Thankful - lessons I've learned to stay whole and healthy

Image from Lauren Conrad.com 
It's been ages since I posted an article on this blog. There are many reasons for this - health, work, family. Family most of all. My parents are aging rapidly and they need my help, and I've undergone a couple of operations, one on my right knee, which hasn't improved the situation much. From your comments I see that I have hit quite a few nerves, so I will continue.

Enough about me. I realized today - Thanksgiving 2013 - how thankful I am for so many things. It's been 12 years since my divorce and I now think of myself as a single woman of independent means through hard work and personal effort. There are times when I miss my ex with a longing that I can't explain, but at other times I realize that he is the one who is missing out on spending the rest of his life with me, someone who adored and loved him with all her heart.

I used to sing to him :"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" Guess not.

Today, on this day of thanks, I am thankful for:

3. Gainful employment. I've been on the road for 5 weeks, spending only 6 days at home. My job is fulfilling, if not hectic, and comes with full benefits. Better yet, it's survived this terrible economy. Oh, I've worked hard to keep my position, attending classes over the years to receive graduate certificates and going to conferences and workshops. As I age (it gets harder by the years to keep up with the "young-uns") I struggle to maintain my energy. My young colleagues are full of vigor and new ideas, and have no trouble multi-tasking during the day and playing hard at night. While they attend parties and events and go to restaurants, I spend my weekends recouping my energy and harvesting my resources. Still, I feel proud that I landed on my feet. My ex and my friends never predicted that I would amount to anything much in the workplace - but here I am - working with programs across the state, providing resources and technical advice and training, and working with top state agencies. Sometimes I pinch myself and say, "You go, girl."

I attribute my success to those bleak days after my divorce, when the only thing I had going for me was hard work. A friend of mine is experiencing tough emotional times and is begging me to pile the work on so she can keep busy. I get where she's coming from.

2. My health. After my divorce I concentrated on exercising and eating well - habits that are saving me now. If you are going through the trauma of divorce, don't neglect your physical well being. Walking, exercising at the gym, biking, running, lifting weights - all these physical exertions will give you a sense of control during a time when you feel as if the rug has been pulled from under you. Drinking, smoking, and eating excessively will work against you. I know. I've tried all three tactics. You need to stay healthy and feed your brain to think clearly. You are fighting for your survival during this difficult period, and this is no time to resort to "easy" solutions. Oh, these days my health isn't what it should be. I have high blood sugar, could lose 25 lbs, and suffer from a bum knee and asthma. Nevertheless, I can walk 2-3 miles at a clip, still work like a work horse, and have fooled others into thinking that I am 15 years younger than my real age. I attribute my health to the good habits I've maintained 80% of my adult life.

1. Family. When all is said and done, family keeps us strong. Friends come and go. Family is forever. I learned this late in life. My ex did not like my family. For 20 years I was lucky to see them 2 or 3 times per year. While they tried to love Bob, his distant attitude was off putting. One last remark he made, meant to be derogatory, was that "You are just like your mother." YES, I AM. And gratefully so. Mom is beloved by friends and family. My nieces and nephews from distant lands call her regularly and take vacation time to see her at great cost.While my ex saw a foreign woman with no extraordinary skills, others see my mom as a good listener and loving, kind-hearted soul. The gift of divorce was this - I regained my family. This Thanksgiving I am surrounded by a brother and sister-in-law, nieces and nephew, grand nieces and nephews, and parents who embrace me. I visit once or twice a month and am surrounded by love. Yet, when I was married, all I heard was complaints about their shortcomings. I loved my ex's parents and siblings. What is even more interesting is that this year his niece and brother have visited me, telling me how much they miss me and how much they miss him. He has lost contact with them, while I have not.

Riches are not in things - they are in the people you love - your family and friends and neighbors. This Thanksgiving I am so grateful for so many blessings. I wish you and yours well! - Vic

P.S. My sincere apologies for the spam. I was not aware of the enormous number of spam comments, which I have largely removed. I will be more vigilant from now on. Your heartfelt and earnest conversation should not be cheapened by the self-serving comments that littered this blog.


Divorced after 44 years

I talked with my mother this morning. (I am so blessed to still have her and treasure each of our conversations.) She told me about a couple from high school. "Did I remember them?" she asked.

"Yes, but not clearly," I said.

"He's left her for a 57-year-old woman he met during scuba diving lessons. They were both taking the same class."

"How long were they married?"

"Forty-four years."

That's all I needed to know. My heart goes out to this woman who married her high school sweetheart, raised children with him, and saw his business grow to the point where they owned four houses - their main residence and three vacation homes.

I met them once shortly after my own divorce - they were a good looking couple who had lived the American dream and were enjoying all the good things they had worked so hard to acquire. When he decided to take scuba diving lessons I doubt that she had reason to worry. She wasn't into it (neither am I - even snorkeling gives me an awful sense of the ocean closing in on me). She had always encouraged her husband's need for adventure, and the scuba lessons were just another phase. When you love your spouse, you encourage them to pursue their interests. I believe this whole heartedly. Interestingly, my brother's reaction was that if the wife had taken those lessons with her husband, then this bad thing wouldn't have happened to her.

The cheating husband fell in love with his paramour, liking her sense of adventure, and left his wife and grown children in favor of a new life and woman. He left despite knowing that his children loathed him for leaving their mother and won't have anything to do with him as long as he is with HER.

My mom didn't have to tell me anything about the abandoned wife's emotional state. I know. We all know, don't we? She's experiencing horrific emotional pain. She's in the depths of despair and mourning. Almost everything in her life has changed. She's feeling betrayed and as if she's walking on quicksand. Nothing feels solid. Her self-confidence is gone, she's probably depressed, and all the joy has been sucked out of her.

Mom told me she was an old-fashioned woman, meaning that she has never had to work. Mom's first worry was: "How will she find a job?"

I reminded her that with four houses on the market she would probably be financially well off (better off than most of us). I am sure her grown children are there to support her, and will help her find a lawyer and secure her finances. But at the end of the day she will be alone in bed, consumed with fear for the future, feeling abandoned, and wondering "Was it my fault?" "What could I have done?"

Nothing really. While it takes two to make a marriage, and while no one in a divorce is completely blameless, there is absolutely nothing one can do, short of blackmail or other desperate measures, to prevent a spouse from deserting the marriage once their mind is definitely made up.

I hope she isn't kicking herself and blaming herself for not taking those scuba lessons with him. This is no time for recrimination. More than anything, she needs to be kind to herself, as if she is her own best friend. Regrets, "what ifs", and "shoulds" must be set aside - subjecting yourself to such circular thoughts prevents clear thinking and slows down the process of healing. (My mom, bless her, allowed me to get on my pitty pot for 15 minutes per day, then she would bluntly tell me to get off. This gave me an opportunity to vent my feelings - which ranged from anger, to fear, to grieving - without dwelling too long on the negative. Negative emotions, my wise mother believes, are poisonous and prevent healthy healing from taking hold.)

During the first month of our separation I was hopeful, thinking initially that marriage counseling would help my situation. All it did was convince my ex that his decision to abandon me was the right one. One lawyer advised me: "Once a spouse leaves with furniture (my ex had taken the guest room furniture, all his clothes, and the contents of his office) the chances of his returning are close to zero." This very astute individual gave me this advice when, in desperation, I was seeking a legal way to slow down the divorce. I simply wasn't ready to deal with all these rapid changes.

