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Holding Your Head High Through Divorce with Elizabeth Ann Atkins

You’re doing all the right things, all the things your team has told you to do: you’re facing the prospect of divorce head-on. But when the process gets hard, it’s even harder to keep your head held high.

How do you keep your focus on a successful outcome when everything else in the divorce process feels so ugly?

To help us through it all we welcome Elizabeth Ann Atkins. Elizabeth is America’s Book Coach and author of more than 40 books, wellness coach, and co-host of ‘MI Healthy Mind’, the Emmy-nominated Michigan TV talk show that is shattering the stigma around mental illness, addiction, and abuse.

Links & Notes

Episode Transcript

Pete Wright: Welcome to How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships from true story FM. Today, your toaster’s playing dirty. What are you going to do about it?

Seth Nelson: Welcome to show everyone. I’m Seth Nelson and I’m here as always with my good friend, Pete Wright. Today on the show, you’re facing the prospect of divorce head on. When the process gets hard, it’s even harder to keep your head held high. How do you keep your focus on a successful outcome when everything else feels so ugly? To help us through it all, we welcome Elizabeth Ann Atkins America’s book coach and author of more than 40 books, wellness coach, and co-host of Michigan Healthy Mind, the Emmy nominated TV talk show in Michigan with a focus on shattering stigma around mental illness, addiction, and abuse. Elizabeth, welcome to the Toaster.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I’m so excited to be here, Seth.

Pete Wright: I was wondering before we started, if we’d be better off, with your background, trying to figure out what you are not capable of talking to us about on the show. How do you have time for anything with all the stuff you do?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: You know, I don’t know. Time blocking is an aspiration, but I really work from morning till night. Self care is one of my top priorities, so I will put going to the gym and meditating above all else, and eating healthy. I just do it all and I feel like it’s a mission, it’s a calling, and I can’t stop until I feel that I’ve touched as many lives as I possibly can and I’m doing that on a daily basis.

Seth Nelson: Well, great with the toaster, you’re going to hit like three or four more lives.

Pete Wright: And two of them are right here in the room. It’s fantastic. Glad you’re here.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I love it. I love it.

Pete Wright: Yeah. You know, we have been talking about, on the show, this idea of rebuilding and finding forgiveness in the divorce process, whether you’re finding forgiveness in yourself or finding forgiveness in those in the process with you, definitely your former spouse, probably your lawyer, who are we kidding, and trying to make sense of what it means to get through the emotional storm of divorce, understanding that you probably will be scathed, but there is something on the other side of it to look forward to.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yes. So I have a huge forgiveness story.

Pete Wright: Oh, good.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: And I’m fast forwarding through my whole divorce saga, but I had a horrible divorce. My ex-husband was verbally abusive to the point that I had four restraining orders over 16 years as we co-parented our child, who’s now 24 and very successful in his career. However, around 16 years after the divorce, my ex-husband had a stroke and almost died. Our son was off in school, five hours away, and I promised my son that his dad would be okay. So I proceeded to step up and advocate for his health while he was in the ICU in a coma for 10 days. And I was there every day and his friends were all like, "My ex-wife would’ve just left me for dead."

Seth Nelson: Oh man.

Pete Wright: Wow.

Seth Nelson: See Elizabeth, that’s the difference between… I think my former spouse would’ve "tripped over the cord." We’re not going to pull the cord, just-

Pete Wright: Oh no, the phone fell into the toilet.

Seth Nelson: Yeah, exactly. I don’t know how that happened. I’m joking. It’s my former spouse, not ex, but yes.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh, I see. Yeah. I don’t really… Yeah, I agree with you. But it was for my son to make sure he was okay. He had to go back and take finals knowing his dad was in the ICU and he knew I was there. So I stood at his bedside while he was unconscious with all these machines beeping and I felt forgiveness for the first time in my whole life. And I just said, "I forgive you." And it like lifted off my shoulders. It was magical. I forgave him. I had to let go of all the horrors of his treatment of me over many years. And I just let it go. And I proceeded to help him. He came out of the coma on Good Friday and you know, saved his life, and he bought me a car. He got rehabilitated to walk and work as a lawyer again and he’s doing great, and our son has a dad. And that was forgiveness. But I also had to forgive myself.

