When a 20-something woman's marriage is officially declared dead, she must journey through six levels of reality before reaching the after-life, also known as the "Celebration" phase. While interviewing 20-something divorcées, I've found the levels to be as follows:
1. Relief: For a brief moment, a sense of calm floats across the woman's mind as she realizes that she will no longer have to deal with the stress of her marriage.
2. Devastation: Shortly after the "Relief" phase, reality hits. The woman faces the fact that her marriage is over -- finito, done, adiós -- and her whole life is falling apart.
3. Failure: In the days following her divorce declaration, the woman names herself the only 20-something divorcée in the world. She's blames herself for getting married, wonders if she tried hard enough to make things work and is convinced she's a failure.
4. Embarrassment: Dread overcomes the woman as she faces the fact that she's going to have to update her social networking page's relationship status. She believes everyone she went to high school with is going to judge and consider her a failure, as well. The woman edits her profile and quickly removes the automatic update posted on her wall. Then, she stresses out about how to tell her extended family. (Tip: A therapist once told me she suggests the phrase, "I'm happy to announce my divorce.")
5. Anxiety: The woman begins to freak out. Not only is her marriage over, but also she is single, most likely for the first time in years. All of her friends seem to be in serious relationships and she must re-learn how to date and decode guy language. She wonders, "Does the three-day rule still apply these days? What is sexting? Why don't men just pick up the phone!?"
In addition to those worries, the woman lies awake all night telling herself she is never going to have children (or siblings for her current children) because she'll be too old by the time she falls in love again if she even re-marries! Will her new man care that she is divorced? How will she explain that on dates? These questions shoot out of a young divorcée's mind like an automatic weapon.
6. Anger: Sadness is oceans away at this point. The woman is furious with herself for marrying "that asshole" and even more furious with the "asshole" for putting her through all his actions, assuming he is the one behind the marriage's demise. During the anger phase, the woman vows to move on with her life, as challenging as it may be at the time. Living well will be her best revenge.
7. Celebration: The days of sighing and crying are long past. Maybe the nights once spent tossing and turning between the sheets now happen with a new, better man. Or perhaps, the woman isn't even sleeping under sheets because she's on an exotic island vacationing with her best girl friends and there's no time to rest. The point is that she's looking forward, having reached a place where she is at peace with the state of her life and she's making the most of every new day.
The steps of this difficult journey may vary, but the road traveled unites each woman.
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