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.
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.
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.
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?
- Sex and the single mom (lfpress.com)
- What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 2: Money Mediation and Accounts (space2live.net)
- What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 3: The Kids (space2live.net)
- Power Tools and Empowerment: Every Day a Little Bit Stronger (space2live.net)