A woman got divorced. Here's why she decided to document her joy with a photoshoot.

"It was not about revenge," Lauren Brooke explains. "It was meant to represent the fact that I survived the divorce."

A North Carolina woman celebrated finalizing her divorce with a photoshoot showcasing the joy she feels in reclaiming her life. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)
A North Carolina woman celebrated her divorce with a photoshoot showcasing the joys of taking her life back. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)

A North Carolina mom of two earned praise on social media after she shared a series of photos chronicling the joy she felt after learning the divorce from her ex-husband of 10 years was finalized.

"There were no tears, there was no crying," Lauren Brooke, 31, tells Yahoo Life of the photoshoot, which happened in her own backyard on April 1 and was shot by her photographer mother Felicia Bowman.

"It was not about revenge," she explains. "It was meant to represent the fact that I survived the divorce. Divorce is ugly and it's painful. It was me looking back and being like, hey, remember the days when I couldn't get out of bed? Well, I made it, I'm here, and my kids survived it. And you know what? I'm in a way better place."

In the photos, Brooke is seen emerging from a white wedding dress to reveal a lace and tulle red dress, which she says aims to represent the "freedom" she feels after surviving "the worst year of my life" amid drawn-out divorce proceedings.

Other pictures show her lighting a wedding veil ablaze as she uses her platform heels to stomp on a photo of herself and her ex, whose face is not shown, before ripping the physical photo in half. In another, she's seen holding a party banner that reads: "DIVORCED," while giving the camera a big smile.

As a representation of her newfound
As a representation of her newfound "freedom," Lauren Brooke rips open a white wedding dress to reveal a red cocktail attire underneath as part of a photo series celebrating the finalization of her divorce. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)

Soon after posting the images online to her personal Instagram account, which she keeps private, Brooke says the internet responded in kind — including the popular Instagram account Pubity, an entertainment and news source, which shared select images from the shoot in a post that has received nearly 900,000 likes.

"It's about me; not him," she says of the decision to take these photos, reiterating that the whole point was to celebrate the reclaiming of her life, and to help others smile — and heal — in the process.

Admittedly, Brooke had been toying with the idea of doing the photoshoot for quite some time. But in the state of North Carolina, couples are required to be separated for at least "a year and a day," per state law, before a divorce can be finalized, so she had to put the idea on the back burner.

Brooke is all smiles holding a
Brooke is all smiles holding a "divorced" party banner next to a burning wedding veil that she set ablaze. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)

Then one day, she received a surprising email from her divorce attorney informing her that she'd already been divorced for two months, but didn't know it.

"I had never gotten an email!" she says. "Then when I got the email from my attorney, finally, I was like, 'OK, well I guess I'm doing [the photoshoot] now.'"

One week later, her mom was geared up and ready for the shoot: "It was a day with lots of laughter," Bowman tells Yahoo Life. Some of Brooke's friends were also there, offering moral support and "behind-the-scenes" assistance, she says.

Having a mother as a photographer was not only a "cathartic" experience, but also a cost-effective one, says Brooke. "It cost me no money to do this, except for a $5 champagne," she says

Brooke also made sure to get the blessings of her two children — a 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, both of whom she shares with her ex — before going through with the shoot. She says her ex has yet to say something to her about the photos.

"I know he has seen it, and we have both interacted as if it never occurred," she says. "Everybody heals differently. We both know what happened in our marriage, and maybe one day I can write a book on it. Maybe one day I will tell my story, but we do have kids and I don't want to bash him in any way."

Brooke hasn't closed herself off to love, sharing that says she's been bombarded with requests from eligible suitors online. She's not engaging with those at the moment, as she is currently dating someone new.

"I was single the whole year we were separated and was focused on me because I didn't want to bring all my baggage into the next relationship, and I had no intention of dating," she says. "And then I met this amazing man who really gets it. He has been super supportive."

During the shoot, Brooke decided to break and rip apart her old wedding photo — in high-heel platforms, no less. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)
During the shoot, Brooke decided to break and rip apart her old wedding photo — in high-heel platforms, no less. (Photography by Felicia Bowman)

As for the advice she would give to others in the same situation?

"On the days where you literally feel like you can't get out of bed, or that it's never gonna get better, remember you will come out of it," she says. "I remember days when I would cry for hours in the morning. Now, I'll wake up and I'm happy with where I'm at in life. I have a great support system."

Still, "embrace the pain," she says. "It's all part of the healing process."

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