"Too bad," he said. Instead of holding my hand and sympathizing with me, he coolly told me to assess my situation and salvage what I could financially. Looking back, his advice was sound. But at the time, during the height my grieving phase, I thought him callous and cold.

My advice to my old high school chum, if she were to ask, would be to choose your friends wisely. You'll need a positive, clear-thinking support system to help you get through the worst months. Choose your lawyer coolly. Make sure this individual has the expertise and know-how to advocate for you in the manner that reflects your philosophy.

I did not choose the first lawyer who crossed my path. The first one, a casual friend, advised me to withdraw all the money from our joint account and stash it away. I knew this would be a declaration of war and I did not seek her advice again. (Interestingly, my ex closed our joint account a month later, leaving me with nothing but $2,000. He paid the mortgage and utility bills, but I worked 3 part-time jobs at $7 - $8 an hour so I could eat, buy work clothes, purchase gas, and the like.)

The second lawyer gave me excellent advice, but I could not afford him.

A third lawyer handed me wads of tissues as I cried, and a folder with a stash of papers 1/2" thick. I was to ferret out all the financials so that I could take my ex to the cleaners. All I wanted was what I was due, which was a 50-50 split. So I left.

We (my ex and I) then both opted for a mediator who helped to divide our assets. Another lawyer friend told me: "The time to draw up the documents is when you are both slightly unhappy with your agreement. There will NEVER be a time when both of you will feel content. Some divorces are drawn out (and become prohibitively costly) over emotional issues that will never be resolved by the things you own. Don't put your equity at risk because you are angry or hurt, and want to win at all cost." That was such good advice. Letting go is the hardest but the most mature thing to do. When I reached a point were I was slightly unhappy, I stopped negotiating.

I then turned to a lawyer to draw up the legal documents and make sure that everything we agreed upon was included. He said to me: "You've got a good deal. Most women would never get this much." I took umbrage and said, "I am getting 50% after 26 years. How is that a good deal? It is a FAIR deal."

As I was fighting for my financial security and trying to think logically, I cried. I cried in the car. Cried in the lawyer's office. Cried quietly at my desk at work. Cried in the movie theater and while grocery shopping. Cried in the bathrooms of my friends' houses, so they wouldn't see me sad.

I began wearing dark sunglasses so people would not notice my puffy eyes. I cried so much at home that my poor rescue dog's emotional stability was seriously affected. He was going through his own issues of abandonment, and here he had the bad luck to get a mistress who was miserable most of the time. It took him two years to feel comfortable in my home, poor doggie, but in the end we loved each other so much that all was forgiven.

I imagine that my former high school acquaintance is going through a similar miserable phase just now. I will tell her, if she ever asks me, that this phase is temporary. Oh, it will feel like it will never end, but (unbelievable as it may seem) it will.

I would tell her to find something to be passionate about, something that will take her outside of herself and that will fill her life with meaning. For me it was writing this blog and opening my house to two Lost Boys from the Sudan. For another friend it was buying an old farm house and raising chickens, I kid you not. For my divorced sister-in-law it was cultivating her love for books and becoming a librarian.

My last piece of advice to her would be this: Keep yourself open to all the possibilities. Don't put road blocks in place and don't hide behind a wall of fear. Don't let anger rule you. Follow your passions. Use your talent. Find a way to move on, and trust that something new will emerge. Life will go on. It will just be different.


The Stress of Divorce

No one can predict how they will react to the stress of divorce until it happens to them.

I never thought that the time would come when my soul mate would leave me. We had survived over 26 years of marriage, the first six of which we worked during the day and attended school at night. We could not sell our first house and had to carry a mortgage while paying rent and attending school, never knowing we qualified for food stamps. We never felt poor, you see, and regarded our life as a big adventure.

We bought our second house during the early eighties when double digit mortgages were the norm, and did not finish paying back our school loans until well into our forties. I enjoyed only 5 years of financial good times before my husband got restless and left.

At 50 I was caught flat footed and completely by surprise. We had weathered so many storms to achieve our dreams. I was sure we were coasting into the third chapter of our lives together, which included plans for travel and building a lake house.

The stress of his leaving was so overwhelming that the pain felt physical. I didn't know where to turn, and so at times I simply curled up in a ball and cried until I was spent. Everything I ate tasted like chalk, and I spent my free time exercising as if to exorcise my demons. I worked three jobs, and ran myself ragged trying to maintain the house alone and learning the ins and outs of finding a good lawyer. I was in survival mode. I lost weight, took anti-depression drugs, and got a dog so I would have a reason to come home after work.

Looking at the pain that Demi Moore is going through, I can heartily sympathize with her. Drugs and alcohol provide only temporary relieve, and sleepless nights take their toll. One must live through the pain, fear, loneliness, bewilderment, and sense of failure and betrayal - there is no way to escape it, as I am sure Demi is learning.

One can see the pain in the recent photographs of Seal and Heidi Klum. Both have that deer in the headlights look and faces devoid of expression, like people in shock. Even though they have put their best feet forward, we divorcees know how hurt they are feeling.

The stress of divorce hits all of us differently. Even when I found someone new shortly after Bob left, I would cry in his arms. Thankfully, he understood (for he was recently divorced), and simply held me. While that rebound relationship did not survive, we are still friends to this day.

When I encounter someone who is going through the raw pain of a recent separation, I make myself available to them. No fear is too trivial. No betrayal is too small to share. I simply let them talk.

Sometimes, as a few readers of this blog have commented, time does not heal all wounds. We simply learn to go on and live our lives in a different way than we intended.


January, the month for divorces

I certainly didn't know on January 4th, 2000 - the day that my husband informed me he was abandoning our marriage - that January is known as "Divorce Month" and that the first Monday of the year is known as "Divorce Day". This makes sense, of course, since the spouse that is leaving probably made it their New Year's resolution to opt out of the marriage.

During our last holiday together, I did not understand Bob's cold/ice cold to freezing moods. On October 30th he had held my hand as we attended a local festival and told me how much he loved me; by January 5th he had taken the guest room furniture and his desk, books, and clothes and moved into an apartment he had found in early December. I asked him why he had waited to leave me, why not before Christmas? He did not want to ruin my holiday, he said. (As if I would not notice his scowls when he looked at me and constant disapproval of everything I did.)

Bob's treatment of me during the subsequent months ended my respect for him, thankfully so, for I cannot love someone I do not respect. And so, within 11 months of his departure, after 26 years of marriage and 32 years of friendship, Bob got his divorce, a new fiancee, and a new life. I got the house, a job, and a dog, and, due to a drastic loss of appetite, finally lost the 40 lbs. I'd been meaning to lose for the past decade.

If you have come to this blog seeking answers, I'm afraid I have none. I can tell you that the raw emotions you are experiencing are shared by many others going through divorce, and that I too felt the extreme hurt and pain and bewilderment that you are feeling now.

Just know that you have family and friends you can depend on. Just know that in the fullness of time, your world, which now feels horribly out of kilter, will right itself again. Just know that you are worth loving and that you will be loved again.


Dealing With Anxiety After Divorce

It happened suddenly when I was walking my dog - my heart raced painfully in my chest, I felt faint, and I struggled to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack.

  • Surge of overwhelming panic
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling and shaking
I ran to my doctor, who diagnosed an anxiety attack. He put me on Lexapro, which I took for 3 months. Friends told me that I appeared lethargic and not myself. Some friends, who had heretofore been put of by my forceful personality, found me "more pleasing."

