Category Archives: The Rebound Marriage Series

Erin’s Rebound Marriage Series


Ridiculously Honest: The Rebound Marriage Series

The ride was rocky, the destination unknown and the companions changed along the way.  The path into me was circuitous, tires screaming around bends at full speed, body slowing in the trees, silence coming at the end.  A marriage here, a marriage there, a heart meandering, directionless until I started listening to myself.  This is the journey into me.

There are 15 parts to The Rebound Marriage Series.  The series is intended to expose the trauma of divorce and a pathway to the other side.  Erin is the founder of Local Flames, a organization focused on supporting healthy relationships for men and women.  Enjoy and please write me your thoughts in the comments section below.

Part 1 – The Moment of Realization

Part 2 – Picture Perfect

Part 3 – The Decision

Part 4 – Honesty Session

Part 5 – Smiling Weakly

Part 6 - You Can’t Go Back

Part 7 - What would it be like to live not being seen?

Part 8 – Forward Motion

Part 9 – I Wanna Shout Out Loud

Part 10 – I Love the Bubble

Part 11 – No One to Save You

Part 12 – I Have Hit My Limit

Part 13 – You Don’t Know Me

Part 14 – The Path I Walk Down

Part 15 – My Children of Light and Dark



Authored by Erin Oldham, Ph.D.

Erin is a researcher, relationship & divorce coach, and mediator.  Erin works with people as they navigate getting into, sustaining and getting out of relationships.  She also works with people as they negotiate divorce and the post-divorce world.  Erin has a Ph.D. in Psychology and has been researching child wellbeing and the formation of healthy relationships among children and adults for 20 years.  She is approachable, pragmatic, empathic and effective.  She facilitates intriguing, engaging workshops on these topics as well.  Contact her now at or 207-200-3970.  More information here.


The Moment of Realization

This is the first in my writing series, “The Rebound Marriage”.  Read about the series here.   

Sitting heavy, feeling each small rock beneath me. Knees pulled into my chest, tears coming to the surface and then receding as they realize there is no point. Steeliness and harsh awareness settling into my body. This is for real. This really, really is not an okay relationship. He could actually hurt me. Neglect and apathy can be just as dangerous as blows to the body.

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Fall Day

Picture Perfect

Everyone thought it was a picture perfect relationship and I get why.  Facebook and my ego were the culprits, presenting a pristine portrait that was anything but.

The pictures are of a beautiful fall day, deep hues of red and green, boys with smiles walking side by side down the sidewalk with football in hand. My 10 year old son, Kevin, had set up an adventure, for us all. Kevin learned early how to make his own fun and get others to follow along with his plans. So twelve kids were showing up for a football game at 1:00pm. I am not a sports person, have a slight disdain for all the silly rules, and a propensity to say inappropriate comments when being forced to watch the displays of aggression. So it didn’t occur to me what would be needed to hold, sustain, and organize a bunch of 9 and 10 year old kids into playing an actual game of football. Continue reading

Lake House

The Decision

“Grab up high!” Nick, my son, stands on top of the moss covered log grasping the third knot up knowing he needs to jump and reach for the fourth knot up to create the greatest height and best splash off the rope swing. Glenbow, my house in Pennsylvania, the best place in the world, according to me. The site of many incredible memories… college parties bringing back together all the high school friends with drunken games of naked darts (try it, it’s fun!) and sledding down the steepest, most dangerous sledding hill (watch out for that tree on the right!! And the rocks on the left! And… bam!), a couple weddings (if it doesn’t work the first time, try it again!) and family reunions galore. A wooden structure designed and built by my father, 40 years prior, that holds 25 people in three houses joined by cascading decks that led down to the lake and surrounded by 350 acres of woods, 10 of which were ours.

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You Can’t Go Back

(Written a week after asking for my second divorce.)

You can’t go back. Seems like a no shit Sherlock kind of statement. But the idea is tempting. Going back to a pretty good relationship, yes, not perfect, but pretty good. Pretty good seems fucking fantastic right about now. Perspective. I get it and then I lose it. I think I have grown and then my adolescent tendencies creep back in. I shall go off and become one with myself. Or, I shall start the search on all over again. Maybe picking better this time. But it is still picking – an active act of fate, or against fate possibly.

