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This American Ex Wife: The Podcast
But, I need your help
I didn’t write about my divorce as it was happening. I didn’t post anything on Facebook or make an Instagram post. I didn’t even delete him from my social media. I kept it quiet for a long time. Telling only friends and family. I didn’t want to be public with my mess. I assumed it was messy and bad. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or anyone.
I was wrong.
The first time I wrote about my divorce was with the essay, “Now That I’m Divorced, I’m Never Cooking for a Man Again.”
I stopped cooking because I wanted to feel as unencumbered as man walking through the door of his home with the expectation that something had been done for him. I wanted to be free of cutting coupons and rolling dough and worrying about dinner times and feeding. I wanted to rest.
The essay was published in Glamour on November 26, 2018, almost a full year after I had moved out and just one month before my divorce was finalized. The essay immediately went viral. Roxane Gay tweeted about it. Rush Limbaugh talked about it on his talk show.
I was flooded with responses from people both good and bad. People told me I was ugly, and that’s why I was divorced. I was a bad mother. They were going to call CPS. My poor husband working all the time and here I was, being a whiner.
But through the noise of the backlash, were the voices of so many women, in my email and in my DMs. They too had stories they wanted to tell. Stories of breaking of freedom. Stories of burning it all down and starting over again.
The same thing happened after I published the essay, “It Took Divorce to Make My Marriage Equal.”
Those two essays made me the Divorce Lady™️. Women spoke to me in coffee shops and at parties. A Greek chorus of women longing to express the hidden sides of their lives and their relationships. And always, at the end of the stories, they’d say, “But I can’t tell this story. Only you can.”
It’s hard to tell the truth when you are still in the relationship. Truth has a way of breaking things.
I think of these women as so many Liliths standing outside the supposed Eden of marriage. Women shouting the truths no one wants to hear. A sisterhood of the cast out, ready to welcome the Eves as they stumble from that oppressive garden into the light. These are the tipsy aunts smoking in the parking lot of the wedding, cracking jokes, and sharing truths too brutal to be uttered inside the reception hall.
I wove some of these stories in my forthcoming book This American Ex Wife1. But there are so many more conversations I want to have with you and with other people who are forging their way through this life, finding new narratives beyond the tired tropes we’ve inherited.
So, I decided to launch a companion podcast for the book.
The This American Ex Wife podcast will launch in November with one season of ten episodes leading up to the publication of the book! And I have some really exciting guests already lined up.
But I want to hear from you. I want to hear the stories you can’t tell because it might mess up custody. The stories you tell your friends over tequila late at night. The stories of your breaking. Of your joy. Of your terror. Your loneliness. Your messy heartbreak. Your sheer happiness.
I want a space for the Liliths to share and I want people to listen.
Send Me Your Stories:
You can send me your stories one of two ways:
You can record a voicemail for me on Speakpipe. Speakpipe has an easy user interface and I want to hear your voice. I will be using these stories in my podcast. Please anonymize your stories. But I will be asking your real name and contact information just to make sure you are a real person.
You can also send an email to email@example.com. Tell me your stories there! I will be reading your stories on the podcast. And if we get enough stories, perhaps we can have some subscriber-only episodes where it’s just you all talking about your lives and loves and burning it all down.
What Kind of Stories?
I want to hear from you about:
The moment you knew your marriage was over.
Stories about co-parenting.
Calling off engagements.
What you did with your wedding dress.
What your life is like as an ex.
That story about your marriage that you only tell your friends after two margaritas.
Why Am I Doing This Myself?
I spent almost all of 2022 setting up meetings with podcast producers and studios. Everyone loved my ideas but after I’d have a meeting, the studio would close, or the producers I talked to would lose their jobs. Media is contracting at the moment. Good jobs are hard to find and podcast studios are reluctant to take on new projects. Finally, a friend of mine, who has a series of very successful podcasts, got me on the phone to tell me, “Just do it yourself.”
She pointed out that I have an audience that a podcast company would kill for. An audience of really smart engaged readers. (That’s you!) She also pointed out that media companies would put ads on my content. Ads I couldn’t control. Diet company ads. Vaginal suppositories. Cheap furniture. And I wouldn’t have a guarantee of payment.
I’ve always had a business motto: I only work for free for myself.
So, that’s what I am doing. I am working with Zachary Oren Smith, a local journalist and public radio producer, who has already taught me more about sound than I ever wished to know. I hired a local journalist because I am passionate about keeping local journalists paid. And your support helps me do that.
If this is a success, I will do more! I have lots of ideas. But if it isn’t, well we tried.
How Do You Support the Podcast?
Wow. Great question. Thank you for asking.
I began working on this newsletter full-time in the fall of 2020 after I was fired from my job at my local newspaper due (in my opinion)2 to the political backlash to my columns. Since then, this newsletter has grown to nearly 33,000 subscribers and it grows every day. Of those 33, 000 about ten percent pay for the newsletter. And with that money, I’ve hired a newsletter editor and a podcast producer, bought podcasting equipment, and set up a small studio in my office.
I also pay newsletter contributors a better-than-market rate for their writing. It feels pretty good to know that I pay better than the opinion sections of the major newspapers.
But also, one of the reasons I am only doing one season of the podcast is that’s all I can afford to produce right now. I have a lot of lovely subscribers, but the reality is, I still rely on book money to make this all work. But book money isn’t always guaranteed. And I’m a single mom with two kids.
I know there are kind people who have offered to do work for free, but I feel very passionately about paying people fairly for their labor. It’s about respecting people’s work and putting out quality content. If I can’t pay, then it’s not a good business.
In a world where writers and creators are getting screwed over by billionaires who would rather hire robots than let a writer afford an apartment, paying people is a personal ethic of mine.
So, support the podcast by subscribing to the newsletter!
While I know that a newsletter subscription isn’t in everyone’s budget (not every newsletter I love is in my budget either!), subscribing to the newsletter is the best way to support the podcast.
Plus, there are perks!
Subscribers will have early access to podcast episodes;
access to special subscriber-only shows;
and 10 percent off of merchandise (that’s right, there will be a merch store!).
Plus, all the other perks of being a subscriber, like access to the newsletter archives and the Discord community.
Once again, maybe subscribing isn’t in the budget for you. That’s fine! But don’t worry. There will be plenty of other ways to support this project. The first way will be pre-ordering the book when the time comes. The second way, is a classic, and it’s always appreciated — it’s forwarding this newsletter to friends and family and enemies. The number one way my newsletter grows is when you share my writing.
How You Can Listen to the Podcast:
Well, it’s not out yet, Janet. But when I launch the podcast in November, I will launch it on all major podcast streaming platforms. But as always, subscribers will get to listen first, here, in the newsletter.
The book will be published on February 20, 2024, and I will have a cover announcement and pre-order link coming soon! Wait for that because I’ll be doing a newsletter sale/giveaway!
Legally, it’s a good idea for me to add that caveat, since I’ve been threatened with lawsuits. That’s right! This newsletter has been legally threatened on multiple occasions.