Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Channeling My Inner Oprah

I was actively perusing the CNN website the other day. . .

Well, maybe not "actively"; I guess it was more that I was scrolling through the local news alerts. . .

OK, fine, I was watching cat videos on Facebook; don't judge.  In my defense, when streaming a particular news story about the crisis in the Middle East and a pop-up appears extolling the virtues of a site dedicated to cats that look like Hitler, then I can guarantee you the 'Kitlers' will win out every time.

Every.  Damned.  Time.

Anyhoo, my point is that I started stalking following up with my friends on Facebook when I came across a particularly upsetting post from a high school friend whose marriage is suddenly disintegrating.  Suddenly, I flashed back to eight years ago when my first husband decided that simply sleeping with every woman in the Portland Metro area was not enough. . .he needed to start actually marrying them.*

*My ex is magical.

I sat at my computer pondering what I could say to my old friend.  What pearls of wisdom I could cast at her feet that would alleviate some part of her pain.  What did people tell me eight years ago that kept me from going the full Sylvia Plath and jamming my head in the microwave oven?  There are tons of Huff Post, Dr. Phil-y sites out there with "10 Things To Know When Divorcing" but sitting around overthinking my emotions and spanking my inner child has never really turned my crank, so this was what I came up with.  It's paltry...even trite and formulaic...but in the immortal words of the great Iggy Azalea, "first things first, I'm the realest"; and this shit is as real as it gets.  I hope it helps.

1) You're gonna be okay.  Really.  I swear.   I know how you feel.  You can't sleep.  You can't breathe.  You know you'll never stop crying.  But one day, you will.  One day a friend will walk into a sliding glass door or your kid will start belting out Nicki Minaj lyrics in the middle of Target or you'll be watching Kitlers on Facebook and you will laugh like a toddler in an ether factory.  I promise.
2) "It's not you, it's them".  I know it sounds like a shitty break-up line, but there's a lot of validity to it.  Sure, when your spouse of 10+ years who once swore "til death do us part" drops the D-Bomb on you like a scud missile you will question everything you may have done or said wrong over the years, but 9 times out of 10 it's a reflection of their lack of character, not yours.
3) Stop asking yourself and your soon-to-be ex "why".  It doesn't matter "why".   First of all, admit it. . .you KNOW why.  We all find ways to conveniently ignore patterns of abuse or distrust or infidelity...*

*Like seeing "subtle" code phrases such as "BFWSK" (Big Fat Wet Sloppy Kisses) and "LOML" (Love Of My Life) sent to other people on their public Facebook page.  But no one would be THAT stupid, right? 

...but ultimately, we all see the writing on the Facebook wall.  You don't need a "why"; all you need is a "what now"?
4) You are never, ever, ever, getting back together...like...ever.  First of all, why would you want to?  Groucho Marx once said "I don't care to belong to any club that would have me as a member".  Sage advice. Why would you want to have anything to do with someone who has categorically stated that they want nothing to do with you?   It's over. Done.  Believe me, by the time your spouse says "goodbye" they've already had months to prepare, emotionally distance themselves, and (90% of the time) form a new romantic relationship; because most folks don't step off the ballfield until they're sure they've got someone else swinging the bat in the on-deck circle.  You've been replaced.

5)  You will feel everything from ecstatically happy to crying like a 'tween at a One Direction farewell tour.  And everything in between. . .every five minutes. . .  Trust me, the crazy too shall pass.   

6)  Take a lesson from the alcoholics.  And no, I am not advocating drinking heavily, but rather heeding the advice of those in recovery.  OK, maybe you aren't all recovering alcoholics, but this shit is legit, yo.  We have several tenets in AA but one of them rings especially true for anyone going through a divorce:  don't make any major changes the first year.  This is not the time to dye your hair blonde, buy a pony, or FORTHELOVEOFALLTHATISGOODANDHOLY jump into another "relationship".   Year One is not for "moving on", it is for healing and renewing.  Leave the L'Oreal on the shelf and walk away from the hot guy at the gym.  Just say no.  Many times, no.  Giant, steaming piles of NO. 

7)  Be rigorously honest.  If someone asks how you're doing and you feel like stabbing kittens (or kitlers) responding "I'm fine" is nowhere near as satisfying as stating "I haven't slept in weeks, I am googling how to effectively cut someone's brake lines, and I want to eviscerate his girlfriend with an Exacto knife, thanks for asking".  Catharsis is a beautiful thing.
8)  You'll get over it.  I swear.  You will never be the same after a divorce, but everyone I've met who has walked the Green Mile tells me they are actually better after going through it. Seriously.  Every.  Last.  One.  You will laugh again.  You will feel passion again.  You will be held and kissed and made love to again.  And that person you thought you couldn't live without?  You will.  And -- believe it or not -- that shitty Gotye song was right: they'll one day just be someone that you used to know.*

*Although I'm relatively certain that saying "shitty" and "Gotye song" in the same sentence is redundant.

9) Your kids will get over it too.  I'm not saying that they won't bear the repercussions of a divorce -- any child, naturally, would -- but they will learn and laugh and grow in spite of it.   Show them strength.  Show them joy.  And WHATEVER you do, do not EVER bad mouth the other parent in front of them!!!  You may hate this person with the burning fire of a thousand white hot suns, but they are still the primary role model your child will have for a member of the opposite sex.   Imagine you are a 6 year old boy hearing your mother say "All men are scum!"  Knowing that you will one day become a man, what message did you just receive?  Children will see their parents for who they are as the years progress, so focus on making yourself someone to be admired and emulated, rather than tearing down someone else.  Believe me, if your ex is a dipshit, by the time your kids are 12-13 years old, they'll have figured that out on their own without your input.

Anyone else out there have some advice for "newbies" going through a divorce?  Because I'm thinking about writing a self-help book. . .just as soon as I check out this video on dogs dressed like Elvis. . .