40 is just a number…

40 is just a number. That’s what I told myself when I had a mild freak out about that particular birthday. My friends and family threw me a hell of a party in November. A year before, I had started a public relations company with a friend. That was harder than it seemed and life was complicated. But business was good though and I thought ok…I got this. By December, my entire world changed. I was 40, starting over professionally and living alone for the first time. Ever. Holy shit.

You read about divorce all the time and think, not me, no way. That won’t happen to me. And then it did.

Relationships are a lot like bras. You struggle to adjust the cups because it’s just not comfortable. Sometimes your shoulders can’t hold the straps. No amount of shimmying or jiggling is going to make it work. It’s just worn out. I think we were trying to pretend we were the perfect fit for a long time. We weren’t.

For me, I didn’t realize we were in trouble, because I was just trying to be happy. Does that make sense? Somewhere in the process of trying to make it work – I lost myself. I think that happens a little in every relationship. You become another person. You see your friends and family less. You kind of adopt your partner’s philosophies on things, whether they are yours or not.  And when that relationship ends after 18 years,  you need to find your new normal. Deal with the pain of a break-up which feels like someone died and learn how to live alone. Learn how to be a party of one and not a couple.

As I write this very first entry, I have tears in my eyes. I still have good days and bad. And that’s ok. Reflecting back on the last year and a half and knowing most of it wasn’t fun. Well…some of it was fun. We’ll get to that part later.  But you know what? I made it. I survived.

Just because your marriage ends…doesn’t mean YOU end. And all the first “all by myself” milestones come and go. Holidays change. Vacations change. Friends change. Your family changes. And one morning you wake up and realize…sometimes change is good. Sometimes…change is exactly what you need to move forward. You have a new, blank page, and you decide what that story is going to be. Just you.

Welcome to my change. I am writing this to help other women who think it’s not possible to move on after divorce. This blog is what it’s really like out there when you start over. It will be gritty and raw and real. I promise you that.

What’s next? Do you date your phone? Do you swipe right for the prison guy? Do you become Mrs. Robinson for a night…or a week? Hey! No judging. It’s a wild, uncensored ride and I hope you want to take it with me.

Here is what I do know. You are NOT perfect and you don’t have to be. You are totally going to F things up. You are going to make some amazingly bad choices more than once. You are going to drink WAY too much wine, go out WAY too much, and meet all the wrong guys in all the wrong places. You will be totally miserable…and you are going to KILL it! You got this.

Your journey doesn’t end here. It’s only just the beginning. So here’s to new beginnings and being 40, divorced and dating. Welcome to the 40DD club. May your cups always runneth over as we navigate this strange new world together.

When Should You Put the Punta Back in the Cana?

I’d wallowed, went through the stages of grief. Twice by March. I knew I had to move on. I had to move forward. It felt like everything was still crumbling and I couldn’t think straight enough to keep going. What would be my jumping off point? I needed one. I also needed someone (or some group of bitches) to shove me off the cliff.

My best friend from the 2nd grade was turning 40 and she’d planned a girls trip to Punta Cana. I couldn’t go. Too much going on at work. Craziness in my life at home. Remember me, hot mess over here. And I also remember my friends not giving me a choice about going. They shoved me off the cliff. I packed a bag and off I went.

Leading up to this trip, this fine group of women in their infinite wisdom, decided that I just needed to get back on the proverbial horse. I just needed to have sex with someone else to move on. It was March. The break-up/death/my-life-ending happened at Christmas. In my head I knew I had to get back out there…but I wasn’t quite ready to saddle up. Maybe getting lucky would be more of a St.Patrick’s Day celebration or Easter. Sex…are you kidding me…I didn’t know how to even hook-up with anyone else. Had that changed too? I was screwed…and not in the good way.

My vagina was in hiding. Or Siberia. I wasn’t sure where I had left her. Covered in dust and cobwebs most likely. How would I summon her home? I remember talking to Cookie one night during a late night trip to Target. Did I have the essentials? Did I have condoms? Hell no, why would I?!  And then she made me walk to the…dare I say it…condom aisle… like a freaking adult. We laughed over the phone at the options as I read the boxes and tried to decide what mattered most at this point in my life. Did I know? Did I care about his pleasure?  Should I focus on mine? That sounded more like it. Should it be highly lubricated or feel like second skin? F*%$ if I knew. When was the last time I had even used a condom? Oh yeah. It was 18 years ago.

