A conversation with a newly divorced friend reminded me that attitude is everything when you’re new to being single.
Darlene is someone I’ve known for 20 years, and for much of that time I’ve been in awe of her 25-year marriage. From the outside looking in, I thought Darlene and her successful attorney husband had the perfect storybook relationship. She didn’t have to work, she had hobbies, they traveled together, entertained their friends and spent lazy Sundays in their lovely home. They seemed to be living the classic American dream.
So you can imagine my surprise when she filed for divorce.
I would periodically hear about their traumatic separation, the adversarial attorneys, the divorce mediation process, putting their home up for sale and dividing the assets — all devastating and painful. There are no easy divorces. (I’m still waiting for an opportunity to tell that to the therapist who urged me to marry a man I’d known for six months saying: “You can always get divorced.”)
Their home sold within a month, but the place Darlene planned to rent wasn’t ready. Her accountant told her she should buy a home instead. She did, after looking for just a few weeks, settling for a house much smaller than the one she shared with her husband. Then, between escrows, she sorted through all their belongings, and divided and packed up 25 years’ worth of “just us” to fit into her new life as “just me.”
Two days before the moving van was set to arrive, she fell down the stairs of her soon-to-be-former home, losing consciousness. Waking up in a heap, she dragged herself back to bed in terrible pain and waited until morning to call a friend to take her to the hospital. She had three broken ribs.
“When you woke up at the bottom of the stairs,” I asked, astounded by yet another downturn in her life, “did you regret getting divorced? Did you think that despite what was wrong with your marriage, it would have been worth it to have him there to help you?”
I thought that surely, being injured and alone in the house that night must have made her wonder if being single was such a great idea after all.
“Heck no,” she whooped, in her vivacious Texas accent. “You know what it taught me? That I need to slow down and take time to rest. I was doing way too much, way too fast. It was a wake-up call that I need to start taking better care of myself.”
Well! What a brilliant attitude: no blame, no fear and a commitment to self-care — all from a newly single woman in her 50s, who in the last 12 months has experienced stress with a capital “S.” Welcome to being single Darlene – or should I say, welcome to being singular – you’re a welcome addition to our tribe.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.