Be Kind to yourself. Life happens to everyone. You tried your best and sometimes things are just not meant to be.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Tray Kearney.
Tray Kearney is a Healing Agent whose assignment is helping others heal from matters of the heart. She is known for her method of helping others heal through her transparency and truth. Her testimony of going through the storm of infidelity on both sides of not only being the offender but also the recipient of betrayal gives men and women the safe haven they need to be transparent and honest with themselves without judgement.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in the inner city in a single parent home. My parents divorced due to my mother’s infidelity. I was raised by my mother and later on down the line my stepfather came into the picture. My childhood was good. I spent a lot of time with my siblings and cousins. We had a lot of fun. As I got older I started to understand that I was in a very dysfunctional environment where infidelity and sweeping things under the rug was normal. My mom moved a lot which made me kind of shy and afraid to get comfortable anywhere. However, I did gain four very good childhood friends who are still my best friends now after forty years. I learned to look for the silver lining in every cloud.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I didn’t choose life coaching it chose me. During a tough time in my life I didn’t know what to do so I joined a prayer line and the woman praying offered up a program called “Life Camp” a group coaching program. As I listened to her speak about life coaching and why I should join. I said to myself “I’m not paying this lady to just talk to her.” And just as I was thinking that she said and I quote “I don’t need your money this is for you I have businesses.” I was totally shocked that she was bold enough to say that and she’s been my life coach for the last seven years. I was inspired and motivated by how she helped change my life and I wanted to do the same for those who were navigating through the devastation of infidelity.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I was given the opportunity to speak at the Howard Theater on an all-male relationship panel and share my perspective as the only woman on the panel. I’ve actually gained a lot of trust from men since being a life coach.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I sent a long personal email to one of my clients. It wasn’t funny at the time but I see the humor in it now. The lesson I learned is 1) always check who you are sending an email to, and 2) get a separate business email address.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
My mother always told me “It’s never too late to make a U-turn.” It was relevant when I was in an affair with someone else’s husband while I was married. It helped me to finally turn my life around after I thought I had gone too far in the wrong direction. “It’s never too late to make a U-turn.”
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on a new course called “Developing Crucial Basic Life Skills.” I think it will help people with the things we don’t learn from the time we leave home to the time we are thrusted into the real world. These are the things they don’t teach us in school and are missing in our lives and hinder us from having the life we truly desire.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
I got divorced due to infidelity on my part. I never want to make an excuse of why I committed adultery. However, I do share the things that took me in that direction. I was very young when I got married. I was 21 I was with my ex-husband since the age of 18 and had no life experience in dating. I had never seen a healthy marriage. I lacked basic life skills. What I mean by basic life skills is decision making, communication skills, self-awareness, problem solving, resilience etc. We don’t realize how important these skills are until they affect us. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do. I believe the main reason why people cheat is immaturity. Monogamy requires self-control and self-control requires maturity. What I learned is that’s exactly what I lacked, maturity. I also learned that I needed to be whole to be with someone else as one. I couldn’t be one with anyone if I was in pieces and had voids that I needed filled. I am very comfortable sharing my story. If it can help one person I know I am on purpose.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
In my opinion one of the most common mistakes people make is dwelling on the past. You cannot change the past you can only plan to have a better future. Another common mistake is the blame game. In a divorce, both people are accountable for their part in the breakdown of the relationship and instead of learning from the divorce we tend to blame. I learned that blame causes guilt and accountability causes growth, and we want to grow so we don’t take the same things into our next relationship. The last thing I will share as a common mistake is people don’t get the help or take the time they need to heal and grieve. Divorce is the death of a relationship and people should definitely take time to grieve and heal before they move on.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
The person you once loved can become a good friend if the two just forgive each other and behave in a mature manner at all times. My ex and I share two sons, so we learned from the devastation and forgave one another and became friends not only for our children but for our families that WE meshed together. The wonderful thing is once we get passed the pain our families could heal and have the freedom to still love their in-laws.
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
I would say heal so you can trust the chooser. I am not afraid to get out and date again. I trust myself because I got the help I needed and did the work. Divorce is not a death sentence. That person was just not your forever person, but don’t let their memory block you from true love.
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
People should be open to changing their mindset.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- I would advise her/him to seek professional help so they can grieve and heal. After I found my coach and found out who I was I began to thrive in all areas of my life professional and personal.
- I would advise them not to jump into a relationship, but to spend time learning themselves and loving themselves. I have several clients who took time to rediscover who they were before the divorce happened. These clients also took time to heal. Now, they are in thriving healthy relationships.
- I would also say that just because you have been through a divorce, it doesn’t define who you are. Do not let your identity be wrapped up in what happened to you. I had to learned that my divorce did not define me, it was a part of my testimony that actually was attached to my purpose. Your pain is not in vain unless you allow it to be. There is always purpose in what we go through.
- Ask yourself what you learned from the experience and how you can help someone else get through the experience. I wrote two books and started a coaching and consulting business based on the things I learned from getting divorced.
- Be Kind to yourself. Life happens to everyone. You tried your best and sometimes things are just not meant to be.
The stress of a divorce can take a toll on one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?
I truly believe people should get professional help. There is so much value in getting the help and support you need from someone who is not personally connected to you. There is a level of freedom when you share knowing you will not be judged or the information will not go any further than that room. People also need to understand being single is not a bad thing and taking time after a divorce to reset, revive and love yourself is an amazing gift to give to yourself. One last thing people can do is spend time with people who genuinely love and support them. Embarrassment sometimes causes people experiencing divorce to isolate themselves. We need a personal as well as professional support system we can lean on.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
I love Trent Sheldon’s podcast “Straight Up”. Tony A. Gaskins Jr. on Youtube (what is his platform or message?). One book I suggest is Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf. Oh, and of course my podcast “Men Hurt Too” and my books “It’s Healing Time Restoring Hope in Women After Infidelity” and “Men Hurt Too.”
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I actually have a movement called #NoSideChicking. My vision is that women will honor, guard and respect each other’s relationships in hopes that the divorce rate would go down due to the devastation of infidelity.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love for Oprah to see this interview she can reach the masses and divorce and infidelity is devastating so many families. We could spread the word about healing after divorce.
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!
Tray Kearney: 5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.