Sunday, April 28, 2013

One Bridal Shower, Two Bachelorette Parties, and Several Pity Parties

In the past eight days, I attended two bachelorette parties and one bridal shower. This would be a bit much for anyone, but for someone newly divorced, it's A LOT much.

My friends and the brides-to-be, Lillian and Nora, got engaged in December 2011 and April 2012, respectively. They are both marrying great men. With more than a decade of friendship with each of these women, I mean it when I say that I'm deeply happy for both of them. They have been loving and consistent friends to me over the years and it's so cool to see them being so loved and appreciated by their fiances.

But one of the bitches of getting divorced is how you can experience polar opposite emotions at the exact same time during a singular experience. (See Changing My Name.) I'll admit that these friends' engagements have also piqued feelings of utter sadness and self-pity.

In June of 2012, just three days after Max dropped the life-changing bomb that he wasn't attracted to me, I went to Lillian's engagement party alone. (Max was out of town.) The party was outdoors under a tent, complete with flowers in mason jars and live music. It was a beautiful summer night, and just perfect for celebrating Lillian's engagement. Instead, for me, my world was in turmoil, and no one knew yet. I was so utterly miserable that I only stayed for an hour before disappearing and driving an hour to my parents' open arms. This is completely uncharacteristic of me, but I couldn't bear another second of bridal bliss before I'd end up sobbing in the soft grass.

A month later, Max and I attended Nora's engagement party. We were the first guests to arrive and among the last to leave. Little did we know at the time that it would be the last function we would attend as a couple. The tension between us was palpable, as I already felt like I didn't know how to act around him anymore. Meanwhile, everyone gushed over their happiness for Nora. As her bridesmaid and dear friend, I agreed wholeheartedly. I also wanted to vomit, or maybe break things.

Now, here it is nine months later. I'm divorced and it was time to go to more bridal events. At Lillian's bachelorette, I was the sole divorced person. At Nora's bachelorette, I wasn't the only divorced friend but my marriage corpse was the most fresh. Since at both events the wine flowed like, well, wine, I drank plenty and probably talked too much about my newfound singlehood. (Sorry ladies.) But, I did OK as far as being a fun guest and toasting my friends. But on the inside, my heart hurt. Why didn't my marriage work? Why was I in such denial about seeing the signs? Would I ever find love like Lillian's and Nora's again?

Since I did OK at Lillian's bachelorette, I was a total idiot about Nora's bridal shower. Of course my first shower post-divorce would touch a nerve, but I just didn't think of it. I'm a big believer in being prepared for everything, including emotional outbursts, and I was woefully under prepared.

I arrived at Nora's shower a bit bleary-eyed after Lillian's bachelorette, but with a pretty dress and a smile on my face, I was pleased to be there and make it a nice afternoon for Nora. As the happy occasion got underway, I became more and more quiet. (This is very unlike me!) By the time the bridesmaids assembled to assist with the gift unwrapping, I was closer to (internally) losing my cool. As I tore open the wrapping paper and loosened the ribbons on the gifts from Bed Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel -- the same places where I registered for my wedding -- I was flooded with memories of the wonderful shower Max's and my moms threw for us. At my shower, I was so optimistic and nearly bursting with love and joy from my full heart for Max and our families and friends -- which was exactly how Nora looked. Well, you know what happened next -- I ended up sobbing in the ladies room. (I have cried a lot of divorce-related tears in various bathroom stalls.)

(The crazy part of this story is when I got home. I walked in the door, looked at Max, and said, "Can I come be sad?" He replied, "yes," and just opened his arms. I cried on him for 10 minutes. How odd that the best person to comfort me was my ex-husband.)

The good news is that Nora had no idea that her bliss evoked such self-pity for me, which was the most important thing to me. Every bride should feel as elated as I did leading up to my wedding. My mixed emotions have created a balancing act that I'll have to walk.

Oh, and waterproof mascara -- that will be required for my friends' weddings in June.

