The advice people gave me after my divorce was to find a nice guy. As if this would be the cure-all for my life falling apart. In hindsight, it's hard not to burst into a full-blown mirth over the whole concept, falling out of one relationship with broken wings and expecting to fly into another successfully without repairing oneself. I'll be honest, at the time I too believed finding a nice man would be my cure all. Boy, was I wrong! Its good to know I have moved forward in a more mature fashion since then.
It all began with my post-divorce girlfriends telling me about the lists they were writing outlining the qualities of their perfect man. A lot of the attributes were the same across the board; nice, handsome, rich, funny, loyal, mind numbingly boring.... While others had some rather unique attributes; body of Adonis, Mega CEO, famous, never married, dream on, dream on.... I too found myself writing a list. It was hard not to be encouraged to do so since some of my friends ended up with a man that matched most of their wants. Even Oprah has suggested writing a list of your perfect man to help manifest him. Surely, if Oprah says I can manifest a man via a list then of course I had to write one.
As I read my list nightly, I envisioned a puff of smoke rising up out of my journal swirling around me and in a poof my perfect man would appear. Clearly, this never happened and I quickly realized finding the perfect man could easily turn into a second full time job. Eventually, I generated some traction in my hunt via friends who set me up on blind dates with the guy that was perfect for me.
First, there was Terrance, a smart handsome successful attorney. Our initial date and ahem, last, went on for hours, filled with interesting conversation and mutual divorce stories. Everything was going swimmingly well until he told me that his mother was the final decision maker when it came to his personal life. Listen, I am all about a guy who loves his mom, but the vision of him driving me out to the dessert with a shovel and duct tape in his trunk after his mother disapproved of me just wouldn't get out of my head. Then there was Rick, handsome, VP of a public company, divorced with a young daughter, and as a bonus he had a cute smile. We met for a glass of wine on our blind and final date, at a quaint French Bistro. After five minutes of niceties, he began sharing tales of his recent egregious divorce and how he hired a pit bull for an attorney. Jubilantly, he chirped on how he went for his ex's jugular. He was nearly singing in delight at his witty and evil retorts toward his soon to be ex and her attorney. Two hours later, after not having eked out one word, he said;
"You were so wonderful to talk with I would love to see you again."
Are you kidding me? All I could think was I hope I wasn't that bad during my divorce.
I've had so many of these fab blind dates it's a stunner I haven't been offered a free dog by now. I began to wonder if Mr. Perfect really existed or was he simply a character constructed by the creative minds of Hollywood. After all, I could see myself dating Tom Hanks - he was so cute in Sleepless in Seattle, the perfect partner with the perfect child and the perfect circumstance of no ex-wife. When it comes to Hollywood, everyone knows that a lasting marriage is a statistical anomaly, so why do we eat their romantic garb and believe that such a fantasy could translate into our lives? I'll tell you why; because, no matter how much it hurts or disappoints, love will keep on fogging our clarity allowing ourselves to continue to search and crave more of it. We will starve without it, so we forage through life in pursuit of our proverbial soul mate no matter the cost. The cost emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually we still move onward with a Panglossian verve to achieve this emotion called Love, yet again and again and again.
There is no doubt love and marriage is a mystifying phenomenon, driving people to behave in the strangest of ways. At the end of my divorce I found myself curled up in a ball, listening to unrequited love songs, sobbing breathlessly, and reaching what I believe was the closest I ever hope to see the depths of hell. Then, just like childbirth, I forgot the pain and forged ahead to look for the latest version of the drug called love. Why can't life be like the perfect sitcom, with a kick ass beginning, middle and The End, where we can always find humor? Unfortunately, life doesn't always play out like a sitcom, unless you're Jerry Seinfeld. Let's face it, our beginnings have already been written, but our middle and endings are reliant upon our ability to internally write our own humor filled sitcom. And that is exactly how I have moved forward in my life, living it filled with joy and laughter and the ability to create my own happy ending. I finally discovered divorce is not a destination it's a journey. It is my firm belief without the failure of my marriage I would never have been able to succeed in the most important area of my life, me. My love of self and internal joy has grown exponentially because of the deep soul searching I have done après divorce. We all need to just calm down and let life unfold as it is suppose to without placing pressure on ourselves about needing a soul mate to complete us. Cuz, the reality is, Tom Cruise has yet to burst into my living room to exclaim;
"You - complete - me."
Nor has my best friend like Harry from When Harry Met Sally proclaimed;
"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
What I do believe is translated perfectly by one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's characters;
"All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase - I love you."
No matter how difficult my divorce was I still remain a great paladin for the justice of my heart, which remains wide open. I will not settle for less than what I am offering me. Loving and cherishing me, showing compassion to others and myself and speaking the truth all the while laying on the same common ground with my partner - wherever he may be. Divorce hasn't made me bitter nor has my endless hunt for the perfect man. Who knows, some day I may discover another soul who matches me and together we will experience something new, something that has never been. I now trust myself enough that if and when my perfect man comes along, somehow I will just know it.