Life After Divorce: In Her Shoes Interview with Sherri-Lee Woycik, the Social Media Minder
Hello! Welcome back to the ‘In-Her-Shoes’ video interview series! Today I am here with Sherri-Lee Woycik from Social Media Minder. Sherri-Lee tells us about life after divorce and what it is like to have to start over as a single mom, with (other than her kids) absolutely nothing.
This is truly a story of bravery and determination. Nothing was going to stop her from providing a great life for her children.
Life After Divorce: Video Interview with Sherri-Lee Woycik, the Social Media Minder
April, the founder of MLH, and Sherri-Lee have very similar stories. Sherri-Lee’s is a little more traumatic than April’s though.
So we’re hoping that Sherri-Lee’s life after divorce story will inspire somebody else who’s going through the same situation.
This all happened six years ago. At the time, she had been married for 14 years but they were going through a rough patch. Marriages do, right? She had two kids and was homeschooling them. She did not work outside of the home after she met her husband. He had always been self-employed and she had always worked for somebody else before marriage.
But they eventually had a conversation about their careers. He traveled a lot in his business and he said to her one day, “Do you want to only be able to come on holidays with me two weeks of the year? I’ll be going away five or six in the year and you have to stay at home and work.”
Loved Being a SAHM
Sherri-Lee wanted to stay home and raise her kids. When she was homeschooling her kids, they had a pretty good life. At this point, life after divorce wasn’t quite an option yet.
But one day she took her kids to swimming lessons. They had lunch while they were out at the community center and then they went to homeschool science classes. (There happened to be lots of these great classes in their community.)
While she was waiting for her kids during science class, her husband called her on her cell phone and when she answered it, he said, “I’ve changed the locks on the house. Don’t bother coming back. There are lots of hotels.”
And he hung up.
Unbelievable Turn of Events
And just like that, that was the end of her 14-year marriage! Life after divorce was beginning.
She sat there shaking, because she was not expecting that at all.
Sherri-Lee says they were definitely having problems. Thoughts of divorce occurred but they had some pretty mature conversations about what that was going to look like. It was not to the extent to where they had gone to lawyers yet, but they were talking about what that would look like for sure.
Life after divorce happened much sooner than anticipated.
She thinks push came to shove that morning. She went to a lawyer because her husband was blocking her from making some adjustments that she needed to make. He was becoming very threatening, very intimidating. She would wake up at night and find him standing at the end her bed in the dark. And they hadn’t been sharing a bedroom for a while.
So consequently she started to sleep with a dresser in front of the door!
It was getting really scary for her. No doubt she was fearful. And yet so thankful she had her kids with her that day! She can’t imagine if she had gone out and left her kids at home. “What if my kids had been locked on the other side of the door and I was on the outside?”, she says.
Was she prepared?
Before we get into the next stage of what happened that day, we asked her:
“Did you start preparing for life after divorce? Were you starting to gather some money on the side or making other arrangements knowing that it was coming?”
“I was extremely unprepared, I have to admit. And of course, I was financially dependent on him. I knew that push was coming to shove. The night before that day, I knew we were going to be gone for a long day. I had already been to a lawyer behind his back and I knew that I was putting some wheels in motion to protect myself at that point.”
Actually, she had anticipated on the day that he might be really angry and maybe, her and the kids wanted to stay away the whole day. The night before she actually packed all of their important documents into a bag and put that bag in her car, as if subconsciously knowing life after divorce was approaching.
Luckily, he didn’t know she did that.
They had some issues with banks and money. There were a lot of things going on. They were about to lose their home that they have been living in because he was no longer able to make the payments.
However, the home was all in her name so she knew that this was going to be all on her. She wanted to sell the home and downsize. They were on a huge acre lot, 5000 square foot home. They needed to downsize but he was really resistant to that. That’s where Sherri-Lee knew they were coming into a battle that was going to be … something major. For example, he had been quite threatening to the realtor that she brought on.
They had money orders that were paying the mortgage. She took those that night. There wasn’t very much. Only a couple thousand dollars. But it was something. That was all she literally had to start this new life after divorce.
Sherri-Lee also took her computer that morning. She decided she’d work while the kids were in swimming lessons instead of just sitting there chatting to other moms.
Just By Chance
Last minute something said to her to throw a change of clothes in a bag for the kids and have them take their favorite “stuffies”. A quick thought and feeling she had. She said to them, “Just take them. We’re going to be gone all day. You might want to have them in the car. You’ll be tired.”
They were little. They were six and ten. It wasn’t unreasonable for them to take their favorite “stuffies”. Nobody knew she threw an extra pair of pants and t-shirt in a bag for them. Never thought of doing it for her though, for some reason. She was thinking all about the kids. That’s what it’s all about, right?
As she’s sitting there shaking in this place (it was 3:30 on a Friday afternoon), she’s thinking, “What the heck am I going to do?”
She called him back right away. He had his fax machine pick up the phone. She laughs now but that was the same tactic he did with the bill collectors and anybody he didn’t like.