I wasn’t displaying a lot of perspective when I agreed to a marriage that had seemingly been a side comment in a bed that I paid for in a house that I paid for. Those “paid for” comments get me in trouble but they give the context that is important. I had established a life for myself, using hard earned money. I was independent, strong, able to leap buildings in a single bound. Yet, I had just played into a non-heart felt, unromantic proposal, no not a proposal, a suggestion, no lower, a passing comment that getting married would be.. um, okay. And apparently I was desperate enough to take that and turn it into a commitment to engage in a serious act that would impact me and my children.

That was within 6 months of meeting Paul. That type of whirlwind commitment can seem romantic and can certainly be spun into a tale of fevered love. But there wasn’t anything hot about it. It was practical, pragmatic and a little pathetic. It was a next stage to move onto. Something to tell our families about. Finally, an announcement that would result in smiles, rather than a scene of pity and disappointment.

People hearing of the details of the demise ask me, “Why? How did you get into that relationship?” For me, it was more of a question of why didn’t I get out of it even after I knew it was bad, bad, bad… This is what it felt like…

Leaning out the window of a speeding train, watching the world whip by, not being able to keep up with the speed such that you feel like you have to keep whipping your own head to the left, to the left, to see any of the details of what you are passing by. Walking down the center aisle of the box car, wavering from left to right, your feet and legs no longer reliable in keeping you balanced. Getting to the front of the train to glare at the bastard running this thing (assuming it is a man, of course) and finding that there is just another box car, no engine, no conductor, no engineer, no particular direction except for FULL STEAM AHEAD! Now I can feel my heart racing, my chest heaving as I realize the predicament I am in. I decide with a heavy sigh that staying on the directionless train is better than jumping off now into unknown lands, the act of which will surely result in injury. I forgot that eventually the train would race off the end of the tracks slamming it’s full weight into the equally strong ocean, eager to simultaneously suck it into the depths and resist it’s entrance with millions of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.

not being seen

What would it be like to live not being seen?

(Written a week after the divorce is final)

What would it be like to live not being seen? Where every word, every sentence was turned on its head, where your empathy and compassion meant nothing, was not believed, where you were not trusted, where your words and stories fell on deaf ears, where your cares went nowhere and were not wanted. What would it be like to not be able to see another – where there was no clear picture, no clear anything? Where things, even core beliefs, changed in a moment, dependent on nothing else. Where there was no logic and no sense, no ability to “figure” something out, no ability to think through it. The only thing to do was to walk away and regain yourself. This time could leave you not believing in anything or leave you believing all the more strongly in connection and trust and communication. This time could finally crack open your shell, crack open your usual attempts to tie everything to the past and instead bring you to a new understanding, a new way of being, a way intimately tied to right here and right now.

Your strength is amazing, through and through. Your weaknesses are important too. You have given so much except you have not truly been vulnerable, truly been unreservedly with someone. You have caught moments. You have shared, tried to go deeper, tried to understand and figure out – you have usually done this by going to what is familiar, the past. The past is important but it is what is here now that is the most important. Only with someone on the same path, who is wholly within themselves is it possible to journey together.

I have this desire to do this path alone and that is important to honor. The visions, the feelings, the opening to the universe has been so powerful. It is also important to remember that you have a hard time asking for help – you often insist that you are fine, that you can do it, that you don’t need help. So let someone be with you – the authentic you, and then the path is not disrupted but opened wider. Wide enough to walk side by side, holding hands.


This is an installment in my writing series, “The Rebound Marriage”. Read about the series here. I’ll post a new installment every Saturday. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.


Forward motion

Stomach churning, trying to breathe through it, thinking and trying not to think. Imagining my ex-husband (number 2, baby!) and my recent ex-boyfriend (met him the day after my divorce!) meeting in a coffee shop.  Conversation flowing or choppy?  I connected them subsequent to my ex apologizing to me 5 months following our demise, for chronic, incessant lying throughout our courtship and marriage.  I thought, in my undying optimism, that the two of them might be able to learn something from each other considering their bizarrely similar stories.

