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Monica Medina

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Strangers = Cheap Therapy

Posted: 08/26/11 01:13 PM ET

People who didn't know me when I was in the throes of my divorce often ask, "How did you do it? How did you get over your divorce?" People who did know me then never ask. They already know: I talked. Then I talked some more. I became very talkative, letting it all out. A regular Chatty Cathy, sharing with whomever. Whenever.

And that's my number one secret to surviving divorce. Spill your guts out. You'll feel better for it. So go ahead and talk. While you're at it, don't eat because chewing affects your ability to talk. Talk to friends, talk to family. Mostly, though, you should do what I did: Talk to strangers.

It's easy and gratifying and makes for cheap therapy. Besides, when you're new in town, there aren't a whole lot of people that you know. Everyone's a stranger! So talk! After all, you will want to hash and re-hash all that went wrong in your marriage, the missed cues, and the hidden messages that were staring you in the face, only you didn't notice. You will want to analyze every nuance and explore ad nauseam every single conversation you ever had with your spouse.

And what better sounding board than a stranger? Any stranger will do. It's such a release to talk to people who don't know you. They don't judge you. And because they don't know you, they're too polite to walk away or yell,

"ENOUGH ALREADY!" or "GET OVER IT!"

Trust me, when you hear these words shouted at you, it's usually a signal that you've somehow managed to bring your friends or family to the end of their rope, and they're ready to strangle you if you don't shut up right this very second, thank you very much.

Strangers, however, are nice and nod their heads as you talk, taking in everything you have to say. They recognize that when you finally take a breath, they can politely excuse themselves, knowing fully well that they'll never have to see or listen to your whiny voice again. It's a win-win!

So, it's only fair and right that I take this opportunity to recognize all the strangers I met during this mind-numbing, walking-in-a stupor period of my life and thank them for helping me to get over it. They all became a part of my desperately needed therapy.

To the cashier at the grocery store: Thank you for being so patient with me when I held up the line because I was talking and sobbing so hard I couldn't find my coupons no matter how many times I rifled through my purse.

To the usher at the movie theater who took my ticket: Thank you for listening and for not making fun of me, for going to the movies by myself every week and getting all teary-eyed--yet empowered--seeing Groundhog Day over and over.

To the cab driver who drove me home from the airport--I'm not thanking you. It's your job to listen. If you ever watched "Taxicab Confessions," which I myself have never seen, but I imagine the cabbies in it are good listeners, then you'd know that. Now you also know why I didn't tip you. And was it really necessary to tell me that you could have predicted the demise of my marriage?

To the locksmith who drove out to my house to change the locks late one night: Thank you for telling me I was too good for him. You couldn't really judge, but it's the thought that counts.
To the plumber who had to come to my house because I threw all his old letters in the toilet: Honestly, I thought they'd dissolve when flushed. I guess I didn't notice the paper clips and staples too. Oh, and thank you for looking through my wedding album with me. Your insight was invaluable.

To the psychic at the state fair: Thank you, but you were wrong. We didn't get back together, though you probably knew it all along and were just trying to protect my already frazzled emotions.