Friday, December 6, 2013

Emancipation Day III

There is no owner's manual for moving past divorce. Having committed 17 years to someone, I completely underestimated how long it would take to reconstruct my life. After all, the last time I was single, Bill Clinton had been President for less than a year and Jerry Garcia was still alive. I had no sense of self  outside the context of my marriage. I am still a work in progress, but such a different person than the one who started this journey three years ago. Some lessons learned:

Getting past the anger. I wasn't mad, I was furious; like white hot rage angry about any number of things related to my ex-wife. Stewing in that particular marinade was pretty corrosive. 

Getting past the guilt. Coupled with that was the insane level of guilt I felt about a whole litany of places where I fell well short of decency while I was married. Beating the hell out of myself just exacerbated the pummeling my ex-wife had done to my self-esteem.  

Moving on. Speaking of which, it took me a long time to find the fine line between owning my shit, that is, the part I played in the failure of my marriage and not allowing those shortcomings to define me. I feared intimacy for a long time because I was so wrapped up in that toxic blend of anger and guilt. 

Get into therapy. Stat. For me, divorce was like an emotional car crash requiring intensive rehabilitation. Had I found a well-equipped professional to guide me through the aftermath earlier, some of the things I needed to work through would have happened much sooner. 

Don't attempt to date for at least a year. It baffles me to see people on online dating sites who are not even divorced yet and already "out there." I dated quite a bit immediately after my ex-wife left and the experience was uniformly awful, and not because the women I went out with were bad people, I just was not ready to remotely accept anyone into my life. 

Finding my happy place. The importance of having a creative outlet was an itch I long avoided scratching while I was married because my ex-wife thought such things were dumb. With her no longer around, I came to some things quickly (blogging), others over time (tweeting) and still others more recently (photography). All of these things have brought me great joy. 

Figuring out who the fuck I am. Suffice to say, there was (and is) A LOT of work that I needed to do to get my head right. It happened in fits and starts, often with one step forward and two steps back and finally in a Juliet-detonates-Jughead-at-the-end-of-Season-Five-of-LOST explosion. [1] 

The things I have come to value:

Me. I'm a little quirky - just ask my friends. But what I have come to realize is that I'm not as quirky as I thought I was, that the things that I felt insecure about or lacked in self-confidence were not atypical, but rather, things many people struggle with. I'm also a good friend, son and brother, caring and compassionate, willing to lend an ear or a hand to anyone who is important to me and am quick to forgive. These are not small things. 

Life. Again, When I was married, the situation was so messed up, I rarely looked past that day - there was no next month, year or retirement to contemplate, just getting through that day. Now, I embrace life's rich pageant. 

In sum:

The fact that the one year anniversary of my ex's departure engendered a 3,000+ word post [2] and at the three year anniversary, I'm able to wrap things into a neat little bow at under 700 words says a lot - first and foremost, that it occupies very little space in my life anymore, but also that I've largely processed what I went through, understand where I came up short, have thought, deeply, about the person I am and want to be, and am at a stage in my life where I am ready to welcome someone into this new world - a healthy, nurturing and interesting place that I have made my own. Not a bad trade off for all that hard work and pain.

Follow me on Twitter: @scarylawyerguy



  1. Love this, and am pretty sure you will eventually meet someone who is RIGHT for you...xo.