following a major life change. She launched it after she got divorced in February 2016 and felt inspired to write about it. The idea behind Bride in Reverse: deciding to start over is not a failure, but an act of courage.

Episode Transcript

Pete:
Welcome to How to Split a Toaster: a divorce podcast about saving your relationships from TruStory FM. Today, it’s time to rebrand your toaster.

Seth:
Welcome to show everyone I’m Seth Nelson. I’m here as always with my good friend, Pete Wright. We’ve talked about divorce and the law. We’ve talked about the emotional rebuilding after divorce, too. But somewhere in between the legal and the emotion exists the practical. How do you present yourself to the world? This week on the show we’re talking about brand you Becca Bycott is a writer based in Washington, DC, and the pen behind Bride In Reverse, a personal branding and lifestyle blog that celebrates how to reclaim autonomy after this big life change. Becca, welcome to the Toaster.

Becca Bycott:
Thank you. Thanks of inviting me.

Pete:
I’m very excited about this, and I’m going to start with your music post. You wrote a blog post about how breaking up with music is hard to do.

Becca Bycott:
Yes.

Pete:
And I got very excited about that, because I found some research for another show that we were doing that talked about how, when your favorite band breaks up, it is effectively, it feels chemically like you have just broken up with someone. For me, it’s when Prince died, I was crushed. As an adult person, it was devastated, because I’m such a fan. And I just realized, oh my God, this is the same chemical stuff. The garbage that’s happening when you break up with somebody, and that you found words to write about that, your relationship with music, in that regard. I thought that was really lovely.

Becca Bycott:
Oh, thanks. I mean, music is of those assets, emotionally speaking, you can’t really split up when you go through a divorce. Like you’ll hear whatever song you heard during your relationship at odd times, and, obviously, it’ll pull some heart strings and make you remember different things. And it takes time before you can get back to those bands you love and those songs you enjoyed. Or in my case, you can find a whole new reason to love a different song, but that has a tangent to whatever old music you enjoyed. So in my case, my ex-husband and I danced to a Van Morrison song, the song was originally by Bob Dylan, It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, and Them did a cover of it. And my ex was a huge Bob Dylan fan, and it took me a long time to decide if I was going to be able to get back into Bob Dylan after I left him.
And I was never a huge Bob Dylan fan myself, but I went to tons and tons of Bob Dylan shows, and heard Bob Dylan sing, which in person is not always as good as his actual albums. But anyway, Van Morrison happened to be an artist who we danced to at our wedding. And then when I discovered It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, the cover by Them, it’s this incredible song about just moving forward and leaving your past behind, and that was my song. And that was kind of how I tiptoed back into not only Bob Dylan, but Van Morrison, and many other bands besides those two.

Pete:
Well, I love that as an entree to our conversation today, because I feel like it is so representative of figuring out your identity after a divorce. And I’ll say, and we say all the time, we try not to have gendered conversations on this show. But from the perspective of a woman who has taken a different name, in the marriage process, now to sort of undo that, there is this bit of a rebranding that you have to go through, and it’s something that you have been thinking a lot about

Seth:
Before we get to rebranding, because it’s fascinating on what we’re about to talk about, I think we need to back the conversation up, is what happens during a marriage where people lose their identity, right?

Becca Bycott:
Yeah.

Seth:
So I understand people get married, and, usually, sometimes the woman will change her name. But what happens in that relationship where you lose your identity? And what can you do to avoid that, so you don’t necessarily have to “rebrand”? Becca, if you’re willing to share that part of what happened during the marriage, first, before we get to all the amazing things, which we definitely want to talk about, what you did after your marriage ended.

