Monday, October 8, 2012

Divorce Therapy

One of my favorite sayings goes something like this: "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." Truer words were never spoken. I'm divorced, happily remarried to one of the sweetest men on the planet (my parents even love him, which is a first for me), but sorry to say that I didn't learn my lesson the first time. It took two bad marriages, and expensive, drama-filled divorces, to demonstrate to me that I was making some very bad decisions. I compounded the problem by refusing to admit that I had been wrong (I sort of have issues with that), which meant that I spent many miserable years living with my mistakes.

A bad relationship is like a disease. It creeps into your system and drains the life from you. Pretty soon, you don't even want to open your eyes in the morning. My divorces could easily have turned me into a bitter person. I was so angry for so many years that I could barely contain myself anymore. But my friends circled around me, we all compared notes (three of my closest friends are twice divorced, so they also had a catalog of material) and we were able to laugh about it. I quickly realized that I wasn't the only one to look back and wonder why I had spent so long allowing myself to be treated like a second class citizen. We started trying to one-up each other. And some of the stories we swapped...well, when you say them out loud, you start to realize how ridiculous you can let your life become. I shared many a side splitting laugh over iced tea, wine and margaritas. I felt so much better.

So I started writing about it. I told the stories we had all shared. I hinted at a pattern women can allow themselves to fall into if they aren't paying attention. I tried to use humor to show that women are better, stronger and tougher than we give ourselves credit for. We don't need a relationship to prove our self worth. In fact, a bad one can have the opposite effect. We are better standing on our own two feet than lashing ourselves to someone else who drags us down.

When I started telling women what I was writing, inevitably I would hear, "Oh, I've got one for you." I realized I had touched a nerve. In general, women tend to take the failure of a relationship as a personal failure--as in, "If I had just...I could have fixed it." Many men are the exact opposite ("If she had just...things would have been fine.") How fair is that? Both sides blame the woman. And by blaming her, he doesn't have to work on the relationship at all. He has no responsibility. No wonder we get so angry. 

Through the process, I saw I wasn't alone. And I am still seeing that. I pulled out the book and put the finishing touches on it recently at the request of one of my divorced friends--her ex of 15 years was giving her trouble and as she was telling me the story, she said this was one for that book I needed to finish (the task was much harder for me, by the way, as a happily remarried woman than it was as a recently divorced one that spent too much time battling over palimony payments). It will be released next month. I hope it provides as much therapy for others as it did for me. And if it gives you a laugh or two, so much the better. Especially if it's at the expense of a guy that richly deserves it.

PS My publisher is running a kickstarter campaign at Stop by and have a look. If nothing else, the video should give you a chuckle!

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