Don’t believe it

When our divorce process was just beginning, the separation phase, the shock and depression phase, I read as many books on the subject as I could muster. I googled my ass off, poured over Goodreads and Amazon reviews of divorce books and read into the night.

Reading and insomnia go hand in hand.

That’s how I handle most challenges in my life usually, I study the problem to wrap my head around it and hopefully find a solution or plan of attack. Sometimes reading about it gives me solutions, or at least ideas of how to cope, other times it just helps ease my mind to know that I’m not the only one.

And isn’t that what we are all hoping for, not to be the only loser in the room?

It didn’t take me long to notice the trend in divorce books and articles were skewed towards women – are there any divorce books or articles for/about men? I wonder. It sure didn’t seem like it during my research.

What I also noticed was a running theme, across most books and articles aimed at women, that most women getting divorced, over the age of 40 like myself, were well past their prime. They are on the other side of the hill, washed up and dried out, and can only expect to live a life slightly above miserable because they are no longer young, sexy and desirable. They need to buckle up for the bumpy ride to the finish line.

And part of the reason that we are now divorced is that we have let ourselves go during our marriage, obviously. We have become fat and frumpy, sour and lame, and now life will suck. We focused too heavily on our kids all of these years and have let our love relationships slip through our fingers.

Now we must deal with the fallout from giving up on ourselves, and our marriages, and hang our heads in shame while we plug along through the muck of the rest of our lives.

We don’t moisturize, we don’t exercise, and our brains have turned to mush from raising children and taking care of our husbands, because we also don’t have any career goals or real outside interests of our own that mean anything.

In other words, that anyone else finds important.

We have to accept that men our age are “only” looking for much younger women – of which we are no match for, obviously. We don’t have the energy to get back into the game, even if we wanted to. We’re much too enmeshed in our craft projects, charity volunteering, HGTV and stuffing our faces with comfort food while we pull on our stretch pants and big t-shirts with butterfly appliques while we wait to die…alone.

We’re too busy cutting off the crusts on organic sandwiches for our tweens, planning the next prom theme with the PTA or caring for our aging extended family while ironing (his) shirts and rsvping for the next corporate gala function supporting the latest charity interest. We’re busy!

Much too busy to consider finding love again, or even a willing partner to look our way.

And how could we even expect to find love again when all of the men we’re “allowed” to be interested in (within a reasonable age range, of course, usually a bit older because they still like them younger even when they’re riding into the sunset of life) they are either still married (by some stroke of good luck) or are now dating women who could be our daughters??

You know what? Enough.

Why are we continuously expected to accept this narration of what a middle aged divorced woman is supposed to be? Why are we viewed as the hopelessly lonely spinsters of midlife because we’re divorced now?

Have you met a middle-aged divorced woman lately? I have, and believe me we’re not all throwing in the towel and accepting that we’ll never have sex again and die lonely. Get married again? Well, that’s a fifty-fifty shot, most women choose not to get remarried after a long-term marriage. That’s a real statistic, look it up.

Can you blame them??

No, midlife divorce is crushing. It’s depressing and humbling, it’s a waterfall of emotions while at the same time a slow drip on your soul likened to Chinese water torture (usually thanks to your ex, what else is new?). It’s painful in ways you never thought you could hurt, and would never wish on anyone. It takes your breath away. It takes away your identity and pulls the rug out from under you. It takes, and takes, and takes.

But it’s also a gift.

It’s the gift of a do-over when you have the maturity and experience to hopefully know what you want and need this time. A lesson well learned by now with any luck, and maybe with a bit of therapy for good measure. It’s the gift of not having to live the rest of your life in a hollow shell of a relationship, biding your time, thinking that this is just as good as it gets because surely everyone must feel this way.

They don’t.

Some do, of course, but not everyone. No, it’s not normal and it’s not okay.

