Category Archives: Divorce Sucks!

our first day in paradise

Lee met me at the gate about 15 minutes before our flight from the cold midwest to a warm, beach location. We both seemed rather nonchalant about the crap shoot we were taking, jetting off to spend four nights, five days together with someone we had only just met. After no more than a few innocent kisses and hugs, we would be sharing a room and, undoubtedly, a bed. I assure you I’m no prude, yet I’m rather old fashioned as relationships are concerned, so I wasn’t entirely without trepidation.

We read and dozed on the flight, and I found myself pressing my arm and leg against him for the warmth he radiated. He reached down and took my hand, holding it and caressing my fingers. And I began to see another, more physically affectionate, dimension of this man I barely knew.

I won’t pretend I didn’t feel awkward at times as we arrived, made our way to the resort and situated ourselves in a joint room for the first time. But Lee went out of his way to be a gentleman, offering me the time and space to make myself comfortable.

I insisted on buying dinner that first night, a meal of fish tacos and margaritas. Lee assured me I needn’t and I disagreed, telling him he’d been incredibly generous already, that I was so very appreciative, and that I would contribute, as well.

Later, we made our way back to our cozy room on the beach and readied ourselves for bed. Lee held out his arms. I snuggled into his warm, strong embrace. That’s what struck me most about that first night together, I think; the way he held me so closely and tightly for what seemed like a long, long time…and it felt quite wonderful.


living apart together

I have at least two friends who are divorced or going through a divorce and have chosen to continue living, at least for the immediate future, in the same home as their exes.

For couple A, this means moving back in together after a year of living somewhat apart. They had rented an apartment — where each had separate bedrooms — and would switch off each week, one living in their home with children, acting as the primary parent, and the other staying at the apartment. Moving back in together  has meant juggling a few rooms around to ensure they have separate bedrooms, though still on the same floor. They continue to take turns acting as the primary caregiver to their children, buying groceries and making meals, etc.

In my mind, this all seems just a little too close for comfort, requiring a level of emotional maturity and commitment to civility that I’m not sure I possess. Or, even if I’d like to think I’m capable of such an arrangement — after all, for how many years did I fantasize about building a studio apartment over the garage for mine?! — I can guarantee my ex is not. But it seems to be working for another friend, as well:

Girlfriend B and her future ex have agreed to continue living in the same home, with him taking up residence in the basement and she upstairs with the children, sharing the common spaces on the first floor. They complicate their lives by housing various extended family members — her aging mother, his adult children from previous relationships (i.e. one-night stands) — in their suburban mcmansion. Meanwhile, he has a girlfriend and she is in a serious relationship with an old boyfriend (who is also going through a divorce). These extra-curricular activities are kept out of the children’s sights, although there are times Dad’s been caught with another woman’s photo on his mobile phone or has stayed out all night.

While I often claim to be falling-off-the-left socially liberal, and while I freely acknowledge that children can thrive in all kinds of alternative family structures — provided they have love and boundaries — I am baffled by all of this. When pressed, my girlfriends insist that this is the best arrangement for their children and has saved them the undue stress of their parents living apart. For now…

…because arrangements like this are unlikely to last forever, especially given that girlfriend B has plans to spend the rest of her life with her current beau. And I would assume she’s eager to begin a newer, presumably happier phase of her life as soon as possible.

As for me, as much as I sometimes still buckle under the weight of being a single parent, breadwinner and homeowner, I am glad for the relatively clean break. Sure, it took six months for my ex to move out (even after years of stressful togetherness), but now the children eagerly look forward to their daddy time and make plans for what types of toys to keep at his place and what to keep at ours. I’m pretty certain they’re more well-adjusted this way than had we continued to live under one another’s noses.

We managed to find the arrangement that was, if not ideal, then as close to right for us as could be managed under the circumstances. And I look on in wonderment at those who make the above “alternative” relationships work.

What do you think — could you or do you live with your ex? What did you find was right for you?


doomed to lose in love?

