Above All: Dignity

How do I handle this meeting? Do I mosey on up to her, give her a little shove and say "Listen Missy, this town ain't big enough for the both of us?"
05/30/2013 05:56 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2013

I love Saturday mornings or what I like to call Sample Time at Publix. On this particular Saturday, I was thrilled to see little paper cups full of greasy, saucy pulled pork BBQ. I grabbed one and gobbled it down already eyeing the wine table across the aisle. I felt a little BBQ sauce trickle down my chin, but I didn't care, it was so worth it -- until I turned around and bumped into -- the new wife.

What to do? It was too late to wipe my chin, the damage was already done. Here I was, in Abercrombie sweats from 2002 and my sons' old baseball cap with the words MIKE'S MEATHOUSE on the brim. Here she was, in a white sundress and flip flops with one of those high tight pony tails that makes my head look like a giant egg. From the looks of her cart, which contained two tuna subs, a bag of ice, cans of iced tea, and a somewhat expensive Chardonnay, I would say she had a day of boating planned. (Apparently, I gave up the boat at mediation in exchange for two flat screens and full custody of the dog.)

How do I handle this meeting? Do I mosey on up to her, give her a little shove and say "Listen Missy, this town ain't big enough for the both of us?" Please, give me a little credit. I simply wiped my mouth, said hello and continued on to the wine station, where I spent a little too much time trying to convince myself I really did like the $7.99 Pinot special.

The point is, it is going to happen. If you live in the same town as your ex and his newbie, you are bound to run into one or both from time to time. It may make you feel like your stomach just fell out of your ass and hit the floor, or that maybe you need to be hooked up to a defibrillator; a bit unsettling to say the least. It can also bring up intense feelings of anger, jealousy and even sadness.

Let's break it down. I know you feel like you want to cry, scream, grab her by that long blonde mane and yell, "Give me back my husband!". Please don't. I lost many things during my divorce, among them a husband of 27 years and the family life we had made. I like to think the one thing I was able to hold on to was my dignity.

The first time I ran into her, she had her young daughter with her. It was during the time when all hell was breaking loose and I was realizing that she was not just a momentary "I can't believe I'm 50 years old and still selling insurance," thing that men go through. I spotted her behind me at the deli counter. My eyes welled up and I wanted to run out of the store, but couldn't as I was waiting for the man to hand me my half pound of Boar's Head Oven Gold.

We made eye contact and angry words began to bubble up into my mouth. I could see it on her face; she was ready for the onslaught. I looked at her young daughter, and thought, What good will it do? I will look like some raving maniac while she stands there with her innocent daughter looking like the victim. I laid my turkey breast in my cart and continued on. Since that day, each meeting has become easier.

Trust me, it will get easier for you too. In time, she will be just another woman in the grocery store, blocking the salad aisle, when you are trying to get that last bag of arugula. Now when I see her, I am more interested in what's in her cart. One time I saw a cheesecake from the bakery in there and looked at her like "Really? With his cholesterol?" Dude.

In all seriousness, it's a tough, painful ride, but hold on. It gets smoother. Cry, scream, rant and rave at home but in public, be cool. Don't give her something to tell her friends. We've all heard the stories, "You won't believe what that crazy bitch did!" Don't be that crazy bitch. Be the woman who picks herself up, dusts herself off and moves on with dignity and class. Trust me, it will serve you well.