How did you handle wedding-related events after your breakup?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'm Never Having Sex Again

OK, dear readers, level with me. Is there something unscrewable about me? It’s been nearly THREE YEARS since I last got laid. Would you believe that I’m getting a little impatient?!

As we’ve clearly established, Max and I basically had a platonic relationship. Fine, chock that up to [fill in whatever I learn in therapy]. But here’s what's crazy: I did NOT have sex Tuesday night.

Allow me to explain. Let’s go back to January.

As I recently mentioned, I was seeing a great guy named Todd. He was smart, good looking (though short), good job, wonderful conversationalist, and an amazing kisser. He made it very clear that he was very attracted to me, which would always be music to my ears but especially in the throes of divorce. So after hanging out in his apartment twice and messing around a little, I figure the third time will be the charm. I groomed, exfoliated, and lotioned, just as anyone would if she thinks she might get busy with a cute guy.

I got to Todd's apartment and instead, there was terror in his [gorgeous blue] eyes. Long story short, he had just found out a few weeks before that he had contracted an STD. He was absolutely devastated, but he knew he had to tell me. (I told you, this guy was good people.) As he put it, “I know why you’re getting divorced. The last thing I wanted was for you to think I’m another guy who doesn’t want to have sex with you, because believe me, I really do."

So, we spent that night stranded on third base. Good times, but, you know, it’s just not the same as a homerun. We stopped seeing each other shortly after, partially for this reason but largely because I just wasn’t ready for a boyfriend.

In February, I reconnected with the 26 Year Old, who I'd met at a bar in December. I told him outright that if he was looking for a girlfriend, he’s looking at the wrong person, but if he’s looking to get laid, he’s still barking up the wrong tree. On that note, we went back to his place and hooked up, which started a thing for us. He booty calls me most weekends, and though we usually don’t connect, I LOVE the attention. When we do get together, I think it’s quite clear why: we are using each other. He thinks I’m insanely hot (he tells me so constantly and it never gets old for me) while I love that a younger cute guy just wants to make me feel good. I can be completely direct with him and take some risks because I have nothing emotionally invested in him. This is a perfect arrangement for a newly divorced, sex-deprived woman who still lives with her ex-husband.

Now, as I set the stage for Tuesday, I must bring up two things: begging and sexting.

Begging – Every time we've hooked up the 26 Year Old basically begged me to have sex with him, and shockingly I’ve said no. I had this idea that I was going to wait for a relationship, but that notion has lost its luster. But the last time I saw him, I asked if he had a condom, and he didn’t! I was shocked. I said, "How are you a single guy and not have condoms?!" My point is that was the first time that I showed my resolve crumbling.

Sexting – When Max and I got together in 2005, texting was just starting to be a thing. Given the nature of our relationship, he NEVER, EVER would’ve been game for flirty or sexy text messages. So, on Sunday, when my texts with the 26 Year Old turned a corner into Sexting 101, you can imagine my shock (and enjoyment). I mean, he even sent me a suggestive photo! Kind of made me giggle, but it was also kind of hot.

On Tuesday, he lightly started up the sexting thing again, and I was thought hells yeah, I’m not waiting anymore. I tossed some condoms into my purse and drove like a maniac over to his place. (Good thing Max was sleeping when I left – would’ve been hard to explain where I was going at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday.)

I get to his place, we start fooling around, and I’m all, woohoo let’s get this condom and play properly! And, get this… he rolls off of me, and is all, I’m not sure. I can’t even imagine the shocked and irritated look on my face. I’ve been waiting three damn years for this and you’re saying you’re not sure?! He said something about feeling like he should take it slow with me. Um, what? We went on one date in December, and otherwise we booty call.  He reiterated that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, so I asked if he has an STD, and he assured me that he is clean (thank goodness, me too). He claimed he didn’t know why he was hesitating.

FLASHBACK: I got enough “I don’t know” from Max on this subject to last me a lifetime.

We didn’t talk about this for too long because, to further my utter confusion, we proceeded to have a superhot makeout session, with him being as in to me as ever! We're talking the temperature in his bedroom went up by four degrees.

