Every time I have told someone about the divorce, all I hear is, "He will move on before you. The men always do." Or, "Oh the men need someone so he'll marry again before you do." Or, "Well you know...men get over these things quickly. The women stay alone."
I felt rattled by these words because based on every stranger, coworker and friend, women suffer through loneliness and men find happiness instantaneously. It was the fiftieth time in my life that I wished for a penis.
'Why is this?" I asked, angry at my supposed lot--the lot of the lonely woman.
And it wasn't just the lot of the lonely woman I had just received but the lot of amicable divorce turned sad, according to random psychics, I mean, strangers, coworkers, and friends.
"Wait til he finds a girlfriend. Oh that will be so hard on you."
Doomed. Doomed before we even stand in front of a judge and agree to be divorced.
I said no way. I said I would be OK. I could handle a girlfriend--least from a decent distance. There was no way I could crumble. I had this.
Of course, then I heard about him dating.
The words. When I knew, I felt as if someone had put a shotgun to my gut. That night I cried for most of the night. In fact, I am pretty sure I have just been random waterworks as if I were a pregnant lady ever since. If you aren't sure if it's me, see if the woman is crying. If yes, chances are it's me.
Everyone was right. He moved on first--I mean, I guess in terms of dating, more successfully. I have not dated successfully. It's not because I don't want to, but mostly because I hate online dating and let's face it: as a single mom in her late thirties with all married friends and who works all the time, when am I going to meet anyone else otherwise? And the few men I have lightly interacted with were not people that were on my same playing field. All in all, it's been a barren period. But in all actuality, who knows if this person he is dating will be my daughter's next step mother. I don't know. I am not psychic and no, I'm not asking random strangers for their "psychic input" either. The men move on first they said. The men find women. You will be sad. You will be angry.
"Oh the women always have a tough time. It's so hard. They focus on the kids. Men don't want women with kids. Women don't mind a man with kids."
So basically, it sucks to be a woman and have a vagina, yet again.
I don't know if all men move on before women in the case of divorce. It seems so simplistic and stereotypical to make these generalized statements. I am sure there are men who mourn over divorce and take their time to move on. Yet damnit, when I look around more often than not, the men have suffered for a bit and then moved on without so much a trace of sweat on their brows. Perhaps it's society and we tell men they can't grieve. Perhaps they're grieving but not allowed to show this. Perhaps it's just my corner of the world that's just full of men creating new wives, new girlfriends, and new lives. I wanted so much for that not to be true. I wanted us to move on together or selfishly, at least me first.
And is it not moving on if you're single? Even though I am living my life, making goals and having wishes and dreams, do I not qualify as moving on because I am still very much single?
That doesn't seem right. A girlfriend or boyfriend shouldn't be proof of "moving on" yet it sort of is.
No one prepared me for how bad I would feel. Whenever I think of anything even a year later, it seems somewhat attached to a memory that he was a part of. I've had my own friends, my own place, my own hobbies, and my own routines and months of satisfied single non-dating life, yet like a spirit, he hovers over me each day in the movements of my child, her face, songs on the radio, foods, and more. Seasons, smells, sights and sounds all conjure up him. It's not that I wouldn't be delighted to meet someone but that no one worth my time has crossed my path just yet.
Really what it is--those tears, my sadness, my anger-- is fear.
Yes, part of it is heartache. How could someone love someone else and not me?
But the truth is, it's fear. I'm afraid of what's to come or better yet, what isn't to come. Am I'm doomed as everyone likes to tell me, to a life of solitude (for some that may work but for me, it wouldn't) because I am so damn strong? That's women! Strong!
Why do I have to be so strong?
The fear is gripping. As I lose the one person I could rely on even though we fought and didn't see eye-to-eye, I wonder what is next in my life. Who will be my emergency contact? Who will hug me when I'm having a bad day?
Divorce feels like a never-ending cycle of good-byes. I don't know what will happen to me, to him, and to our new family of sorts. There may be step-children. There may be new partners. There may be me, alone, while he makes more kids (perhaps the hardest lot for me) and moves forward and my "moving forward" may be unlike what I had planned for.
I don't have a crystal ball and I can't read palms but what I do know is if there is one thing I wish for myself and for everyone going through a divorce, it is peace. Peace and a life free of fear. It's no way to wake up each morning.