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Holly Bell never thought she’d get divorced. Who does? She entered into her marriage believing that when you make a promise that something is forever, you should mean it, and hence, make it happen. She had heard being married could be hard work, but honestly, she felt people who said that had either a) married the wrong person, or b) were being dramatic. Holly didn’t have much sympathy for tales of marital misery.
And then divorce happened to her. Or rather she chose divorce. And she blushed at her younger, less experienced view on marriage. When Holly told people what was happening, that her marriage was coming to an end, she was surprised by their responses. Mums she barely knew in the playground wanted to talk to her, friends confessed their marriages were deeply unhappy, women she’d never met in real life sent her long messages on social media about their own divorces and experiences. She became the ‘divorced friend’ who was suggested as a coffee date to other newly separated women. And she found herself often sympathising, sometimes sharing what she had done in their situation, and when asked, she gave advice.
The messages mushroomed. It became hard to manage. Holly was shocked, surprised and humbled by the volume of women who contacted her, telling their stories, asking for advice, wanting to just reach out to say that they have a shared experience. Mainly, wanting to be heard. And through all this, Holly realised that there wasn’t any one place that the collective wisdom of divorced women was shared. Sure there were books about the legalities of divorce. There were books on starting again after divorce. There were memoirs too. But there wasn’t an all-encompassing book, a book a bit like a friend, who would advise you on what to do with your wedding ring as well as how to cope with sleeping alone.
So here it is. This isn’t a ‘you go girl’ rallying cry to divorcees. It’s not a sentimental collection of stories. Or a legal handbook with template letters to send to your ex. It’s pithier. Divorced women don’t have time on their hands for long meandering essays. They’re taking their second chance with both hands. Because they haven’t got time to waste. And the title. It’s the way many women started the conversation with Holly. ‘I know I don’t know you but…’ was their ice breaker. So she's borrowing it to break the ice with you.
This book is for anyone who has been through a divorce, is thinking of getting divorced or for anyone who knows someone who’s going through it. Holly has collected the learnings and wisdom of other women so that you can benefit from their experience. Whilst this book is unashamedly about women's experience of divorce, it may also be useful to people who do not identify as female.
'I Know I Don't Know You, But...' is designed to be read in small, snatched moments, so each subject is addressed in a stand alone section (though grouped into chapters). When Holly was going through her divorce she felt that her mind wasn’t able to cope with following long narratives, it was jumpy and easily distracted, so she's written it with that in mind.
The end of the marriage
Looking after you
Family, friends and other people
Warning, disclaimer and triggers: Contains explicit and possibly triggering content including details of domestic violence, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and trauma. The stories in this book are collected from women who live in England and Wales, so the details regarding divorce processes and child maintenance are specific to these countries. This book is not intended to be legal advice and has not been checked by a legal advisor. Please seek independent legal advice tailored to your situation and location. This book is not intended to be psychological or medical advice and has not been checked by a qualified practitioner. Please seek advice appropriate for you.