Americans spend a ton of time obsessing over celebrity divorce stories, whether itâs Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martinâs conscious uncoupling or Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleckâs affair-fueled split. Sure, itâs fun to speculate on the demise of the rich and famousâ relationships, especially if it ends with them dating their co-star on The Voice (hi, Gwen and Blake), but we think it's important to hear the other side of it tooâyou know, the nitty-gritty. That's why we asked eight divorced women to share their stories, regrets, triumphs, and advice on how to survive and thrive after a marriage ends. Just about everyone we spoke with described raw, vulnerable feelingsâand lots of fearâespecially when starting the divorce process. âA few times before I said something to him, I had to pull over during my drive home [from work],â said Eloise, a recently divorced mom of a three-year-old girl. âI would sit in a truckers lane at a gas station and sob. What would happen to my daughter? Could I parent her alone? Did I want to share her? Where would I live? Would he hate me? Would the world question me? Would I be alone forever?â âI was embarrassed and ashamed,â said Elsa, 29, whose husband initiated their divorce. âI had failed and I never fail.â An actor and marketing specialist, Elsa married at 23, and her ex quickly began to resent her busy, full life. âHe was always upset about how busy I was with work and acting. He was also a very jealous man, and literally thought everyone was hitting on me or visa versa.â "I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had failed and I never fail." Elsaâs emotions were common for most of the women we interviewed. âMy husband was leaving me for a woman 10 years older than me,â said Tammy, a mom of three who had just celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary with a family vacation when she discovered her husbandâs affair. âMy self-esteem took a big hit.â But all the women came out of their divorces stronger, empowered, and more confident as a result of the process. âI thought my world was ending,â said Tammy. âBut eventually I realized that I would be fine on my own.â "My husband was leaving me for a woman 10 years older than me. My self-esteem took a big hit." Eloise, who also left her husband after his affair, said that while the experience was a challenge at first, sheâs now better for it. âIt did give me so much strength in the end,â she said. âI had yet to choose myself in my life with him. I had to rebuild a lot after I left, and my own self-love was the first thing. I've never felt better in all my life.â All the women we spoke with stressed that a strong support system, whether it be friends, family, or a good therapist, is key. âAsk around for help,â advised Elena, 30, a digital marketing manager and mom of five. âIt's amazing how many people I know that know someone who knows someone in family law and have provided me with so much free advice and resources.â "I thought my world was ending. But eventually I realized that I would be fine on my own." Rachel, a 39-year-old marketing exec, made self-care a priority. âJournaling was a place for me to get out the poison rattling in my head and to feel heard, though the notes were private.â The mom of one also began therapy. âHaving a therapist to talk to was incredibly helpful during the times when I felt like I was about to be run over by a steamrollerâwhich, when you are the surprised and less affluent spouse, will be many.â While many women said their only regrets were âgetting married at allâ or ânot getting divorced sooner,â others stressed the importance of getting a great lawyer. âI regret not hiring an attorney right off the bat,â said Elena. âI let him bully me into thinking we could do it on our own without lawyers and the next thing I know I'm being slapped with papers saying he's trying to get sole custody of our daughters. The attorney is expensive, but it's nice to have someone that handles most of the dirty work. I would have hired her a long time ago if I'd realized that.â "I regret not hiring an attorney right off the bat." Having children adds additional challenges, especially when it comes to dealing with your ex. âYou must make every effort to create a happy environment for your children, even if that means giving an Oscar-worthy performance about your feelings for their father to his face or behind his back, said Rachel. âYouâre not married anymore but you are still a family. The quicker you all realize this, the better off for your children.â If youâre considering a split from your spouse, Pamela, a healer who asked her husband for a divorce, urged, âDonât stay in denial! There is an elephant in the room and it needs to be talked about.â âIt's ok to put yourself first,â said Jen, 40. âIt's ok to get out of something that makes you unhappy, unloved, and unwanted. Divorce helped me find the person I lost, it helped me take back my life. And I no longer have any f***s left to give.â Amen to that.