5 months earlier, I was walking down the sidewalk, giddy with anticipation of moving beyond my divorce, letting my optimism shine through to carry me once again.  I opened the heavy door and glanced around.  It has to be him, sitting at a table on my left with an ear piece, a stern forehead and a deep voice.  The voice and intensity threw me off – aren’t we supposed to be on a date? He quickly pulls the piece out of his ear, puts a notebook in his workbag and turns his head and attention my way.  I sit down.  The conversation moves, not entirely smoothly, but rapidly as we fall over common acquaintances and then coincidences and then just wildly strange universal revelations.  The president of the PTO at my school was his last girlfriend.  The woman I am meeting up with after the date was his girlfriend before that.  And then more.  The organization he is volunteering for, that he needs to leave the date early for, is also familiar: Kids First (other women find cars and money sexy, I am wooed by volunteering).

He mentions that his volunteering relates to early trauma in his life so I wait patiently to see if he brings up his story.  And then he begins.  “My mom died in a car crash when I was 6.” What? “My dad got married about a year later and my stepmom died of cancer four years later” What?  Silence, stunned silence.  Stunned not for the obvious reason – the devastating tragedy laid out in front of me – but because I have heard this story before.  I have lived, been married to, suffered with, suffered because of, a man with the same trauma.  Well, not the “same” but pretty damn close.  His dad died in a car crash when he was 8 and his mom married a year later and then his stepdad also died of cancer.   This trauma, for which he claimed had no effect on him, just like his previous divorce had no effect on him.  This trauma, which in my mind, was the reason he acted like a small boy, a 8 year old boy to be precise, egotistical, self-interested, pouty, devoid of adult acknowledgment of responsibilities and consequences.  Pouting when I asked him to help with the dishes, suggesting pizza every time I asked him to please help me think about dinner, screaming phrases seemingly comprised only of curse words in the basement as he “worked” on one of his seven bikes (what the fuck do you need seven bikes for!?).  So I am looking at a man, all of 2 years older than my ex but infinitely more mature and adult in his honesty and perspective, all shared during a two hour date.  He stated he has moved from a scared 6 year old boy into a 35 year old man in the three years since his divorce through therapy, in-depth involvement with a men’s group, volunteering, yoga and meditation.  Not quite up to his own chronological age but getting closer.

While the 35 going on 47 year old man and I didn’t make it through, he did leave me with hope as he described his journey toward self-awareness, his journey from an inescapable tragedy to a full life, well lived. I had begun to fear that we are all beholden to our pasts, can’t heal beyond a certain point.  But he showed me you can be content with your past, aware of your present and excited for the future.


This is an installment in my writing series, “The Rebound Marriage”. Read about the series here. I’ll post a new installment every Saturday. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

I want to shout out loud

I Wanna Shout Out Loud

 Written 6 months after my divorce

I wanna shout out loud!

Single, finally single. Said liltingly with an angle downward. Bill, Mike, Dave, Paul, Patrick, Chris, and Jake. All in a row, some even overlapping, though thankfully in thought, not in deed. And one of those was a husband. Oh, yeah, there was another husband before, also a Paul. “A” Paul gives the right emphasis, one of many, an unending stream of reflections and frustrations and distractions. Sitting in the kitchen watching the steam rise from a meal almost finished, feeling the weight of being here with my thoughts, amongst my things, with no one to talk to. I have resisted this feeling, this scene, for so long. The purple shimmer I put on the world makes others smile and keeps me moving onward, upward, through two divorces, three children (triplets even), and two step children (now gone with no association left).

And the ridiculous thing about my definition of finally being single is that I am supposedly seeing someone now. But he is a different breed, interested occasionally but distant. So it meets my definition of single. Not feeling that I have someone to share my struggles, my thoughts, my joys with. No one to text when something happens. No one to get validation from, justification from. I know, I know, I am supposed to get validation from myself. Then, my therapist, says that I will attract the right type of man. Ha! My therapist suggested that maybe, just maybe, it was a good idea to be alone for a month, just a month. I burst into laughter at the mere suggestion. I don’t even know how to say “no” to the men who ask me out. I am not sure I know how not to flirt, to act and behave not in relation to others. Even my downward dog is done with my ass up knowing it is hard to resist at my current 100 pounds.

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