We interview divorce coach Jenine Marie Powell. Learn about her divorce journey, why she started coaching, and why she finds group support so powerful. Listen to the full interview below.
Jenine, what is your divorce story?
Ten years ago, my ex-husband blindsided me – he was having an affair, so we got a divorce. I was a stay-at-home mom with two children ages 5 and 10, and I was totally shocked and in disbelief. My whole life got turned upside down in a matter of an instant.
What emotions did you feel during your divorce?
If I had to sum it up in one word – Terrified. I didn’t know who I could trust, who I could talk to. I was totally heartbroken and overwhelmed, wondering how my life was going to be going forward. I had so many questions and so many concerns. Where do I begin? How do I protect my children? Where do I go for comfort and support? It was overwhelming.
Why is group support so important during a divorce?
I feel like having other people to talk to, who really understood what I was going through, was key for my healing journey. I would talk to friends and family and I would feel so frustrated, like “They don’t get it. They don’t really get what I’m going through.” I had a brilliant legal team, a wonderful therapist, and so much support from my family and friends – and it still wasn’t enough.
What was your first moment of hope after your divorce?
I think the first time I really started finding hope was when I made a new friend who had gone through a divorce two years ago. I realized, “Okay, they’re making it. They’ve started a new life for themselves and if they did it, I can do it too.” There were other people on this path before me, and I could learn from their experiences and insights, see how they were doing it and making it work.
What inspired you to become a divorce coach and help other people going through the divorce journey?
Part of healing is turning pain into a purpose. Reflecting back on how gut-wrenching the process was, I thought there HAS to be an easier way to get through divorce. I want to be that “easier way” for people.
We can’t make somebody else’s pain go away, but we can provide that level of feeling connected, which can make all the difference in someone’s progress. We can ease that journey for others by sharing our experiences and learning from each other.
What are memorable examples of group support during your Circles sessions?
There are two that stand out to me.
First example: A woman was married for 20 years and she was really dependent on her husband before they divorced for her emotional and financial needs. She was devastated. She couldn’t get out of bed, isolating herself, not taking care of herself. Her Circles support group was the only conversation she was having.
In the group, everyone started sharing times when THEY felt like they couldn’t get out of bed. They shared self-care tips. They brainstormed activities together. We helped get her back on track with the basics of self-care with ideas she may not have thought of on her own.
The second example is a man who was newly divorced and still in touch with his ex-wife, who would call him at all hours of the night with requests, demands, and guilt trips. He ended up doing things for her. We talked about the importance of boundaries in divorce, how to make them effective, and how to redefine your roles. Boundaries are a really big thing in divorce and it’s almost impossible to move forward without them, so this dialogue was so helpful.
What is it like hosting these support groups?
Well in the premium support groups, we meet once a week and have our videos on. What was so amazing was that at the beginning of the hour, there were a bunch of strangers. And by the end of the hour, there was a bond and connection between everyone.
We let everyone know it’s a safe nonjudgemental place, you can participate as little or as much as your want, some people just listen at first until they’re comfortable to talk. There’s never any pressure, just support.
Every single session I leave with such gratitude. These people are showing up for each other and they’re showing up for themselves, and they’re really growing from the experience. Thank you for providing this platform, it’s really fantastic.
Jenine Marie Powell is the founder of Starting Over Single Divorce Coaching. She is a Premium Facilitator for an online divorce support group at Circles. Download Circles here to find your support group today.