Happy Monday. And welcome to another installment of “My Story Mondays” – a series of crossover posts with The Naked Redhead. Every Monday in this month of June, we’re talking about our respective divorces. Before or after you read my account, I definitely suggest you jump over to to TNR’s blog to see what she has to say. I’m a regular reader of The Naked Redhead, and she’s usually got some pretty good things to say – especially in this series we’ve been working on.
This week’s installment is:
How to Navigate Post-Divorce Afterlife
Ok, so I’ll tell you I wish I had an opportunity for a sneak peek at TNR’s post – because I haven’t the damndest clue how I’m going to explain this. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I post semi-regularly about my internet dating experiences (or lack thereof). My advice fits more in the category of “this didn’t work, so I suggest you try something else”. So I don’t know how much help I can offer in the getting back in the finding-a-new-relationship field. I’m still single, and it’s been four years since my divorce was finalized.
That said, I’m not a complete dumbass – I’ve been on plenty of dates and even been in a relationship or two since the Big D.
Ok. Enough qualifications. Here’s what it navigating life is like post-divorce for me:
I’m on a few internet dating sites. In the “status” category, I usually put whatever variation of “single” is offered – I don’t say I’m divorced. It’s not that I wish to be dishonest, but #1 I didn’t get a single response when my status read “Divorced”, and #2 I don’t feel like defining myself as a divorced man right up front like that. Sure, it’s a fact, but it’s not part of the first impression I’m looking to make.
I’ve moved a few times since splitting up with M, obtained different jobs, et cetera. Again, I don’t lead with “Hi, I’m Ted and I’m divorced” in any of the new situations I’ve encountered – new jobs, new friends, and so on. If my marital status comes up in conversation, I don’t lie about it. People are often surprised to learn that I’m divorced – mostly because they don’t expect to meet someone so young who is divorced (I was 25 when M and I split up).
When it comes up in conversation, I usually employ a bit of levity and humor – but I don’t constantly make jokes about it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my divorce was incredibly hard on me and I don’t consider it a matter to be constantly joked about. That said, a little bit of humor will often lighten the mood – other people take divorce seriously as well. I let the situation dictate whether I’m going to be serious or joking about it.
It took a while before I was able to laugh about some aspects of my marriage, but I’m very glad that it’s something I can do today. Again, I don’t want my divorce to define who I am as a person – especially in a negative way.
Sometimes, being divorced gets me down. I want to fall into that endless loop of self-pity. And early on in my post-divorce life, that happened a lot. After a while, I learned to deal with it through a variety of means: from grabbing my furry coconuts and moving right along with life, to crying (alone and with others), and to just talking about my feelings with someone else when I started down that path of feeling sorry for myself.
Through the whole thing, my family has been an incredible and stable base of support for me. If there were ‘sides’ to be chosen, they infallibly chose mine. I can’t even begin to thank them enough for that. In addition to my own feelings, I had to face the fact that my divorce didn’t just affect me: my whole family had it rough. I may be the only one who actually got some sense of closure out of the whole thing.
At first, I didn’t want to talk about my divorce with my family at all – especially not my parents, who’ve been married for over 30 years. I’m the eldest of 6 cousins, and to a certain extent, the one that everyone looks up to, vis-a-vis “what happens next in life”. In a way, I’ve had to set an example for them as to how divorce is handled (none of my aunts or uncles are divorced, either). As a family, we’re all still dealing with the fact that the eldest of the cousins is divorced. I still have side conversations at family gatherings with my aunts and uncles about what happened and how I’m doing/coping.
The example I’ve tried to set is that of keeping a stiff upper lip, while still remaining open about the whole thing. I try to be as honest as possible in our conversations – especially about my feelings. I don’t go all John Wayne or Ernest Hemingway on them. Oh, I definitely man-up, but not to the extent that I’m covering up my feelings about my divorce.
On the whole, I’ve learned (through trial and error) that the best way for me to navigate my post-divorce life has been to be honest and up-front about it in all aspects of my life. If I’m having a hard time, I talk to someone about it. If someone asks me about my divorce, I answer as honestly as I can. Sometimes, this means saying “I don’t know” or “I hadn’t really thought about that”. This is true for family, friends, or dates.
So that’s it for me. Don’t forget to jump over to TNR’s blog to read what she has to say about navigating the post-divorce afterlife.