A funny thing happened to me on the way to my divorce…
Yes, I realize that sounds like a bad punch line. But seriously, it is a bizarre experience when you realize it is, officially, over — that your divorce is inevitable.
Your mind goes to all these scary, surreal places. You start imagining these crazy scenarios — running into old mutual friends who don’t yet know about the break-up; receiving calls from your way-too-cheery dentist’s receptionist reminding you of your romantically simultaneous appointment time with your soon-to-be ex; sharing the bleachers at your children’s baseball game with your future-ex and his new-old girlfriend.
And while each of these scenarios is devastating enough on its own and would individually send you running to your therapist’s couch seeking Xanax and deep-breathing techniques, there are even greater dangers lurking in the shadows that you cannot anticipate. Because I’m here to tell you, no matter how crazy your initial thoughts get, you could never, ever anticipate some of the things you’ll have to deal with, post-divorce. Trust me — I shit you not.
So in the spirit of helping some of you put your own divorces in perspective, or helping soften the blow for those who may have similar situations upcoming, or just providing fodder for other readers to shake their heads in disbelief while muttering, “Wow, you just can’t make this shit up,” here is my personal list of…
The Top 10 Bat-Shit Crazy Things You Never Thought You’d Have to Deal With, Post-Divorce
(Well. It’s the first 5 of the top 10, because you know you want a cliffhanger. And because I can. So there. )
10. On your first date post-divorce, you run into your OB-GYN and your aunt and uncle. (Not together. That would be even creepier…)
Yes, I ran into my OB-GYN. And of course, to add perspective to this awkward moment: 1.) The last time he saw me, my feet were in stirrups and I was pushing an 8-pound baby out of “down there.” 2.) At that last meeting, he commented on how my future-ex and I were his favorite-favorite-FAVORITE patient couple, because we were totally supportive of one another, intelligent and so obviously in love. 3.) I was drinking (on the date, not during our last meeting with my legs in stirrups and the baby appearing from “down there”). 4.) He kept quizzically looking at my date, then back at me, then at my date, then back at me. So I decided to mirror his cadence: Take a drink, then look at my date, then take another drink, then look at my date again. When his gaze finally firmly (and uncomfortably, I might add) stuck to me, I shrugged my shoulders, and said, “hello?” (and then took another drink.) He shook my hand, told me it was “simply lovely” to see me again, and walked away. I disappeared into the booth…and further into my drink.
9. Your ex husband’s new wife tells your daughter that the reason you don’t support her being a cheerleader (big lie) is that you tried out for cheerleading in high school (another big lie) and didn’t make it (and yet another) so you’re jealous (Oh. My. God.).
So for the sake of argument, let’s just break this down into tiny little pieces: 1.) I still have friends from high school (quite a few, actually) who can almost all attest to the fact that I NEVER tried out (nor even wanted to try out) for cheerleading. 2.) The only problem I had with my daughter being in cheerleading was that my ex had signed my daughter up and failed to tell me that the very woman he left me for was the cheer coach…meaning during my weeks with my kids, I had to deliver my daughter to her for hours of gleeful cheerleading bliss, five days each week. GO TEAM!!! 3.) While I may not be the stereotypical, over-involved cheer mom who is reliving her high school glory days through her daughter, I am the type of mom who would prefer my then-6-year-old daughter actually play the sports, rather than cheer the boys on from the sidelines reciting inane cheers with lines like “I’ve got the boys on my mind and — ooh — they’re looking fine!” She was 6. ‘Nuff said. 4.) And while we’re on the subject of what is/is not age appropriate, I was, in fact, 35 years old at the time and no longer in high school, so my supposed days as an imaginary-and-never-actually-jealous-of-McQueen-Lancer-cheerleaders-teenybopper were long since gone. Like, 20 years gone.
8. Your children are used as pawns in an incredibly immature game.
So I’ll admit it: Post-divorce, I had to come up with creative ways to deal with my own emotions about being apart from my kids, let alone theirs. So to bridge the gap for my then-5-year-old daughter, who cried every time she left my custody (and for myself, to be honest): She and I would have a nail-painting party the night before she left, painting our nails the identical color, and I would tell her that every time she missed me, she should look at her nails and remember our connection.
So you can imagine my alarm the very next night at baseball practice, when my daughter came up to me with colorless nails. “What happened to our polish?” I asked. Her response: her step-mom removed it.
This happened many weeks in a row.
(Quick aside: This “brilliant” idea of mine [sans evil plot by other mother] was actually featured in REDBOOK Magazine, which you can see if you’re so inclined here. So while the end result sucked, there was a light at the end of the nail-painting tunnel. For me, not my daughter — sadly…)
7. You receive an ominous voice mail message from the PASTOR of your ex-husband’s new wife, requesting a meeting.
Um. Yeah. That one might just deserve its own future blog post, so I’ll let you mull that one over in your mind all on your own.
6. Even the Earth mocks you.
It has been established that I’m a symbol girl — guilty as charged. So imagine my joy when the month after my ex moved out — the very same month after the walls came crashing down and I couldn’t even find terra firma — imagine what happened when the largest earthquake swarm ever recorded in northern Nevada history kicks off. And keeps going. And going. For months. And imagine further that the epicenter of said earthquake swarm is a mere mile from my once-stable home.
So not only could I not find firm footing in my emotional life, but firm footing was an imaginary ideal in my literal life as well.
Seriously. I’m dealing with the emotional upheaval ushered into my life by my ex leaving me for his ex-girlfriend from high school, all the while showering in a swimsuit (because I’m absolutely convinced the “big one” is going to happen while I’m naked), sleeping half the time in a completely empty house for the first time in 14 years literally hearing the earthquakes before they hit, and spending my spare time building earthquake preparedness kits complete with a Maglite®, a two-week supply of distilled water and duct tape (like duct tape is going to do me any good after the ground has turned to liquid during the 9.2 earthquake that I was convinced would hit at any time. Well, any time I was showering, that is…).
Way to pile on, Mother Nature. Sheesh.
So there you have it: The Top 10, part 1. Stay tuned for further craziness. Because, and let’s all say this together…
“You just can’t make this shit up!”