We had the good fortune of connecting with Doretea Burton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Doretea, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My business idea came a truly odd source, my husband’s divorce lawyer! During our divorce trial, he was arguing that after nearly 25 years of marriage, I deserved little or no alimony. I had been in a relationship with my ex from age 17 through 46. At 22 we married, I didn’t return to college and began working while he pursued a career as a physician. When he graduated, we were 27 and I began staying home with our children. Eventually our family grew to include six children who were home educated. My ex’s assertion was that there was never love between us and that I hadn’t helped him become a doctor. His lawyer said, since I was “bragging about writing his medical school scholarship essay” which earned him a full ride through medical school, I should become a writer instead of receiving full alimony. I understood his comments were sarcastic, but I thought seriously, why not?
I published “Not Bitter. Just Petty.” which consists of my journal entries and letters I wrote to friends. I decided that the pain I had endured, the shame of not just him engaging in an affair with a married woman he worked with, but the two of them planning a life together, disenfranchising me and my children from the fruit of that medical degree I earned alongside him in some ways, deserved a voice. I decided to publish my very raw experiences with his infidelity, my embarrassment, and my desire to repair my marriage and how that invited ridicule for so many months. So, I credit his lawyer for such a wonderful idea.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I taught my children at home, I’d always tell them that language arts was truly setting a scene using only words. I don’t consider myself a writer or poet in a traditional sense. That is because I wrote this book from my heart a creation borne out of the most intense pain I’d ever experienced. I wrote the words never to be seen by others, but to merely expel the confusion, the lies, hurt and fear that for the past two plus years have been everyday roommates in my head.
My challenge in publishing the material is ingrained in the name “Not Bitter. Just Petty”. I feared being viewed as petty or even worse, as someone who was going against my Christian values. But as I examined the writing, I realized I was given a word to carry in faith. There are so many men deceived into believing that engaging in an affair is a victimless crime. That women, especially black women, are strong, resilient and we will carry on mothering their children and making a way out of no way in order to survive. That’s not the case.
None of this was easy. I have lost a best friend and life partner. I am estranged from my eldest child who has a serious mental illness. My mother-in-law of course sided with her son and is accepting of his narrative and his relationship with his mistress. I felt abandoned and there was no getting around that. There was, however, healing in store by sharing my pain as a way of healing myself and identifying with other women who were abandoned. Especially black women left behind by black husbands and mother in laws in favor of another race. A particular violation that is historic and not addressed openly enough.
The success of the podcast, honestly, has come easily. I have done very little promotion yet I’m at 10,000 downloads. Unfortunately, the story resonates and it resonates loudly. And it’s not just the divorce story that does it, it’s truthfully expressing the life altering, sometimes life-ending, feelings that come with being sucker-punched by the person you trusted most. Many women who contact me, feel like they’ve been living in a shadow of shame because their spouses often tell lies to justify leaving their original families and moving on with often younger women. Those women drive the success of the program as they share it with others to say… “See, this is what I was saying! He lied, we had a decent life, He just left me. listen to this lady’s story.”
I want the world to know that my brand is my life. It is evolving. It’s full of raw truth. It ain’t always pretty. There is more to come from my brand because I have so much more healing to do on my own. My people, my followers, have graciously agreed to go along for the healing with me!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Being a Washingtonian for so long, it’s easy to take for granted all the things that make this area beautiful. If I were to shuttle a visitor around for a week, I’d go back and experience the history of the area again.
DC History Day
I’d take the Egypt on the Potomac walking tour of DC that shows all the Egyptian and African references in the city. It is an awesome perspective.
I’d then take them on a driving tour and explain the history of Lafayette and Benjamin Banneker’s contributions to how orderly our streets are named and planned out. It’s like cracking a code. Once you know, you’ll never be lost in the city again. It’s so cool!.
I’d return to each and every Smithsonian Museum especially the African American History Museum. The day would end, however, sitting outside enjoying astronaut ice cream from the Air and Space Museum.
Foodie Girl Summer Day
I planned on this being my year to get the hot girl summer body, but I’d take the day to celebrate my inner foodie and begin the day with brunch at Half Smoke in DC. I”d then take the to tour Howard University’s campus as I remarked on just how different everything is now. We’d tour some bookstores, then eat a chili dog at Ben’s Chili Bowl. You can’t come here and not go there! I’d pick a rooftop restaurant like the POV Rooftop and enjoy cocktails looking over the city skyline.
National Defense Day
I am a history buff to my core. I love teaching about our world’s military and the wars in which we’ve engaged. So on this day, I’d take a trip to the war museums and monuments, including a trip to the International Spy Museum. For lunch we’d head over to Arlington and eat at Rock Harper’s Queen Mother and end the day by visiting Arlington National Cemetery. A bit morbid for some, but my father is buried there. I am so proud of his service. Where he is laid to rest is a beautiful and peaceful testimony to his life of service.
New Hobby Day
This day would be discovering new hobbies! I would have target practice at Maryland Small Arms Range. Then I’d take a golf lesson and practice my skills at Top Golf in Oxon Hill, Maryland. I’d hire The Chosen Chef, Chef Duriel to do an in person cooking class for me and my friends in my home.
One full day would be a lazy day dedicated to glam and self-care! I’d go to Rent the Runway, pick an amazing outfit, get dolled up with my hair and makeup friends Jeff Enriquez and Natalie Wong-Sang and have a full on photoshoot! EVERY woman should do this at least once! That’s something I have done from time to time to build confidence. I’d end the day with a room at the Ritz and plop a bath bomb in the tub and soak and dream and plan.
Family and Friends Day
On the last day, I’d definitely gather my favorite people for more food, fun, and fellowship. I’d arrange to have someone come to my home and conduct a paint and sip just for us. And enjoy a dessert party with Sweet Elevations Cakes & More and Urban Charcuterie.
On this last day, just for giggles (and to be petty 🙂 ), I’d take our little group to Waldorf, and show them where my wayward ex-husband lives with his new lady friend!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My lawyer David Coaxum. I don’t think I could have had the presence of mind to get through such an awful experience without his expert help. Not only did he navigate through the lies and present my case before the family court with precision, he also was a business attorney. He helped both me and my boys (creators of Uncle Dell’s Mambo Sauce) with setting up our businesses. He was truly King David in our battle with Goliath.
Other: Coming Soon is my new site ReeNewLife.com. It’ll be a lifestyle blog and e-commerce site dedicated to cultivating a life of self-care.
Photograph in the Pink Shirt Jessica Patterson Photographer. The other Photos Roy Cox The book Cover by Octavo Designs Podcast Graphic Octavo Designs