More pleasing? Hell no! I had a reputation for being feisty, thankyouverymuch.

As soon as I felt that I could deal with the consequences of the end of my marriage, I weened myself off the drug. Instead, I found other more natural ways to deal with my worries:
  1. Forging new friendships
  2. Regular Exercise
  3. Pursuing new hobbies
  4. Gardening
  5. Immersing myself in meaningful work
  6. Helping others and rescuing a dog
  7. Counseling and support groups
  8. Self-help books
Since that initial episode I've experienced other manifestations of anxiety in the form of asthma attacks, hives, and eczema. Knowledge is a powerful healing tool. Each time I exhibited a new symptom, I looked up its cause and dealt with the problem naturally.

Exercise, diets, and friendships are powerful deterrents to the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety. I recommend these natural prescriptions over those dealt out by well-meaning medicine men, for natural means, while also addictive, work better than artificial, mind-numbing drugs.


Life After Divorce: Living in the Moment

I recently wrote a post about my fear for the future and my old age. One way that I combat my anxiety is to concentrate on the present - the beauty of the sunset, a peaceful morning, success in completing my projects, and enjoyment of the book I am reading.

I look to my dog for guidance. He is happy when he is fed or simply near me, and looks anxious when he is confused or lost. Once he deals with his immediate problems, he is at peace again, for he lives in the moment. I wish I could just simply ... be, like Cody.

Fear of the future and dwelling on past mistakes are powerful deterrents to happiness. I struggle every day to find my balance, reduce my anxiety, and find a sense of contentment. There are days when I am able to let go. That's when I enjoy life the most.


Divorce Party Invitation

Now here's something to wrap your mind around: divorce party invitations. As this blog states:
Most divorce parties are held when a couple is finally independent of one another, in other words, when the divorce is finalized. An alimony party may be held a year or so after the divorce, when the one party is no longer paying alimony to their past spouse. Most divorce/alimony parties are centered around the divorcee and are filled with cocktails, great food and good times, be it at a club or a back yard barbecue with friends…it’s like a backwards bachelorette party, celebrating the person’s newfound single territory!
A sign of the times? As one niece once told me, "My first marriage will be for practice."


How Long Does is Take to Recover from Divorce?

I recall my lawyer and counselor telling me that it would take five years to recover from divorce. "FIVE YEARS?!" I screeched. That seemed like a lifetime. In a sense they were right. It took 2 years to emerge from my shell and craft a new life, and another 3 years before I felt like myself again. I emerged as a new person with a new lifestyle, new friends, and new goals. This process took much reflection and time.

Each person recovers according to their own time line. It is important to feel the pain, however, and to reflect on the part you played in the ending of your marriage.

One thing I learned: Although I went kicking and screaming into the divorce, I emerged a stronger person. I had a more realistic sense of who I was and what I was capable of doing. There was one other important point I realized: If Bob ever asked to return, I would not in a million years take him back, for I have moved on.


Facing My Future as An Older, Divorced Worker

I've reached a point in my life where all I want is some distance from emotional turmoil and financial want, but as a single, divorced, and childless person who has entered her 60s I am confronted with so many new issues, that at times I am almost paralyzed with fear and indecision.

In my 20's I used to sing the Beatles' "When I'm 64" to my young husband:
"Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I'm 64?"
Need me, feed me, indeed. Those words have come to haunt me this past decade, for it is clear that I have become my own nurturer and will be my sole source of support as I enter my golden years. My savings have been eroded by our nation's terrible economic downturn, and the nest egg I had saved has been reduced substantially.

I had a serious discussion recently with my geriatric parents about my fears for the future. They are still married and living in an addition built onto my brothers' house. My brother, bless his generous heart, looks after them daily. He is still married, surrounded in the same city by his three children, their spouses, and their families. His plans for his old age are solid and he is certain that he will bask in the support of his children and their offspring. My parents bask in my brothers' support and mine.

But what about me?

As I reminded my parents, I am childless and live in a distant city. Oh, I am not complaining, for it is the reality of my life and a consequence of the decisions I made. While I am loved by my nieces and nephew, they would probably not put themselves out for their auntie as much as for their parents. That's just the way it is.

When it comes time for me to retire, sell my house, and move into assisted living, I will largely be alone. Most of my single friends will also be facing the same situation. The prospect of losing control of my life as I age fills me with dread and a great deal of uncertainty.

Many of us who have been through divorce in our mature years are faced with a future that we had not planned on. I was optimistic in my youth, thinking that I would travel extensively with my husband in our retirement and reap the benefits of our hard work. Instead, I was forced to embark on a serious career in my 50s. While my ex has retired with his new wife, I am still working 9-5.

While I am able to compete intellectually with my young co-workers, it has been at great physical and emotional expense. It takes me all weekend to recover from my high-stress job. I no longer party on Friday and Saturday nights, but choose to nurture myself on Saturday and Sundays, taking frequent naps and resting.

There are times when I simply can't envision my future. The thought of being alone in my 70's without sufficient retirement funds is too much contemplate.


Supporting Someone Going Through Divorce

Have you landed on this blog because you are looking for ways to help a friend or relative who is going through a divorce? Here's what helped me:

  • 100% acceptance - give your friend a safe non-judgmental environment to vent. But don't participate in the blame game. That only makes things worse.
  • Be someone who understands that your friend's pain is real - do not bring up individuals who have had it worse, like widows or burn victims, or say "at least you have your children", or "thank goodness you don't have children," or "you have your looks and health, you will find someone soon again." Those phrases diminish the real pain that your friend is experiencing at that moment.
  • Promise secrecy - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Private matters that have been disclosed to you should not be shared with others, not even your spouse.
  • Provide your friend with a shoulder to cry on - let them talk; sometimes that is all they need, but place a time limit on their pity pot talk. Change the subject if your friend starts to rehash familiar territory. They need to grieve first and then let their anger out, but it is not good for them to mull over the same set of offenses over and over again.
  • Give them hugs - remember that someone going through divorce has lost physical contact with their life's mate, and that hugs are better than medicine.
  • Provide your friend with your logic and ability to think straight - depression affects the brain. Remember, your friend is filled with anxiety and there are times when he or she can't plan strategically at all. Refer your friend to experts and self-help groups, or help them sort through the myriad of bewildering topics they will need to address - lawyers, realtors, job searches.
  • Include your friend in fun outings and invite them to parties and events - even if they don't feel like going. This especially holds true for women, who are often dumped from the party circuit for reasons that are mystifying.
  • Keep in touch with regular calls, text messages, and via Facebook, Twitter, and cards - your friend may not respond, but these evidences of caring help. They'll come round and respond eventually.
  • Be an honest friend - this takes diplomacy, but if you see self-destructive behavior, have the courage to step in and stop it.
  • Give them a way to pay you back - your friend will feel such a sense of gratitude for your support that they will want to thank you in a significant way. Let them, or ask them to pay it forward.
  • Drive them or their children - many separated people are unable to share the load of driving, which becomes evident as time passes. Offer to drive when you go on a shared outing, or to take their children to their events. It's the little details that count and provide relief.
Do you have other tips on how to help a friend going through divorce or separation? Please leave a comment!


