Because I divorced at age 40, I say I didn't have a mid-life crisis.
I had a mid-life awakening.
And it happened in the produce aisle of the Vons at the corner of PCH and Sunset Boulevard.
How was I supposed to deal with this breakup?
This was more than a breakup with a woman. It was the breakup of a family. Tonight would be the first night in 10 years that my playful, boisterous boys would not be waiting for me at home. And it was first time in 10 years I didn't have to "go" home.
So, after a script meeting, I stood outside in the late afternoon Los Angeles sun and considered all the places I was finally free to go.
A bar? That sounded exotic. Had been to a lot of recitals, little league games and class assemblies over the last few years. No bars.
A bookstore? Vegas? A movie? A strip club? Nothing called to me.
So I followed my habits and started driving home. But not only would there be no children waiting, there would be no food.
So I stopped at the grocery store and stood and looked at the long aisle of vegetables and fruit and that's when it struck me...
I don't even know what I like to eat! I eat what "we" eat.
That was my rebirth moment, right there by the beets and cucumbers. I was fully free to buy and eat whatever I liked.
I was being reborn from the feet up -- from my most primal need up. For the first time, I got to choose -- as an autonomous adult -- how I would feed and nourish myself.
It wasn't even about whether I still liked her anymore, it was more about, "who am I, on my own?"
Because I had married so young, this was the first of several primal revelations. I would also get to choose my friends. How I spent my evenings. The kind and frequency of sex I wanted to have. My travel schedule.
In an ironic twist on Milton's Adam and Eve, who wander out the Eastern Gate of Eden...
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
I on the other hand, had not hand to hold. I took wandering steps and slow, as I went up and down those food aisles for two full hours asking each item, "Do I like you? Do I want you? Or do I eat you because 'we' ate you?"
Providence, sadly, was not my guide. Price and the Vons Card discount was. And unlike my namesake Adam, I was thoroughly alone on my "solitary way" into divorced life.
I was terrified of what was to come. Would my children drift away from me? Would my community shun me as an outcast? Would I grow haggard and old, would I wear my trousers rolled?
I didn't know.
But I knew one thing. I was alive.
I was freshly born. And I could choose my future, carrot by breadstick by apple by pie. For the first time in 17 years, my life was mine to create.
I want anyone reading this to know it's okay to let go, it's okay to embrace the utter loneliness that comes from divorce, from losing a life you know and which feels familiar.
You are now free. Rather than endlessly wonder about whether your ex still likes you or not, or approves of you, it's freeing to embrace a new life -- fresh. Sure, it may be painful and scary at first, but new doors will open. You are entering a new kind of freedom and a period of self-discovery you would never have achieved otherwise.
Bestselling Author, Emmy-Nominated Producer, Screenwriter and Entrepreneur, Adam Gilad leads a community of over 80,000 men and women on their quest to create love and a bold, inspired life. Having served as a Stanford Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow and host of National Lampoon Radio, Adam blends a bracing mix of research, humor and global wisdom traditions to help men and women break through the habits blocking their ability to open into love and freedom.
This blog post is part of HuffPost's When Men Divorce series. For other posts written by men about the divorce experience, head here. If you want to share your story, email email@example.com
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