I recently dug up an old astrological profile that I’d received as a gift. It had my complete natal chart and a comprehensive reading to interpret it all. I was reminded of several things that I had forgotten but which, when viewed in light of my current perspective, would appear to suggest that my love life is doomed.

I’ve written before that I’m a Libra. One of my primary drives in life is to be partnered. My sign rules marriage / union and is the point of evolution from “me” to “we” consciousness. I feel most fulfilled in life when part of a “we,” and especially when that “we” is me with a romantic partner or mate. Consider, then, the challenges my other planets throw in the path of this inherent drive toward fulfillment:

  • My ascendant or rising sign is Scorpio, is often referred to as the most difficult to manage, requiring a battle between the personality and the soul. (The positive aspect of this is that it means I’m an old, evolved soul.)
  • Meanwhile, with my moon in Leo, I can be proud and often want to be the center of attention. (And I’m also a good leader.)
  • Finally, my Venus is in Scorpio, it’s detriment (as Scorpio is ruled by Mars). Mars is outgoing and forceful, while Venus magnetically draws love to her. These forces don’t play well together…but they do make for some serious passion in the boudoir!

In other words, the stars suggest a certain amount of challenge as it relates to relationships; indeed, to fulfilling this primal desire for partnership.

And if that weren’t enough, I am the product of divorced parents. After their split, I lived with my father. I hear tell that those of us supposedly abandoned by our mothers are worse off than those left by their fathers. Not that I necessarily agree with this notion of abandonment; after all, I couldn’t possibly imagine living (as an adult woman) with my father, either, loving though he is.

Finally, in case we haven’t hammered enough nails into this coffin, I have a few skeletons in my closet that…well — in order for me to share genuine intimacy — are going to have to come out. And it’s not an absolute given that my past will be universally accepted and / or forgiven by the sort of morally upright dude I wish to attract.

I try not to put too much stock in these “barriers,” but there are times when they seem to rule the day. Still — and perhaps it’s that optimistic Libran nature of mine or some other planetary aspect — I have faith that my ideal mate is out there and, one day pretty soon, we’ll find each other.


the process of being married

Earlier today on Huffington Post, I ran across an excerpt of You Can Be Right (Or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce by Dana Adam Shapiro. The title of the article delivered what it was expected to, which was not of particular interest to me. That is, until I came across this gem:

“Ninety percent of the secret to being married is the commitment to the process of being married. Whatever comes your way — problems with sex, problems with money, whatever — it’s essential that you’re both committed to working out a solution where both people are represented, where the well-being of the other person is just as — if not more important — than your own. It’s an easy thing to say ideologically, but it’s really, really hard to do…”

For those of you who’ve been there — or are there — I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I, for one, completely agree. Commitment is easy, in the sense that it’s easy to commit…in that moment, when one is (or, more accurately, two are) in love. To remain actively committed — the process, as Ms. Shapiro describes it — is the challenging part. Or, as another friend put it, commitment is easy, marriage is hard.

Can marriage really be reduced to such simple colloquialisms? Since its demise, I’ve certainly reduced mine to a few simplistic phrases. I suspect we all tire of trying to explain away what didn’t work in our relationships. I only hope to one day find someone who inspires me to do the work, to commit to the process, so that I have no reason to explain away another.


battle of the bads

Today is the sort of day that keeps me humble, where nothing happens quickly enough (especially traffic) and where I find I have to resist an urge to yell out the window at the kid crossing the street with a hand clutched at his waist to hold up his pants, “Pull up your #%*&^@ pants, you #%$&*#@ idiot!”

So let’s rewind to this morning and see if we can identify where or when this mood began…

At work I had the opportunity to sign up for a health coach. I’m always vaguely curious about this coaching business, so I signed up. Today was my first call. And it went something like this:

I explain my predicament of sudden weight gain despite a mostly organic and healthy diet, and my desire to be more active.

Coach:  So you’d like to lose 15 pounds…

Me:  Hell, I’d like to drop twice that.

Coach:  What are the steps you’re going to take to get there?