Why Brad Pitt's Comments About His Marriage to Jennifer Aniston Are Crass

During and after a divorce, the less said about one's former spouse the better. I am sure that at this point Brad Pitt would agree with me and wished that he had taken the high road when it came to commenting on his relationship with his ex.

Ever since my divorce I've acquired two new habits that I can't seem to shake: I can no longer watch Divorce Court, yet at the same time I am eerily attracted to articles about divorced couples, especially celebrities. Tom Cruise left Nicole Kidman around the time that my husband deserted our marriage, and thus I probably know as many details about their split as were printed in the press. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston separated at the same time that my post-divorce relationship broke up. My guy left me for someone else, and thus I felt great empathy for Aniston.

Since their divorce neither Cruise, Kidman, nor Aniston have had much to say about their defunct marriages and rightly so. What went on in their private lives is really none of our business. Somehow Pitt and Jolie have felt no such restraint, prompting Aniston to say at one point that a sensitivity chip was missing.

In July 2005, before his divorce to Aniston was finalized the following October, Pitt was photographed with Jolie for a glossy magazine spread for W magazine as an ideal couple in Domestic Bliss. (See image.) They were seen spartling on a South African beach with her adopted children even as they denied having an affair. A few years later, Jolie was quoted as saying that she felt great joy knowing that her children would someday learn that their parents fell in love while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith (debunking her own denial about breaking up Pitt's and Aniston's marriage).

Recently Pitt made public statements about how boring his life was during his marriage to Aniston, and how he's found fulfillment with Jolie. Aniston has wisely not responded, but the public outcry on her behalf forced Pitt to backtrack and explain that he considered himself boring at the time, not Aniston.

I find it fascinating that these two lovers, whose lives are presumably filled with children and new found happiness, still find it necessary to make comments about an event that occurred in their lives seven years ago. The lesson, if Pitt and Jolie are willing to learn it, is to simply keep their mouths shut and move on.

In my own life I have discovered that the less I say about my marriage or divorce, the more comfortable people are around me. If someone asks a question, I will answer it without revealing personal details that are no one's business but my ex's and my own. The moment I step over that boundary (and I have at times, I am human after all) I can sense a change in my listeners. They feel either uncomfortable or titillated, neither of which are good reactions.

It is hard for friends to remain neutral and give good advice if they are told all the sordid details of a broken relationship. Usually such information is one-sided and slanted towards making the teller seem sympathetic. The listener can commiserate only so long before beating a hasty retreat, for even the best of friends becomes tired of hearing the same rehashed story over and over. Most of us know that the truth lies somewhere in-between, and while we want to help our friends through rough times, this can only be accomplished by respecting the boundaries of love and friendship.

That Pitt was willing to step over those boundaries and reveal such highly personal information to strangers for the sake of publicity was absolutely wrong.


Tips on Dating as a Senior

Tips on Dating as a Senior is an article written by guest writer, Allison Gamble:

Divorced seniors often find themselves overwhelmed when they attempt to reintegrate themselves into the dating world. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that dating can be challenging in and of itself, but if you are older and newly single, it may seem as though there are numerous obstacles to overcome. Some seniors may become so frustrated at the dating process that they may give up or avoid dating altogether. An open mind and the adherence to a few simple guidelines can help mean the difference between dating frustration and success.

As the saying goes, a first impression is always a lasting impression. Your initial chitchat can mean the difference between a second date or an early departure.

First date dialogue that contains hours of criticism or reminiscence about relationships past is an indicator that you are not ready to move on to a different relationship. It is important to give anyone that you are dating a fair chance for a trusting relationship. If you find yourself unable to trust anyone, you may want to do some evaluation and try to understand why. If you are unable to make adjustments to allow yourself to love and trust again, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you get over the hurt and pain from your prior relationship, make you stronger and enable you to start anew.

If you are newly divorced, avoid jumping into a serious relationship too soon, or giving the impression of it during your first date conversation. It's easy to scare someone off by moving forward too quickly. Furthermore, a relationship on the rebound is almost never successful in the end, and you could ruin your chances of long-term success. Allow yourself adequate time to heal before jumping back into the dating pool in order to ensure that you are emotionally ready and available to begin a new relationship. Make sure that you have truly let your old relationship go, and that you are now ready and able to start anew. This will create the best chances for success and help ensure an enjoyable first date.

Maintain your expectations. It is not uncommon to envision perfection, particularly when reentering the dating world after a divorce or the death of your spouse. Always bear in mind that searching for perfection will leave you lonely and frustrated – nobody’s perfect. It might be helpful to create a small wish list of traits that are important to have in a mate, as well as those that are incompatible with your lifestyle. However, interrogating someone on the first date to see if they meet your criteria is a no-no. Allow the conversation to flow naturally, and take your time getting to know someone.

According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, online dating has become an extremely popular option for seniors, but can be risky . Online dating is a great way to meet a variety of new and interesting people; you can weed out suitors with whom you share common interests, who look interesting or attractive, and it’s a low-pressure way to dip your toes back into the dating world since you don’t have to worry about face-to-face rejection.

But the Internet also comes with its own share of pitfalls. Internet safety should be carefully observed during any online Internet interactions. Use caution prior to meeting someone that you have met on the Internet so that your safety is not compromised during your meeting. It can be too easy to reveal too much private information about yourself, which could compromise your safety. Disclose information slowly as you gain trust in the person you are chatting with, especially during an initial conversation.

If you have a special hobby or interest that you enjoy, you may want to consider joining some type of group or hobby club in order to give you the opportunity to find someone who shares common interests. Whether it's dancing, bingo or museums that tickle your fancy, associating yourself with the right group will increase the odds that you will find someone compatible. Finding someone who has similar interests can help create a foundation for first date bonding that can easily be expanded into something more. If you don't have any hobbies, consider trying something new to help occupy your time and give you the opportunity to meet new people. Often, just being able to leave the house and socialize can be one of the most challenging aspects of dating, no matter the age.

Try not to be afraid to venture out into the murky waters of dating. You already have the life experience that you need to know what makes you happy and what you enjoy. Use this wisdom to your advantage while playing the dating game and choosing a partner. Your life experience and knowledge make you rich, and will benefit you in the long run, so sit back, relax and enjoy the many pleasures that come with your new availability.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing. http://www.psychologydegree.net/


The Psycho Ex Wife: It's Really About Letting Go

Two blogs, two responses to the aftermath of divorce: one is entitled The Psycho Ex Wife, the other is named Divorced at Fifty. Guess which blogger has been able to largely move on? Me.

I learned about The Psycho Ex Wife, a blog begun in 2007 by Anthony Morelli (right) and his new partner, a woman named Misty Weaver Ostinato, only after it was shut down. The blog's tagline was: "The true account of a marriage, divorce, and subsequent (child) custody fight between a loving man, his terroristic ex-wife who we suspect suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (at least from our armchair psychologist diagnosis), and the husband's new partner."

Unsurprisingly, a judge ordered the blog to be shut down for outright cruelty. Some of Morelli's descriptions of his ex-wife (right), the mother of his two children, include such choice terms as ‘Jabba the Hut’ and a 'black-out drunk'.

Morelli's blog, which also featured discussion groups, was so popular that it attracted 200,000 followers per month. One person who wasn't a fan was his former wife. Apparently Anthony's (and his partner's) continuing and ongoing anger centered around child custody issues. Both natural parents shared joint custody, which in a sensible and sane world seems to be a logical arrangement. But Anthony was not only unhappy, he needed a place to vent, and thus he started his blog. He tried to hide his identity and that of his ex-wife, but unfortunately his kids discovered what their father was doing and asked him to stop.