Seth Nelson: Yeah. Do you think that in that moment, because he was literally so vulnerable and so helpless, that is what opened the door for you to forgive, as opposed to having someone attack you and verbally attack you? You can’t get any farther in the spectrum, restraining order versus in a coma on an ICU bed.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Wow. Wow. I have chills. Yes, absolutely, Seth. However, to rewind into the horrors of the divorce, I got through it with peace and power because I refused to let him break me down. I refused to get addicted to something. I was super fit, the gym was my go-to place. I meditated, I prayed, I journaled, I ate healthy. I pampered myself. And that was a form of forgiveness for getting into a situation that ended in such trauma.

Seth Nelson: Right.

Pete Wright: I’m floored by all of that. And I have two points. I’m going to table the first one, which is on figuring out how to keep your head high because that seems to be some depths we need to plum more thoroughly. But I want to go back to Seth’s question because I think this is really important, and Seth to you, how often do you see separating couples able to find divorce in the process? Like when they’re in the middle of the storm of it?

Seth Nelson: Like forgiveness, you mean?

Pete Wright: Yeah. Yeah.

Seth Nelson: Forgiveness in the process?

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Seth Nelson: They don’t.

Pete Wright: Right. And so to that point, Elizabeth, there is something about having, I don’t want to diminish coma, but captive audience, that gives you permission to say the things you need to say without fear of judgment, retribution, interruption, those kinds of things. And I wonder if that’s an enabling condition for you finding your peace in your relationship 16 years after the divorce.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yeah. I’ve never considered it in the vulnerability there, but it’s just what happened and I finally understood forgiveness. And the times during the divorce when things were bad and I did go to his level and cuss back at him and such, he only became more nightmarish.

Seth Nelson: Right.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: So I took this very much turn the other cheek attitude and everybody was like, "You need to cuss him out. You need to send the Jack-up crew over there and get him." And no, that’s not going to get us anywhere.

Seth Nelson: Doesn’t move the ball down the field. Right. I understand. Or you know, concrete shoes and all that stuff. But forgiveness is interesting.

Pete Wright: You guys went dark just then. I just want you to know, I kept my head up. You went mafia.

Seth Nelson: I’m going to lighten this up for a minute here because, this just happened last week, I was sitting on the couch, hanging out with my fiance and out of the blue, she looks at me dead in the eye and says, "I forgive you." And I looked at her and said, "Thank you." And she started laughing, then I started laughing. And she goes, "Do you know why I’m laughing?" I said, "I think I have a good idea, but you tell me." She goes, "Because I was just making that up and that was the perfect answer."

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh wow.

Seth Nelson: I had no idea what she was about, but let me tell you, I wasn’t about to say for what because then I would’ve gotten, "You know," or "Don’t act like you don’t know." She was just totally messing with me.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I love it.

Seth Nelson: She goes, "You’re so smart. You just look at me and say, "Thank you." So, I’m telling you Pete, there’s different ways to get forgiven. But if someone says I forgive you…

Pete Wright: Yeah. Whatever. You guys are perfect for each other, let me just say that right now. Perfect.

Seth Nelson: If someone forgives you, there’s only one response. It’s thank you.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Seth Nelson: Right?

Pete Wright: Okay.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yes. Nice. Nice.