As I drove home I thought two things:
  • Wow, apparently I'm never having sex again. 
  • At least I know exactly what this week's blog topic will be!
The good news is that I still got my orgasms and my ego stroked. But I’m still totally baffled. The 26 Year Old is my booty call, my boy toy, my sure thing! Help me out! Why did I not have sex last week? What happened? Do I not understand something about booty call arrangements? Will I be stuck at third base for the rest of my life?

Related reading: Top 10 Reasons to Use CondomsHow Sexting Can Ruin Your Sex LifeBooty Call Etiquette and,The 9 Rules of Booty Call Etiquette.

Glitter, Glue & Paint
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Losing $20,000+, Changing My Name, and Crying in My Car

People tell me all the time how well I’m holding up, how strong I am, how put together. Mostly, it’s pretty true. I have kept my shit together in public. However, most of these same people don’t know the sadness and frustration I carried around for years prior to my divorce. These people have no idea how often I burst into tears in my car or silently sobbed in the ladies room at work or in bed lying beside Max. Since filing for divorce, I've felt much more peaceful; even if I have no idea what the future holds, at least I know I won’t be trapped in a passionless marriage. How liberating!

I guess it was bound to happen: after a fairly extended period of optimism and patience, I unraveled a bit this week.

My new necklace with my maiden name initials.
I got it when I bought my right hand ring.

The Name Change

On Monday, my new Social Security card came in the mail. It was addressed to me, but with my maiden name. I was so happily overwhelmed, my hands shook ever so slightly and tears filled my eyes as I tore it open. My name. My real given name.

When Max and I got married, I loved taking Max’s name and how it showed the world that we were our own family. But over the past nine months, it’s felt like a total farce. I hated being Mrs. Max’s Last Name because that family had disintegrated.

Now, I held in my hand a piece of paper that symbolized my return to my true self. I’d lost some of myself over the years, as I tried to fix my relationship and protect Max. I thought to myself, I'm back, bitches!

Armed with my new card, I started the name change process at my work. (By the way, Max and I met at work, but thankfully he no longer works there.) Over the next two days, my old name disappeared from my work email, instant messenger, name plate, and benefits and my maiden name was restored. It felt great but also embarrassing; anyone who knew me pre-marriage now knows that I’m divorced. Next up, I have to tote my divorce papers to the DMV and the bank to get my name updated. Why don’t we just tattoo “DIVORCED” across my forehead?

The Price Change

Meanwhile, Max and I had to have a tough conversation with our realtor about the price of our condo. Despite many showings, we hadn’t had any offers, so it was time drop the price. Bye-bye, $20,000! Just like that! Further, it occurred to me that even if I wanted to say screw it and move out, I can’t. Packing to move out means tearing apart the condo and making a mess, which means that many more days that buyers aren’t coming. I’m trapped here.

Continuing my roller coaster feelings, after the price reduction on Wednesday, we finally got an offer on Friday! But, the offer was another $30,000 below the reduced price. It was like watching my savings account get flushed down the toilet, thousand dollar bill by thousand dollar bill. (We made a counter offer, so keep your fingers crossed for me.)

The Breakdown... and Recovery

These ups and downs meant two tearful and semi hysterical phone calls from my car, one to my mom and one to my brother. During each call I babbled nonsensically between sniffles as I tried to not ruin my eye makeup or get into an accident. I felt badly for them having to listen to me in the state. It’s never easy to hear someone in pain when, truly, the only thing she can do is be patient and time will sort things.

Thankfully, the weekend recharged me. I spent Friday night at Jen’s apartment with a bottle of wine, hummus, and chips and salsa and lovely conversation. I spent all of Saturday alone, which I desperately needed. I went to the gym, ran errands, baked almost 200 cookies for Nora’s bridal shower, and went to a movie. Today, I got in a run and a yoga class, and then Skyped with one of my best friends in Germany.

This week reminded me that I’m coping with the loss of the love for and dreams with Max that I thought would fill my future. As I grieve my loss, I’m going to have those out of the blue moping, crying, “woe is me” moments. I’m allowed.

What was a moment after your divorce when you lost your cool?