Then she picked up the phone and called a lawyer she had been talking to and said her, “What the heck do I do?” The lawyer didn’t believe Sherri-Lee. She said, “Are you sure? He’s not just saying that?”
To where Sherri-Lee replied “No. I know him. He’s not saying it if he hasn’t done it.”
Near a police station, the lawyer told Sherri-Lee to go there while her kids were in class. So she wandered across the street and spoke to the police. They literally said, “This is a domestic situation and we can’t help you. Go to court on Monday.”
Even though Sherri-Lee had mortgage papers and title papers of the home showing that the home was in her name only and his name was not on there, they still wouldn’t even go. She was quite shocked at that! Why is life after divorce so difficult?!
Her lawyer got on the phone with them at that point. She was trying to help get Sherri-Lee back into the house. Sherri-Lee had to tell the kids what was going on. They were devastated. She can’t imagine how they felt.
Sherri-Lee called her husband’s brother (who was living in the home with them). He was mad at her but said, “Let me get some things for you and pass them over the fence. But you cannot come in and get anything.”
They drove to the house and he handed a couple of suitcases of things over the fence to her, including the cat. She stuffed her little car full of things. Sitting there for a minute, the three of them just sobbed. They all ended up at a hotel, including the cat. Not able to afford to pay for much, she found a hotel that would use her credit card. That night she just sat in shock. They spent the weekend in this hotel.
No Coming Back From This
“Once he’s made a decision, it’s final. I knew that there was no coming back from this. I knew that there was no regaining his trust because he felt like the victim here. Just to clarify, my tears are for me. In retrospect this was the best thing that ever happened to me and my kids. When I think about them being six and ten years old and how they felt that night, it still is so painful.”
On Monday her lawyer went to court and the judge said, “We haven’t given him enough time to prepare properly for proceedings. Let’s serve him and come back tomorrow”. They convinced the judge that they weren’t going to be able to serve him because he had the gates of the house locked. Nobody could get to the door. He wouldn’t answer the door. Because of that, they were allowed alternate forms of serving him. They were able to stick the service paperwork on the gate.
When back in court on Tuesday the judge says, “You haven’t given him enough time to prepare. We haven’t heard from a lawyer for him. Come back tomorrow.”
It’s crazy that he’s allowed to lock her out of her own house and he has the upper hand at this point.
“It’s insane to me. That is the way our system works unfortunately. Meanwhile I’m wearing the exact same clothes for five days. My kids don’t have many pairs of clothes either. All their stuff is gone. We’re in this little hotel room. It really was a mind-boggling time for me. But that’s the way the system worked.”
Finally on the Wednesday morning, they got in. Her lawyer is a barracuda! She really lit into the judge about what had happened previously and what kind of situation Sherri-Lee was in. The judge said, “Wow! This is crazy. He’s been given enough time.” Finally, some people to help with her new life after divorce.
They knew he’d spoken to a lawyer but he didn’t engage the lawyer. He didn’t show up for any of the court time. The judge said he has to be out. He gave him 24 hours. We had to wait for one more day.
The judge, a different one at this point, told her “You can get back into your home by four o’clock on Thursday – he has to be out by then.” Then he immediately made temporary custody and alimony. All those orders were done immediately that day by this judge because the judge was mad.
When finally allowed to go home, she went with the police because she wasn’t sure what she was going to find, or if he was going to still be there. She knew his brother was still going to be there because he hadn’t been removed. There had been some destruction done to the home. Some very bizarre things that he’d done. He had collected up everything that he attributed as mine and put it in a box. Expected with life after divorce?
He thought he was going to be able to stay and I was going to be kicked out!
Crazy thing happened that Monday afternoon before all of this:
“I received an email from our mortgage company asking me to call and verify that I wanted my mortgage payments transferred from the bank account, from my bank account to his bank account. I called them and said I don’t know what you’re talking about. They said “well we got this fax from you overnight with your signature asking to change the bank accounts”.
“I said, “I didn’t send you anything.” I woke up and I checked my email on my computer. He had forged a letter and forged my signature and sent it to the mortgage company asking them to move the money. He thought the mortgage payments would be transferred to his bank account because he really thought he was just going to keep the house, take over the mortgage payments, it would stay in my name somehow and I would just go on my way and live in poverty. I don’t even know what he was thinking!”
In any case, she had a locksmith change all the locks. The kids came back in and then we sat there and went, “wow”. Sherri-Lee let his brother stay because he was paying rent and she clearly needed the money now more than ever to prepare for this new life after divorce.
She sold the house. Had a massive garage sale, with the help of some friends. She made about $3,000 on the garage sale because she sold so much of his belongings! With a life after divorce, you should!
She rented out a house for her and her kids. The first year was a real fog. She didn’t have a business at that point. Not even alimony. With life after divorce, you should receive some alimony, but none from him.
He has never paid a penny in alimony or child support ever in six years.
When she sold the house she paid off the mortgages that she was obliged to pay off. And unfortunately, she discovered he had racked up about $50,000 in credit card debt in her name.