At the judgment, Judge Diane Gibbons said: "Your children are being hurt because you are bad mouthing the woman they love in public," she said. "Should I put them with the man who is publicly browbeating their mother?" (New York Daily News) Good question. The former Mrs. Morelli heaved a sigh of relief after the hearing, saying ‘What the judge said in court made perfect sense to me. Stop doing what you're doing, and do the right thing for your children’ (Daily Mail)

Anthony's response was to fight the decision on the basis of first amendment rights. Here is the link to the blog today, which has changed its focus to freedom of speech (He is soliciting donations for his court battle.)

I hate to say this, Anthony, but the issue really isn't about First Amendment Rights, it's about letting go of your anger and being a good parent. As a blogger, I understand the need for self expression and that we have the constitutional right to do so. How you go about this is another thing. While Anthony's blog feeds his dissatisfaction and stokes his anger, my blog serves to heal me.

I began my blog a year before Anthony, and found to my delight and amazement that as I wrote about my feelings about divorce, loneliness, and separation, that I was able to let go of much of my sadness, anger, fear, and grief. Oh, there were times when I was tempted to write a truly nasty post about my ex, who I felt was playing games with me, but what would have been the point? How would such posts have helped me to let go and move on?

Anthony needs to answer this question: What's more important - his right to say what he wants when he wants to, or his role as a parent? If his need to express his anger is truly more important than his children's well-being and their desire that he stop hurting their mother in public, then the judge made a good point: why should she place the children with a man who is willing to browbeat their mother in public?

As for his claim that he was giving others with custody issues a forum for discussion, I say that he had a choice to take the high road, one that his children could have been proud of. The biggest gift my divorced mother gave me, a child who always hungered for her father, was not to say one negative thing about him as I was growing up. (As an adult I found out for myself what sort of a man he was, but my mother did nothing to influence those conclusions until I approached her at 19 and began to ask questions, for his behavior confused me. Thank you, Mom.)

Divorce is tough enough on kids without the parents making things worse and using them as pawns or as an excuse to keep their fight going. It seems that Anthony's post-divorce battle with his ex has lasted almost as long as the marriage itself. It's time that he concentrate his immense energies somewhere else - on his children, for instance, and making their happiness his number one priority.

Read More Here:


Loss of Status After Divorce: Or the New Invisibles

Ladies in Lavender Image@Having a Solid Gold Life
A book club friend and I met recently and discussed her recent divorce. (She's my age and was married for 25 years to my 26.)

Sherry (not her name) mentioned that the transition went smoothly. She and her husband knew that they would be divorcing for a number of years, about 4 or 5, but they stayed together for the sake of the children, who were about to graduate from high school and enter college.

He made more than a comfortable living. In fact, their 2-story house was more 6,000 sq ft.and a bargain compared to their digs in New England.

He earned most of the money.

But she was a computer programmer, or coder, and could find a job whenever she needed one. Still, her salary was worth a quarter of his.

Flash forward...

He found a new love and a new life, and she moved out of the house after his insistence that they sell it for its equity. Most of their fabulous furniture would have to go (I bought a beautiful Sheraton sideboard).

He continued living a lavish lifestyle with his Tootsie. She moved into a 2-bedroom, 925 sq foot apartment - alone and happy as a clam.

My opinion of her rose when she entertained us in her much reduced circumstances, uncomplaining and making the most of her new life. She seemed to blossom, losing weight and laughing more than I had ever seen her laugh.

We met several weeks ago over dinner and drinks. After a long, honest conversation,  the one thing that Sherry regretted was her loss of social status. I agreed with her assessment. We were the new invisibles. No one, not our old couples friends or the men our age that we encountered, noticed us much any more.

Here we were, two women of a certain age cast upon the job market in our fifties, having to fend for ourselves, yet rising to the top of our respective professions. We had made it despite the odds! We were paying our bills, our mortgages, adding our own money to our pensions, and pursuing our passions as far as our jobs and personal preferences were concerned.


We both agreed that one of the hardest changes we faced was our loss of social status as wives who had entertained a large cadre of married and professional friends.

We had become invisible to society at large - rarely invited to couples parties or weekends away at a lake house with a group, and no longer noticed by men our age. At best, for me, I was invited to womens' luncheon during the week when I worked, which meant that I had to leave the gathering early.We were regarded as non-entities when we did receive the rare invitation to social events with both men and women, finding ourselves seated with other single ladies.

As married hostesses we both had invited single women and single men to our homes to fill in the odd chair at the dining table or attend our barbecues and picnics and mingle, mingle, MINGLE! I took it as a point of pride to make no distinction between couples or singles when I made up my guest lists. After my divorce, I discovered that my married friends were not equally inclined. As one coolly honest "friend" said to me, "It isn't personal, really, but you are a reminder of how fragile marriages can be. Besides, you've made new friends, haven't you?" Color her clueless.

During our most recent outing on a Friday night after work, Sherry and I again commiserated on our loss of social status and largely female lives, but since we were enjoying ourselves and each others' company, we exclaimed, "What the hell!" We clinked our glasses and confirmed our love for each others' company and independent lives, determined not  to dwell too much on the loss of our old couples' friends and our once active social lives.

When I hear music wafting into my yard from a young neighbor's couples party, I still feel an occasional twinge. But not as often as I used to.

More on the topic:


Ryan Reynolds on Divorce

Ryan Reynolds is the successful young actor who was married to Scarlett Johannsen for two years before they divorced. While his face is well known, he keeps his private life quiet. So, it was with some surprise that he opened up as much as he did in this statement:
On not sharing details of his divorce: “I’ll say this: the media was not invited to my marriage, and they’re definitely not invited into the divorce. Anyone who gets divorced goes through a lot of pain, but you come out of it. I’m not out of it yet. At all. But I sense that as I do come through it, there’s optimism. How can there not be? I don’t think I want to get married again, but you always reevaluate these things. Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up. I gotta say, I’m a different person than I was six months ago.” - Ryan Reynolds, Interview in Details
I was struck by how genuinely he expressed his emotions. Whereas he answered other questions flippantly, his comments about coming through and being optimistic could have been said by me. I too am on the fence about remarriage and, like Ryan, the divorce woke me up and turned me into a different person. Smart young man. I think he will land on his feet.

Image @Details magazine


Broken Foot, Single & Divorced

Living alone in a house meant for a family, one with four bedrooms, three baths, and a yard, is not easy for a single person. Unlearning years of habits, in which one's spouse played an integral part, is painful. One's automatic expectations kick in. At first, just after the separation, the continual shocks one feels are surprising and come at the most unexpected moments. Your automatic greeting, "Honey, I'm home," is met with silence. The garbage doesn't get picked up during the first week, since that was your spouse's job. Even the side of the bed you sleep in largely comes out of habit. (After two months, I moved to the side closest to the bathroom and bedroom door, which felt strange and somehow disloyal at first.)

After a while you develop new habits. This takes time.