Super Sunday Sync

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Requirements for Dating Me (Note: You must meet all requirements.)

I started writing this yesterday when I was half asleep because I ran a 15K race in Central Park! I was totally pooped. I suppose the two post-race cocktails didn't help with my sleepiness… Oh, and then I had to watch the Mad Men premiere, and that's the one show that gets my undivided attention. Anyway, that's why I'm 24 hours late on this post.

I have always said that dating has many similarities to interviewing, and on Friday, my coworkers prove me right.

We were at that point in the afternoon where we felt a little too guilty to leave yet but too checked out to actually be productive. Somehow the chitchat turned to me and my thoughts on dating. It started off with me explaining the difference between talking to versus seeing someone. You start off talking to someone as you feel out the potential, and depending on how it goes, you could progress to seeing to him. For example, the 25-year-old (who turned 26 over the weekend, which oddly makes me feel less like a cougar) is someone I’m talking to but we don’t go on dates because there is zero boyfriend potential. The guy I was seeing before my divorce was final had legitimate boyfriend potential, hence his progression to my word choice of “seeing.” This of course kicked the door open for my coworkers to ask how I define "seeing" potential?

I explained that I have certain basic criteria that must be passed for a guy to be considered for dating, and eventually “seeing,” and possibly even earning the high title of “boyfriend." Immediately, my buddy Yoshi grabbed a marker and headed for whiteboard. If you’ve ever worked with a software engineer, you probably know that they don’t like to go through requirements of a project without a marker and whiteboard, and apparently that includes my dating life.

Yoshi: So you’re saying there is a workflow in order to date you?
Me: No, it’s more of a checklist than a workflow.
Yoshi: The specs are not ranked in order of importance either? [twirls marker between his fingers]
Me: Not really. Every requirement should get equal weighting when assessing candidates.
Yoshi: OK. Give me the specs. One at a time, please.

By now others had popped their heads over their cubicle walls to join the conversation, all curious to hear what a newly divorced woman’s requirements to date her might include. I’ll say to you, dear readers, what I said to my coworkers: I will share with you if you can handle not judging me. I recognize that these criteria could mean I miss out on some fantastic suitors, but at this point in my life, I know what I want, and you gotta narrow the pool somehow. So here goes:
  • College educated. My family is big on formal education. In fact, we all have Master’s degrees. My future boyfriend doesn’t have to have a Master’s, but he must have a post-high school degree.
  • Salary. He needs to make at least as much money as I do, or a bit more (not crazy more though). I am very mindful of money and who’s spending how much on what. It’s better in the long run for him and for me if he makes at least as much as I do. (By the way, I make a comfortable living, but nothing outlandish, so it’s not like I’m a contestant on The Millionaire Matchmaker showing up with this criteria.)
  • Age. This is the one I’m least set on. I’m 33, so I figure my dating pool should be roughly 30 to early 40s.
  • Roommates. If you’re mature enough to date a divorced woman and making at least as much money as me, you should be living alone. No roommates allowed. That’s that.

As Yoshi sketched out each of these criteria, we all laughed about how much this really is like interviewing. If you’re looking for a Marketing Communications Specialist, your job description will include requirements such as a related college degree and at least seven years of work experience. You’re just not going to bring in a Mathematics major with a year of work experience. Could that Mathematics major do the job and even end up being awesome? Sure, it’s possible. But with a stack of resumes, you need a way to cut through to candidates that have a serious chance at being successful. Pass those initial requirements and you sail into the interview with the wind at your back (until your white tube socks peek out over your black shoes).

The 25 26-year-old only meets the college education criteria, while the guy I was seeing in December meets all of them. (And yes, Max, meets all of the requirements as well, so clearly this list doesn't provide any guarantees.)

Since I’m still living with my ex-husband (SELL, CONDO, PLEASE), I haven't gotten to test out my dating requirements yet. Living with my ex-husband definitely puts a cramp in my dating life! I look forward to testing my requirements and seeing what kinds of dates/interviews they yield.

What are your basic criteria for dating?