Becca Bycott:
Yeah, sure. I’m happy to talk about that. To be very candid, I think, during my marriage, I didn’t really express a lot of what I wanted, and when I did, it wasn’t always heard. And I think that’s a process for any couple, learning how to thoughtfully listen, and receive whatever the other person is saying, even if you don’t agree with it, and learning the art of compromise. I know I felt like I lost my identity. Because I just got to a point where I felt so defeated and so unacknowledged and broken down, that I just didn’t feel like I could assert what I really wanted.
And I mean, just to tie it back to music, I happened to introduce my ex-husband to a band called The Dandy Warhols. And he really loved them. And I was like, “Okay, good. This is an artist that we both like.” But after that, we would go to concerts and he would consistently, mainly. Want to go to Dandy Warhols shows. And I like seeing a band just as much as anybody else, but I’m very open to seeing a lot of different groups, and not just doing the same thing over and over again. So it became this weird thing, where, whenever we would go to a city, which I desperately missed being in a small town, living with him over the years, we would go to a city and we would see Dandy Warhols, and I’d be like so disappointed, because I wanted to go to cities for many reasons.
And that was our one tangible place where we had reached some agreement on how different we were with things we enjoyed, and it was the let down. And so, one thing I wrote about in that music post, my ex also loved bluegrass, he also loved lots and lots of kind of more folk music. And after I left him, I went to electronica shows. I got into all kinds of music I always loved, and had kind of kept under cover. And just to reassure you all, our relationship was not all music dominated, it was just a big deal for a while. I was a DJ when I was in college and a cultural critic for a while, so anything relating to the arts or music was a part of my heart. And to have [crosstalk 00:06:45]-

Seth:
It’s in your DNA. That’s in-

Becca Bycott:
Yeah.

Seth:
… your DNA.

Pete:
Well, and it sounds so much like it starts to be, it’s like identity theft, right? It’s like, “Ah, how could you take this from me and turn it into something that I didn’t mean it to be?”

Seth:
Well, that’s one part that happened, I think. I had a much different experience, Pete, is no one took my identity, I gave it away. And I was the willing participant. When I got married, I was married for the first time. I became a step-dad. I was starting my new career as an attorney. I was an attorney for one year, but it was just going into private practice, after I was a federal law clerk. And we bought a house, did a big addition on the house, we had a child, and then all this happened before our divorce in three years. Which, as Pete knows, my girlfriend does not call a marriage, she calls it a long weekend, because it was so short.
So all those things that I was doing, I was an attorney, I was a stepdad, I was a husband, I had this overwhelming sense of providing, and I wanted to be there for the kids, and for my wife and all this stuff that I was doing. And I just got lost on who I was, which led to all sorts of stuff that I’d even realize was going on. My chest would get tight. I would get tired. I was always being pulled in directions. And I just didn’t have any time for me, and who am I? Other than all these other roles for other people.
And it isn’t anything that anybody did or said. I let societal pressures mount on me that were my own making in my own head, that weren’t necessarily even there. And I want to be very clear, my former spouse didn’t do anything wrong or tell me I should have done any of those things. I would bet if I was talking to her now, she would be like, “I would’ve loved for you to go for a run, go play golf for a day, take a break.” And so I think that is an issue that happens, that happens just naturally without anyone doing anything other than what you’re doing to yourself.

Becca Bycott:
I completely agree. They’re almost like societal pressures you put on yourself about how you’re supposed to be in a marriage. And some of them are very valid and aligned with your values, but then sometimes it’s like, you sort of let it all eclipse who you really are, kind of speaking to what you’re describing, it sort of sounds like.
And then I don’t know, I think also, it’s true that no matter how bad your divorce is, afterwards, you do learn that maybe your ex did wish you had been more assertive about something you really needed, or you had taken that time for yourself to be in touch with yourself, beyond the context of your marriage, or to be a better partner to your spouse. And it’s really tricky. I feel like a lot of that you find out sometimes, hopefully, with the right partner during the marriage, but afterwards, a lot of it comes out of the woodwork, too, after the relationship is over.

Seth:
That’s what my girlfriend always says, by the way, Becca, is, “Never date a guy when it’s his first marriage. Hopefully, you get him on the second time, and he is done all the hard work.”

Pete:
He’s learned all his lessons.

Seth:
Right.

Becca Bycott:
It’s true. I mean, there’s a lot you learn the first time around. And I wanted to mention something else about societal expectations and identity, Bride In Reverse, I was really nervous about launching anything about what I was doing, and sort of this blueprint I was creating about my life. And I intentionally only chose leap day the year I launched it, because that’s a day that women traditionally, I guess, in the past, asked men to marry them or something. And in my mind I was going through this creative idea that by launching a blog about how it’s okay to admit something didn’t work out and like explore how you’re rebuilding yourself, it was sort of the opposite sit end of that. I don’t know how to explain that, but it was like the whole Bride In Reverse name, just kind of taking a different aspect of how you can grow beyond marriage. And starting it on leap day meant something to me, it was kind of an interesting day to launch it.