Pete Wright: So let’s talk about this. You say that you got through your divorce with peace. I would like to hear how you did that.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Okay. Well, it was spiritual. I was at the gym one day, Powerhouse Gym, downtown Detroit, burning off my anger and his words were just bouncing through my head and they were very vile insults, including the B word, and I couldn’t get them out. And I was like running on the StairMaster and, oh my God, it was awful, and I said, instead of the B word going through my head, I said, "No, I am a queen!" And I said it out loud in the noise of the gym. And then all of a sudden I heard the word goddess. You are goddess. And it wasn’t from me. And it wasn’t… I don’t know. I don’t know. But I felt like it was God energy in female form saying, "You have a supernatural power of prayer and connection to spirit." And that fueled me.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: It made me feel immediately peaceful. It made me feel powerful. And I stepped forward and I knew that exercise, prayer, journaling, and my high-vibe lifestyle was the key to my peace. So literally I would be swimming laps at the pool and I would inhale peace and I would exhale any anxiety, worry, fear, all that stuff. Exercise was it. And I had determined not to look like what I have been through because I had seen women who had been through divorces and they looked horrible. They’d gained weight. They were like haggard. Their hair was a mess. They went gray prematurely. No. I said, "I’m going to come out of this like a boss." And I did. Now it’s been 18 years.

Pete Wright: That’s amazing.

Seth Nelson: So Elizabeth, there’s a word for that. It’s called the revenge body.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Check out my Instagram and see I got that. In a bikini.

Seth Nelson: Which is exactly what I tried to do with my revenge body. Did not look good in a bikini. I don’t know what was going on there. I had a moment of failure of judgment. But we did a whole show about this, Pete, about staying healthy and eating right and how the dopamine and all that stuff works and it actually helps. And it’s the hardest thing to do to get started, to get out of bed, or to go for that first walk, but my coach that I use for training for these triathlons that I’m trying to do, she said to me, "Here’s the deal, Seth, nobody ever regrets their workout. It might not be the best workout. Maybe you’re a little disappointed, or maybe you cut out a little early, or you didn’t quite finish the sets or the run, or you’re a little slow, but you never regret it."

Seth Nelson: And so when I’m getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 to go for a run or a swim or a bike, I think to myself, "Oh, I want to stay in bed, but I’m not going to regret this." But you need to find whatever that is. And it can be a simple walk. It doesn’t have to be doing marathons, right? It’s whatever can just get you out there and get you a little exercise. It goes a long way. Now I don’t know about everything that Elizabeth was doing. She sounds like she was in the gym 24/7.

Pete Wright: Yeah, her workout sounds different than yours.

Seth Nelson: Yeah. Right. You know. I mean, I do my curls, like from the scoop of ice cream to my mouth, you know?

Pete Wright: Sometimes I really level up with chocolate chip. It’s a little heavier than vanilla.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: You know what? Ice cream is a really important point here because there’s a stereotype, especially of women who are sad eating Häagen-Dazs alone on Friday night and then just makes you feel horrible with the sugar and the calories and all that. So it’s really, really important, the term self care is so overused, but it’s true. Put yourself first. Do something every day, when you’re going through the horrors of divorce, that is going to treat you, to calm you, whether it’s sprinkling lavender oil on your pillow, taking a bubble bath, going to the gym, walking, eating a super healthy salad and feeling good when you step away from the table, listening to inspirational messages. You can’t get enough of it. And have a mentor. Have someone you could call that you trust who’s not going to do doomsday conversation and all the panic buttons that get pushed when they talk, because some people are just like that and they enjoy it. Have a trusted source of comfort that you can just call at any time and know that they’re going to give you good guidance and a soothing tone of voice.

Seth Nelson: And don’t be afraid to tell them what you need. There’s so many people out there that want to help you when you’re going through a divorce and they don’t know what to do. So you can say, "Can you meet me for a glass of wine? Elizabeth, I heard on the podcast, said we should be going for a walk. I’m going to the bar. Let’s have a glass of wine. I just need you to be there. I don’t want to talk about my divorce. I want to hear about your kids. I want you to take whatever’s going on in your life and talk to me about it because I don’t want my divorce in my head." And sometimes that’s the best therapy people can get is not to talk about it.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yes. Yes.

Seth Nelson: I hear what you’re saying here.

Pete Wright: Okay, so what happens, you’re in your divorce, you discover this sense of power and peace that you’re describing. What happens when your energy confronts that hostile energy of your now former spouse?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: During the divorce?

