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Crossing Over to the After-(married)life

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When you're a divorced woman in her forties or older, the odds go down for many things. Going down is a good thing in back seats, bedrooms, and elevators. It is not such a good thing when odds go down for things like finding a bathing suit that you can wear in public, keeping your neck from looking like a sagging scrotum, and finding genuine love, to name a few.

I never thought I'd be divorced, but there I was, approaching the big 5-0 and flying in at 1.21 gigawatts coming back to the future where Mars and Venus had merged in ways I would soon discover.

I had been married for almost 20 years and was facing not only the reinvention of myself, but also the transformation of the world of dating. To say the least, I was very intimidated and nervous. It was the first time I had ever felt that my future was a complete unknown and scary place. I was experiencing life after death... of a marriage.

My marriage, that lasted a little less than half the number of years I had been alive, was pronounced dead. Exact time of death remains uncertain, as there were many near death experiences. We were terminal for a long while, in remission several times, then the problems finally metastasized and we flatlined.

Now it was time to experience the after(married)life. Aside from tremendous fear and anxiety of how I would make a living once my support ended, and feeling uncomfortably vulnerable knowing I had to put one foot in front of the other with no idea of which direction to step; I felt like I had found the golden ticket and walked into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Visions of sweet, sumptuous, tasty treats surrounded me, vying for my attention. It was a veritable buffet of male sweet stuff. Which ones to taste, and which to devour?

My intuition barometer was a bit rusty so my adventures led me down a road paved with big dips (can't tell you their names), black ice (you don't know how dangerous they are until you get closer), and many bumps. Admittedly, not all were the smartest choices, but none-the-less they were my choices. And they were my consequences.

I was conned by a man who was courting me and evidently at least five other women in different states. But wait, there's more! I dated a mental health professional who I discovered was sleeping with his patient. Another man flipped out when I wouldn't sleep with him on the second date. Needless to say, there were many times I second-guessed my decision to divorce my husband.

When our comfort zone isn't so comfortable but merely a confined space surrounded by yellow caution tape keeping us from living life, it's time to break through. I could have stayed in my marriage where I felt secure, but that would have meant continuing to live without emotional connection. I knew I needed and deserved to feel heard and understood, appreciated, and acknowledged; to be looked in the eye by my husband and feel cherished and adored.

I've interviewed so many people who are unhappy with their partners but are too afraid to make the leap -- to defy the gravity of whatever fears are keeping them from soaring in a life they know they desire. Ending a marriage is a big decision and one not to be made without much thought and effort. If divorce is the answer, it will have its costs, but living a life of our choosing, even with its challenges: priceless.