Pete:
Did you know that Seth, did you know that about leap day?

Seth:
I did not.

Pete:
Fascinating.

Seth:
It really is, I’ve never heard that. And I’ll tell you, when I’m talking to my girlfriend tonight, I’m going to mention that to her.

Becca Bycott:
She can [crosstalk 00:11:03] anytime, right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I truthfully did not know that either. I have a background in digital marketing, but I wasn’t really looking for like that, cheesy, perfect marketing moment. It was just like in February, this was happening, and I was just thinking about the pressure we all are under to get married, and to not fail in your marriage. And I was like, well, it’s an interesting way I can launch this positively, but in like kind of a, I don’t want to say subversive way, but a way that kind of challenges the traditional path lines of happiness, all of us try to follow, or many of us try to follow, I should say.

Pete:
At a minimum, it’s a wink and a nod. But also Bride In Reverse is probably just over a year old now, right?

Becca Bycott:
To actually be honest, it’s been around for a while. I launched it in 2016, and I’ve written on it for a long time and it’s been really rewarding and great. I get emails even now, when I haven’t published in a couple months, that someone has found something on there that has really affirmed something for them. I actually got a random Facebook message, like, literally, two weeks ago from another person who lives in DC. And she was just like, “I’ve been meaning to try to reach out to. I want you to know how much it meant to me to find your blog. And I even have ideas about other things that I’m trying to figure out that relate to starting over that I’d love to talk to you about.”
And I thought I was just… Like I said, I invented this blog to almost be a experiment for myself to figure out things step by step, like getting out of debt, dating, everything. And people were responding to it, and just saying, “Hey, I really connect with this.” And it made me so happy that it was resonating with people.

Pete:
Well, let’s talk a little bit about, let’s move on to the post divorce part, because that’s the part that I think is, it’s where you can get stuck. Which is this idea, and the way I have of it in my head is that you’re sort of presenting a double life. That there is this identity that you had crafted with your former spouse, and now you’re in this transition period where your name isn’t your own, you’re doing things differently. You have this giant hole, this practical hole that exists as baggage, whether it’s your home or your job or whatever. And how do you go about figuring out how you want to present in the world?

Becca Bycott:
I think it’s definitely a strange and arduous process. Like little things that just pop up in your day-to-day, that you realize you really love, that maybe you didn’t let yourself have before. Something that I’ve written a lot about, for me, it was things like buying flowers for myself every Sunday from the farmer’s market. It was cooking vegetables that I knew my ex hated that I really missed making. It was trying new things.
I think a lot of people go through this phase, like to speak to your point of you’re not sure what to be, you try stuff. I took a dance class and became certified to teach this type of dance, at the time. And I don’t do that anymore, but I was just grasping for something that would wake up a new part of myself, that would allow me to reignite who I was supposed to be after the fact.
I think holidays are tough. One thing I really wish I had done differently is, my first Christmas, the year after I left my ex, I made this weird decision that I was so sad and so embarrassed about what I had been going through that I wasn’t going to go home and spend Christmas, with my family, which is kind of nuts. You really want to be with your family, hopefully, when you’re going through a tough time, depending on your relationships with them.

Seth:
Yeah. I was about to say, you haven’t met my family. I’m I’m with you.

Becca Bycott:
Exactly. Exactly. So I ended up staying in my apartment. I had just gotten a TV stand. I had never built anything by myself. I hated anything relating to engineering. And I made myself, for three days, get this stupid TV stand built, and it was the best triumph ever. And I was like, “I can build things. I can figure out these problems that I let my ex take care of, that I now need to do on my own.”
And so I think it’s just little tests that you give yourself. It’s really strange. Those are the main things that helped me. And then obviously, when you’re dating, you’re trying to sort of observe if there are things that you are continuing to run into that are bad things that your ex made you feel, or just behaviors that you created in the relationship that are things you want to try to change about yourself.
I think when you’re starting over, there are a lot of different months like that, where you’re getting out there, and you’re like, “Okay, wait, does he remind me of my ex when he says that? Or am I projecting all my resentment about what happened in my relationship?” Or you’ll say, “Hey, wait, this is actually great. I want to be with someone with a great sense of humor,” or, “I love taking this guy to a party and not worrying incessantly if he’s going to be able to socially deal with things, when I’m not standing right next to him.”