I've found ways to cope with my single state and large house. I can't sell it for what it is worth, or find a more affordable place, so I am putting up with its size for economic reasons. James comes once a week to mow my yard for $20. That low price is as a result of my having planted ground cover over much of my front and back yards, leaving only a few patches of grass. I've rented out the downstairs walk out basement (with kitchenette, which I had installed and separate door entrance), to a young man, who can help carry heavy loads. I've converted my largest guest room into an office/entertainment room, where I spend most of my time. The formal areas remain largely unused and are ready at a minute's notice for guests.

But now I have broken my foot in two places. The doctor says the bones will take 3-4 months to heal, which means that I cannot walk my dog or clean my house as I would like to. My renter, Gary, has been marvelous, walking my pooch 3 times a day, but he is gone for the weekend. Yesterday, a neighbor kindly walked my dog at 2 PM, and a friend made dinner, cleaned my kitchen, and took out the garbage. Another one will come over at 12 PM to walk my pup, who is confused and restless, for he is accustomed to being walked four or five times per day.

I am fencing in a larger area of my yard, so that my little terrier can run to his heart's delight. Tomorrow I will make arrangements to work from home, for I must keep my foot elevated for at least a full week and try to stay off it for a month.

After my divorce, I thought learning to live alone again was challenging. I came at first to accept it and then to like it. Now, living such a long distance from my closest relatives, I realize how vulnerable we single, older people are. It becomes tiring always depending on others to fill the gap that a spouse once filled.

I went grocery shopping in an electric cart. (ME! Who was walking an hour a day!) And then there are the practical decisions. Who will vacuum, dust, and scrub the bathrooms? for I let my once-a-month cleaning lady go due to finances. Who will do the groceries? for yesterday's excursion caused my foot to swell. Who will be willing to take my dog out 3-4 times per day, every day, until my fence is up? I am cobbling together an army of volunteers and making lists, but 3-4 months is a long time to depend on the kindness of friends, neighbors, and one's very busy renter.

More and more I understand the attraction of marriage, and why so many people are tempted to remarry soon after their divorce. Learning to live with a partner's quirks seems a tad easier than the gargantuan tasks I face this summer. (Although, I know I am wrong. My foot will heal, but a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime.)

I'll take it one step at a time. (No pun intended.) Yesterday I got a handicap tag for my car, and I'll work on getting a doggie fence next. All I can say is about this new development is:"Aaargh!"


Wedding Bell Blues

Royal Wedding tea bags
The first few years after my divorce I could not attend a wedding without crying and feeling cynical at the same time. There I was, in my early fifties, after the dissolution of a 26-year marriage and 32-year friendship, watching a young couple pledging "'Till death do us part." Hah! I would think. Wait until reality sets in.

People with worse marriages than mine were still married. At the time he left, my husband was looking for something new and different. His sister had just married her third husband, and his brother his third wife. I was married for life, but he was looking for ways to extend the excitement in our marriage. He wanted to re-experience the fresh, tender feelings that his siblings and their new spouses were exhibiting. At first he lost weight, bought a motorcycle, purchased a van for his bikes and drove it cross country, took a sabbatical in New Zealand, etc. But nothing would stop the progress of his aging, including his graying wife.And so he started to look at me with jaundiced eyes, until nothing I did was right.

With that experience in mind, I would watch a marriage ceremony with a cynicism that, had the young couple known of my doubts, they would never have invited me.

Time has a strange way of healing. The process is slow and uneven. Although this vestige of bitterness stayed with me for a long time, I knew I had changed when I became caught up in the Wills and Kate Royal Wedding hoopla. I won't be watching the ceremony live, for I will be working. But my cynicism has largely gone. I hope this young couple will find a lifetime of wedded bliss in their gilded fish bowl. Heaven only knows how, but QE2 and Prince Phillip managed to do so.


Stressed and No Way Out

Post divorce-copalypse. That's been my experience this past year. It's been over ten years since my divorce and I thought I was coping. There were times a year and a half ago when I was feeling strong within my self and on top of my finances. Then the economy hit bottom and my pay check was frozen. Prices started to rise. I needed a new car. The roof, which had just been replaced, was leaking. That is when I discovered that the roofers had chiseled me, for they used substandard materials and failed to follow code. So I coughed up my savings for a second new roof in four years, which also leaked. I then borrowed money to fix this problem.

Now I am living from paycheck to paycheck. But, wait! I have a job. Yes, I am grateful that I am one of the working stiffs. But for how long? I am no longer the fast, multi-tasker I once was. With no new staff and many jumping ship because of the pressure, we are still required to provide as many services as before, if not more. The work keeps piling up.

I've never worked so hard for so little personal satisfaction. This is the 4th weekend in 7 that I've worked just to keep up. I was supposed to take time off - but I spent the half day on Friday working instead. I also worked on Saturday. Today is Easter and my new car wouldn't start. So instead of visiting family, I am all dressed up and home alone.

Given the terrible situation in Japan and the deaths in Syria, my troubles are paltry. But the truth is that I feel a constant tightness in my chest, I am eating for comfort and have gained weight, and I see no pleasure in my days off, since I spend them recovering my energy for the next week's onslaught. I am also deathly afraid of losing my job, for I know the chances of finding another one at my age with a good salary are slim to none.

How did I lose control of my life so quickly? Sometimes I think wistfully back on the days when I had a mate who would shoulder half the house and yard tasks, when I had someone to play and laugh with in bed, when life was hard work, yes, but also offered moments of leisure with friends, trips to the lake, and vacations to exotic places.

I've tried working just from 9 - 5:30. But that tactic put me farther and farther behind, to the point where I can catch up only if I work nights and weekends. I called a good friend this morning after my car wouldn't start and burst into tears. He didn't know what to say. I knew then that I had reached the end of my rope.

I'm going to try doing something I haven't done in a long time - and that is to chill out, read a book, and sit and do nothing but listen to the birds. Their spring voices are so lovely.

Besides, this is the only vacation I can grab. Does anyone else out there feeling stressed? What are some of your solutions?

Hint: If you are a single woman of a certain age, the best yearly investment is an AAA membership. This investment has reaped more benefits than I can count and has given me peace of mind. From flat tires, locked in keys, towing, and battery problems, Triple A has come to my rescue at least twice a year.

Image: The Scream @Wikimedia Commons


Retirement is Not in My Future

After the financial debacle of 2008 I realized that I could not soon retire. One of the reasons that I stopped writing regularly for this blog is that there were some worrying matters to tend to, and I did not want to transfer all my anxiety into my writing. I am not an extravagant person and I have no debts, but when one's retirement nest egg drops by 33%, no amount of thriftiness will make up for such a huge loss. At present, my investments have crept up to 2008 levels, but I no longer trust the system.

I noticed on the university website that Bob is now retired. When we split, I received the house and he retained his retirement savings. He taught for over 20 years, which means that he left with a hefty severance package. He has started a financial business concern and is realizing his dream of piling on money.

I began working full time at 51. You do the math. If I am lucky and can stay healthy, I can retire in ten years at 71. Even then my pension will be no more than $2,300 per month. Add social security benefits and deduct the cost of health care, and I am staring at a significant drop in my income.

I refuse to allow my worry about my financial future to take over my life; but that constant niggling pressure is starting to affect my sleep. If the economy keeps tanking and if I should lose my job, who would hire a 61 year old woman with preexisting medical conditions and give her full benefits? In this day and age, no one.

For the first time I feel trapped in a job.


It's Those Little Habits You Miss ...

