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The Unexpected Upsides of Divorce

When I finally decided that I was really going to do it, to take the step I'd been debating for years and leave my marriage, I was an utterly terrified wreck. I must have sobbed every day for at least a year.
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When I finally decided that I was really going to do it, to take the step I'd been

debating for years and leave my marriage, I was an utterly terrified wreck. I must

have sobbed every day for at least a year. I was a thirty-seven year old mother of

four, and chief among my fears, in no particular order, were:

  1. My kids will be traumatized for life.

  • No one will ever love me again.
  • No one else is divorced; I'll be surrounded by loving couples everywhere.
  • My husband is right: I'm a horrible person and won't be any happier alone or
  • with anyone else.

  • People will pity me -- the word "divorcee" drips with a pathetic sort of shame
  • Four years later, none of these things turn out to be true.

    1. Psychotherapists and lawyers all assured me that if kids feel loved by both

    parents and don't witness much hideous behavior, they'll be fine, and that

    appears to be the case.

  • Men are a'plenty if you're willing to work at it.
  • People get divorced every day; I'm definitely not alone.
  • I'm not a horrible person, I was just in a horrible situation. We're both
  • happier now.

  • People may have pitied me for a bit, but now I think some probably envy
  • me, and ironically, in a twist of perspective, I've come to love the "divorcee"

    moniker; I think it has a glamorous ring to it.

    And I've discovered bona-fide perks, which I'll share with you now, to give you

    hope in the event you're where I once was:

    1. 1. The Divorce Diet: I'm a person who eats under any circumstances. I didn't lose weight while I

    watched my mother die of cancer. I'm more likely to eat when I'm depressed or

    stressed out than anything else, but for some reason everyone who is getting a

    divorce gets really skinny. My husband and I each lost 15 pounds in a matter of

    months. It was fabulous. Of course the weight eventually came back, but it was

    fun while it lasted.

  • Having your Kids Half the Time
  • This seems like it's going to be the worst thing imaginable, and at first, it is. For

    the first year of my separation, I would dread Wednesday nights and alternate

    weekends, never sure how to fill my time. Sometimes I'd go sit at the bar of my

    favorite restaurant and drink wine and read the New Yorker, pretending to enjoy

    my solitude but really just petrified by the emptiness. I'd mope around my house

    crying, wondering if the kids were having more fun at Daddy's, wondering if

    they were sad, or if they missed me. But then, over time, we all started getting

    used to the routine, and it sunk in that my kids have a great father and they

    need to see him as much as they do me, so I started to relax when I was alone,

    and slowly discovered the pleasures of my time off. No one to cook for, or clean

    up after! The quiet! Hours spent on the couch reading a novel! Spontaneous

    weekend trips! Lazy Sunday mornings in bed with my lover! It's heaven. The

    best babysitting you could ever get, and you know your kids are loved and where

    they need to be.

  • Having the Bed to Yourself

    And all the other ancillary follow-ups to that -- not needing to consult with
  • someone about every little decision, not having to compromise all the time.

    Being able to just make the call about where to go on vacation, what to serve

    for dinner, which gift to send to Grandma, what color to paint the hallway, how

    much to spend on what. Just like having your kids half the time, at first all this

    freedom is terrifying, and that's a normal part of the process, but I promise you,

    it soon becomes addictive.

  • Not Living With Someone who Makes You Hate Yourself
  • This should probably be at the top of the list. For all the dark, dark days and

    nights I spent agonizing over whether I should leave my husband, the two years

    of tears shed, the pain inflicted on our kids, families, and friends, this has been

    worth it. Even when I think I'll be alone forever, when I miss being married,

    when I fear for my future, I have to remind myself that I no longer spend my

    days feeling angry, frustrated, ignored, and unloved. What a gift! My future is

    now my own to navigate, and I'm free from the tyranny of a bad marriage.

  • Sex with New People!
  • Ok, this is obvious, and it has a flip side, but it's mostly good. The world of dating

    post-divorce needs it's own column, but suffice it to say: it's fascinating being

    middle-aged and knowing what we know, with all the mistakes we've made and

    baggage we have, and getting out there and meeting new people, trying to find

    someone to love. It's not easy, but it's a hell of a lot better than being in a bad

    marriage, and it reminds you that the world is full of endless possibility. And

    great sex.

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