About this Blog

About this Blog: Divorce is something you do, not something you are. It is not easy, but it can be funny. I know hanging on to my humor gave me hope and courage. Divorce shouldn't cramp your style. There are whole industries devoted to helping brides plan their weddings -- why shouldn't we have a style guide for divorce?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Playlist for Divorce #1: Afterwords

This Playlist allows you to feel calm and resigned.  Okay, maybe a certain amount of sad, but a little bit more at peace about the whole damn thing.  Afterwards.  Afterwords.

  1. "Better,"                    Regina Spektor
  2. "F**k You,"             Lily Allen
  3. "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues,"                The Eels
  4. "Change Your Mind,"                     Sister Hazel
  5. "Hands Open,"           Snow Patrol
  6. "If I Ever Leave This World Alive,"   Flogging Molly
  7. "Na Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,"     Steam
  8. "Cold Cold Heart,"       Norah Jones
  9. "Throw it Away,"        Abbey Lincoln
  10. "Round of Blues,"      Shawn Colvin
  11. "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong,"       Spin Doctors
  12. "I Feel it All,"              Feist
  13. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away,"      Eddie Vedder
  14. "The Gardens of Sampson & Beasley,"        Pink Martini
  15. "I Can See Clearly Now,"        Johnny Nash
  16. "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da,"        The Police
  17. "Let My Love Open the Door,"       Pete Townsend
  18. "I Have a Song to Sing, O!,"         Peter, Paul & Mary
  19. "The Weight,"       The Band
  20. "Song for the Asking,"       Simon & Garfunkel

The Style Guide to Divorce: Your Play Lists

When I got dumped after an intense, romantic fling a few years ago, I found myself heartbroken in a way that surprised me.  First, I'd sob uncontrollably on hearing certain songs, and yet I'd replay them over and over, feeling exhausted but a little better after an evening of wallowing.  I'd never before been so traumatized by a departing boyfriend.  Second, every time I collapsed in tears, a tiny little part of my rational self would stir herself, cooly observe the dramatic emotional scene, and say, "You realize that you didn't cry quite like this when your marriage broke up."  "I know," I'd wail.  I'd stop crying for a moment and breathe deeply.  "Why is that?"  It was a strange feeling.  Sure, I'd cried.  But that was because it was such a big, frustrating, inconvenient change in the plans, and because it made me feel stupid for choosing him as a spouse when clearly it was never going to work out.  But I didn't cry because I missed him or because I wanted him back.  Did it mean I'd never loved him?  On occasion that thought brought forth a different type of tears, for lost time and opportunity, for not believing I deserved more.

But I digress.  The thing was, I really needed to get over my broken heart, and I really needed to not be thrown off my recovery if one of my sad, trigger songs came on the radio.  So I started pulling them together in playlists, and then would inoculate myself by listening to them in big chunks of time.  That helped.  And in time I started making other playlists for different moods.  The moods that said "I'm better off without you anyway," or "What an ass - I can't believe I ever saw anything in you!"  Boy did those help.  I enjoy my OCD, so I put it to use, making lists of 20 songs each, and then grouping them into groups of five - 100 songs in each playlist folder.  Of course each one had to have an appropriate name.

I lost a great many hours working with my lists, adding songs, deleting songs, perfecting the play order.  Every now and then I hear a song - new or just one I haven't listened to in a while (movie soundtracks are great for this), and I'll think, "This would be perfect for --- !"  and then it's hours more gone to restructure the system.  But it's a great hobby and been a great way to work through my feelings, and make the painful ones less sensitive.  I finally even made one for the guy I used to be married to.  It's fabulous, and Purl doesn't know why I'm smiling when I play it in the car.  Lists and song clips to follow, if I can figure that out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allergic to Change

Snuff, snuff, sniffle. . . I have emptied a box of tissues already this week, plus the one at home. It is impossible to figure out if I am coming down with something, and is it bacterial, or is there something in the air? One minute I'm fine, one minute I'm sneezing, and the next I can only breathe through one side of my nose -- no wait -- it's mouth only. My usually charming Midwestern nasal twang soweds moe lye-guh dis.

Wouldn't you know it though, this is what I went through nine months ago when I arrived here. First I thought it was road fatigue plus the dust from all my moving boxes. Then I thought it was pollen in my new neighborhood, plus poor local air quality. The week after that I tried the mold in my office theory, but that didn't work either. Nothing worked: over the counter, behind the counter, antihistamine, decongestant, histamine blocker, neti pot, herbs, nada. The acupuncturist said it was stress and I drank this awful tea tasting of Farmer's Friend throat lozenges for a week. Two rounds of antibiotics finally seemed to kick it in the pants, but that was right around the time when I got word about my Illinois bar results, so who really knows whether it was the drugs or the endorphins kicking my immune system back into gear.

I'm complacent, thinking that perhaps my new move is bringing it all on and that it will pass. The uncertainty, the logistics, the pressure -- enough to make me want to curl up with some chicken soup and sleep until the whole thing is over. Some kind of psycho-somatic reaction to change, which my body sees it as threatening rather than exciting. What a drag, though -- it's going to be a few more weeks before I get all unpacked again. I'd like to be known as the wonderful new person in town and at the office, not the poorly looking soul with the red nose and watery eyes.

But if sniffling for the next week is the way to get there, so be it. I'll just take some zen-like action to address the problem indirectly (sudafed not doing a hell of a lot anyway, so my allergies can just bite it if they think they're going to get me down). A manicure. A massage. Several bottles of champagne. A date. Concert tickets. Nothing can get me down because I feel good, look good, and have great things to look forward to. Sniff, sniff, sniff.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Importance of Pets

It doesn't matter if you're the one leaving or if you perhaps got left behind - there's nothing that takes the edge off a day of divorce-wrangling like the soulful, non-judgmental eyes of your dog.  I don't have experience with salamanders or pythons, but I suppose the company of a cold-blooded animal might be soothing in a certain way as well.

I got a cat when the guy I used to be married to finally left.  Weeks of stress and uncertainty preceded his departure -- it was that setup where it had to be his decision to leave, and he wouldn't just make the decision.  So he was leaving, but I was kicking him out.  Geez it was a lot of work.

When it was finally quiet enough to feel his absence, the thought just came rushing in:  get a cat -- now!  The child and I hopped into the car and sped over to the shelter, where we played with and picked out a sweet grey kitten.  An hour later she and the dog were sizing each other up, and eventually became the best of friends.

The cat served an important purpose or several.  Sure, she replaced the warm body of the departed spouse, so that "we" still had a household of four beings.  She was also an important distraction for the child, a source of joy to offset the pain and sorrow of the separation.  For me too:  the dog was too big to be a lap warmer, so those times when I was the only human in the house her demands for attention forced me to stop and cuddle and feel a whole lot better.

Oh, and did I mention?  A pretty effective barricade.  Yes, I did know how allergic the guy I used to be married to was when I brought home the cat.  Well, I'd heard about it.  And I'd never really been a cat person, so it didn't come up.  A few odd times I guess at someone else's house.  But that morning the concept was strikingly clear -- get yourself a damn cat fast or that man is going to come back.

Later that day he dropped by to pick up some socks, or whatever.  It was impressive.  That little tiny kitten.  The wheezing, the shortness of breath, the hives.  They started immediately.  Sheepishly, he asked, "so, I guess I can't come back now."  "Nope."  He stayed by the door, and left soon after.