Apart from losing your best friend and life's mate during your divorce, you are also losing your financial security and those daily habits that up to now have made your life predictable and comfortable. One of the first habits I had to overcome was not to shout as I opened the front door, "Bob, I'm home!" For those first few weeks I would rush inside the house to share some news, only to find it empty. I cannot tell you how lonely I felt.

There was no longer a way to divide the household duties. All of a sudden I had to take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and pick up laundry at the dry cleaners, as well as purchase groceries, cook the meals, and clean the house.

I worked three part-time jobs all in different parts of the city; oversaw the maintenance of my 2-story house; went to therapy twice a week; and tried to keep up a social schedule of sorts. One thing I could say for certain - I had very little time to relax and feel sorry for myself.

The changes in my daily routine came as little shocks. I recall that the week after Bob left I had made arrangements to have my car serviced. I asked Bob if he would take me, for ostensibly we were "working at saving our marriage," but he coldly said no. I felt too injured to ask someone to pick me up and take me back to the mechanic's, so I spent that morning in the waiting room at the shop.

One month later we were hit with the worst snow storm in a decade. It was Bob with his strong wrestler's shoulders who would clear the sidewalk and parking area in previous storms; it was Bob's 4-wheel drive vehicle that would get us to the grocery store. I did the best I could, going out every hour to clear my front walk and driveway. That night the snow plows came through and trapped my car behind a wall of ice. My reliable, dependable husband was gone, and I did not have the physical strength to tackle that huge pile of compacted snow. I was trapped in my house, alone, with no one to comfort me. During those moments I despaired and cried the hardest.

But life goes on. My routine changed. I found people who could help me in a pinch. I moved furniture around, changed the side of the bed I slept on, placed a t.v. in my bedroom (a big taboo as far as Bob was concerned), got a dog (another taboo), and generally started to live my life not as a couple but as a single person who no longer needed to accommodate someone else. The small changes felt like self-nurture. I felt emboldened to try new things. And after a while, I recaptured the sense of adventure I felt when I had first moved out of my parents' house.

Oh, I did not take all these steps at once. They were slow and deliberate. I savored each change and felt stronger as I made decisions that used to require compromise. In fact, I am so happy with my new home routine, which suits my personality and bio-rhythm, that I started to wonder if I could ever share my house with someone again.

The answer is yes. Last winter a young female colleague moved temporarily into my house. It was so nice to come home and shout out, "Kate, where are you?" and to cook dinner for two, and to hang around in my jammies on Saturday morning discussing plans for the weekend. When Kate moved out, I felt that familiar sense of loss. But then my new routine, the one that is reserved just for me, kicked in again. That is when I discovered that, no matter what the circumstances, I am fine - with someone or by myself.


Break Up or Blow Up?

Melissa Etheridge and Mel Gibson. You have to be a hermit not to know about their messy relationship blow ups! They have made headlines recently, and both couples have come out with their fists swinging.

I recall the first conversation I had with a lawyer days after my ex moved out of the house. He identified two ways in which an unhappy spouse leaves a marriage. "Some spouses feel guilty when they leave," he said, "and they will be quite accommodating. You need to take advantage of this period and get the best deal you can. Then there's the second type of separation, in which the spouse will torpedo the relationship by lying, stealing or cheating and generally behaving like a louse."

What kind of break up characterizes your separation? I was lucky in that my ex felt guilty for several months. This allowed me to gather my thoughts and attend to my future. Then he met his new girlfriend (and future wife) and his attitude changed. Cruel words were spoken that I recall vividly to this day. But I never had to deal with the nightmarish and unreasonable behavior that so many abandoned spouses must go through.

I discovered one important survival trick soon after Bob moved out: while I could not save my marriage, I could control my behavior. I decided to take the high road and have largely stayed there. Research has shown that people who are able to face the future with a positive attitude and move on recover faster from the pain of divorce than those who wallow in self-pity or rehash old wounds. Here are my suggestions for those who are struggling to cope:
  • Live in the moment. Don't blame yourself for past mistakes or live with regret. Don't fear the future unknown. Take each day as it comes. Reward yourself for small successes. Be KIND to YOURSELF and trust that one day you'll find contentment again.
  • Don't react to a quarreling spouse. By not engaging with them, you take away their power to hurt you.
"In some cases the best way to deal with an unreasonable spouse is not to deal with him or her. No amount of discussion, debate or arguing will change the mind and attitude of a person who is bent on thinking and acting unreasonably. If your spouse truly believes you are a "jerk", then there is no amount of energy you can spend that will change that perception." - From the blog A Woman's Divorce
  • Take charge of the things you can handle. Don't wait for your spouse to take all the action.
  • Don't fool yourself into thinking your spouse will come back. If your spouse has left with clothes and some furniture and moved into an apartment, your marriage is over. My lawyer did not beat around the bush. He told me this in no uncertain terms - I just was not ready or willing to listen. I actually believed that Bob was going to therapy with me to mend our marriage. He was actually going to make the best divorce deal for himself.
  • Pick your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people with positive attitudes and who have only your best interests at heart. (Some friends revel in the drama and add fuel to the fire. Stay away from them.) Don't force your friends or family to choose sides, especially when kids are involved. Take the high road.
  • Listen to your instincts. Don't let others talk you into taking action that you know in your gut is wrong. My family tried to talk me into moving out of my house and to take other drastic action. I have since my divorce made changes in my life, but they were all done on MY terms and on my timeline, not someone else's. If a spouse is totally unreasonable, use a professional mediator to speak on your behalf.
  • Forgiveness is a powerful drug. Forgive yourself. Forgive your spouse. Let petty things go. Concentrate on survival issues and on healing and growth. Don't dwell on inconsequential matters. Don't play the blame game. By letting go you will feel instant relief. There are couples who will spend all their assets on lawyers fighting over inconsequential possessions for months, even years. My friend, a great lawyer, advised me: "When you are both slightly unhappy with the division of your assets, then your negotiations are done."
  • Yes, of course you need to vent your frustration, hurt, and anger. But do this in a "safe" environment. Exercise will help to keep your emotions under control. My mom allowed me to sit for 10 minutes on my pity pot before I had to get off. Those ten minutes, during which she listened quietly as I ranted and raved, allowed me to release a lot of steam. After a while, I simply ran out of anything to say.
  • Cliched as it sounds, time does heal wounds. I am still sad that my wonderful marriage did not last, but I am stronger for having survived a time that I truly thought would kill me.
Other sources:


Dealing With the Humiliation of Being Rejected

The day Bob left our marriage, I could not shake the feeling that I had failed. By moving out of the house, he had made our breakup painfully public. I felt like a loser. It took every ounce of my energy to face the world, and I made pains to put on makeup, curl my hair, and wear a cute outfit before leaving the house. I might have felt like a reject on the inside, but I wanted to go out in public looking like a winner. It was a matter of pride. But I wasn't a celebrity, and no photographers or reporters were hanging outside my door waiting to take a snapshot of me or ask awkward questions.

This is not the case with Sandra Bullock. One moment she was on top of the world both professionally and in her private life, and the next she learned that her marriage was a sham. I was never one of the Jesse James haters. Oh, I wondered what she saw in him at first, and then I watched 'The Apprentice'. I learned to admire the way Jesse held himself back during volatile situations and how he treated the other celebrities with dignity and respect. I began to see what Sandra saw in him. And when she publicly declared how hot he was and how much she loved him during her award speeches, I rejoiced in her happiness. She seemed like a decent person, and she has entertained me in films that I liked, and so I felt kindly towards her. I loved that she kept donating a million here and there after major disasters, most recently the Haiti earthquake, and this told me she had a good heart.

