Apres Divorce

Note: Now that I think I have posted all the book chapters I wrote about divorce, the topics may move back and forth chronologically, as I find articles or think of my own experiences. So while today I write about divorce and after, next posting could be about thinking about divorce or going to court. Each of you is in a different place, so hopefully one of the postings will match your timeline.

Photos are from the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this month. While Spring is only days away, flowers won’t be blooming in PA for awhile, so these are previews of coming attractions for Spring!

While going through my divorce for two plus years and then after my divorce, I started “dating.”  Well, perhaps the operative word should be “socializing,” since in the beginning I just attended events for singles until I had enough courage to date.  I had moved in with my good friend Rhoda. She was also single with one child at home, same as my situation, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

We shared a large house (Rhoda had raised four children, so the house gave each child a bedroom) and also shared in the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and generally helping each other through the “pangs and pains” of divorce.  I remember that both of us would talk on the phone to our about-to-be or ex-spouses, and within two minutes we would be yelling. This was usually followed by tears of frustration and anger after the calls. Fortunately, we usually had our screaming and crying jags at different times, so we could comfort each other.

My daughter was in junior high and Rhoda’s son was in high school, so the kids were fairly busy with homework and school activities. When I first moved back to the area where I had once lived earlier in my marriage, I worked with Rhoda, who found me a job. Her boss had a marketing business with a non-profit “altruistic” business on the side. I was in charge of fund raising and distributing emergency food and keeping the warehouse organized. Funding ran out after six months, so I worked at a variety of jobs to keep financially afloat… another challenge that requires a separate essay.

These were difficult times for both Rhoda and me, but less difficult because we had each other to “watch our backs.” And both of us went to dances and single events to relieve us from the stress of divorce proceedings. Rhoda was working on having the lien removed (husband’s area of “expertise”!) and I was running back and forth to Central PA from upstate NY to court for divorce proceedings. Once I got there and was told the hearing was cancelled. Four hours for nothing!

Because Rhoda and I had been friends for more than 25 years, our relationship was solid. Our kids got along, although they were not best of friends, since teens have to pick their own peers.  But we were a new “family” and my younger daughter still comments on how she misses the Friday night Shabbat dinners Rhoda created with our help. On Thursdays her son would wash the kitchen floor while my daughter made a dessert. On Friday after work, Rhoda would set her long, beautifully carved dining room table with a tablecloth, beautiful china, and the Friday night candles. She would don a lovely, long lounge dress and light the many candles and say the Sabbath prayer. We would create a meal and ambiance fit for any dignitary consisting of soup, salad, main dishes (one vegetarian, one not) and side dishes as well as dessert. It was a great way to de-stress. Actually cooking can be very relaxing, if you don’t get hung up on being a gourmet chef.

After dinner, we might play Scrabble or Monopoly. When we had guests (male and/or female), we would include them in the meal without expecting them to help, since they were our guests. Sometimes the guest would be another single woman and sometimes a “date” or current “boyfriend.” Despite all the pain we might experience surrounding our divorce situation, Friday night was off limits for complaining and crying.

I remember when I went to a retailer as part of my non-profit job, perhaps to obtain funds. The owner was a very sensitive man who saw how stressed I was. I shared a little of what was going on in my life and he made me promise not to talk to my ex for six months, unless there was an emergency concerning the children. I followed his advice and that six month period was very peaceful. This was probably the best advice I can pass along as you are dealing with  divorce or the time immediately following your divorce. Avoid the confrontation that created the divorce in the first place.

Go to the movies, dress up for a singles dance, participate in some program at your church, synagogue, or local community center.  Go for counseling. Get involved in something that will be interesting, challenging, or restful, whatever your need at the time. Find a hobby. (I will write about this area soon.) The stress of divorce and the adjustment immediately after divorce can be very debilitating. Having one or two good friends is invaluable. My family was also there for me, not in person, because they lived all over the U.S., but in conversations and financial help. Once, my older brother sent me a check for $500 for no reason. He said he received a rebate from his income tax and thought I could use it. Tears sprung to my eyes at this gesture, because my brother was a professor, not a wealthy entrepreneur. My younger brother helped me with dental costs and all my sibs chipped in when I need a new radiator for my car.

Find what helps you the most.  Change jobs, go to church, write a book, keep a journal, jog, learn to cook a new cuisine, dabble in painting.  Explore areas you might never have dreamed of before. For example, for a few weeks during several summers when I was single, I was a bed & breakfast cook in Maine. The owner was extremely generous, providing me with a car to go sightseeing on my day off. After my morning chores and food shopping, I could relax at the lake where the B&B had beach coverage. I felt like I was on vacation when I was actually working and earning money. One year I resurrected her herb garden for fun. These were “small” pleasures that made me feel human again and regain my sense of self.

There is no one prescription for happiness. One of the famous sayings I read during this period is that there is no way to happiness; happiness IS the way. Easier said than done, but I do believe that happiness is a conscious choice we make. I consciously sought out ways to recreate my life as a single  mom and without realizing it, I began to feel alive again, and not just a victim of my husband’s cruelty when I went to court. I went through a period of depression and received help, so I won’t say this period was peaceful. Painful would be the more accurate term.  But eventually I got my “mojo”* going and looking back, I think I could have spared myself some of the pain if I had spent more time forgiving myself and my ex, and also spending more time enriching my life with activities that helped me rebuild my life.

P.S. The most embarrassing story I can relate during this time is when I had a second date with a man I had contacted through the local paper. His name was Arthur and our first date of having dinner and conversation went so well that we planned a second date. I dressed nicely and waited and waited at our home. After what seemed like hours, but was actually more like 30 minutes, I gave up and told my friend Rhoda and my daughter that I was going to bed. While I was in my room changing, the doorbell rang and it was Arthur.  My daughter called to me from the front door, in front of my date, yelling, “Hey, Mom, your date is here. He didn’t stand you up after all!” Out of the mouths of babes…..

*Some definitions of mojo include charm, charisma, karma

5 Responses to “Apres Divorce”

  1. Paula Buchak Says:

    What we all lived through to share and tell!

  2. coaching århus Says:

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  3. ellen sue spicer Says:

    And since I ama double fire sign: sun & moon in Sagittarian, I agree! ellensue

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