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The Summer of My Discontent
July 16th, 2013 by Christina

file6751242227651I’m facing down an unwelcome assortment of fives and zeroes at the moment. This season marks my fifth year of being un-married, and I will turn 50 in the fall. So 05 and 50—neat, huh? Why do numbers that end in fives and zeroes always force one to take stock? (I just noticed that stock is a five-letter word with an 0 in the middle!) I hate to buy into the whole midlife-crisis hype, but I can’t stop thinking about where I am vs. where I was, where I want to be, should be, could be or might possibly be one day.

I recently tossed my collection of surviving-divorce books and have discovered that there is no manual for how to get through the phase I’m in now. The self-help books give you 3-5 years, max, to get it together and then you’re on your own. And most of the divorce memoirs follow a predictable script: distraught woman loses it completely, then rebuilds her life bit by bit. By the last chapter, she has found a richly rewarding new life and a new mate with whom she shares a deeper, more extraordinary love than she could ever have imagined possible (a midlife fairy tale—The Sleeping Divorcee!) She has also managed to publish a memoir, for f*ck’s sake.

In the divorce olympics, I am clearly not getting the gold. I’m a competitive person (did you know I won my 5th and 6th grade spelling bees?) so this does not sit well with me, especially as the forties are shoving me out the door. Fifty is actually not the new 37 or 43— just ask those decades.

And, lest I seem too Eeyore-ish, I do know that I have many, many things to be grateful for–amazing daughters, fabulous friends, Fresh Direct, a job with benefits (which entails editing publications that cover the numerous ghastly health problems that assault you upon turning 50. Just saying). Plus, it turns out I am kind of a little plucky. I’ve lived in a falling-apart house without completely falling apart. I’ve disposed of more than 30 dead mice and one dead car, dealt with two sewer-line back-ups without crying, and one burst pipe in my linen closet (with the kind of crying that scared my kids). I’ve done the dating thing, which is not for sissies. I’ve gone on approximately 16 first dates (god, no, have I really?), five of which resulted in second dates; two of those turned into brief relationships. (I’m currently less than optimistic on that front and pretty certain that my next great task is to make peace with being single for the rest of my remaining years. Fortunately, Netflix is really stepping up to the plate. And there’s always bridge.)

Not much more to say right now. I just felt like sending this little blog postcard while I stand here, slightly dazed, at the intersection of Half Century and New Decade.

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12 Responses  
Lisa writes:
July 17th, 2013 at 4:00 am

Let’s do something to celebrate the big 5-O, Xtina. I’ll start saving up now for a group visit to NYC!

Laura Buchholz writes:
July 17th, 2013 at 6:56 am

I”m a big fan of giving up entirely. They say that’s when things happen, but more importantly, that’s when you decide not to care anymore, and that feels good.

Karen Capucilli writes:
July 19th, 2013 at 5:16 am

Please continue to blog, about any subject. I’m a huge fan if your writing. Could you please write some books? Thank you.

Anne Z. writes:
July 25th, 2013 at 9:48 am

Christina – thank you so much for your lovely and wrenching post on Motherlode about sharing custody of children with an ex-spouse. I was divorced last fall and now have my three kids (ages 17, 13, and 10) every other week. You captured both the pain of estrangement and the relief of having a regular break.

It kills me that my children are having an “affair with another mother.” They hardly know her yet but I am terrified of how she might supplant me. I do have a serious boyfriend though who is very involved in my children’s lives. So I realize my ex-husband is suffering this agony and fear too.

I love your writing so much. Didn’t want to make an NY Times account to comment over there. Happy I found you here.

Andy T. writes:
July 25th, 2013 at 9:48 am

If it’s any consolation, I’m the white guy from Britain running against Usain Bolt in the divorce olympics. Now going through my second D, I am reminded how painful and ill-prepared I am despite having practiced before. I can absolutely sympathize on the longing you feel for your daughters as they disappear into what I call Universe B. Mine is only 3 and her mom is ushering her a new town and new school much to my objection. My greatest fear is the suffocating daily void that awaits now that I am stripped of my role as head cook, housekeeper and daily dance partner for my daughter. I am still integral to my sons from D1, but they are fully formed human beings needing a fraction of my attention.

Christina writes:
July 25th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Thank you very much, Anne. I really appreciate your appreciation!

Jemma writes:
September 2nd, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I have just discovered your blog via ivillage.oom.au, who reposted one of your blogs. I felt moved to comment based on that post and this one above (so forgive me if I have got the context wrong).

Let me just say, I am not near 50 nor divorced, just 40ish with 3 kids. But much earlier in my life I had my heart truly broken, my dreams were in pieces and I was lost with little friends or family to connect to. I am very good at spotting a fellow heartbreak sufferer.

I was young so went on to create a new life, with new partner, friends and truer version of my dream. To get to this place, I learnt that dreams are like the cover of a Book, they are the sales pitch for your life, to get you motivated to take risks. Day to day living, with all its hard work are the pages of book.

Part of getting a new life is letting go of the old dreams. To me, it looks like you are still grieving for the life you were committed to create with your husband.

If you can, try to dream of a life that you can create, today.

I can’t say my life is perfect. I still look at my dreams and reassess from time to time. Each day, I remind myself not to be trapped them but to look at what I have today and what I can achieve tomorrow.

I hope this helps.

Bill Goodwin writes:
October 13th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Christina-
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. It was really a great read- you are very insightful and a terrific writer. So thanks and good luck, and don’t feel bad about your splitsville identity. I’m your exact age, was divorced in 2006 after 24 years, and despite having a great life and loving my girlfriend of almost five years, still miss that girl who I grew into adulthood with. And I don’t feel bad about it. Neither should you. You are so obviously wonderful that I feel confident that you will have a rich and happy life; nevertheless it was a terrible blow and the loss of an existential anchor, and writing a blog isn’t like cornering someone at a party and complaining about your ex. Keep it up! I’m not the only one who wants to hear more from you.

Joseph writes:
December 6th, 2013 at 10:18 am

I keep checking for another post. I hope to see one soon…

40andoverblog writes:
April 6th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hey, Splitsville! Are you ever going to get back to this blog?

~ a high school friend.

Ben Adams writes:
June 4th, 2014 at 5:29 am

I too have just found your blog. I wish you hadn’t tossed your ‘surviving divorce’ books because I could do with you tossing them in my direction. I have just started writing about the exact same issues as you (well most of them anyway). It’s good therapy for me. As someone who seems to be heading for a 3 days on, 3 days off and alternate Saturdays routine, I quite like your 5, 5, 2, 2 routine.

Christina writes:
June 4th, 2014 at 8:10 am

I’m just catching up on these comments. Thanks, everyone! I think this blog has reached its natural end–at least for now. I love it and am proud of it, but I think I need to focus on other aspects of my life. If I start a new blog, I will post a link to it here. I really appreciate all the feedback!

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