Go ahead and get ugly. You’re entitled for one year.
Over the summer I visited a longtime friend. As we sat at the beach, our kids playing nearby, I noticed her hair was uncharacteristically oily and snarly. Her unkempt bush was bursting out the crotch of her green tank suit, and her toddler son sat nearby, eating sand and crying. She didn’t notice.
“I’m in a good place,” she said, looking away from me. “I’m thinking of dating.”
“Hm,” I said.
She was in a good place: That post-divorce, hot, steaming, crying, screaming, angry, elated, miserable, hopeless, desperate, stinky, hairy, eating-sand place: The first year after divorce.
My friend’s husband, you see, had moved out — after she discovered he’d secretly gambled away all their savings. She was exactly where she was supposed to be: deep in the denial phase of grief.
I see it all the time, and you likely do, too. People fall apart when their marriages end. No matter if it is an amicable, Gweneth Paltro uncoupling, your decision or his, wether there was plenty of money or everyone is now destitute, divorce is trauma. Every single vertical of your life unravels: finance, real estate, the kids of course, and how much you will see them and where. Money is a giant, scary question mark, and your relationships with friends and extended family likely change and are challenged. If you are like I was, your ideas about your own sexuality, identity and future are questioned, and your health can take its toll.
You get a year. A free pass for 12 months to be a freaky weirdo. Drink too much after the kids go to bed. Smoke a few cigarettes at break time with your colleagues. Let the house go, let the dishes pile up in the sink. Hell, might as well preemptively cancel the gym memberships, because you’re not going. Be stinky and oily, and let your pubes hang out of your swimsuit on a public beach in the midwest. Sleep with a bunch of completely inappropriate people and wear things that no one at your age with your body should ever even think about wearing in public. Stay up all night stalking your college boyfriend on Facebook.
You’re good. No judgement here!
Listen to my podcast on post-divorce shit shows!
Am I describing your friend or sister? Let her have at it, hang it all out. It’s part of the process from which she will emerge, mind-blowingly successful and stronger than ever.
But at month 13? Time to tidy up business. Your Post-Divorce Hot Mess Pass has expired.
Get a wax. Go on some nice dates with nice people. Get that career going, wrap up the final, ugly details of your divorce, and pay a little more attention to the kids. Early to bed, and go to the gym for crissake.
And if you’re the friend? Bring over a decent bottle of wine for after the kids go to bed. Two glasses each, and a toast to celebrate that that horror is finally behind her.
Did you lose it during your divorce? Thoroughly embarrass yourself? Go on … share in the comments!