Seth:
You kind of went quickly through that. And my ears kind of picked up on something, and you said that, when you first started, you’re trying all different things. And to me, that’s just freedom. That is saying, “I can do whatever I want this weekend.” And you decide to teach dance and learn this dance, whereas, opposed to thinking of, what am I going to do? Or I don’t have the kids, I’m so sad. I just think of it as, wow, I’ve got all this time now.
I literally had every other weekend off, and I called that the silver lining of divorce with children. But if you don’t have children, you’ve got every day off to do what, now, you want to do. And it’s okay to go find yourself or find things that you like to do, and to try new things. Those are all amazing experiences. And sometimes it might just be thinking, what did I like to do before I got married? Right?

Becca Bycott:
Yeah. I mean, it’s funny how things resurface, too. My ex and I did tons of camping. We did backpacking, when we first met, and after I left him, I couldn’t get enough of the city. I was like, “I don’t want to go near grass.” I mean, not really, but I was just not into going hiking. And now, especially post-pandemic, because I think everybody reconnected with the outside world, I’ve really discovered how much I love being outside. And I’ve dated men who have been really into the outdoors, and it’s kind of been recovered.
It was something that made me happy at one point, then changed because I was so unhappy camping with the person I was with, and now it’s something that I’m enjoying again. I bought a bike over the pandemic and I ride all over DC. It’s so much fun. And that was something I used to do with my ex. He was really into that. And for a while I just had to avoid anything and everything that reminded me of my old life, because I was trying so hard to hear a new voice, to figure out the new direction. It’s tough, it really is.

Pete:
It turns out maybe there were some things in that life that weren’t so bad, that you can get some joy out of some of that stuff. Let’s talk, I want to pivot a little bit to the digital side, because I know that’s a thing that gives people issue too, is, how do you handle the social media presentation? We see so many sort of tropey experiences, in movies and pop culture about like, “Oh my gosh, when is she going to mark, I’m in a relationship? How will I know when I’ve really arrived?” Well, it’s when you’ve arrived on Instagram or Facebook or something.
But how do you unravel that for people who maybe have only seen kind of the curated you, which I know a lot of people do on their social media? How do you suddenly present this piece that requires you to be vulnerable?

Becca Bycott:
That’s such an important question. And it’s something that I’ve thought a lot about and tried to figure out a lot over the years. And I think it’s different for every person, but there’s some good rules of thumb that I think really help most people. One is, first of all, deciding to start over whether it was a bunch of people causing the problems, whether you realized you needed to leave, whoever’s fault, it was, deciding to start over is an act of courage. It doesn’t need to be a failure, even though people make you feel like it’s a failure. It’s brave to get out of something that’s not working, and decide to give you and your ex the breathing room to figure out a new way to be.

Seth:
But hold on, I know we’re going to talk about social media, but I just got to highlight this point. It is brave to get out of a relationship. And I think people miss that point. When you have a client who didn’t understand the finances, didn’t have control of them, might not be employed for a long time, is worried about seeing the children, or if they’re not very, worried about how am I going to support myself? All that crazy, unknown, scary stuff, and you finally say, “I’m going to step off this cliff, because I can no longer allow myself to be in this other relationship.”
That is brave, and it takes courage. And I just really wanted to highlight that point, because I believe it so much. And people look at it as like, “Oh, my marriage was a failure. My marriage didn’t work.” It’s all this negative. And I think it’s the bravest thing people do.

