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I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
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your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
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That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
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Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
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What It's Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 4: Being Alone, Dating and Co-Parenting

Now That I Am On My Own: 

1. I check my purse three or four times before I get out of the car to make sure I have my keys.  I do not want to have to call my ex-husband (has spare set).  I am slightly OCD about this.

2. I’m more aware of my body. Freckles and scars noted.

3. My lingerie drawer needs updating.

4. I sometimes forget to eat.

5. I am a night owl.

6. I eat a lot more Indian food. Wasband never liked it.

7. A dark house bothers me.

8. Friends have stepped up to fill the partner and family void.

9. I have time to nurture friendships.

10. Physical touch is even more delicious.

My husband moved out in January and now it’s June.  Life is definitely different. In these last six months my emotions have run the gamut from anxiety to elation.  I could not have stayed married but one of the best things about married life is that there is a blueprint to follow.  I do laundry. He takes care of the lawn.  He grills while I make the rest of the meal.  Attend all school functions together.  Fill out forms with only one address.

When you are single the basics of living have an added degree of difficulty. You do everything. You are liberated from the blueprint but miss the guidance of it. That being said, the extraordinary elements of living do not disappear.  You still have inner strength, creativity and a natural sense of wonder.  You’ll employ all of them in order to find peace throughout the divorce transition and beyond.

Here’s a peek at my transition:

Evenings to Myself

I”ll never forget the first night my ex-husband, Jeff, took the kids to stay with him. I had never spent the night alone in my own house.  Friends emailed to make sure I was OK.

I was more than OK. I couldn’t decide what to do first! Write? Read? Watch a movie? Call a friend? Dink around on the internet? It was freakin’ glorious.  The house was completely void of noise, clutter, tension and dependents. I didn’t have to please anyone except myself. I felt 20 pounds lighter.

I realize this doesn’t sound very maternal but it’s the truth.  My mind, heart and body were strung-out and jittery from the last few years of trying to keep the family from imploding  – every day. I needed time within my own mind and spirit to get to calm, strong and authentic; be a woman who didn’t feel splintered in 30 pieces.

I wanted to burst through the proper-parenting and good-wife blockade.  Stay up late, eat at odd hours (or not at all), talk to friends, enjoy the silence.

It took six months for that feeling to wear off.  I was always happy to see the kids when they returned, but suddenly one weekend I found myself missing them during me time. I wondered what they were doing at their dad’s.  I wanted to call but didn’t want to interrupt their activities.  I didn’t want to be by myself.

I had a feeling I would eventually want to connect with others once I had enough solitude and soul-searching.  I now know it is an ebb and flow process.  As an introvert, I will always crave alone time.  I need it to renew and resolve inner-conflict.  As a human, I will always need social interaction and the love of my tribe.

So when the kids are away I divide my time between reading, writing, losing myself in Mad Men, joining friends in merriment or dipping my toe in the dating pool.

Dating

I could write a whole post or four on this subject alone and I’ve only really been dating for three months.  Where to start?

My original intention once Jeff  moved out was to focus on the kids, myself and writing.  Who needs love, a lover or the distraction?

Turns out, this girl.  Only I am finally in a place where I don’t NEED such wonderfulness. I WANT it.

I practically fell into my first post-divorce dating experience.  It started as a coffee date with someone kind I had known for a year or two. He had been through a messy divorce. A coffee chat seemed like a good way to deepen a friendship. He mentioned getting together sometime but I actually pulled the trigger by getting his number and texting him a time and place. The funny thing was my oldest son witnessed the exchange of phone numbers and gave me shit (Mom’s gotta date!, Mom’s gotta date!,When are you going to call him Mom?) the whole way home in the car. I turned 50 shades of vermillion, I’m sure.

I really did not have expectations beyond good conversation for our first meeting. It went so much better than that.  He was articulate and impressed me with how well he knew himself. He had done a lot of work to recover from his divorce and forgive his ex-wife. He also had the coveted quality of being able to fix things around the house. I hope he didn’t notice my pupils dilate and mouth water when he mentioned this. I had so much fun that first meeting I left a voicemail for my girlfriend exclaiming, That was AWESOME!  I’d forgotten what it is like to talk freely and openly with the other half of our species.

