8.29.2007

Divorced From Reality

Lately the issue of divorce and how it affects looking for love has been on my mind. I was divorced over fifteen years ago, when I was barely 24. I married and divorced young. Now, I see I am reaching the age when I am meeting divorced contemporaries; they are going through now what I went through long ago. As someone recently said, "I am at a point in my life where I am struggling a bit with my personal life; I am shy/reluctant/afraid of making a second marriage mistake yet in need of companionship."

I understand what he is talking about – emotionally and practically. When I divorced, it took quite a while to get my mind together. The disintegration of my marriage was a devastating blow. He left me for another woman, something that can damage your psyche, your ego and your mind. I was slow to accept the reality of the split, mostly because my ex made a habit of pitting me and Chris (her name) against each other when he was in some way unhappy with the other. It took a long time for me to accept that my marriage was over and that I was again on the search for my soul mate. The first two years was dating hell. Then again, maybe it was better than I remember – I was younger, thinner and freer. But something wasn't right. Finally, about three years after the divorce, Andy (my ex) called me out of the blue. We hadn't spoken in years. But I had been thinking of him. Somehow, I had come to accept his leaving me for Chris as brave. I admired him; he broke his marriage to be with the woman he loved. That was a daring thing to do. How many times in our lives do we do what we want, what speaks to our heart against societal norms? Almost never. And I was ready to tell him this. But he beat me to the punch. He told me that I was a good wife and that his decision to leave was not as easy as I thought. We both broke down and cried and that was before I said my peace. That we forgave each other, I think, really freed our souls to move on. We'd never have to meet again. We'd gotten our informal "Get", a Jewish spiritual divorce.


And yet, after all these years, I am still single. I can't say that I've been in a serious relationship since. Nothing was more than a year and I can't decide if that was just my poor choices, fear of making a mistake or just the fact that I did not meet soul mate material. I have found that it is very difficult to reconcile your own emotional, physical and mental needs with what other people are looking for. And yes, one still needs companionship and intimacy. It's enough to put intimacy off; it's much easier to avoid the temptations altogether, isn't it? Dating yeah, but what happens when you meet someone you have a strong physical attraction to them? You don't want to move too quickly, but the chemistry is taking you there. What to do? You haven't been in the game for a long stretch and you're used to regular sex. Your ego is bruised and here is someone who finds you attractive, hey downright sexy. This person is telling you the things your ex repudiated. How long does it take to process a lost love? How long until you know your heart, your mind and your sex drive? If you carry forward, be warned, the body will may yes, but the actual going will be strange. Many things will go through your mind; you remember that you promised yourself to another, a person whose body you know well. You start to wonder what this new person expects of you. You start to wonder what you can give. Do you love this person? Do you have to? And the next morning, you will find this strange person next to you with a different scent, breathing that is foreign and habits that you cannot anticipate. It can throw you for a loop, that's for sure. And then what do you do? Is it the person's fault? Is it yours? Did you make a mistake? It all goes through your mind and you still want to talk, to connect, to be. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. It's a wonder that anyone dates successfully after a divorce.


So, what do we do? Well, I think we try to listen to our inner voice. And I guess we choose our dates carefully – like the person enough to want to spend significant time with them before we knock boots. There are so many ways to go, so many books you can read, friends you can ask. But, in the end, it's you; you and your heart. That's it. We come into this world alone and so shall we leave it. In the meantime, we hope we can find at least one person to stir the oatmeal with.


Or two.

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