Things I’ve Learned About Divorce (Even if You Don’t Want to Call it That)

I was married to Dana for seven years and change. I was married to Kathleen for 11 months. During both of those divorces, I learned things that you just don’t learn without going through it. When Kathleen left me, I was a grand total of 24 years old. Now I’m almost 38. My perspective is quite a bit different now than it was then. I wish I could say that the same principles apply, but they do not. Age is everything when it comes to all-out change.

  1. In the South, they sell you this line of crap that some man is going to show up and complete your whole life, and he is going to be your one true love. Southern lesbians are not immune to this fairy tale, so when I got divorced the first time around, I thought there would never be anybody else for me…. ever. At 38, I know that there are lots of people out there that would gladly have me as a significant other. It’s only a matter of finding them and not scaring them off within a few months. I am deep and intense, and then you pull back a layer and I am deeper and more intense. Women LOVE me until they find out I’m exhausting. And that’s something you only learn with age….. pretty sure I have given Dana, Argo, and Aaron their share of grey hairs as well.
  2. I am quieter than I’ve ever been. I don’t generally leave my house. When Argo asked if she needed a restraining order, I laughed to myself and thought, “she is greatly overestimating my desire to drive to the airport. Has she BEEN to Bush lately?” For those of you thinking that I could just drive, you really haven’t been paying attention. I tend to like being alone with my thoughts, because I have so many of them that people get tired of the sound of my voice. I, however, do not. I think I’m a riot. Divorce is a chance for me to spend time with me, and I have turned out to like me a lot. Who cares if other people don’t? My happiness radiates from within, not without. Divorcing at 38 doesn’t make me feel incomplete, as in “I must have a partner to survive!”
  3. Her crap is always going to be at your house. She doesn’t want it back. She will NEVER come and get it, ok? Stop trying.
  4. The more you get to know yourself, the more you’ll like being divorced. Divorce means never having to compromise on anything, and it needs to be that way for a while. Marriage is hard, hard work. Take a break. Have a Coke and a smile.
  5. The more you can let go of the relationship with the ex, the more problems you will find with it, because you do not have on the rose-colored glasses of romance anymore. For instance, Dana was telling me to pick up the kitchen or something like that and I was like, “whoa. Boundary. You do not get to tell me how to run my kitchen.” Had it been any other room in the house, I wouldn’t have cared. Horn in on my kitchen, and I will end you…. or at least, you might wish I had. It’s my KITCHEN. My lifeblood. See? Not having to compromise is a beautiful thing.
  6. Divorce is a chance to pick back up with all those friends you dumped while you were cocooning. Case in point: I got to go back to Argo and tell her that I was sorry I dumped a bale of hay on her. She joked back. I am not hoping that we will ever be as close, but it feels good after pushing her away b/c I was worried about my relationship with Dana to think that she’s not leaving. If I can relax, she can, and it feels good to have someone with history with both of us to be able to understand at least half of the 85 sides to the story…. and that’s not even recent. That’s been her day in and day out dedication to letters and smiles over the past two years, not the past two days. Also, Aaron has walked with me EVERY DAY during this process, and I couldn’t have gotten through it without him. He holds me when I cry, and that is worth more to me than gold. He is the big brother I never had, even though he’s younger. I just call him my big brother because he, like everyone else, is taller than me. If there’s anything positive about this divorce, even though I have to reduce Dana’s place at the table, she’s still there…. and so are Argo and Aaron, even when I’ve been a complete tool to all of them. It’s like they all understand this whole long-term friendship thing a hell of a lot better than I do.
  7. The difference between being 24 and 37 is that with your friends, recovery time is a lot faster. You’ve walked this path before, and it is familiar. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but marriages only work out half the time. Why should gay people have any better luck than straights?
  8. At 37, I do not feel pressure to get remarried in the slightest. You will not meet me in a gay bar (I don’t THINK), nor will you meet me at speed dating or singles night. I am far more likely to date the pizza girl, because she has three things going for her: 1) Right off the bat, I know she is employed. 2) I also know that she drives. 3.) She already knows where I live. If that fails, I picture myself running into a woman accidentally… it wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. I would rather have happily ever after in a serendipitous way than to go out looking for it. I’m old. I can stand on my own two feet. That only comes with age, too.
  9. Alternatively, dating is a lot more fun and realistic. We know we’re too old to be fresh. We know we have our own quirks. The best we can do is hope they line up.
  10. I have also found that being single is the best way for me to work on religion and spirituality. I can lock myself in my office for HOURS, which to me is the equivalent of workaholic. That does not go over well in marriage; I know I certainly hated those tendencies in Dana, but I hated them less when I was just as consumed as she was because I could understand it differently. If I’m writing a post, you just have to wait. Period.
  11. When I go out, I do not have to communicate with anyone else. Coordinating schedules is hard for me. I’m terrible with time and I tend to get lost in the moment……….. and I want it that way. I’m probably walking and thinking (I do my best thinking while mobile). I don’t want to talk to you. I really don’t.
  12. I am a writer, which presents challenges in a relationship.  I want to be in the middle of the action so I can write about it later. This has led me to do some pretty brave and stupid things, but I am a better writer because of it. I became a better writer by “staking out,” hiding back, and just observing what’s in front of me. Having a partner with me interrupts my flow… yet another thing I would have not known without spending time single.
  13. Who says you have to have a date other people to begin dating? Why not date yourself? Why do you have to have an invitation to do things? I don’t. If I want to go to the beach, I just go. I walk and talk to myself and create inner worlds that may or may not collide with reality. I can’t do that in front of other people…. even with Argo, it was only in black and white, letters sent through the air that taught me as much about myself as I hope it taught her… for better or for worse. However, I never would have gotten to where I am now without inviting myself into my own silence, and not waiting for Dana or my friends to dictate what that looks like for me.
  14. I will close with a Tony Robbins quote- “you learn more when you’re pondering, not when you’re partying.” Never has this been more true for me than right now.

So, evangelicals. Does this sound like “gay” divorce to you? Maybe we should just call it what it is…. divorce. No pretenses. It sucks all the way around…………..

if you let it.

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