Third date: We moved past just friends status. Making-out with someone new rocks.

From then on we acted like college students only less drunk and more responsible.  We traveled back and forth between each other’s places, made meals together (cooking is elevated to new heights when it includes kissing), watched movies, shared favorite music, pillow talked. It was lovely.

Two plus months into the relationship, something didn’t feel right. We were having difficulty finding time to be together between our kid schedules and extra-curricular activities.  I love my passions and space but he topped me with his self-chosen obligations. We were great when together but fairly disconnected when apart.

We decided to give each other space to work on our crazy lives but remain friends. I missed him as soon as we ended it but knew it would be best to move on. To our credit, we ARE still friends.

Biggest takeaway? A re-awakening of my body to touch.  Warm, affectionate physical intimacy minus contempt is other-worldly.

Next up.  Online dating.  I am just entering this jungle so stay tuned for further details.  So far I’m having fun with it and not taking it too seriously.  I like the selection on OKCupid (the only one I’ve tried).  It’s free and feels slightly more liberal. I’m connecting with a few sincere gems and dodging the perverty goobers. I’ve had a few hilarious experiences and figure all the exposure to rejection and judgment is worth the stories I am collecting and adding to the highlights reel of my life.

Home Maintenance

I am conquering my fear of home maintenance.  I’m collecting DIY knowledge. I’m fantastic at Googling how-to clips. I’m strapping on the tool belt and getting dirty.  So far I have caulked the kitchen sink, cleaned furnace filters, filled up the gas tank for the grill, sprayed weeds in the yard, put air in bike tires, and loaded nine forty pound bags of salt into my cart at Costco as the Gatorade sample lady cheered me on.  As a wise friend once said, Home ownership is overrated.  The kids won’t live in a tent, kibbutz or town-home so I’m stuck with this gig until they move out, I find a boyfriend with a big toolbox;), or I die.  I did find a reasonable and conversational handy-man through a friend, so I do have backup.

Co-Parenting

Jeff and I talk over the phone (call or text) about the kids at night when the kids are asleep. We go over the major issues together. And there have been major issues.  Kids do stumble and struggle. We have to be connected to help our children. We work together for the kids and because it’s necessary to keep a level of respect between us. We have a lot of history together.  It would be incredibly dispiriting if we couldn’t be friends. It’s essential that we be teammates.

Separation and divorce do not change or instantly remove the differences you had with your ex-spouse.  They are still there, only now you don’t have to see their face every day.  I still get a hot jolt of adrenaline when I see Jeff’s name on an email or text.  Usually, he wants/needs something.  It’s never a friendly note.  I’m sure he feels the same about me.

Little things come up with the kids like, We don’t want to eat tacos for dinner again tonight.  We just had them last night at Dad’s house.  And I left my Itouch/homework/shoes/lunch at Mom’s house. We run back and forth smoothing it over. Eventually, we hope it will settle into a routine. For now we lie in the bed we unmade and give the kids more hugs and encouragement than ever.

We’ve managed to sit together at school functions and even go out to lunch as a family after sporting events.  I think this is the best way to transition everyone.  Slowly.

As I write this, the wind is changing.  The finalization of the divorce documents, the time lapsed since Jeff moved out, and the addition of new partners is having an influence on our new routines.

I have faith that we will be mature and put the kids first.  Their resiliency depends on our ability to minimize conflict and provide a loving environment. We know that. I deeply believe that if Jeff and I can be kind and respectful to each other the kids will see that people with differences can work together to create amazing things.  They will see that the different qualities their parents have and they themselves embody, can lead to richer lives filled with diverse experiences.

Creating a New Blueprint

The married with kids blueprint may be out the window but each day structure and guidance are found in our new experiences.  We design our lives with fresh eyes and a heightened consciousness.  It’s tough but it’s also beautiful.  This type of growing period is where you get strong, get creative and see things anew.

How are you at being alone? How often do you let the extraordinary elements of life surface? 

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10 Comments

  1. […] What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 4: Being Alone, Dating and Co-Parentin… […]

  2. Doug Toft September 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Wow. This is really courageous writing. I enjoy reading your blog so much. Your world is so different than mine.