Becca Bycott:
That’s great. I mean, I think more and more people need to say that, because there is so much guilt and there’s so much of a stigma, I think people sometimes think is out there. And in terms of like, how do you digitally present yourself? How do you convey that on social media, for example? I was really struggling with it for a while, but I decided, okay, I’m going to launch this blog. I’m going to chart my path and just be really honest and open about things that are not working. Things that I’m figuring out. Celebrating the little joys. My last name was a big issue, actually wrote a post called TBT to My Maiden Name: Personal Branding After Divorce or something like that.
I had been a speaker, and in higher ed education, I worked in higher ed for a long time, and so I had been a keynote and I had published all this stuff under my old name. And I was like, “Oh, no, I want to go back to my maiden name and how do I do this with a professional history of my name being out there under my ex’s name?” And so I wrote a post about it on Medium. I was like, “This is a challenge, but I’m going back to this.” And it got picked up by Medium. It was featured on the homepage. So it was kind of like the ultimate thing, because I was talking about, how do you redefine yourself in a post out changing my last name, and how to do that on social media took off.
And one kind of tongue in cheek thing I did, is, when I finally announced the blog was live and that my name had changed, I put it out there on Twitter. I think I said, “TBT to my old last name. This is my name moving forward.” And I linked the blog post. So I gave myself a story to share, and it happened to resonate with, I guess, the editors at Medium, and they picked up on it. I never really put out a big announcement on LinkedIn, although that seems to be what people do nowadays. They’re like, “I was in the grocery store and I let five people in front of me, and now I know everything about hiring.” People were really pour their hearts out on LinkedIn.
I did not do that, but I used Twitter. I went on Facebook. It was the first time I told people on Facebook, which is like my family and friends, primarily, that I had gotten divorced, and that I was starting over. And the way I did that is I linked to this blog post about changing my name, and I was like, “Listen, I just want to let you know, this is happening. And here’s where things are at.” And this was a gradual mystery, right? I announced I was moving to DC, and I was still connected to some of my ex’s friends at the time. And they were like, “Is he going with you?” And I like couldn’t dive into a Facebook comment saying, “Well, actually, we’re splitting up. And our marriage is over.”
So I hadn’t been brave enough to jump into that, and this was my first moment where I was like, “This has happened. I’ve changed my name. I want to be brave about this. And here’s my new name.” And luckily it got picked up by a few social media things, and my friends and family were like, “This is great. Thank you for sharing this with us. We’re really proud of you. You’re going to be okay.”

Seth:
Pete, this just goes back to every time anyone that we’ve talked to on this show says, “I was scared. I was vulnerable. I did this. And what I got back was all this love and support.”

Pete:
Yeah. And to that point specifically, I mean, you are presenting it, Becca, as if the social media folks were picking it up, and they were sort of amplifying that signal. But they wouldn’t do that, if this wasn’t a significant challenge for others. I mean, that’s the thing that I think you happened to stumble into in your own kind of act of vulnerable, which was, wow, how do I tell people in these various sort of communities of mine, friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, the world at large, to Instagram or to LinkedIn? How do you present that? And what does that face look like as you go about reclaiming or claiming who you are going to be? And a huge part of that is how do you handle the name reveal? And so, yeah, I mean, I think that’s, actually, a powerful journey, not to be dismissive of.

Becca Bycott:
Thank you. The other thing I would recommend, and people have very different places they go with this, I myself had to block myself from all of my ex’s accounts. I had to be very deliberate. I wish this wasn’t the case, but we all have his and her friends or her and her friends, depending on the gender [crosstalk 00:25:04]-

Pete:
Yeah, team Becca, team ex, yeah.

Becca Bycott:
Yeah. And I had to make a tough decision, because I knew these people were actively talking to my ex and I just was like, I have to really shut this down, so I don’t see it every day. And I was even working in social media. I didn’t have a choice to not be online. So I had to really take care of myself by, A, making it, so I didn’t have any of his updates anymore. Unfriending some of our shared friendships, because I couldn’t empathize with him at that point. But, again, moderating that social media consumption was key. If I had gotten lost in the rabbit hole of stalking all these updates, obsessing about what was happening, I had to shut that down.

