My post-graduate degree in divorce: what I've learned (about baggage, that is)
By susan mernit on May 27, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
This June, I reckon, I get my postgraduate degree—in divorce, that is.
It was exactly four years ago, you see, that after 20+ years of fiercely monogamous marriage, my husband and I parted ways. I’ve written before about the shock I felt, the determination to make this split an opportunity for personal growth, and the fact that, at the end of the day, I just really had no clue what I actually wanted once I was on my own.
(The fact I am writing this at the breakfast table as a naked man pours yogurt into a bowl beside me does suggest that I did eventually figured it out.)
If I was going to award myself a graduate degree in divorce, though, it would be awarded not on the basis of meeting A and falling in love with him and moving in together but on my improved understanding of who I was in May 2005, and who I am today. My postgraduate degree in divorce isn’t about that painful split, but about the choices I made from that moment on, and what I learned on my new path.
Who was that person I was in May 2005, and how have I changed?
Well, for one thing, I am a lot more comfortable with who I am—-good and bad qualities both—and more aware of what I have to offer in relationship that makes me special.
For another, I’ve learned that shoehorning myself into relationships that don’t work is a bad idea and that people (myself included) can get really hurt.
I’ve also accepted that I’m a hopeless rebel. And a little bit twisted. For years, I had friends I thought were edgier than me. I told myself that I was the straight one in the group. Now, looking back, I understand that I was just like my friends, but I didn’t want to accept that.
Conversely, I’ve also come to understand I’m not as out there as I thought in 2006. . For all my fringe dabbling and self-proclaimed non-monogamy, none of its really a big deal. The Bay area is filled with Burners, queer folk and poly people, so part of my more recent journey has also been to Get.Over.Myself. The eye-rolling of friends who think Goddess is a salad dressing and who were tired of hearing about HAI were a good reminded to take a deep breath and dial it all down.
I also realize I’m not as willing to be alone as I told myself I was back in 2005.
I had lots of stories of my life as a singleton, however, truth was, I had allowed almost no down time, post break up, of not dating someone.
Even if I wasn’t looking to live with anyone or get married, I was far from going solo. I was out there dating with a vengeance, almost like to didn’t want to take the time to be alone with myself. Part of the recent learning was to create more space just for myself and hold it.
Oh yeah, and then there’s my new willingness to admit I have emotional baggage.
Those scars from the past that lead me to not trust people, to not be direct enough, to not be honest about what I really feel—yeah, I’ve still got’ em. Even when I make the effort to be trusting, I know that, like fat cells, my caution and mistrust are still right there with me, just waiting to spring back. And even though I don’t like it, it would be false to pretend otherwise.
Knowing my own baggage, and how alive and present it can be at times, it is easy to respond with compassion to my friend (I dig her!) Anaiis (AV) Flox writing “At some point I wondered whether perhaps I am simply not the relationship type,”( Could it be you’re not the relationship kind? ).
But I know that AV, amazing siren that she is, will go on to love again; but as I think she already knows, her baggage will most likely always be there, a factor in the new romance.
The new rules of divorce are that you hurt, you love, you hurt—and then, as Alanais Morissette kinda said, you move on (and possibly love again).
So, for your fellow BlogHers, what have you learned since your breakup or divorce that makes your baggage a little less weighty? Share in the comments, please.
Blogs from around the ‘sphere:
Lea Lane: Why I’m Alone
“I find myself sitting in front of the computer, and three hours later I look up and the sun is down and it's too late to ask someone to go out to dinner, so I spread some cream cheese and mild salsa on wheat crackers and watch Olbermann. And I'm fine with it.
... I married a special man twelve years older than I and he died and I'm told it's off-putting to be a widow who loved a special man.
... I sometimes like it, so I won't go out and beat the bushes for some nice-enough fellow who belches so loud I jump and doesn't listen and who doesn't make me smile enough to put up with strange noises and indifference.”
Single, Sleepless Sac-Town Mom: How to date a single mom
“If you are considering a relationship with a single mom, it may seem at first like you are taking on more baggage than all the lost luggage claims that United processes in a day. It doesn’t have to be this way, and don’t go in thinking that. Single mothers are among the most mature, responsible, and loving people on the planet. “
Baggage that goes with mine: The post where I whine more than usual
“…the point is, as my friend told me today: If you are in a relationship, you should be working towards getting married. Otherwise, why not just be friends with benefits? It is less work. No laundry to do, no one to keep up with. Of course, she’s got the husband so she can probably say that but COME ON. AFTER SIX YEARS. You either want to get married or you don’t.”
Down on the farm in Indiana: The Dating Game
“Now that I am a married woman of nearly eight years I often wonder about my dating partners and where they are now. The "maybe gay" guy is he working the perfume counter or is he a hair styling salon mogul. The Tom Selleck almost...he is probably sitting in a "wife beater" tee shirt and shorts watching Nascar drinking whatever beer was on sale. The camel cyclist...I am afraid to even think about him. I may seem him on a episode of "Crocodile Hunter" since he has such an affinity for snakes. Then finally there is Mr. Rogers with the tax deduction. He is probably assaulting convicted felons with his yellow umbrella instead of a rubber hose. And I....I took the road less traveled by..and that has made all the difference!”