Pete Wright: Yeah. Can you take us back?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yeah. So sometimes the way he would look at me with this horrific glare or he’d call me names in public, sometimes it was really upsetting and I remember one time after a court hearing, I was in the courthouse lobby hyperventilating. I mean, it was just bad. I felt terrible. I was angry. It was very difficult. But what I learned is to create what I call a Teflon shield. You know when it rains and you just got your car washed and waxed and the little rain bubbles just roll off the windshield? So I learned how to erect this Teflon bubble around myself mentally so that when he glared at me or said something terrible, it just bounced off and rolled off. And I remember one time it happened and I was like, "Wow, that is like a super power." It was many years into it.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: But another thing is our son was four and a half when I left him and so we were co-parenting and that was-

Pete Wright: Let’s be clear about that. Your son was four and a half when you left your-

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Ex-husband. Yes, correct.

Pete Wright: Not your child.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: No, no, no. I took my son with me. No, no, absolutely. No, his well-being was my top priority.

Pete Wright: Of course.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: And yeah, so we had to do third-party visitation because the interaction was just so hostile with me and the dad. So keeping his well-being at top priority was important, so I had to keep myself together.

Seth Nelson: Do you remember, or what was the thought in your mind that allowed that to happen? Because I had a client once that said, "I actually feel sorry for him," for her ex.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh.

Seth Nelson: "Because whenever I’m around, he just gets enraged. It doesn’t make any sense. He’ll dig up stuff from the past." And she’s like, "I feel sorry for the guy that hasn’t moved on. I wish he would meet someone nice that cared for him. He keeps all this stuff coming at me, which I have no interest in." And so that was her Teflon. Hers was empathy.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh.

Pete Wright: Well, and I have heard tell of when that sort of power empathetic vibe is out of balance, it can create more animosity, right? He just gets more frustrated because you have this appearance of doing well through a process that is hard for him. And I wonder if that gave any interplay in your process?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Probably, because I looked phenomenal. I did, I did. I was thin. I looked great. I was glowing. I was super healthy.

Seth Nelson: Our show notes are going to be the best show notes we’ve ever had on this show. Let me tell you. Links to Insta.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: But you know what, if you go to my Instagram at Elizabeth Ann Atkins, you’ll see me working out, and the reason I post that is because I can show, not only have I gotten through this with peace and power and physical fitness, but I also lost a hundred pounds after I had my son and I was on Oprah to celebrate the weight loss, and so I just put mind over matter and achieved those goals. And so I want to serve as an example, because I’m not 25 anymore if you add up the numbers.

Seth Nelson: Don’t add up the numbers. Pete’s really bad with math.

Pete Wright: None of us want to add any numbers today, Elizabeth.

Seth Nelson: Yeah.

Pete Wright: None of us do.

Seth Nelson: And then you got to carry the one and it’s just, you know. It’s just the way it goes.

Pete Wright: You look great. Seth looks great. I’ve been married for 22 years and don’t have a revenge body anymore, right? Just end that.

Seth Nelson: But I got to ask how was it being on Oprah? Come on.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh, okay. So yeah, she touched me and it was amazing.

Pete Wright: I just got the chills. You said that, and I just got it.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: She did.

Seth Nelson: I got a little creeped out. I don’t know.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: She touched my arm muscles and, here’s the thing about Oprah, her eyes, and this is not conveyed when she’s on television, but in person, her eyes are very big. I call them shaman eyes. Shaman are like natural spiritual healers and her eyes are big and it felt like they were otherworldly, like they see more than we do. And truth be told, she does see more because she’s able to process and analyze and bring and ask questions and such. So yeah, I got this really wild vibe looking into her eyes and just seeing this like otherworldly wisdom there. It was remarkable.

Pete Wright: Oh.

Seth Nelson: All right. We’ll just have to get over on the show next week, Pete.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Can I just share that the power of manifestation is exemplified in my Oprah experience?