Seth:
It’s a trigger for a lot of people. And I always had the view of, why do we care? We’ve left. We’ve moved on. But it takes a long time to really separate. And breaking up is like an addiction, you always are going back emotionally, physically. The way your body works, the way your mind works, it is an addiction, and you’re getting off that. And that’s why people have that emotional response, in the addiction term, you went cold Turkey. I’m cutting it all off. And that’s a good thing, because, otherwise, it’s really easy to keep getting sucked in, which just simply prevents you from moving forward.

Pete:
Well, and that’s exactly the thing. I mean, so much of this is just protecting yourself for a while. At some point, you have to put up some sort of a barrier that says, “I can’t let this stuff in, so that I can protect myself long enough to move on.”

Becca Bycott:
Yeah. I mean, the other side of this whole story is that so much of what we share about ourselves online is highly curated and presented. I mean, if you happen to still be in touch with your ex, if you happen to still be in touch with associated people in that circle, most people, they’re not necessarily lying, but they’re putting forward mainly the good stuff. And they may do it in a very elusive way that doesn’t get to the heart of what’s happening. Every couple has challenges, and that never pops up on social media, ever, hardly. Unless you’re, I guess, like who is it? Gwyneth Paltrow that’s like uncoupling or whatever.

Pete:
Yeah. Conscious uncoupling.

Becca Bycott:
But that was also, [inaudible 00:27:31].

Pete:
Well, yeah, I think this is mostly, what I get out of this and what I hope people are listening get out of this, is that there is a dimension of protecting your identity as you figure out, as you cocoon, and determine who it is that you’re going to present to the world before you commit, before you take back the ownership of the identity, and become the person that you are after the divorce, lessons learned, scars, bandages, healing, and then move on with your life. And I think in our experience, as we hear from folks, it’s hard for a lot of people to take that, like cut the cord to distance themselves from some of those messages. And that’s a really important thing to do as you become something new.

Seth:
The other thing that I think about, Pete, too, is, how do you want to spend your time? I am a huge believer that time is our most precious asset, because none of us know how much we have. And it’s the only thing that allows us to do everything else that we cherish, spend time with our kids, listen to music, go to concerts, family, what we do for our jobs or fulfillment in the workplace. All that is because we spend our time doing it.
So I think and advise people, be very conscious about the decisions you make and be intentional about how you spend your time. Put down your phone and go for the walk, read the book, take off the notifications on your phone, so you’re not distracted, because that notification is sucking your time. So if you don’t want to read someone’s feed, unfriend them, block them, do whatever you need to do, because you have a phone for one reason, your convenience, not anybody else’s. And if you start using the phone in the way that is intentional, and social media and the way it’s intentional for you, it becomes a lot more fulfilling, and not just looking at clickbait or going through and getting sucked in and going down that rabbit hole.

Pete:
Well, and I think to Becca’s point earlier, you could very easily become a victim of your own past curation. If you’ve done a really good job of presenting your perfect image on Facebook and Instagram and wherever, when this happens, and divorce happens and you have to come out and tell everybody about this massive change in your life, that may impact their relationships too, that can be even harder. It can be even harder to deal with, because maybe you haven’t been as vulnerable on social media. So no judgment about your strategy, but just be aware that sometimes deactivating your account without deleting for a little while, might not be the worst situation.

Becca Bycott:
I love that. And I especially love what Seth said about time, I couldn’t agree with that more. The time you have, whether you’re a single parent or sharing your kids with your ex, or whether you’re single and like kind of just in this wilderness of figuring things out, that time is incredible to make mistakes, to discover new joys, to make new friendships. My friendships really blossomed after I left my ex, suddenly there were like millennials in my office who I hadn’t talked to before in previous jobs. And I had all this time to go do really interesting things with them in the city, and learn about how I feel like… So I’m gen X, and I know that I don’t really get hung up on generations too much, because I feel like everybody just has their own time of how they figure things out.
But it did really relate to, it seems like millennials are really clear about defining what they want in relationships more than I felt like I’d ever been. I could be totally wrong about that. I know everybody has different experiences. But I enjoyed the time I had to start exploring all these different friendships with people younger than me, with people older than me, with happily married people who weren’t, what did Bridget Jones call it, like smug marrieds. They weren’t smug marrieds. They weren’t into making me feel weird that I was on my own or that I was dating a ton of people. And I wasn’t serious about anybody. They we’re just really supportive and great. And you have to have that time to go meet them or to spend time with yourself, like Seth saying, like going on a walk, spending time alone is really powerful.

