What happens once you graduate divorce?

Have any of you gotten to that place, when you wake up one morning, and you realize, “I’m over it?”

I’m not talking about no longer texting an ex-boyfriend, or realizing that your heart has finally mended. I mean finally moving past the heavy mourning phase of your divorce. It takes time – a lot longer than you can possibly predict. There’s some myth which states that it takes a month of healing for every year you’ve been together. I was with my ex-husband for 14 years, but it took more than three to feel “normal,” to get to know myself, and to reach the end of the ‘what is my life going to look like now’ journey.  And then it took another year to quit smoking the nostalgia cigarette in order to feel creative and mine my grief for material (this blog not included).
It didn’t seem possible three years ago. I didn’t think I’d ever get to a place where I could talk about my past without saying “we” – where I had accumulated enough experiences that happened to me, rather than we.
It happens slowly, and yet you notice it suddenly, like:
1-    When you run into your ex, and instead of feeling nauseous and shaky, you feel okay.
2-    A mutual friend tells you that he’s reading your blog. Not just reading it, but “studying it.” You’re curious, but you don’t mind.
3-    You stop going to his Facebook page to see if he’s changed his profile picture (since you’re not friends you’re not privy to anything else). It’s like reopening the fridge to see if something new has appeared until you realize you’re not even hungry.
4-    You don’t feel the uncontrollable urge to talk about your marriage or “what happened to you” anymore.
5-    You enter into a new relationship where you don’t cry the first time you have sex.
6-    You enter into a new relationship where you’re not comparing the new guy to your ex, checking off the positive qualities he has that your ex didn’t. Or perhaps you’ve come so far that you realize they have some good things in common, too.
7-    You find out that your ex has a new house, a new wife, and a new baby. Six months ago it might have driven you to the brink of email bombing – but now suddenly, you are too busy making your own life worthwhile, and enjoying it, that you don’t care what is going on in his. Maybe you’re even happy for him.
8-    Your sister calls you on what would have been your tenth wedding anniversary, to see if you’re okay, when you don’t even know what day it is.
9-    He sends you an email out of the blue- when you haven’t spoken in almost two years, and while you experience a disconcerting jolt of anxiety, it doesn’t send you into a tizzy the way those emails used to. And even if you might consider writing back, you get too busy in your own life that the email gets buried in your inbox.
Life gets in the way. Your life.  A life that you’ve built all by yourself, from the ground up, and when it whisks you away – even rescues you from the lurking tidal wave of your past – I think it’s a good sign.
I went through a period where I actually felt a yearning for that dark place, and sometimes, I admit, I still do.  It’s disconcerting. In some strange way – looking back through the gauzy lens of nostalgia – I believe that I felt more raw and real and creative inside of that space than I feel in the bright light outside of it. But it’s probably a good thing.
Can you detect the moment when you realized you were over your ex and the life you left behind, and when you did, did it make you happy, sad, or both?

Scent of a (divorced) woman: "Eat Pray Love" - now selling perfume?

When Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Eat Pray Love” first came out, I felt as if it had been written for me. I had just entered into my own Gilbertian phase post marriage, and I believed that I had found this book, and that it had found me. Reading about the author’s grief and depression in the aftermath of a brutal separation from her husband made me feel like I wasn’t the alien I thought I was. There was another woman out there who felt hopelessly out of her mind too. I was not alone.

One of my best friends was also divorced, and we quoted that book as if it were our bible. Soon after, the book caught on like wildfire, and everyone was talking about it. I had already begun to embark on my own little healing journey, and, like Gilbert, I had started writing my own kind of marriage in crisis novel, “The Virgin Wife” (except mine is fiction…insert air quotes here). But unlike Gilbert, my healing travels stretched from my apartment to the local bar, then back to my apartment to iChat my girlfriend, then back out to meet up with friends who tolerated my woe is me prattling (thanks again guys!). I had begun to become disenchanted with Gilbert’s tale, and the fact that because she was already a published author, she had been able to pre-sell her soul searching to Penguin Books, and use those earnings to travel and write some more. I wondered, how would she have coped if she had not been able to escape abroad? If she was forced to stay put, hold down a job, and risk running into her exes at the grocery, as I suspect the majority of women post divorce must do. I, for one, had no appetite for food or money for travel, and scowled at women with yoga mats. I was more in the “Can’t Eat, Won’t Pray, and Who the Fuck Needs Love” camp. I started to feel like an alien all over again.

When I completed the first draft of my novel, it dawned on me that each of us requires a different balm to heal our individual wounds. For me, the salve was writing a novel about a woman’s marriage before divorce, and for Gilbert, it was telling of its aftermath. For some women, maybe it’s poetry, or therapy, or road tripping, or.. tripping, or quickly remarrying, or meditation, or moving to another city and starting over. Or all of the above. I guess we all have to find “our thing.”

The movie is coming out on August 13, and I was waiting until then to blog on this subject and my thoughts on the book. But then today, after a visit to the farmer’s market, I walked by the perfume store “Fresh,” and stopped in my tracks when I learned that they’re doing a merchandising tie in with the book. What a strange partnership, I thought. Scents that smell like what, linguine? Unshowered ashram dwellers? Or, a depressed divorced woman? Ew! Hasn’t this whole Eat Pray phenomenon gone too far?

I was holding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers I had just bought (I’m not sure what they’re called, I just liked that they were purple), and paused for some reason to look at them again. It struck me that this flower and vase-buying pastime was new for me. I had started doing it recently; it brightened up my apartment and my day. Back when I was in a difficult place emotionally, I believed it wasteful to spend money on something that I knew was going to die in a just a few days. But now, I can enjoy their beauty and scent for as long as they last, until they fade. Because that works for me. Maybe that’s the purpose of the “Eat Pray Love” scents. Isn’t it true that perfume, when mixed with an individual’s skin, takes on a distinctly unique smell? Every scent smells different on everyone.

So I guess when it comes to scents – as with healing – the moral of this story is, to each his own.