Me:  I get up, get my children out the door, spend an hour and a half per day in my car, eight hours a day at a sedentary job, rush to pick up my children and make dinner and then collapse from sheer exhaustion. Winning the lotto or being able to bike to work would help — that’s all I got!

Coach:  Can you get some activity on your breaks?

Me:  What breaks?! Salaried people don’t get breaks. We squeeze as much as humanly possible into the time we spend at our desks — and then still have to take the work home with us.

We continued to dialogue about the possibilities or, from my perspective, the lack thereof and it became more and more clear to me that a) I sound like a broken record and b) I am extremely resistant to taking responsibility for this mess that my mid-section and thighs have become.

Meanwhile, as she probed about how I could re-prioritize and take care of myself, I watched the fit, stay-at-home soccer moms out the window and became more and more emotional. And I realized that a) I still have lingering anger and resentment for the situation in which I find myself, namely cash flow negative, single parenting with extremely little support (time or money) from the children’s father and exhausted, and b) my overwhelm comes from feeling powerless to change my circumstances.

So I am being coached to take baby steps to “take care of myself” from someone who has no idea how pissed off I am that I no longer get at least two professional massages per month, no longer have an hour of yoga per day, and children who won’t eat more vegetables. I am being asked to make choices by someone who has no idea how few there are. I am being told that I can let go — of what?! — the few things that keep me going? Like writing this blog? By now, I am in full-blown tantrum mode. So let’s not stop with where I’m at physically when I can leverage this opportunity to ruminate on my piece-of shit-house, wardrobe, car and more. As you all know by now, it’s — come on and say it with me — all my ex’s fault.

And then, while at the office, I proceed to make a complete liar of myself by eating one of the chocolate cupcakes someone has brought to the office…et cetera, et cetera. And then, on the way home, traffic is beyond terrible and I’m late to pick up my children. And it’s as though there’s a poison growing deep in the pit of my stomach from which all this anger and negativity emanates.

And I realize how far I have yet to go on this journey of healing, how much resentment I have yet to release, that good and evil are having an all-out brawl in my psyche.

And, finally, I am thankful this sort of mood / attitude comes around just once a month and quickly passes, so that I can get back to feeling grateful for my beautiful life and the choices I’ve made to get here.

p.s. So, for the record, I suppose I should express that I’d be perfectly happy to have just one professional massage per month. It’s not like I’m a total princess!


special kind of sadness

No, I’m not in LA….

Actually, I’ve brought the children on what, to some, might be the vacation of a lifetime. But it’s not our first time in Orlando…

Traveling with them, I want them to feel joyous and excited. I want to feel relaxed. I think they are content and happy here. We exist mostly according to their whim and schedule. One resort employee even remarked that, together, their conversations and negotiations resemble as much an old married couple as two grammar school-aged children.

But for me, there’s a sadness…a grieving for the vacations we used to have: two-bedroom suites on the beach, so many firsts, grandma or other extended family members on hand to share child-care, travel arrangements and stress that I now manage by myself. Mostly I miss giving them the experience of all this as an in-tact family unit. Somehow I feel as though I’m giving them a lesser vacation by asking them to wait until I finish reading a chapter before joining them in an icy pool.

I know my ex is grieving our vacations, too, by the wistful replies he sends to my emailed photos of the children and his voice on the phone when he calls to talk to them.

Someday, I will get beyond the belief that two parents equals twice the vacation. I’m working on that.

Two days in, I’ve started to relax and enjoy just being in my children’s sustained presence. By tomorrow, I’ll be rocking’ this. And, with any luck, we’ll all arrive at home feeling refreshed, relaxed and full of new, happy vacation memories with our little family.


there you have it

I think those of you who follow here can tell that I’m fairly real and genuine. One moment I think I’ve forgiven and moved on; the next I’m behaving badly out of lingering blame and resentment.

These are realities for the divorced, and these are the things I choose to share here. I don’t dwell in them. It’s not my whole life. But it’s the sliver of me you get to see for visiting here.