Like many hard things in life, divorce is a situation when we look back after a few years out, and think, if only I’d known then what I know now it would have been so much easier, dammit!
It’s unfortunate The Universe doesn’t send us little fairies from the sky holding notes with messages about what our future will bring, and how we really will get through this tough spot even though, at the time, it takes our breath away and makes us want to lie on the sofa in the fetal position.
It was almost three years ago when my ex-husband and I decided to separate, and I literally had no clue what I was doing. I mean, why would I? I’d never been through a divorce before.
Being on the other side of things, my vision is a bit more clear and I can only imagine the path will get easier from here on out. I’ve done the work, I’ve sat in deep sadness, I’ve made mistakes based solely on reacting to a bad feeling, I’ve taken it all in and I’m trying to learn from it. (I said trying. Believe you me, some days I try better than others). I wanted to share with anyone going through the tumbleweed divorce leaves in its wake what is clear to me now:
1. Being horny does not mean you are lonely.
If you want to have sex, do it whether it’s with yourself or with someone else who is or isn’t a partner. Feeling your libido thumping through your entire body in no way means you are lonely or that you need a new love interest. It just means you want to get fucked; don’t mistake the two and fall into the “I’m so lonely” trap. It will only lead to clinging to something you might not want.
2. Being lonely cannot be fixed by sex.
And to reverse #1, if you are lonely and think having meaningless sex with someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind will fix it, think again. All it will do is take that loneliness and compress it. I’ve realized I am the only one who can fix my loneliness by working on myself and reaching out to friends, indulging in a good book, booking a massage, or simply getting out of the house.
3. Missing your ex doesn’t mean you want them back in your life.
Oh, this is a hard one. Of course, you will miss your ex, you were in love at one time, maybe you even created a family. You will miss who you were when you were a family, you will miss who they were when they were courting you. You will. And it’s perfectly fine and normal, but it doesn’t mean they were the one you should be with until death parts you. Especially if it was an unhealthy relationship.
4. Missing your kids while they are away is not reason enough to get back together.
This had been the hardest one for me to overcome. Dropping them off with their father is excruciating. I have thought this hundreds of times, If I only could have worked this out, I wouldn’t be saying good bye to them and going out with some random dude I met online.
But then I realize they are happier because they don’t have parents living together who don’t like each other. And I am happier because I have a vast future waiting for me and this random dude I’m about to go sip alcohol and share a meal with could be the love of my life. My kids deserve to see me loved like that. Staying with what’s familiar is easy, but not necessarily right. Branching out is hard. You are worth trying out the hard.
5. You are going to be scared AF, but you will make it through.
I promise you during those times when the washing machine leaks, or you burn the cupcakes, or you forget to pick up your son, or you go through your first post-divorce break up, you are learning so much. And that is where you build some good resilience, my friend.
6. People want to help you but you have to ask.
You have to ask for what you need, do you hear me? Your friend will not know you are having a bad day unless you tell them. Your family will not know you are overwhelmed with work, dating, being a parent, cleaning the house, and volunteering unless you tell them. Your kids will not know you are sad and you need some “mommy time alone” unless you tell them. Your hairdresser will not know you need a little something extra sexy to make you feel alive again unless you tell them.
7. You are going to feel sorry for yourself a lot. Best get over that sooner than later.
Wallow in all of it. Do it. Then get over it. No one likes a downer, not even you. I’m not saying to stuff your sad feelings. I’m saying, don’t unpack and live there for too long or you aren’t going to move forward and get the shit done that needs to be done in order for you to heal and move on. No one can heal and move forward for you. Only you can do that, okay?
8. Finding other divorced friends will save you.
I don’t care if you walk up to Mary from across town at the chorus concert after hearing she went through a divorce last year to strum up a conversation, or you find an online group. Get yourself surrounded by a few people who have done this before. It’s empowering, it’s validating, and they are the ones who will give you a good kick in the ass when needed. Believe me, it will be needed (see #7).
9. Dating sites are fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Don’t be afraid to do it if you want to get back out there and don’t feel anything happening organically, just be sure to make it fun. Chat, put up fun pictures of yourself, don’t be sad when you get ghosted (you will get ghosted), and stop something that feels like it’s going in a direction you aren’t comfortable with. The first time you post a picture and write a bio, you will feel as if you are Will Ferrell running through the quad naked. Keep telling yourself you are there to try a new adventure with zero expectations, and you will have a blast. Trust me.
10. Your anger will fade.
You will be angry at your ex. You will be angry when the top right burner on your stove stops working. You will be angry when people don’t randomly show up at your door offering money, back rubs, and orgasms. You will be mad when you have sex the first time post-divorce because it feels weird and you want them to leave right away. You will be angry when the nice man who bags your groceries asks you about your husband and you have to tell him you don’t have a fucking husband any longer.
But then…? Then, the anger will fade a bit at a time until it is completely gone and you realize the parts of you that used to get angry have softened. And that feels really damn good.
So, while I’m not a fairy delivering you secret messages from beyond, I hope you know there will be a change in tide for you. Divorce is hard, but every stage seems to happen for a reason and serve a purpose, and believe me, they will end and unveil a new, better version of yourself. Just hang in there, OK?