Archive for Saturday, January 19, 2008

Healing after a broken marriage

Divorce Boot Camp offers women opportunity to help each other recover, heal

January 19, 2008


Woman turns tragedy into business

It's a strong woman who can bounce back after the disintegration of a long-term marriage. managing editor Cathy Hamilton met such a woman who turned a devastating blow into a business. Enlarge video

Divorce Boot Camp

It's been seven years since Teresa Dillon's divorce was final, and she hasn't dated anyone since then.

She might have reason to be depressed, given the breakup of a 30-year marriage.

But she remains hopeful.

"A lot of people get tired of hearing it," she says of her divorce. "And at some point you have to just move on - quit thinking about it and move on."

The Lawrence resident found solace last year in the Divorce Boot Camp, the proprietary brainchild of Suzy Brown, who lives in Kansas City, Mo. Brown brings her event to Lawrence on Jan. 26.

While some people might think divorce is a taboo subject, Dillon and Brown contend sharing the experiences with other women going through the same thing makes the process easier - especially when the marriage lasted decades.

"You want to know somebody else has gone though what you went through," Dillon says. "Being around other people, I learned things I didn't learn from reading the 100th book."

Survival tactics

Historically, January is the most active month for divorce filings. Conventional wisdom says couples decide to keep their relationship going through one more holiday season before deciding to split up.

Brown, who received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas University in 1995, knows divorce through her own experience.

She was divorced from her husband of 33 years in 2000 after he started having an affair.

"I just wanted to get through this - survive, and get on with my life," Brown says. "What I found is it's a much longer process to get through a long-term marriage divorce."

She decided to help other women, using her own experiences. She wrote a book, "Radical Recovery," on the subject. She decided to start the boot camps last year, evoking a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap military image.

"Sometimes the sergeant says, 'Get a grip. Get going. Throw away your hanky,'" Brown says. "This is hard work, but the results are just phenomenal."

Brown's Boot Camp deals with a wide variety of issues, including financial responsibilities, family relations, legal considerations and the need for exercise.

She says the biggest obstacle for recovery, however, is the psychological letdown.

"I think you're just so disappointed in yourself, and you feel such a failure as a woman," Brown says. "You feel fat, you feel ugly, you feel dumb. You think, 'I've been in this relationship for 25 or 30 years, and I can't even seem to keep the most important person in my life happy. What's wrong with me?'"

'An epiphany'

Dillon, the Lawrence resident, has felt those feelings.

She found the bulk of her progress toward recovery came in a spiritual setting. Through a friend, she connected with a priest in California, whom she spoke with on the phone over six months for advice. Then, she went to a monastery in California for a week and went to Mass five times a day with monks who were praying for the world's troubles.

"It was an epiphany for me," she says. "Knowing when you live that day-to-day life (of dealing with divorce), and you're so entrenched in it. You forget there's this big world - that there's somebody out there you might end up with."

Dillon has dealt with her divorce with a group of close friends. They take a vacation together every year.

Her advice to those starting the divorce process: "I would say just to persevere. Don't give up. Things will get better - even if you don't feel like they will for a long, long time."

'It takes time'

Brown says her biggest goal in her book and Boot Camp is to let women know this bad experience could be an opportunity for them.

"I wanted women to know that, for as desperate and sad as they were in the beginning, they could transform their life through this experience and use it as something they could use to make their life better," she says. "I wanted them to understand it was their decision - there was camaraderie and other women going through it, but it was their decision to get on with the rest of their life."

Ultimately, Brown says she has hope for middle-aged women going through divorce.

"Women are so resilient," she says. "They're so optimistic that they can learn to do all these things. But it takes time."


justone 10 years, 4 months ago

A lifetime of giving and moving ahead positively...thank you for all you do, teresa!

mickey1454 10 years, 4 months ago

Here's a suggestion. Beginning Experience Weekend. This helped me a lot after my divorce. It's a Catholic/Christian based grief/recovery rebuilding weekend for divorced or widowed men and women who have lost their marriage -- and along with it, their hopes and dreams. It's an international organization with Weekends held in Kansas City. More information is at

Krakatau 10 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone have any info/specifics as to where/when they are meeting on the 26th?

CallieHarlem 10 years, 4 months ago

Suzy's boot camp was a lifesaver for me! I attended her conference in Spring 07, a few months after my husband announced he no longer wanted to be married after 20 years.

Through an organized process that Suzy has put together, I was able to join a group of midlife divorced women from the conference and we get together about every month and have great times together (dinners, pool parties, I think next month is a slumber party). Suzy and this group have been a great source of support for me, and they understand my situation as none of my friends and family can, because they have lived it.

If you are facing or have faced a midlife divorce, you gotta go to Suzy's boot camp. It will change your life!!!


KU_cynic 10 years, 4 months ago

I understand that the ex-husband pinata activity is a real hit at these shin-digs.

pmartin 10 years, 4 months ago

In December of 2006, my husband gave me a dozen red roses for our 20th anniversary. We went out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. A month later, he dropped a bomb on me by telling me he was not happy and he moved out. This past summer he filed for divorce and soon the divorce will be final.

But all is not lost. Initially and for a couple months, I was in terrible shape emotionally after my husband's news. I did not exercise. I couldn't eat nor sleep. I lost a bunch of weight. And then I heard about Suzy's Boot Camp in April and I went and it planted the seeds that I needed in my brain to get my life back on track and stop being a victim but instead be a survivor! But not only to survive, but to thrive!

The Boot Camp really motivated me and on May 1st, I started to exercise again. It has not been an easy road but I feel like I'm on the right track and I feel empowered.

Also as a result of the Boot Camp, I am now part of a group of terrific woman who all went to the Boot Camp too and we have helped each other enormously. Friends and exercise - two positive things that have helped me so much!