Seth Nelson: Sure.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Because I wanted to be on Oprah as an author and that didn’t happen, but I would visualize myself sitting in her big leather banana yellow chairs, like touching the arms of the chair, as a guest on the show and her saying my name. That happened. I journaled it. I journaled it. I visualized it over and over. It happened. It happened for weight loss, not for me as an author, but it physically manifested. So what you can do when you are going through a divorce, write out the outcome that you want. Write it, believe it, visualize it.

Seth Nelson: That’s really interesting because one of the first things I talk to about a client are what are your goals and we write them down. And sometimes it’s the goals for the conversation that we’re having. What are your ultimate goals in getting through this divorce? And I know that I’m making progress in a case when we’re talking about settlement because, especially people going through a divorce with children, the kids are the most important. And so then when I’m talking about personal property and who gets what stuff and they’re really still angry about that, I’m like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. On your goals, we’ve checked off the first five. Personal property wasn’t even on your list and now we’re getting upset. Why? Because we’ve handled the other items."

Seth Nelson: But there’s a human psychology that, "Got what I wanted. What do I get next? Got what I wanted. What do I get next? Settled on this. Not really happy with it, but we’re moving on. What do I get next?" And I mean, that will go down to the spoons. It can be that ridiculous at the end on personal property. I’m not saying the kid stuff is ridiculous.

Pete Wright: But once you get through the other stuff, it’s pretty easy to let your emotional heat drive the narrative, right? That’s why people fight over the spoons and the wagon wheel coffee table.

Seth Nelson: That’s right. That’s right.

Pete Wright: You were in the middle of a point, Elizabeth. Finish your thought.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh, writing things down and then believing and manifesting through the power of writing. And I called our divorce, the harmonious resolution. I journaled it daily. I was like, thank you for the harmonious resolution. It was not harmonious until the stroke story 16 years later. But now it’s harmonious. We’re friends. We do stuff with our son. We go out to dinner. It’s all good.

Pete Wright: A divorce 16 years in the making.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yeah.

Pete Wright: Sorry. It took so long, but glad you got there.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Thank you. I can’t look back and be angry about things. I have to just leave it in the past. It’s real easy to let something trigger, and again, it’s very important to get therapy after a divorce or during a divorce because I wanted to figure out what got me into this situation and how do I never repeat this again with another partner or with my own personal issues and dynamics. And that healed me and I’ve stepped forward with my own template for relationships and romance that might not necessarily fit into society’s norms, but that didn’t work for me.

Pete Wright: Did you end up getting remarried?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh no. People are totally baffled, like sometimes angry, about why aren’t you married? Yeah, they’re really mad about it.

Pete Wright: I would not describe myself as baffled, but I am curious.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: First, I had a small son that I wanted to raise with my own attention focused on him. I knew that everybody said kids grew up really fast and now he’s 24 and they were right. And so I wanted to enjoy him. I also did not want to have a stepdad in the mix. Whenever I was dating someone, my ex-husband would just be rabid. He would confront them. He would say crazy stuff. He would say crazy stuff to our son.

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Who was like six years old. And I just didn’t want to deal with the extra layer of drama that would’ve occurred had I been that serious with a partner.

Pete Wright: I totally buy that, especially because I imagine that’s pre-stroke.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh absolutely, yeah. It was terrible.

Pete Wright: Pre peace.

Seth Nelson: But I think there’s an interesting bigger point here, is Pete is curious why you didn’t get remarried. I’m curious, Pete, why does it matter? Because I get this question all the time. People will ask, are you going to get remarried? Did you get remarried? My clients will talk about, "Oh, I’m never doing it again," and then they do, but there’s like this societal thing that you’re supposed to be married.

Pete Wright: Yeah, you’re sort of painting me into a corner there, Nelson. I’m not sure I’m happy with that, but I’ll tell you why I’m curious. I’m curious for exactly those reasons, because there is a… We’ve had them on the show. People who come on the show who have gotten through their divorce and have done awesome things, reclaiming power and body and strength, to the extent to which they’re able to express their joy about all the work that they’ve done is the extent to which they talk about getting back out there and being able to be a new version of themselves in a relationship somehow.

