“I don’t gossip…” was the line that caught my eye in a recent post I read. The blogger then went on a jealous rant about the divorced women in her neighborhood, a new “cougar heaven” of sorts in her eyes.
Here’s a summary of how she described these single women:
Pretty and smelling of perfume, with polished nails, perfect pedicures, and fresh blonde highlights. They frequent the gym, lose weight and wear skinny jeans out to bars where they sip expensive martinis purchased by their potential new mates who court them with compliments and witty conversation. On the other evenings, the divorcees stay home watching good chic flicks in their quiet and childless houses, sleeping in the next morning because their kids are visiting with their daddies.
Sounds like the life, doesn’t it?
In the blogger’s defense, she’d recently gone through a break up of her own, and was probably overwhelmed by the amount of competition out there.
As a divorcee myself, I see there are some blasphemous fallacies that need to be cleared up here. Gossip is still gossip, even if you don’t name names. Fifty percent of the population is divorced, so it’s a huge group of broads to be picking on. We stick together, since we’re all swimming in the same pool of outcasts banned by marital society.
I’ll admit that during the initial honeymoon period of being single again, I had my moments of euphoria. I loved having the bed to myself, sleeping diagonally sprawled from corner to corner. I cooked what I liked the way I liked, or just didn’t cook at all if I wasn’t hungry. I had some lovely nights alone on my deck with a nice cut of steak, good red wine, and music of my choice. After many years of trying unsuccessfully to please someone else, I only had to focus on myself. The months of having quiet and space were heavenly.
Having no one to answer to, I spent a lot more time with my girlfriends. That is, the girlfriends whose husbands didn’t mind them out carousing with me, surrounded by all those hungry studs waiting in bars for vulnerable babes like us.
But those are just some of the moments. The euphoria wears off, and the aloneness sets in. Not necessarily loneliness, but the reality that everything is now solely your responsibility, and there’s no one to share the burden.
Many more moments of a day in the life of a divorced woman are filled with anger, resentment, shame, despair, sadness and grief. The realization that I had very little control over most things was overwhelming. I constantly faced self-doubt in the mirror, along with his buddy, failure. Although most didn’t consider divorce as an option when they got married, I was devastated when that was where I wound up. After fourteen years of marriage and the vision of a beach house and a convertible almost within my grasp, I gave up my dream of traditional family life for the three “S”s – safety, sanity and self respect.
I couldn’t control how my ex-husband would react, or how my children would, either. I couldn’t control how our families would feel, or how our friends would deal with the split. Yes, you lose life long friends in the process, too.
Then there was the looming weight of finances. Even if you’re the breadwinner, which I was not, keeping up the same lifestyle with only one salary, and one adult to run the household and to parent – even if their dad is a proactive parent, the kids are usually with the mom most of the time. Compromises, negotiations, and sacrifices were and are part of each day.
So divorced women are left with very little we can control, and how we look is one of those things. It’s easy to throw on a fresh coat of polish, buy a new lipstick, and an outfit or two on clearance. It’s invigorating to get all gussied up and be looked at and admired out in public places. It’s refreshing to suddenly be concerned again with waxed bikini lines and how shapely your calves are when you wear high heels. These are welcome distractions from the unknown future of being an “ex”.
A period of rediscovery was necessary, at least for me, to get through such a hellacious time. The struggle to find the salvageable pieces of myself that were left was a daunting one; an opportunity to redefine who I was and get closer to who I was before.For me it was like going back to the chrysalis stage, waiting to see what kind of butterfly I’d emerge as this time. But don’t be fooled by our decorative cocoons. On the inside, we can feel like ugly, helpless moths a lot of the time, while voices of doubt, and judgmental stares from strangers make us quiver and second guess just what the hell we were thinking by breaking loose. Going back to square one with all sorts of baggage and issues, with pasts so unattractive that no matter how pretty we are we can’t deny them as ours.
So the next time you encounter a divorcee with flushed cheeks, a sparkle in her eye, and newly whitened teeth, remember that the outside is in tact to hold together the inside while it heals.