If you are going through a mid-life divorce, I highly encourage you to attend Suzy's Boot Camp. I am confident that it will help you too. You just have to get up and go!

denak 10 years, 4 months ago

What is wrong with our society when we view a thirty year marriage as a "failure." No matter how it ended, that is a success. That was a lot of hard work and dedication. Would we view a 30 year old career that ended due to downsizing a "failure."

We have such outrageous expectations of marriage that instead of looking at a 30 year old marriage as something to be proud of, we view it negatively.

That is the problem with our romantic view of marriage. We expect "love to conquer all" and when it doesn't (can it ever??) we view something like 10, 20, 30+ years as a failure.

I am happy that these women are dealing with the grief process but maybe they wouldn't feel so badly if society had more realistic ideas of what marriage is to begin with.


P.S. I love the husband pinata idea. That is awesome!

Larry Powers 10 years, 4 months ago

I was divorced one month short of being married for 25 years. It was a very painful divorce and I don't recall ever hurting so deeply. Though I have not heard of "Boot Camp," I agree with the premise. Had it not been for the friendship of caring people and being with a group who had 'been there,' I would not have recovered so well as I have. It does take a long time. My divorce was 8 years ago and I am very happily remarried now, but I remember how painful those first couple of years were, especially the first. I would encourage anyone who is going through divorce or trying to recover to attend such encounter groups. It's a hard road to go down alone. Larry

SuzyBrown 10 years, 4 months ago

Hi, I am Suzy Brown who directs the Divorce Recovery Bootcamp. We do not bash ex-husbands at this seminar. This is a seminar to move forward ourselves. We are separating from that relationship and learning how to move to a fulfilling, fun, adventurous life. I bring in 6 experts (psychologists, counselors, financial planners, fitness trainers, mediators, etc) from Lawrence who present strategies to help us learn about personal empowerment, the connection between physical and emotional health, getting a grip on our finances, helping our children, envisioning our future, grieving with grace and other practical information to get to a better place. We also have a half-day seminar for men who want to move forward as well. That seminar is led by Terry Brown, JD & CPA who deals with helping your children, handling your emotions and figuring out the finances. Both men and women can get more information by going to or calling Suzy Brown at 816-941-4911. The seminar is at The Eldridge Hotel, Saturday, Jan 26. The women's session is from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m./ Men's is from 8:00 a.m. - noon. Cost $135 for the all day seminar for women; $70 for the half-day seminar for men.

tikacolorado 10 years, 4 months ago

I attended Suzy's boot camp last spring. Broken after a 28 year failed marriage. Among other things. learned I was not a failure even though my marriage had failed.

This is such a positive, motivating experience. It will help you in so many ways you can't even imagine. Primarily, you will find you are not alone, and you can and will survive and come out on top. You have great skills, courage, strength and potential that you don't even know you have. You will find that there are so many other women out there to support you and help you in so many ways.

You will find new friends who know exactly how you feel and what you are going through.

We formed a group of new friends who support each other, we laugh together, cry together, support each other, teach each other new skill, vent to each other. We are a strong, POSITIVE force in each others lives.

We met for the first time in our group in June all a crying mess, literally... at our monthly gathering in December, we were all so happy.. it was amazing.. we were having a great time, going on with our lives. If only we had known.

The boot camp brought us together, gave us the tools to wade through the muck... and here we are... making it... surviving well. It was wonderful, not only on an individual basis, but to see my sisters doing so well and being so happy.

The two things that make it work, in my opinion are: 1. It is all based on positive idea's, moving forward, healing.

  1. Making new friends, forming groups with other women who are going through the same crisis as you. Who better can truly understand what you are experiencing? And won't get tired of listening to you?

These 2 things are very powerful in the healing process.

Good luck if you are going through this crisis. I know how difficult it is. There is healing and happiness ahead. If you allow it. The boot camp offers you many helpful tools to help you through the process.

hawklet21 10 years, 4 months ago

So absolutely awesome. Keep on Keepin' on, ladies!!!

momaduffaolcom 10 years, 4 months ago

On January 14th of 2007 my husband of 36 years came home at 5:00 packed a suitcase and left. he said he did not want any commitments or responsibilities.. he just wanted to be by himself .

My life was turned upside down!!!!!!!!! We have two married sons and two grandsons and It was devastating for them also. For 4 weeks I wore the same clothes, no makeup, did not eat and could not sleep. It was awful. He went to therapy but it was just because I wanted him to.

I went to Suzy's bootcamp in April and it was a huge help!! I desperately needed a support group. I found mine. Suzy was instramental in getting us together and we are still together and are life long friends.

We meet once a month and help each other get through the legal, financial, and emotional problems. These are 7 beautiful women and I am blessed to have them in my life!! Just remember take one step at a time and one day at a time. It will get better!!

tammyrobinson 10 years, 4 months ago

When a door is shut a window is opended. For me, that window opened when I attended Suzy's midlife divorce bootcamp last April. The speakers were informative, funny and straight forward. I learned alot but most importantly from that larger group at the bootcamp, a smaller group of us have become dear friends. We've met once a month, we've cooked great meals together, we've been to movies and plays and we've cried and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed!! We were a pretty sad bunch at the beginning, and some days are still hard but its easier knowing that there is that support from women who understand what you're going through. You do have to deal with it, but you don't have to do it alone.

riverdrifter 10 years, 4 months ago

"The reason divorce is so expensive is because it's worth it."

Confrontation 10 years, 4 months ago

It sounds like Suzy is getting a lot of people to post on here, or she's posting these things herself. Pretty darn obvious.

rollcar 10 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know if there's a similar program out there for men? Preferably an independent one that's not religion-based?

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