Pete Wright: So I guess I’m always curious about that. Like with great power comes great responsibility. You’re a different person now. Is any of that energy to be focused on a future partner? That’s all. I mean, certainly there is no recipe. You’re being hard on me.

Seth Nelson: I was painting you into a corner. I know, I’m a lawyer. I haven’t been in court in a while. It just comes out. I twitch a little bit.

Pete Wright: Yeah. I just want to pick a fight. That’s all.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: That’s a really great point, but my revelation after divorce was who am I now as an individual, having been with this person for 10 years of my life. I was monogamous for 10 years. So there’s lots of factors that played into that. I wanted to have sex with more than one person and I didn’t necessarily want it to be my boyfriend. And I wanted the freedom to do and go and be whoever I wanted to be, however I wanted to be. My mother’s a retired judge, but at the time she was a judge, my ex-husband is a lawyer, so we are very well known in our community, a big community, so I was very cautious.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: So what I did was write a book called Husbands, Incorporated about a company that provides fantasy marriages for women that last only one year. They’re legal marriages. There’s a prenup. So the man gets paid a large sum of money after one year and they get a legal divorce in Guam, which is a US territory and only takes seven days to get a divorce. And so these women get their power and their pleasure on, on their terms.

Seth Nelson: For one year.

Pete Wright: Wait, do you see Seth’s eyes? He is about to start a new business is what’s happening. We’re moving to Guam.

Seth Nelson: First off, Pete, we’ve got one-year marriages, a prenup.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yeah.

Seth Nelson: No arguing about that because the prenup should be done. Everybody… Like I am starting a new business. You saw it in my eyes. My jaw was dropped.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yeah. So I almost went on Shark Tank and thought, "I’m going to do this."

Seth Nelson: Oh my God.

Pete Wright: Oh my God.

Seth Nelson: Okay, now, having a divorce shark attorney on Shark Tank with you because you always need the sidekick.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Okay.

Pete Wright: Yeah, you got to have a sidekick. Oh my God.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Right, right, right. Like a big hunky guy.

Seth Nelson: Okay. I’m out. Thanks a lot. I was trying to pitch the short Jewish bald lawyer sidekick and you went with big hunky guy.

Pete Wright: Elizabeth, read the room here. You got to read the room.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Well here’s my book cover.

Pete Wright: Oh, it is. It’s Seth.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: With the pecks and the [crosstalk 00:27:04].

Seth Nelson: I don’t know how you got that picture of me with my shirt off. Oh, I know. Check out my Insta of me working out. That’s where it is.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh my gosh.

Pete Wright: That is such a brilliant idea. I can’t believe…

Seth Nelson: I had a similar idea. Elizabeth, yours is by far better than mine. I always thought marriages should be like five years with an option to renew.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I love it. Love it.

Seth Nelson: Right?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yes. Yes.

Seth Nelson: Everyone agrees we’re doing this for five years, and it’s kind of like your lease. At four years and six months, we’ll sit down and talk about it.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Right.

Seth Nelson: No harm, no foul.

Pete Wright: We’ll look at the interest. We’ll look at a balloon payment payoff. Yeah. No ,it’s all built in.

Seth Nelson: That’s right. We got to see what the market is doing. I mean, it’s really hot right now. I don’t know. A lot of foreclosures. Who knows?

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I love it.

Pete Wright: Why has it taken Elizabeth so long to be on our show, Seth? I want to know that.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: I don’t know.

Pete Wright: Because I did not have any idea we were going to go down this road. We have new business opportunities.

Seth Nelson: What I’m thinking is, next week it’s going to be Pete and Elizabeth. That I’m going to be out is what I’m thinking.

Pete Wright: Because you’re going to in Guam setting up one-year marriages.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Right.

Seth Nelson: Unbelievable. So I have a thought though, too, and I get that Elizabeth wanted to live this different life than she had before. I think sometimes in people that I’ve spoken to, and when you regain yourself and you get your power back and you find like, "Oh, this is now my best self," and then you go to start dating in a serious way, and if you want to fall in love, that’s vulnerable. So you got to take all that power, and like I’m going to be who I am, and then be vulnerable, and I think that’s the trick in new relationships. Serious relationships, I’m not talking about going out on dates or whatnot.