Seth:
Whether you’re in a relationship or not.

Becca Bycott:
Absolutely.

Seth:
Pete knows that I exercise a lot and that is my time. And I was just talking to my girlfriend about this, this past week, is the fact with the exercise that I’m doing, it makes the time that I spend with her that much better, because I get that stress relief out. Whatever’s going on when I’m running those miles or riding that bike or in the pool, it is helping my psyche. I know for certain I’m more focused at work. I am more productive at work, it’s time management, but I also just feel more connected with the people around me, because my head is clearer. And I have that time that I’m taking for myself, which makes the time I spend with others that much better.
And that is the exact opposite of what I was doing 15, 17 years ago, when I married, because I was spending all the time with people, trying to do all these things that I thought I was supposed to do. And look, it’s harder when you got young kids, right? My kid’s 17 now, I can get up early and go for a run and come back. He’s still sleeping. It’s not a problem. You do that with a three-year-old in the house, you got problems. But you got to just find a way to balance all that.

Pete:
So far, my biggest takeaway is, how much I regret that she said, Becca just said, “I love what Seth said about time,” because anytime somebody loves things that Seth said is a problem for me. But over-

Seth:
I didn’t want to interrupt Becca, because-

Pete:
No, I know you didn’t.

Seth:
… she was on a good point there, but I know you got a new toy and you failed to use it at that time.

Pete:
Because I felt like that level of, I was showing restraint on your behalf, although I will retroactively now say-

Seth:
Nice, Pete’s got a soundboard.

Pete:
I got a soundboard. That’s the truth. That’s what just happened there. No, all of this is really, I think, super valuable. And I think if we could just wrap up and I want to hear from both of you again on this question, because if we exist to save relationships, if there is one thing that you know now that you wish you knew then that might have helped you save some of the relationships in the orbit of your dissolving marriage, maybe not the marriage, but save your relationships with others in that orbit, what do you think you would offer?

Seth:
I’ve thought about this a lot, Pete, this was part of my own journey after I split up with my former spouse, and figuring out kind of what went wrong, and in my own, what I could have done better. I think it’s vitally important that you maintain your own identity, and so does your spouse. You are two individual people that are going to walk this Earth alone. Every step of the way you’re with yourself. Now you might be walking next to someone and be together for a while, and I’m not saying that, oh, then you get divorced. I’m saying, God forbid, someone might pass away first, and then you’re going to be walking this Earth. But you keep your individual identities and then you still come together on things that are important to you and values, and you connect, and you share, and you support, and you communicate, but it’s all about propping up the other person.
I want my girlfriend to be the best that she can be whatever it is that she is doing, and I know she wants the same for me, in our own individual lives. And that’s what brings you together. And I will share with you that, as you know, Pete, my girlfriend and I split up for a couple years, and we got back together, and we were just talking, what is better now? And I told her, it’s the way that we communicate. But in this conversation, I think it’s the way we support each other in our own individual lives. She can help me when I’m getting annoyed with something I’m getting annoyed with, or she sees a blind spot of mine. I don’t take it as an attack now, I take it as support, as me the individual, which brings us together. Which is the big takeaway for me, that I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years.

Becca Bycott:
I think I would agree with Seth on a lot of that. And what my piece of advice is, actually, sort of piggybacks on that. I think you have to find someone who will be with you through all the ways that you both change over time. You’re going to have people die unexpectedly. You’re going to have job losses, maybe. You’re going to have unexpected medical stuff. You need someone who can prop you up during all those moments. And I think it’s hard to know, especially when you get married really young, in my opinion, like who that person is, because you’re both still determining what is your ability to shape shift and change and respond to unexpected crisis’ that pop up, unexpected joys and opportunities that pop up.
How are you going to support your person? If you maybe have to move to a new city for their job, what does that look like? How do you collaborate as a team on that? And where do you negotiate on that, so that you are also getting something to make you happy?

Seth:
Becca, no one even talks about those things when they get married, even when they get married older, right?

Becca Bycott:
No.

