Divorce happens. It happened to me and it happened to a lot of other people. The important thing is to not let divorce destroy you or define you. It’s just the end of one thing and the beginning of other new things. In this interview, I introduce you to Shelley so you can learn how she changed her life after divorce.
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Can you please introduce yourself, tell us what you do and where you do it?
Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for inviting me to visit your blog. My name’s Shelley, and I’m a multi-genre author dividing my writing time between non-fiction self-help and my young adult fantasy fiction. I also write two blogs (my author blog and a personal development blog) as well as being a content creator on several clients’ blogs. I live in a lovely little town called Solihull in the West Midlands, UK.
You write books. Is that something that you always wanted to do as a child?
Absolutely! I’ve still got some of the notebooks I had when I was a youngster with my early stories and poems in. I was an avid reader and spent most of my youth in the local library. Reading and writing were (and still are) my favorite hobbies.
In my blog, I write a lot about trying new things and people who start over. You got divorced 14 years ago and starting over after a divorce can be difficult. Can you tell us what steps you took to make it work for you?
The divorce, although stressful, was nothing compared to the marriage. Being trapped in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship is not something I ever thought would happen to me. As a teenager, I was always so outgoing and confident, but I didn’t even see what my then husband was doing to me until it was too late. The strength to walk away came on a particularly bad night when it dawned on me that I may not survive and my three children would be left in his care. That was the push I needed. I packed my kids (then 2, 3, and 5) in the car and left.
Starting over was a slow process. I was utterly broken inside and out and even though I decided to leave I still grieved the loss of a marriage, in-laws, and way of life. Existing day to day was all I could focus on in the early days, but once I got myself a part-time job, I began to see a future. I turned to self-help books as I tried to rebuild my life as a single parent and find myself again.
I decided to go to night school and retrain in holistic therapies and I worked during the day then studied at night. Learning Reiki, meditation, and meeting like-minded people helped me on my road to recovery. Eventually, in 2008, I started my own ladies-only holistic health spa where I devoted my time to helping women be the best they could be.
Did you write books before the divorce or is this something that came after?
I’ve always written but preferred to pen fantasy fiction. It was only after I started my spa that writing non-fiction bubbled to the surface. It was the ideal platform to spread my message of hope, survival, and achievement and reach more people from across the world. It was a pure accident that my first non-fiction book was born. I began blogging in 2013 and set myself a series of fifty-two challenges (the blog kept me accountable!), and when completed I turned it into a book. I’m so proud of How I Changed My Life in a Year, and to date, it’s sold about 20,000 copies.
I find it fun that you write both YA Fantasy and motivational self-help books. What came first and how did you move into the second genre?
Writing the YA fantasy came first, but my motivational self-help book was published first. I write and publish two books a year, one from each genre, so I’ve always got two projects on the go at once.
Which genre is your favorite and why? Any book that you like best out of all of them?
I love writing for both but for very different reasons. The non-fiction is my way of passing forward all the lessons I learned when I was on my road to recovery and self-discovery. So many women suffer in silence, not just about domestic abuse, but about depression, anxiety, general unhappiness, and I want to show them that it is possible to reclaim your life and self and achieve greatness.
The YA fantasy is pure escapism for me. Depression is something that still thwarts me and can prevent me from writing my self-help – it’s impossible to ‘fake’ motivation as your readers will see through you – so losing myself in a fantasy realm, or a werewolf-infested forest is as good as a trip to the seaside!
You’re divorced, raising three kids on your own, writing books in two different genres, and you have not one, but two blogs. How do you juggle your day?
Our lives have changed so much since the divorce. My children are now 19, 17, and 15 so their needs are very different. I never met anyone else, so it’s still just the four of us, but with hectic social lives, my kids tend to be out and about a lot. This leaves me with lots of alone time! Not having to think about a partner means I can get up at 6 am and jump straight onto social media, I can write every evening, and I can take time off to be with my family when I choose.
I’m an incredibly organized person which helps when juggling everything. Meal planning and prep, using my paper diary and having a household chore list keep our home in order. It’s taken time, but the balance is right now. I do spend way too much time online which is my next task – cut back on screen time!
Looking back to when you got divorced, is there anything that you wish you’d done differently or anything that you felt wasn’t working out and you dropped or changed along the way?
The only regret I have is that I didn’t leave sooner! I used to mull over every detail of our relationship, divorce, and aftermath but today it feels like it happened to someone else. I was fortunate to have the incredible support of my family, and it was their strength that got us through. I was always open and accepting of the children having a relationship with their dad. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel the same, and they no longer see him or have any contact. It’s a shame (for him!) because my kids are the most incredible human beings I’ve ever known. They are happy, healthy, successful, and huge fun to be around. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Did you get any advice or help from others while you were going through your divorce? What is the best advice or assistance that you got along the way?
My parents were my rock throughout the entire process (and still are), even though it must have been horrific for them to hear about the abuse. As is normally the case with domestic violence nobody knew it was happening as I’d kept it to myself and hidden the bruises. My ex-husband had stripped me of all my friendships (again, something I hadn’t realized was happening until I’d lost everyone), but I did have one friend, Jude, who was a wonderful support.
With dad’s help, we found the most incredible solicitor who tore strips off my ex-husband and his team in the courtroom.
The best piece of advice I had at that time came from a random documentary I was watching one night as I sat in our little, rented house. I can’t even remember what the show was about, but the lady being interviewed said ‘allow one month for every year you were married to grieve.’
I’d been with my ex for just under ten years, and I stopped crying almost exactly ten months after I walked away. Once that grieving period was over I was able to move on and start living again.
And to go along with that question, what advice do you have for someone who is also going through a divorce?
Reach out to your support network, or find one that can help you. Friends, family, online forums, or specialized groups can offer valuable time to talk, share experiences, and find answers. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Making sure you get a time-out away from all the legal stuff is as important. Divorce and everything that might go with that (house, finances, children, pets, etc.) can fill your every waking moment. Go out with the girls, have a family film night, take a trip to the seaside, and start to build new memories to carry you forward. It might feel hopeless on occasion, but there is a beautiful end in sight and a new adventure awaits you.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I hope your followers enjoyed reading about my journey. (Don’t worry, Shelley. I’m sure your story will connect with a lot of readers.)
I hope you found this interview interesting and perhaps a bit inspiring? Below are links to all of Shelley’s information. I encourage you to check everything out.
(All Pictures used in this post were provided by Shelley Wilson and used with her permission.)