    • brennagee September 6, 2012 at 10:29 am - Reply

      Thanks Doug. It’s nice to hear from a male reader. The majority of my audience is female but I would love to reach men as well.

      I keep getting more and more open with my writing. I usually imagine an anonymous audience of people like me viewing it. I sometimes forget that people I know will read it. Then I run into a neighbor at the school open-house and she mentions my site… I feel like she’s seen me in my rattiest underwear.;) I mostly get “You go girl!” reactions though, so the courage grows.

      I always appreciate reading about other’s lives, especially if they are dramatically different than mine. I like to be in awe.:)

  3. Dominique Santos June 24, 2012 at 3:47 am - Reply

    Uplifting, practical and hilarious! Would love to hear about dating from the other side…. as in, the experience of your ex seeing other people.

    • brennagee June 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Would you like to hear my feelings about my ex dating or his perspective of dating after divorce? I can’t speak for him but he did get right back into the dating world. I would love to learn more about the male perspective of online dating. One man I know said it is an odd combination of shopping and voyeurism.;) I appreciate your comments Dominique. Thank you!

      • Dominique Santos June 25, 2012 at 3:30 am - Reply

        Your feelings, as you are the filter through which you are describing the process! Seems like a pretty major turning point, and I imagine there must be some tension and/or opportunity to reflect based around who does it first, how quickly it happens etc.

        • brennagee June 28, 2012 at 7:15 am - Reply

          There are/were some major feelings about bringing someone new into the picture. From my perspective, it was very hard to hear about him introducing a girlfriend to the kids. I was not ready to share them yet. I knew he would find someone quickly. I want him to be happy and loved but sharing the kids definitely bothered me at first. My new-ish attitude is that if we can all get along, be friendly at school functions and sporting events, then what the heck? I have a new friend. The kids feel comfortable and supported. I know no one is ever going to be me. I’ll just keep loving and raising the kids the best I can and I know Jeff will too. We could be the coolest divorced couple since Bruce and Demi.;)

  4. elizabeth2560 June 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post. It is sometimes lonely going through a divorce in there being no-one to experience it with so I have found this blogging experience a place to share thoughts and receive in return. Thanks for sharing your experiences posted. I too have felt the paradoxical nature of revelling in the craved ‘aloneness’ that I actually need as an introvert and yet missing something at the same time. The evenings alone were a huge vacuum to begin with until I moved my computer and desk into the living room and now I am surrounded by my new world of creativity. The Home Maintenance I struggle with (yellow pages works a wonder); although I have learned to jump start a car! Mostly though I am taken by your last paragraph in your above post about creating our new blueprint. The old one dissolves overnight (the ‘happy family of mum dad and kids’ image) and that is hard to begin with. The new one takes time. I look at my mother who was widowed suddenly at aged 47, two eldest children married within the next year, and with sudden financial difficulties having to work for the first time in 26 years to support my two younger siblings. What a huge changed blueprint for her that I failed to appreciate at the time! Yet now at aged 85 she is still going strong, writing history books, and the matriarch of our huge extended family and her siblings families of some 100 people and an inspiration to us all and especially now to me, as I hope to one day be for my children in this my new blueprint I am yet to create for myself and my family. Thanks again for your blogging friendship. 🙂

    • brennagee June 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      I do appreciate being on this journey together.:) I am so impressed that you can jump start a car!
      Other introverts I know have mentioned that THEY like to choose when they’ve had enough alone time. They go inward and recharge in solitude until they want to connect with others, and they always want to connect eventually. Now that I have less tension in my life I do look forward to socializing. I have less stimulation surrounding me so now I actually seek it out.

      The old blueprints are gone, rolled up and sent away. It takes time to draw up the new ones. I’m figuring things out as I go along. This is hard on the kids. They so loved having the plan to follow. I strive to rebuild some of that security for them.

      Your mother sounds incredible. Just out of curiosity, is she an extrovert? It’s amazing what some go through and survive. She’s an inspiration.:) Thanks for your comment. Strength to you as you re-work your blueprint.

      • elizabeth2560 June 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm - Reply

        No. My mother is an introvert. Lots of determination and tenacity there though! Love your thoughts on the introvert / extrovert theme. I will add to that in a future blog and keep you posted. 🙂

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