Seth:
And when they get married, they’re like, “Oh, hey, that’s cool. I got the gun for the registry. Let me go. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.” That’s what you’re talking about. And as you get older in life experiences, my mother passed away earlier this year, I know for certain, there’s no way I could have come to through that the way I did without the support of my girlfriend, she was phenomenal. And there’s not a moment that I had ever dated anyone previously than I was sitting across with them on a first date or a second or a third or even a serious relationship and thought, I wonder how this person’s going to support me when my parents get ill? That’s just not something people think about.

Becca Bycott:
I mean, I agree with you. I mean, they say the whole thing about through sickness and health, but they don’t really spell out the real life versions of what those things are. And the accompanying thing I would say, also, and this is something we referenced earlier, you really have to learn how to give your partner some freedom to spend time alone, to figure out things they love. I have never understood personally people who spend every waking moment together, who have the same set of friends, and maybe there are people who uniquely have that going on and it works out great for them. But I think you have to have your own identity, as Seth as mentioned earlier, as I’ve mentioned earlier.
There’s a great book about that, actually, it’s called Mating in Captivity, I think it’s by Esther Perel, if that’s her name, but that is an awesome book. And I wish I’d read it before I got married. I think it’s a great go-to book when I’ve been in relationship, since getting divorced. And it’s very about that. You don’t trap somebody. You don’t make them feel like they have to be with you at every waking moment. You don’t freak out over every minute they spend without you. You have to have trust. You have to have respect, and you have to give yourself that time to be alone and independent and autonomous. But not abandon your relationship, obviously, may that quality time.
But I think almost that sort of relates to how do you grow old and change and evolve together? If you know how to think in your own place and you know how to be your own person, you’re strong enough to evolve. You’re strong enough to look at somebody and say, “Okay, this person is changing too. And how do I get there with them? How do I accompany them on that journey?” And I think that’s so critical. And most people you talk to, who’ve been in a relationship that didn’t work out, they lost themselves somehow, or maybe they didn’t lose themselves at all, but they didn’t know how to express themselves. And I don’t know, and that happens when you don’t respect those areas of autonomy-

Seth:
And the boundaries, and the boundaries, like-

Becca Bycott:
Yeah.

Pete:
That’s it.

Seth:
… it’s not okay if your spouse keeps telling you how terrible you are at everything.

Becca Bycott:
Oh, yeah. It’s really amazing. When you realize you don’t have to be in this tiny little box and not really know who you are and how to be your own person. And a lot of my writing is about that. It’s about how do you rediscover yourself? And how do you make mistakes, but then come back from the mistakes?

Pete:
Well, it’s wonderful for you to come and share your story and your experience and some guidance on how you managed the changing tides yourself. Where do you send people to read all these wonderful things? I know we’ll have direct links to some of these articles in our show notes, but where do you point them?

Becca Bycott:
So happy to share my link on Medium, I think I sent it to you all, if you want to share that, and the handle on that is Bride In Reverse. The other thing I’m excited to mention is I am actively working on pulling together my top posts, and turning it into a book. So Bride In Reverse, the book is coming, it’s something I’ve wanted to do a long time, and people have told me to do it. So that’ll hopefully come together and can’t wait to get that out there. And I have a Facebook group, but to be honest, it’s kind of slowed down a little bit. People, in general, I think have not done as much on Facebook as they used to, in my experience. So the best place is probably the blog and hopefully to read this book when it comes out.

Pete:
We’ll-

Seth:
Can’t wait.

Pete:
… shall commence the breath holding now. Okay. Thank you so much. It’s just great to hear from you, and to learn all about Bride In Reverse. Becca Bycott, thank you for your time today on the show. And-

Seth:
Thanks Becca.

Becca Bycott:
Nice meeting all of you.

Pete:
Absolutely. So on behalf of Becca Bycott and America’s favorite divorce attorney, Seth Nelson, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next week right here on How to Split a Toaster: A divorce podcast about saving your relationships.

Speaker 4:
Seth Nelson is an attorney with Nelson Koster Family Law and Mediation, with offices in Tampa, Florida. While we may be discussing family law topics, How to Split a Toaster is 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 Koster. 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.