By Lindy Earl
Divorce elicits multiple emotions in people . . . fear, dread, abandonment, and other negative words. I slowly found that there are many positive attributes as well: freedom, relief, power, success, beauty. In fact, life can be an adventure after divorce. Yes, it takes a while. First, you are so broken and you don’t even know it. I have seen it in others, but couldn’t see how broken I was until after the fact. At the one year anniversary of my divorce I realized how broken I had been the previous year. While I was improving, I remained broken for a while. There is such a thing as backsliding, too, so just because you are better now, it doesn’t mean you will always be there. Bad days come, even in the excitement.
In my case, divorce came after the age of 50 and after my children were almost grown. It came at a time when others are celebrating empty nest syndrome. As others were celebrating graduations, I was dreading them, not knowing what to expect but acknowledging that it would be as stressful as it was joyful. But I found that, with a little effort, sometimes a lot of effort, I could see life as an adventure.
The first thing I did was return to my youth and remember some of the things I wanted to be when I grew up. I accepted that it was too late to be a policeman. It wasn’t, however, too late to resume dance classes. I will never be a ballerina, and in fact I didn’t return to ballet, but it’s fun to do things that are just for me.
Weekends used to be no different from weekdays for me. Instead of working on office stuff, I worked on house stuff. Without a significant other in the house, I now answer to nobody, so can do anything I want. I’m not a sleeper, but I could sleep all day if I chose! It doesn’t sound like an adventure, but if it’s something you’ve never done, it can be! Sleeping late meant I could stay up past 9pm and there are things that happen at night on weekends, and I was now well rested and could enjoy them!
I was able to invest in friendships, both male and female. When you’re half of a couple, it’s necessary that four people get along together. When it’s just me, I only have to go out with people I like and who like me. And we can base outings on just what WE want to do! I have one friend who is a real homebody and enjoys Friday nights with yarn, knitting or crocheting. I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do that as a married woman, but as a single girl, a girls’ craft night was suddenly appealing. Yes, you can find adventure in your own living room.
Travel was never high on my wish list, but it can be when it’s all about you and only you. Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend away, it’s all about where you want to go and what you want to do.
Conversations took on a new life. I was suddenly having conversations about boys and sex and clothes and hair, that I hadn’t had in years – since my teens! What a blast! People are much more open about their feelings and these topics today. Conversations that were once taboo are now open game. Having lived 50 years or more, we could talk from our own experience, and not just what we had heard. It was fun. F.U.N.
With age and experience come confidence. Once upon a time, if I asked a question and anyone found it questionable or inappropriate, I found myself feeling self-conscious and somehow guilty. Now I realize that those issues belonged to them. If a person doesn’t want to partake in a conversation that’s fine, but what I found is that people were quick to converse! They were all hungry for dialogue! My confidence was appealing, and what was once looked down on as conceit was now encouraged. Wow! It helped me realize that the ones who had looked down on me as a teenager were just judgmental. Now I realize that it may have been their own insecurities causing their behavior, which influenced my behavior, and what an ugly trail that was.
Back in the day, dating was different. Dating after Divorce means we have cars and we don’t have curfews! I am more open to new things, such as a cuisine that I may not have tried in my 20’s. It means I’m a better listener. I have learned to put others first. I am, simply, less selfish – I never saw myself as selfish, but now I cringe at some of the things I did. Dating after divorce means fewer mistakes. I still make mistakes, but fewer, because now I see life as an adventure, and an error is a way to more intelligently begin again.
Mostly what I have found is that I’m okay. You’re okay, too. All those things that made me feel bad growing up were probably mostly my imagination. I have the ability, and the energy, to live my life unfettered. I can laugh and cry with abandon. If somebody doesn’t like it I can choose to stay away from them. I am no longer bounded by others’ opinions of me. I made it through the rain. Yes, I got wet. I will get wet again. I will enjoy the feeling and grow from it. I may grouse about it, but I choose to see life as an adventure. With experience and confidence, my adventure can take me anywhere!
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com or find her on Face Book.