Seth Nelson: And I think that’s a delicate balance when you’ve been through such a hard time and you’ve worked so hard to get where you are, then to be vulnerable again. But that’s where the real power comes in when you can say, "I’m going to be vulnerable and no matter what happens, I’m going to be okay, because I know how to take care of myself now, where I didn’t before."

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: So the keyword for that, Seth, is boundaries, whereas prior I didn’t have boundaries and I got mad when someone violated boundaries I’d never set. But then I understood the power of setting boundaries for future romantic experiences and then when they’re violated, I’m free to step away if someone’s not going to honor my boundaries. And you just develop this empowerment that’s really awesome. And until I meet that person who’s so extraordinary that I want to lock down with them, I’m free to be whoever I want to be wherever and however. It’s awesome.

Pete Wright: Fantastic, fantastic. You know, it makes me think, you know we hear stories, you do all this work and you become this sort of new person and then you start dating again and you realize you’re using an aged muscle to learn how to date and you’re looking for people that old you would’ve found, but they don’t live up to new you. And that sounds maybe condescending, it sounds maybe somehow like you’re looking down on this group of people, but it’s just that you no longer match who you used to match and learning who that is is an important part of the developing the new muscle too. This is great. This is great.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Yes.

Pete Wright: Elizabeth, we only have probably about 45 more minutes. Do you want to start your plug now of all the stuff that you do?

Seth Nelson: Hold on, let, just put myself on and crack this beer and eat some pizza.

Pete Wright: I need a glass of wine. I need to settle in.

Seth Nelson: We’re going to be here a while. And JT, our fitness guy, will be proud of us and Elizabeth working out on Insta Live or whatever.

Pete Wright: You go ahead and start. I’m going to do some ab magic right now. I’m getting pumped.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Well, I started something called the Goddess Power Show with Elizabeth Ann Atkins. It’s a podcast where I interview women and a lot of them are divorced or they’ve gone through challenges like that. And the mission is to provide this empowerment and knowledge and wisdom and guidance to help them get through. And so I really feel its part of my life mission. Instead of looking back with regret on my divorce trauma, I am healing. I look back on it as lessons to teach others and show an example, show the way for them to get through it. Again, not looking like or feeling like what they’ve been through. So it really is a big mission for my life.

Pete Wright: Well, we’ll put links to all of the stuff that you do, including that, where you can subscribe and learn more in our show notes for sure.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Thank you. Thank you. Thanks.

Pete Wright: Elizabeth Ann Atkins, thank you so much for joining us in the Toaster today. You’re fantastic.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Oh, thank you. It’s been an absolute delight to talk with all of you and I hope everybody listening can take some nuggets of what I said and apply it and make a difference.

Pete Wright: Make a difference. You hear that, Seth, did you learn anything today?

Seth Nelson: Let me tell you, I’m getting my ass to the gym. That’s what I…

Pete Wright: Noted.

Seth Nelson: I mean, I learned a lot of stuff today and I always learn stuff from you, Pete, with all the fine questions you ask and from our guest. And Elizabeth, it has been a ton of fun. Thanks for coming on the Toaster. I really appreciate it.

Elizabeth Ann Atkins: Thank you so very much.

Pete Wright: Thank you everyone for downloading and listening to this show. We appreciate your time and your attention. Don’t forget, you can ask us a question, just go to a question and there’s a form there and you can be completely anonymous. You can be not anonymous if you want. You can leave us your name, your email address, and your question for Seth Nelson, America’s favorite divorce attorney, and we will answer it on the show.

Pete Wright: We’ve got questions that have been coming in over our break. We’re very excited to get these questions answered and out there and we have our guests coming up that are going to help us with that effort. So again, thank you everybody. On behalf of Elizabeth Ann Atkins and Seth Nelson, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll catch you next week right here on How to Split a Toaster, a divorce podcast about saving your relationships.

Speaker 6: 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 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 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.
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