Every divorce is different, of course, and there are a million distinct experiences. But when it comes to my own wild ride, here are five things that have surprised me…
1. I don’t feel lonely. I was very worried about that ahead of time. But I love hanging out with female friends, as well as spending solo time at home reading, listening to music, just lounging around. It’s unfamiliar/cool to have extended alone time — I re-subscribed to the weekend print edition of the New York Times; I tore through this dazzling book; I’ve been making playlists!
2. I feel allergic to dating right now — although I’m confident I’ll want to in the future. I described it to my friend as how you don’t want a burger when you’re not hungry, but you know that in the future, you’ll want to eat again. Plus, my mind is slowly opening up. For example, the other morning, a cute dad was walking ahead of me after school drop off, and he had strong wide shoulders, and for a second I could envision dating again.
3. Hanging with couples is nice and cozy. I thought it might feel awkward — like I was the odd one out or needed to sing for my supper like in Sex and the City. But it just feels normal. I watched the Succession finale with my friends Alison and Zach. And my friends Rob and Kath had me over for Christmas. And one evening, I was upset, so I texted my friends Rob and Sharon, and they both stepped outside a restaurant and called me back on the phone together like parents, SOB!
4. I don’t have a hard time saying positive things about Alex to the kids. Like, “Daddy is really good at playing basketball! He’s always fun to hang with at the park,” or “Daddy will take care of you if you feel sick, he’s so kind and gentle.” In fact, it’s actually easier because we aren’t arguing anymore.
5. I still see our marriage as a success. The other day, my friend said, ‘What would you differently in your life? Other than your marriage, obviously.’ And I was like, ‘No, I would definitely do that again!’ We had such a great run, and I love our boys SO MUCH OMG. Just because our marriage ended doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have existed or wasn’t wonderful for a long, long time.
Plus, two things that are harder than I thought: The all-or-nothingness of co-parenting. I have the boys 70% of the time, and when they’re with me, I love it but it’s exhausting. After work, I can’t just head out for a long walk because I’m the only one there to cook dinner and help with homework. And when they’re with Alex, I really miss them. I wonder if I will get used to that? And fall into a rhythm? I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
Also, mediation was a GRIND. Alex and I are amicable, so I figured our split would be very straightforward. And while it was, theoretically, there were ENDLESS LITTLE QUESTIONS we had to figure out and answer. It took sooooo long. My head felt like a scribble on mediation days, and I would crawl in bed at night and just stare at the ceiling. I cannot imagine the stress people must feel if their divorce is more difficult or contested. My heart goes out. xo
So, I’m curious: For those who have been through — or are going through — a divorce, what was your experience like? Did anything surprise you? I’d love to hear, if you’re in the mood to share.
P.S. Nine women talk about their divorces, and my interview about our split with New York Magazine.