Getting right with yourself after divorce is the biggest challenge you’re going to face. All the mechanics of divorce, will eventually take care of themselves. But the emotional fallout might be a bit tougher. I often rely on the language and support of the 12-steps to recover my balance when I’m under the rock of depression or sadness.
And for me, the biggest part of that recovery was regaining some self-confidence and self-love. I felt defeated and broken when I walked out of my marital home and into the world of single dads everywhere. I knew the loss that was coming, now and for the rest of my life I would not have unlimited access to my kids and their hopes and dreams. That loss is still the hardest part for me. I used to love going in late at night and appreciate (give thanks) for their beating and healthy little hearts. Now I can’t to that on most of the nights.
But the areas in me that needed healing were much more personal.
- I didn’t feel sexy or desirable
- My extra weight felt like a fat-sumo-wrestling-suit
- The sadness made it hard to exercise at all
- My initial attempts at dating felt desperate and disconnected
- Loss of all touch and closeness (except from friends and my kids)
- Loss of the hope that I would ever be with another woman
- My mental processes were so wrapped up in ruminating the past, that I felt slow and unintelligent most of the time
And at the deepest core of my pain, I wasn’t sure my body, my soul, was worth all the effort it was going to take to resurface and regain my position as a strong father. A strong single father. At a few dark moments, it just didn’t seem worth it. But then I remembered my dad, and what the loss of him in my early twenties did to me, and I soldiered on.
Today, four-ish years after I walked out on my kids and married life (not my idea) there are still points of pain and sadness, but overall I’d have to say I’ve recovered most of my energy and enthusiasm. I still miss my kids on the nights they are not here with me, but we’re managing. All of us are managing.
Today I read a piece about how the human body ages over time, written from a very healthy and zen perspective. And while I don’t do all these things, I wanted to share them, and the source post, in hopes that you might find some inspiration for your own journey. You are worth it. Whatever you have to go through to get back on top of your game, whatever it is, DO IT.
Here are the 8 Things I Learned from 50 Naked People – published in The Elephant Journal.
So let’s spend a brief moment together, breathing *that* in. I could spend a long time trying to absorb these wonderful affirmations into my own self-image.
The physical body needs love: Your body doesn’t lie.
What are the things that need healing around your body image? I’ll share mine.
The thing your most embarrassed about: my size. Notice I didn’t say weight. I go from moments of feeling fit and healthy to feeling fat and uninspired, often in the course of one day. And it’s not that I’m fat one day and not-fat the next. It’s more about how I see and talk to myself. And I’m working on it, on just loving whatever I am at the moment. Today those emotions are more tripped up by something I ate, or bloating, rather than some massive increase in my girth.
And what I can do about it:
- A better diet (not dieting)
- Fewer rich indulgences (the tend to breed next indulgences: frappacinos, ice creams)
- More activity (doing what I love)
- More energy from healthy activities; 4
- Emotional boost and joy from being in a relationship (when that happens).
I’ve got a gentler way of talking to my 50+ year-old self. I’m still easily influenced and sometimes angered by fat obsession. And I’ve never really felt fit enough since I left high school hyper athletics: I lettered in three sports and was always driving myself to win.
Now, of course, the matches are less important, and it’s the game that makes me happy. Even losing, I can appreciate the skill and performance of the other players. (Tennis is my passion.) But I love playing. I love seeing a player who has it all and disassembles my game with several well placed shots at critical moments during the match. It’s a chance to watch my own emotions and my own reaction to winning (when I win) and losing (when I get creamed). And that too is about balance.
So I lost at marriage. And here on out I have to learn to be a single dad to my two kids. So what. Sometimes the game doesn’t go the way you want it to, so you move on, try something different, and give up only after the last point is played.
So my embarrassment about my fatness is really left over shit. I’m not *that* fat. I’ve been much fatter. And healthy, for me, is not obsessing about fit or fat, but focusing on eating better and playing more tennis. And knowing that we’re not getting any younger, when I look back at some college photos of me, when I was (at that time) feeling quite fat, and noticing how great I looked.
I’m guessing if we could look back on our “now” selves from our “much older” selves, we’d admire our energy and vigor. We would probably not say how fat we were. We might, but those are the tapes I am eliminating from my vocabulary, both inner and outer. So much of what we say to ourselves is mean. If you say it out loud, you might hear how to be more supportive of your process, as you would be supportive of a friend.
I’m not trying to become a model. I’m not really trying to call in some much younger women who are super-fit and perhaps more focused on super-fit guys. I’m not going to be that guy. But I am aware of things more tangible, like my energy, my optimism and creativity, my blood pressure. All those signs are GREAT. What more can I ask for?
Perhaps a partner who’s on the same trajectory of self-love and healing from fat-shaming. We’re not fat. We’re where we are. And we’re here to love ourselves, and with luck, others.
The Off Parent
other posts of interest:
- Sex is Fun: Should You Settle for Apathetic Sex?
- Zen and the Art of Lovemaking – Won’t Save Your Marriage
- All Kinds of Women and the Sparks of Desire
- The Evolving Single Dad: Failure to Hopefulness Again
- The Sensual and the Sexual: Dating After Divorce
- 8 Things I Learned from 50 Naked People – The Elephant Journal
- How ‘Fat Talk’ Became A Social Epidemic — And How You Can Stop It – Huffington Post
image: love handles are whorey handles, laura g, creative commons usage
I was pleading for her to get a grip, it was nearly the end, the kids would soon be out of school and I’d be out of the house. “You think I’m going to walk out the door of the house and you’re suddenly going to be happy? Maybe what you are so mad about isn’t just me.”
She’d been mad for over a year. And the “Fuck You” exclamations had begun to seep into our daily lives. I woke up each day with the determination to make things better, to work harder, to be more consistent, to offer help, love, and support at every opportunity. She woke up mad. I failed at my tasks too.
And when the word “cynicism” came out at couples therapy I felt like we’d landed at the crux of the problem. Somewhere deep inside, she had decided this is how it was always going to be, this therapy is nice but it’s not helping, and I’m just fkin pissed to be going to “therapy” yet again.
“It’s not getting better,” she said that afternoon before we got out of the car.
“You really believe that?”
I could tell that she did before she said anything. When she brought out the C-word in therapy I heard the impossibility of my task should I choose to take it on. You can’t argue with cynicism, you can’t rationalize with it, you can’t even really get pissed at it, because the hands are already up in disgust. The joking moment, became cause for a sideways, “Fuck you,” and a quick apology.
She wasn’t getting any less mad, that was clear. And I wasn’t coming any closer to changing her mind. I don’t guess I ever really changed her at all.
In those moments when she’d had a glass of wine some barrier came down and she would be touched for a moment. She would cry and lament and talk about how she might not be right for me. I would cry back at her with reassurance. And some sort of relief came in those moments, because I was sure this time the heart would stay unstuck, the feelings would continue to penetrate the facade. But that was my own folly.
I needed her to stay in that feeling place and comfort the parts of me that were hurting. I needed a warm shoulder. We needed closeness. And sometimes we reached that place.
The Off Parent
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)