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Giving Thanks for Divorce's Silver Linings

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Last week, in the writing group I facilitate for homeless people, I suggested a pre-Thanksgiving exercise that got me thinking. Instead of the grade-school-type assignment of writing what you're thankful for I suggested we come up with some things we are not thankful for and see if we can find bright spots in those, the proverbial silver linings.

I'm not thankful that my three kids have parents who are no longer married, but there are many things I am thankful for as a result of my divorce. Let me say at the outset that I liked being married. The greatest loss was that of our family unit, even though we still go on "family" vacations and gather on holidays.

Three things I miss most about being married are:

  1. Reading the Sunday New York Times with my ex. He would quote to me bits of interesting articles, which doubled my reading pleasure.
  2. Even though my former husband traveled a lot, I never felt lonely the way I sometimes do now. At times I felt disconnected from friends because it takes time to be married, time that I now use to spend with old friends and cultivate new friendships.
  3. Oops, I can't remember the third thing. If it comes to me, I'll let you know. Oh, now I remember, he wrote all the checks and dealt with life's fine print.

As for a sleeping companion, I stopped caring whether someone with hairy legs was sharing my bed. In fact, at some point I began to believe that sharing my bed with my hairy beagle, Casey, was as pleasurable in it's own way and in other ways a lot less bother. For example, I can blow my nose loudly in the night and Casey could care less. If only Casey could talk politics.

Sex begs to be addressed, even though my children, who will see this, might gag. I'll spare you details, but yes it's nice to have a built-in partner. On the other hand it's nice to have one's own bedtime routine and to once again have experienced feelings of new romance with an (albeit limited) succession of boyfriends.

The morning routine is my treasure. I go to sleep when I please and wake up when I please and turn on NPR without worrying I'm disturbing someone. And no one disturbs me. Casey simply follows along with my schedule, which often varies from day to day.

After getting dressed, if the weather is 50 degrees or above, I go out to the porch that is off my bedroom and stretch then write, which is what I'm doing now. It's 12:48 pm. When I finish this, Casey and I will have breakfast and take a short walk. After that, I'll write some more and then walk with a friend. (In case you missed the diet tip, my theory goes that I eat all day long, so the later I start, the less I eat.)

Often at night I go to dinner, to book club, to a swing dance. Other nights I turn on MSNBC and cook Brussels sprouts and answer mail, often sitting through repeat rounds of Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow. Catching up on mail while listening to jabs at Sarah Palin is a pleasant way for me to spend an evening.

Last night I went ice skating with my ex-so-called boyfriend under a velvety midnight-blue sky with a crisp half moon on the outdoor rink that sits between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Afterwards we went for frozen yogurt and a stroll.

Don't get me wrong, the skating was as lovely as it sounds but it's not perfect. Mr. Ex-So-Called was cranky about my fiddling with my stuff in the car, putting things in my pockets so I wouldn't have to take my backpack to the ice and then fiddling again after we skated to put back stuff from my pockets into my backpack, all of which proves, of course, that you don't have to be married to get on someone's nerves.

Now that it's just Casey and me at home, the serenity is ideal for my writing. Ah, but there's the rub. I'm not complaining, but as a free-lance writer, I have no anchor, no office culture. I regret that, as a competent loner, I've built more space around myself than I presently need. It helps that I've compiled a list of people I like, long enough to form a small village. So when the house gets too quiet, there's always someone to bike to if I'm desperate to escape the racket of molecules banging together.

Maybe I could do more to attract the company of a suitable man. Instead, I have chosen a path of comfort in my "mom jeans." By contrast, some women I know have undergone the cosmetic blade to look sexier and younger. Would I ever pay a surgeon to cut open my face open and staple my head and risk making me look like Popeye? Certainly not to attract a guy who's too vain to use sunscreen like a man I met some years ago on a bike trip.

In sum, divorce has countless silver linings and I have oodles to be thankful for.
Despite the upbeat tone of this, I'm a worrywart. Visit my blog Confessions of a Worrywart.

Also see my simple recipes, tips and other articles on Home Goes Strong.

What silver linings can you find in things you're not thankful for?