Divorce is rough. Between the legal and monetary aspects, family issues, that mile-long to-do list and the emotional stress of it all, those going through it often find themselves blindsided by problems that could have been avoided had they been more prepared. That's what Elif Ekin hopes to provide with Divorcée Café—a hub of support from specialists offering a wide range of free services, including a divorce lawyer, family therapy, financial consulting, health coaching, massage therapy, energy healing and more, on the first Wednesday of each month. Check out Facebook.com/DivorceeCafe for more details.
Describe your personal experience with divorce.
I was alone, leaving a 10-year marriage with a 4-year-old. I had no family around and had been a stay-at-home mom, so no work outlet or support. I was overwhelmed with everything that came with divorce. I had just a few things I was focusing on and the rest I said I would deal with later. However, when later came, I realized that I should have paid more attention and now it was too late. ... It's a horribly emotional time and I don't want people to have to struggle as much if I can help it.
What made you want to start up Divorcée Café?
While I was going through my divorce, I was fortunate to have fantastic mentor coach to kick me in the butt and get my act together. I benefited so much from having a coach that I became one myself. However, it's a hard demographic to tap. During a conversation with a friend, I made an offhand comment: 'Well, there is no Divorcée Café where everyone goes to get help, you know?' To which he replied, 'Why don't you create one?'
What is your goal with it?
My goal is to offer a safe place for people to land and get the support they need and not feel so alone as they go through the various levels of divorce, and create a healthy life after. I also want to create awareness that healing from divorce comes from various directions. Divorce is not just about signing a decree and it's over. You need to heal yourself in order to create a healthy new normal.
How do first-time attendees react?
Their first reaction is disbelief that it's free and they can stay as long as they want. Once people come, stay and experience it for themselves, they leave feeling loved, supported and a lot lighter. Their load has been lifted a bit and their step is a bit happier. They leave knowing that they are not alone, not crazy and there is support out there for them regardless if they can afford it or not.
What has been the best part of this whole experience?
Divorce is hard enough as it is. If we can make the process just a little bit easier for someone else because of our own experiences, then our struggles and lessons will not have been in vain. Most of the people who come and [offer their services] have gone through divorce and know what it's like. No one should have to struggle any more than necessary. People have begun to come back month after month to rest, relax, get some hugs, a cup of tea and engage in self-care. It is so rewarding to see people stand a little straighter and look forward to their future, not brace against the unknown.