Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Divorce: 6 Things You Don't Expect

November 2012 

names have been omitted in this post


She pushed the red shopping cart past the produce and bakery toward the deli meat section. The scent of freshly baked goods motioned me toward them like a silent lure… the sweet scent of cinnamon, sugar and cream cheese topping muffins, pastries and donuts called my name… I had inherited the sweet tooth that seemed to plague every person in my family. I sighed... once again giving in. I lightly touched my mother's arm and told her "Be right back…" and strode over to the tables adorned in boxed brownie bites, chocolate chip cookies tied in cellophane and rectangular boxes holding danish. Danish… my brown green tinged eyes spied. Yum… danish warmed in the oven as an after dinner treat sounded wonderful. It became a running joke throughout my divorce I had jumped on what I affectionately called the "Danish Diet"… it wasn't a "diet" at all as most think of, as I considered the word in that sense a four letter word… but instead it was a diet of fluffy danish topped in cream cheese and icing most evenings winding down in front of the television. I reappeared with the Market Pantry danish box placing it in the cart and my mother chuckled under her breath not at all surprised. As she perused the deli meat section trying to decide which brand of bacon was best to purchase in regards to gluten free, I meanwhile looked around at my surroundings… it was Saturday and the ratio of men without wives but with children was noticeably larger… or was it? A month into my divorce, it hadn't taken long for me to notice patterns… being out and about… noticing there was a larger group of men sans wedding rings out on Saturdays with their kids than I had noticed before when ensconced in my previous life as a married woman. Had it always been this way and I just hadn't noticed?

There was suddenly this whole new world 
I'd been introduced to and
 it was like a silent announcement of:

You are now entering new territory… 
you are leaving the old world 
behind as you knew it…
 and now you are part of this 
new world you'd never 
really noticed before." 

This is so odd… these are all single dads… I realized… it was "Daddy's weekend" clearly and I watched a thirty-something year old man still scruffy from waking up that morning with stubble and a mass of hair coax his daughter to follow him as she clung to a box of Lucky Charms, adamant they were getting them by the scowl on her face… he looked somewhat exasperated and definitely tired… our eyes met and I gave him a "you poor thing" look which made him smile back, then relent on his anti Lucky Charm stance… his daughter happily skipping toward him in her ruffled skirt and tights in merry victory. Realizing there was this whole other world of single moms and dads I hadn't really experienced or realized due to being married it wasn't expected. And yet I'm sure like everyone else who has gone through a divorce or will in the future there are things in general we don't expect to encounter… things that change, that perhaps were always there but weren't realized because they weren't part of our own experience before. 

6 Things You Don't Expect Regarding Divorce: 

1. Your ex is the "parent police". You know how when you're married and school fundraiser night comes up? You know… that night where you go eat a burger or taco dinner and a certain percentage of the money goes toward something new your kids school needs? When you're married and part of a family unit and mommy is exhausted and says "Hey, guys… I'm pooped tonight. Why don't we blow off the fundraiser and instead order pizza and watch a movie?" That's not quite how it works when you're divorced. Because even though the kids may be on your time and yes, you may really have a throbbing headache and feel like crud… you're expected to suck it up and go. Because the "other side" you know… the ex… he is going to phone and say: "The kids tell me you aren't going to the fundraiser. Is there a problem? Obviously there is. Maybe you need to step it up and be a better parent." You sit there holding the phone in your hand thinking… you've got to be kidding me… since when are my choices on my time with my kids being policed? It was never this way before. Yeah… I know and it's annoying as all get out… and yet as time goes on and you settle into your new role as a single parent you won't care what he says. Do your thing and make the decisions you believe to be best. 

2. The anger eventually passes. Yes, it's hard to believe it when you're in the throes of seeing red and the mental narrative of "I hate you so much right now" (wasn't that a song?)…  but the anger does slowly, finally(!) melt away. What replaces it? Sadness. There will be sadness that this was how it all ended, that it didn't work regardless if your ex is a walking case of crazy. There will always be this small part of you that yearns for that family unit and grieves it. And yet… it's possible to have that complete family unit again. Never say never.

3. People pick sides. There will always be sides chosen and sometimes there are people you genuinely liked in your life as a married couple… but often due to the fact they were originally friends of your ex… they choose him and you let them. Yes, you may miss them and think of them from time to time… but you realize if you've been in a toxic marriage and divorce it's best in the long run to move on and not let the two worlds co-mingle. You wish them the best and hope life is treating them well. 

4. You have more balance. I was shocked to discover that being divorced brings more balance to life. Being married, especially if you're a stay at home mom (which has it's definite perks, you have more time with your kids… and this isn't by any means encouraging divorce) means you're always on the job… 24/7 and yet with that there isn't always much time for friends, for exercise, relaxing and pursuing what you want in the form of goals and dreams. Being divorced brings more balance to your life when you share custody of your children and yes, the weeks you don't have them are your extended break. Another reality of divorce that wasn't at all expected.

5. You miss sex. It may make you blush and yet it's true. The second you aren't having sex it seems that is when it's most missed… yet not necessarily with who you were married to. I truly believe sex is already a jip when you've been married to someone who always treated the sacred act of sex within a marriage as though it was a "deal to be made", a "transfer of goods", etc. If you've never had a relationship/marriage where sex brought you together in a loving, healthy and selfless manner and it's something you've already yearned for, for that wonderful connection, it's most likely a desire for your marriage the next time around. Waiting for the right person who will love you like that and you will love also is absolutely worth it. Don't settle for something less than… hold out for what you want, what you believe to be best for yourself and the person you will be with one day.

6. You will realize you should have gotten out sooner. Way sooner. We always think it will get better but often those are just lies of denial we tell ourselves. I wish now I had gotten out years ago. Yes, there are some folks who give up far too easily and too soon. Maybe their issues are very minimal compared to others. But for people with big issues that affect the very core of the relationship… like trust, respect, infidelity, abuse, etc… those are big blinking signs that there is a serious problem(s) and either both people need to be willing to buckle down and do the work to change or simply part ways.

© ~ 2014 

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