But now she is in hiding and grieving over the loss of her innocence and trust in her husband. We - you and I - can imagine exactly how she felt when she learned the awful truth about her husband: feeling the blood instantly drain from your head, the cold-sinking sensation that you are not dreaming; the tight knot in your chest; the disbelief that your best friend and partner is betraying you; the awful, unbearable pain that seeps through every pore of your body. And then, when you can breathe and think again, the relentless feeling of failure and humiliation.

But in Sandra Bullock's case her heartache is being played out in public. She literally can not hide in a crowd, as I did and as you can. Everywhere she goes, strangers KNOW about Jesse's actions and the news keeps getting worse. We no longer know rumor from fact. The truth is that Jesse put his wife, an intensely private person, in this situation by his willful actions, and the only choice he has given this brave, talented, supremely successful person is that she must go into hiding. Can you imagine how doubly humiliated she must feel - to be forced to hide so she can grieve in private?

During the worst part of my separation from Bob, I could still find some relief by losing myself in crowds, or dinner out, or during long strolls in the park. Sandra has lost everything - the man that she thought she knew, the children that she treated as her own, and the privacy that she fought for so long to keep.

This article by Lisa Firestone from the Huffington Post, The "Poor Sandra" Syndrome - Overcoming the Pain of Breakups, Affairs, and Public Rejection, has good advice for Sandra and for any person going through the humiliation of betrayal or rejection. Here are some excerpts:

"...the climate of any break-up or betrayal becomes a breeding ground for an emotion that, when examined more closely, is a bit surprising: humiliation. When you exacerbate this with the public exposure of a very private matter, one can only imagine the shame and self-criticisms that would ensue.

But why do people who have been hurt or rejected take this on as a reflection on themselves? In my 25 years as a therapist, I have often observed what my father, psychologist and theorist Dr. Robert W. Firestone, refers to as the "critical inner voice" to be the chief culprit in making break ups and affairs a matter of humiliation."
"the betrayed partner is the one who is traumatized and can't imagine how he or she will ever become whole again." This is how most people feel when they are cheated on or walked out on: traumatized. This trauma often throws them back into a defended state that, although painful, also feels familiar. They may experience feelings they felt early in life such as: they are not loveable, they are a failure, they have lost people's respect or they can't survive without being taken care of by the person they once trusted."
The article ends with the words: "No one should be critical of themselves because they took a chance on love."

I will go one step further and state: Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a wounded friend. Write nice notes to yourself, and in a journal list all your good traits and the sweet and special things you have done for others. Treat yourself to something special, like a pedicure, after you have faced another hurdle successfully. Relish the love of your family and friends, and surround yourself only with positive people. Know that you have nothing to be ashamed of for having taken a "chance on love."


How to Turn Modern Divorce Into a Positive Experience...

Dear Readers: This article was written by a divorced woman expressly for this blog. When her son was diagnosed with Autism at two years of age, her husband started to abuse him to get the boy to change. She divorced him, and had been homeschooling him until last year. When it was suggested that she take him off all sugars, she took the advice. She then put her son through a metal detox and he asked to go to school and for the first time. He is now twelve years old and sleeps through the night. Her story is not only inspiring, but life affirming. She has so much to share, and I am thrilled to place her words on this blog.

Modern divorce is just as disruptive to your life as historical divorces, however, today there are a lot more things working in your favor to minimize post-divorce trauma. While there is going to be discomfort, emotional trauma and financial stress, you can survive a divorce. To come out of your divorce in a good place you will need to follow a few simple divorce survival tips.

When you get divorced you are going to be given lots of different divorce survival tips. Some will be helpful and some will be useless. If you want to improve your post-divorce life then you need to find useful resources. These resources include things like counselors, support groups, stress relief resources and emotional support resources.

The next set of divorce survival tips will relate to your finances. One of the most stress causing issues that divorcees have to deal with is their finances. Surviving financially after a divorce can be challenging because not only is your monthly income reduced but your monthly expenses are increased. You can improve your financial position after your divorce by creating a budget. Your budget will not only identify your costs and income for the month, but it will also help you to determine where you can make cut backs and what financial holes you need to fill. If you are having a hard time handling your post-divorced finances it may be a good investment to work with a financial planner, especially to help you get your individual retirement finances set up.

One helpful strategy that I found that helped me was to carry a very small notepad everywhere I went. Even if I spent a few cents on a package of bubble gum, I inputted the date, day of week, what I purchased and how much it cost. At the end of the week I transferred the information from the notepad and put them into categories on an Exel sheet. It was an eye-opener!

In addition to finding resources to help you survive your modern divorce and to help you get your finances in order, you also need to address your personal life. For most people it is a good idea to avoid jumping back into the social scene right after their divorce. Give yourself a few months to get your life back in order and to adjust to your new single life. This short waiting period will give you the time to rebuild your confidence and it will help you to avoid jumping into a relationship with the wrong person. Also, with your life in order, you will be a much better catch and you will attract a better selection of potential mates.

If you are dealing with children and divorce then you have a few other issues to iron out before your life can move on. First of all you need to set up a parenting relationship with your ex-spouse that is functional. Regardless of the issues that led to your divorce (barring abuse), you need to develop a working relationship with your before spouse so that you can continue to be excellent parents to your kids. This means communicating with one another, supporting each other's parenting decisions and focusing both of your efforts on a joint parenting strategy. If you remain focused on what is best for the kids you can avoid many of the pitfalls of divorced parenting.

Divorce doesn't have to be the end of the world, or the end of your family unit. In fact, you have the opportunity to develop a life that is better than when you were married. The key is to focus on what is important, not to dwell on the past and to invest your time in doing what needs to be done to be happy. This may mean bringing in the help of a professional counselor, a professional financial planner or even a relationship mediator to help you design strategies to maximize the benefits of being divorced and to minimize the drawbacks.

When do you become "single"?

It's been a long time since I posted, partially because I lost the log-on information (again.) The truth is, the more time that passes, the more single I feel. My marriage, which began its precipitous downward slide exactly ten years ago, now seems like a distant memory. I no longer miss Bob. And I am no longer frantically searching for a male companion. If I meet a man, he will catch me unawares, doing something I like, and most likely laughing.

Time is slipping by quickly and I rarely feel alone. The best post-divorce actions I took were to fill my house with tenants (especially in this tough economy) and acquire a dog. I have a challenging job, and I keep stretching myself, acquiring new skills and trying new things. My only regret is that I did not take care of myself physically, and my couch potato-ness has affected my health. So for the foreseeable future I will be spending my free time at the gym, and walking the dog, and eating wholesome foods.

Several of us had this discussion recently: When do you become single again? Is it a state of mind? In filling out an application form, when do you check the singles box instead of "divorced"? What are your thoughts? Here's an online discussion thread on the topic.


Nine Years After Divorce: A Poem

Now that you're gone,
And my fears have quieted,
and the silence has crept in
as a familiar and welcome

Now that you're gone so long
that my sharp sensory memory of you
has been dimmed
by the inevitable forgiveness of time...

Now that you've been gone so long
that I've forgotten your touch
and that secret look and smile
you reserved just for me...

with the fullness and passage of time,
I can recall a sweeter and gentler

and realize I am still whole and matter.