I bought a jumbo box to make Cookie happy. I scattered some in my jeep, sprinkled some in my purse and shoved them in just about every drawer at home. You know…just in case someone, some day, wanted to…oh my god. I was going back out there. To the dating world, where men would kiss me on the mouth and see me naked. Maybe it would be fun but I highly doubted it. Terrifying was more like it.

We left for the island in the middle of an ice storm which seemed fitting. I slid down my steep driveway on my suitcase and we trekked to the airport. This felt a lot like my reluctant entry back onto the dating scene. A few short hours later, I remembered why these women were my friends. Island cocktails, infused with enough rum to keep Blackbeard down for the count were flowing. My groove was resurfacing thanks to 151, sunshine and these ladies. That’s what your four best friends do when you need it most. That and shove you down the driveway through the ice to find your dusty vagina.

By day 3, the staff high-fived us and made drinking motions with their hands every time we passed. I was slowly remembering what it was like to have fun. Boys were chirping at breakfast like some kind of island mating call. I was dialing in my mojo.

We crashed a wedding, drank too much, and I screamed “me gusta” and “no me gusta” at the top of my lungs for 4 days. I met a hot guy who had his zip code tattooed on his torso. He was young, dumb, and oh so pretty. We admired his abs which showcased this tattoo that would no doubt help authorities when he was lost and too drunk to remember his address. Men our age didn’t look like that. Maybe I was going to be ok out there in the world. Our conversation was stimulating. “My bitches are from the bad ass 17111…what about you?” Look at me. I could still flirt. I was rusty but I had this bull by the horns.

I took the advice of one very drunk girl at the bar that night who yelled over and said: “Make good choices!!!!!” I didn’t hook up. I didn’t need condoms. Everyone’s punta and cana stayed in there respective zip codes.

All I needed was that girl time away from the world to remember the old me. Time to sit on the beach and soak up the sun. Breathe a little. Cry a little too.  Four days where your best friends reassure you that you are strong and amazing and you WILL be get through this.

 

And YOU will. It just takes time, best friends, some chirping, and rum shooters.

WWFD

 

In the early days of the big D, I quickly realized the only way to survive what had become my train wreck of a life was great wine, loyal family, and amazing friends. But I needed an objective third-party. Someone who wouldn’t pity me, see me as helpless, or paint me a victim. Someone who could look me straight in my bloodshot eyes and tell me it was normal to cry, swear, swear more, miss your ex, hate your ex, drink, drink more and date the wrong men.
Enter Frank. In my first session, he sat me down and promised he would never give me any of that “psycho babble bullshit”. He was a straight shooter and I needed that. I wanted someone to listen to me and give me guidance. He did all of those things. He still does. Although, I think I entertain him now. My life has changed so much since those early days with Frank. I had only ever really seriously dated one person and then married him.
How in the hell was I going to date now? The internet wasn’t even a thing when my ex and I were dating. Hell, I didn’t even have a cell phone. Now there was an app for everything, including meeting Mr. Right or at least Mr. Good Enough for Right Now. I had to be entertaining. Was this happening to every other 40-year-old who was dating again? It was surreal.
I was entering uncharted, shark infested waters. Most of my friends were married. They couldn’t relate to this “WTF” situation that I was faced with. Frank could. I was a hot mess. He has taught me that I’m a good catch. Divorce doesn’t make me used goods. It doesn’t mean someone else won’t want to be with me.  Divorce doesn’t define me. It doesn’t make me bad at marriage, or relationships, or life. It just makes ME, me.
Frank became that little voice in my head. Cookie (one of many kick ass friends you’ll meet as I tell you these stories), gave me my “going out” mantra:
WWFD? What would Frank do? 
Bad choices or “teachable moments” as I like to think of them now were everywhere. On the street, at a restaurant and good lord all over on my phone. WWFD?
I’m social. I like people and when I have a few drinks, I should instantly lose access to my phone. I should have to blow into it, breathalyzer style, before it lets me communicate with the opposite sex. No texting until you can prove your blood alcohol level can write the appropriate, lady-like responses to the guy you should NEVER text. Or the other guy you should never call. Let alone the one with the tattoos and piercings that boasts of things you didn’t know existed. The list goes on and on and on. WWFD? I don’t know, he was drowning in the martini I just had and I couldn’t hear him. I had things to learn.
I usually still make the wrong decision. Is it wrong if I’m happy though? Is it wrong if I learn something new about myself? Maybe. Maybe not.
Either way Frank is always there waiting for the sordid details because you know what…I’m a good catch dammit. And…I pay him to be there….so there’s that.