A Girl's Guide to Moving On (New Beginnings #2)(2) by Debbie Macomber

Again, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. When I learned Jake had been having affairs, I immediately felt that there was something lacking in me. Okay, not immediately, but a close second to the consuming anger that attacked first. This is really about separating ourselves from the weaknesses in our husbands. I lost fifteen pounds the first month after I filed for divorce. My skinny jeans fit again, and while that was great, I was depressed and miserable. It’d been a low point. Loving myself meant eating, sleeping, and exercising—taking care of myself emotionally and physically. (I was so much better off making a list, and I could do that with this step.)

It meant taking care of myself spiritually, too. After Owen was born I’d gotten slack about attending church services, so after filing for divorce I went back, needing the positive messages and the fellowship. Leanne did, too. And Owen loves his kids’ club class.

The church offered a divorce support group, and Leanne and I both attended the classes. They were wonderful and many of the items we discussed were part of the list we’ve compiled. The pastor made a funny comment. He said that when he taught marriage classes most of those attending took naps. It was the divorce classes where everyone took notes. I could understand this. I certainly hadn’t gone into my marriage thinking Jake and I would be divorced one day. To me, marriage was forever.

So this is it. Our guide to moving on. Our guide to letting go and taking the next step to whatever the future might hold.

The first step in our Guide to Moving On was also the most enjoyable. Every other Saturday I spent the entire day at Dress for Success, a gently-used-clothing boutique. I loved dressing these ladies, whose courage inspired and stirred me. Many had come out of abusive relationships or were looking to get off welfare and find their place in the workforce. It was a joy to fit them with a wardrobe that gave them confidence and the hope that they could succeed.

“Would you look at me?” Shawntelle Maynor said, as she studied her reflection in the mirror. She turned around and glanced over her shoulder, nodding, apparently liking what she saw. “This hides my butt good.”

Shawntelle was a good five inches taller than my own five-foot-three frame. Her hair was an untamed mass of tight black curls raining down upon her shoulders. She critically studied herself in the outfit I’d put together for her first job interview.

I found it hard to believe the difference clothes made. Shawntelle had arrived in baggy sweatpants and an oversize T-shirt. Now, dressed in black slacks and a pink Misook jacket, she looked like a million bucks.

“Wowza.” I stepped back and reviewed my handiwork. The transformation was stunning.

“I need help with this hair,” she said, frowning as she shoved it away from her face. “I should have known better than to let Charise cut it. She was all confident she could do it after watching a YouTube video. I was crazy to let her anywhere close to my hair with a pair of scissors.” Her fingers reached up and touched the uneven ends of her bangs, or what I assumed must be her bangs. “I thought it’d grow out, and it did, but now it looks even worse.”

“I’ve already made you an appointment next door.” The hairstylist in the shop next to Dress for Success volunteered to give each woman at the boutique a wash and cut before her job interview.

Shawntelle’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. “Get out of here. Really?”

“Really. When’s your interview?”

“Monday afternoon.”

“Your hair appointment is set for ten. Does that time work for you?”

Her smile was answer enough. Shawntelle had recently graduated from an accounting class and was looking for her first job. She had five children and her husband had deserted the family. The agency had gotten her an interview with a local car dealership. She’d gone through several practice interviews, which had given her a boost of confidence. Now, with the proper outfit, she beamed with self-assurance.

“I never thought I’d make it without LeRoy,” she whispered. “But I am and I refuse to let that cheatin’ scumbag back. He’s screwed me over for the last time.”

I smiled at the vehemence in her voice. I was walking this same rock-strewn path. In addition to my volunteer work, I was a substitute teacher for the Portland School District. My degree was in French literature with a minor in education, which qualified me for a teaching position. Unfortunately, no full-time positions were available, so I filled in as needed.

Thankfully, Leanne was available to watch Owen for me and as a backup there was a drop-in daycare center down the street from our apartment building. I eked by financially, in stark contrast to the lavish lifestyle I’d become accustomed to while married.

I had to remind myself I was still technically married. The final papers had yet to be drawn up to Jake’s satisfaction. My husband had made this divorce as difficult as possible, thinking he could change my mind. He’d been persistently begging me to reconsider. When he finally realized my determination to see this through, he’d set up every roadblock he could, dragging out the settlement hearings, arguing each point. Our attorney fees had skyrocketed.

Divorce is hard—so much harder than I’d ever imagined it would be.

“You’ll call after the interview?” I asked Shawntelle, determinedly pushing thoughts of Jake out of my mind.

“You got it.”

“You’re going to do so well.” I gave her arm a gentle squeeze.

Shawntelle turned and wrapped me in a hug. “Them Kardashian chicks ain’t got nothin’ on me.”

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