When done with that, she had a little bit of money left over from the sale of the house. Not a lot. But she put it into the bank. She was earning about $1,000 a month at that point. Life after divorce as a single mom – suppose that’s expected?
Somehow in her haze she just upped the amount I was working. People were asking her to do a few things … she was managing social media accounts for businesses locally. More people started asking her and she just kept saying yes. And kept asking for more money to do it. She just worked more and more and more.
“For the first two or three years, my mom, every month, would say, “I just can’t believe you didn’t go on welfare”, as if that was the obvious choice to make. Well, I have nothing against anybody on welfare. If you need it you need to get it. But I think there are a lot of things you can do. There were a lot of things I could do.”
Check out MLH’s ideas on how to build your own business and work from home here!
Why Social Media?
She’s been doing that kind of work for about a year. She had a little side business she started on her own. It was a business she was still growing and she taught herself social media to grow that business. She had to start from scratch in life after divorce.
Then in networking, she realized there was a real need in her local community to teach people how to use social media. Starting by holding workshops locally once a month to local business owners, she taught them how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
But people started saying, “I took your workshop but I still don’t want to do it. Can you do it for me?”
Continuing to teach workshops, she also started saying yes to more opportunities. After her kids go to bed she would work another six hours. And she would still get up three hours before they got up and do some more work.
She never thought of this as a sacrifice.
It was the only thing that made sense. It made sense to take care of her kids and to give them the best opportunities that she could. As a result, that’s why she worked so much in her “off hours”.
“I said, “You know what, that’s going to be the best thing that ever happened to us. I’m going to make sure of that. You don’t need to live in fear of him anymore. This is not going to be the thing that defines us negatively. I’m not going to have you at twenty years old pining over a person who chose to not be part of your life. I’m not going to have you making bad relationship or life choices because somebody else’s choice hurt you. It can hurt you but it wasn’t a reflection on your value or who you were or how lovable you are.”
“What I didn’t do right away was apply that to me. It was all about telling them. That’s something six years later in my life after divorce that I’m starting to realize. His actions weren’t a reflection of me either.”
Sherri-Lee now runs a six-figure business from home. Her and the kids just got back from a vacation where she was attending a business conference. Her kids are old enough to be able to stay and hang out while she was at the conference. Then they went to Disney World for 4 days.
“I provided this. I did this. You asked me what I learned from this, it’s that I can do this stuff. I don’t need somebody else to provide it for me. I am self-reliant. That’s the message in that for me. I think anybody else could be that way. I think anybody could do that for themselves.”
It’s been six years now of life after divorce and she still can’t make sense of what happened. He has nothing to do with the kids at this point. Sherri-Lee has no idea where he is. They have never heard from him or seen him since. He hasn’t made contact.
We love that she shared her life after divorce story with us. She went from literally having nothing with her back against the wall and instead of retreating, she fought. She built a six-figure business, is raising two successful kids, and her business is still flourishing.
Lesson She Learned
“I remember probably three or four years ago … self-comparison is something I think we all do, especially in business. We do it especially if you’re on social media. Everybody is running around and telling us how great everything is. Their lives are great. Their businesses are great, right? Everything is perfect all the time.
“I worked with a lot of business people. I was in mastermind groups and had coaches. They were either married men with wives and kids or single women. I felt like I was being lapped by them so often, and felt I was way behind. I wasn’t achieving what they were achieving. The only reason why I wasn’t was because I wasn’t working as much as them.
“I remember having a coach who said to me I had to “be out at 14 networking events every week”. I looked at him and said, “I pay for a babysitter every single time I go out. That’s not possible”. He told me I wasn’t committed to my business. My reply was “I am committed to my business but I don’t have a wife to stay at home with my kids. I am also committed to my kids and I home school them”.
“Putting them in school and putting them in daycare isn’t the answer for me. When I look back I realize even though my forward progress wasn’t as fast as others’, it doesn’t mean I was standing still. I thought I was stuck in the mud and I wasn’t moving forward, but in actuality I really was.”
Sherri-Lee built it around her ideal lifestyle. Not what others thought her ideal lifestyle should be.
“I created it exactly the way I wanted. And it’s shifting again. But I think it’s important that people realize when they feel stuck, take a moment and look back where you were a year ago. Because I bet you, there’s a whole bunch of little steps you made in that year. You may not have had that big accomplishment yet. Maybe you haven’t reached six figures, seven figures, two-hour work days, or whatever that ultimate goal is. But just because you haven’t reached the ultimate goal yet doesn’t mean you haven’t made steps towards it.”
Message & Help For Others
“I think we forget that sometimes. That would be my message – always take that time to reflect back to where you were and celebrate the little accomplishments. Every single little thing.”
We thank Sherri-Lee so much for sharing her life after divorce story!
If you want to find out more about her and Social Media Minder, you can find her on Facebook, (Sherri-Lee Woycik), and her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is happy to connect with anybody who might want support, or anyone who may want to give her some support. Or even if you have some comments for her! She is absolutely happy to connect with anybody that wants to move forward in their lives.
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