It’s the realization that you now have the ability to create the life you want, the way you want it, without anyone else having an opinion that you really have to consider. It’s taking steps in a new direction that you may have never considered, or maybe you have considered it in the past but always managed to tell yourself that you couldn’t because…fill in the blank. You couldn’t because you wouldn’t be supported in your decision, you would be shamed for even thinking of pursuing it, you would be tormented for taking time away from what was “important” in someone else’s opinion.

It’s freedom.

Sure, this isn’t the way it was supposed to turn out. Nobody gets married with an expiration date printed on their marriage license, or written into their vows “I take you for the next twenty years, then we’ll renegotiate the terms of our relationship”.

Maybe we should have?

But that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a happy life with a happy ending. Your happiness is based solely upon what you choose it to be. You. Nobody else. And age has nothing to do with it.

I love the saying “I ain’t dead yet”, because it is so true and it’s real. You’re not, if you’re reading this. We’re not dead yet, so stop counting us out.

And truthfully, we’re not really old. Remember when 40 was considered old? That’s when people died before they turned sixty. People live to be 80, 90, sometimes over 100 years old now. Get over yourself, put away that AARP card, and go make the life you want the way you want it to be. Nobody can tell you not to now.

With whomever you want it to be with, older or younger, or on your own. It’s really up to you now. You have choices. Stop letting the world tell you that you’re too old to start over again, stop listening to the commercials that it’s time for you to slow down and give up.

Don’t believe it.

That’s my book, my article, my advice. Short and simple.

And it’s good for women and men, because I’m a rule breaker.

10 thoughts on “Don’t believe it

  1. Hello? Have you read my blog?! we are so on the same page, bravo, well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s called, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and tell yourself, You got this!! I don’t know you but I know that writing has become part of your journey, you’re a​lrea​dy reinventing yourself… ​you rock sista!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do read your blog (love it too!) and I think we’re coming from the same place for sure. I wish more of my newly divorced, or soon to be divorced, friends would read more blogs. Finding your tribe always makes life more fulfilling and the big stuff a little less scary, thanks for being part of it. You rock too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love, Laughter & Truth says:

    Very well said, that’s exactly what middle-aged divorce is like! I’m one of the rare men that has written a book about it. I recently had an email from a guy going through a divorce who said my book was the only one he could find that spoke to his experience. Interestingly though, it’s mainly women going through a divorce that read it, as they are interested in the view ‘from the other side’ so to speak.

    I totally agree how divorce can become a very positive thing in your life. I’d never have chosen it but I’d never go back. So many amazing things have happened in my life since that I never could have imagined – like writing a book! – and while new love has proven elusive and dating is a nightmare, I look forward to whatever lies ahead.

    All the very best to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement. I am one of those women who read your book and loved it. Yours was written from a true to life point of view, unlike some of the earlier books I had been reading, so refreshing! It’s too bad more men don’t seek out that kind of help or support, maybe there would be more books/articles written for them if they did?

      I can totally agree about the dating thing, it is truly a nightmare these days. I find myself wishing for the time before internet dating, when you had to actually just meet someone and learn about them in person before you went on a date. No weird selfies or texting for weeks on end, no written bios that include “long walks on the beach, snuggling by the fire with a great red wine” (sigh) I feel that I’ve gotten divorced in the wrong era! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Love, Laughter & Truth says:

        Thank you! I’ve given up on online dating, it just really ground me down over time. Too many games, too much of a rollercoaster of hope followed, inevitably, by disappointment. I’ve decided that if it’s going to happen for me it will be through just living my life and attracting someone like-minded. In the meantime I’ve got plenty of good things in my life to devote my time and energy to (like long walks on the beach… 😂).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ladyinthemountains says:

    I love love love this post. You really got to the heart of how it is and how I feel. It gets better and better post-divorce. I thought my life was over. Boy, was I stupid. I am going to share this one as I couldn’t write it better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are a lot of divorced people who blog their journey, I met many on my blog. There’s cougars, nymphos, some that are starting businesses, others who just relish in the freedom, a second chance at life on their own terms.

    Most are well over 40.

    I think these women are fabulous. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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