Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Got Laid! Now What?

Dear readers, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. After three years as an involuntary born-again virgin, I’m happy to report that I have re-lost my virginity. 

Yes, folks, Kat finally got laid!


Allow me to share the story with you.

Last weekend at Nora’s wedding, I ended up hanging out late night at the after party at the hotel. The group got smaller and smaller. Eventually it was just me and this guy who I’ll call Cheater, someone I’d never met or talked to before, sitting around a fire pit. We started talking about the bride and groom and what a great couple they were. Then, the conversation took a big turn.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" he asked.

I took a sip of lukewarm white wine from my Solo cup. "Sure," I replied.

"How did you know that it wasn’t right with your ex-husband?" he asked carefully.

Well, this opened the floodgates for Cheater. He started telling me all about his girlfriend and that he thinks he knows he should break up with her but… (I’d heard bits about this drama from Nora before, but I pretended it was all new information. That is how girls operate.) Somehow I turned into his therapist and was very blunt with him, telling him obvious things that I learned the hard way, like if shit is not functioning right now, it’s only going to get worse if you ever get married. I should have charged him $200 an hour for my wit and insight.

Next thing I knew, he was throwing curveballs at me and totally started hitting on me, telling me how amazing I am, how hot I am, blah blah blah. Even in my tipsy state, I rolled my eyes at his sweet drivel but in spite of myself, I enjoyed hearing it. He was also practically salivating when he found out I hadn’t had sex in so long. Given I’d been drinking for about 17 hours, I was a little slow on the uptake at first, particularly because he had a girlfriend. (I’m kind of na├»ve in that I assume that people in relationships don’t cheat.)

Once I caught on, I debated. I mean, this is a random dude and I know he has a girlfriend. Obviously I didn’t know his girlfriend, but still, not very classy on my part to get it on with him. Then, the other part of me kicked in with, “But he says he’s dumping her, I'm not the one with a significant other so it’s his problem if he cheats, and he’d probably be pretty good in the sack.”

The sun was coming up, the birds were starting to chirp, so it was decision time.

Yeah, we all know where this went: back to his hotel room for two hours of raunchy fun. During breaks, I looked him square in the eye actually said to him, “You realize you have to tell your girlfriend, because if you don’t you’re a major dirtbag.” I really know how to contribute to the mood, don’t I?

By 7:30 a.m., thanks to 23 waking hours and several orgasms, I was done. Cheater asked me to stay and sleep with him, but I declined. (I still can’t handle sleeping beside a man – it’s just too much.) Before I left, he asked – no, begged – me for my number. I shrugged and gave it to him. If I had to do over, I would’ve said no. But anyway…

Andrea hits some ugly sheets with her Resident Assistant.
Back in my hotel room, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. Remember how when Andrea lost her virginity, she asked Brandon if she looked different? [Sorry, another Beverly Hills 90210 reference.] Or in Judy Blume books, when girls get their periods they look in the mirror and wonder if they look different? This was me at 7:30 a.m.: 33 years old and after aching for sex for so long, I’d finally gotten it. Did I look different? Well, I looked like a hot mess, that was for damn sure, but other than my explosive hair and streaky makeup, I looked the same. The same woman who once had good sex with Max, then had zero sex with Max, and was variously rejected by Todd and the 26 Year Old, had finally gotten laid!

Um, now what?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past week, which is part of why I’ve been holding out on you with this juicy tale (the other reason was that I had to tell Nora before I told the blogosphere). Now that I’ve finally had sex again, oddly, I kind of don’t care when I have it next. I don’t regret having sex with Cheater (even if it was hardly my classiest choice), I am still loving my off and on “friendship” with the 26 Year Old, and my vibrator is still rocking my world, so the sexual side of me is definitely not going dormant again. But maybe it’s best for me to hover at third base until I have a boyfriend again. I don’t need My Number going up and therefore risking getting an STD or something fun like that. Further, it would be nice to be able to have sex with a man and then want to sleep beside him afterward, and I am not quite ready for that yet.

By the way, Cheater called me on Monday. He turned me into his therapist again, still hemming and hawing over what to do about his girlfriend and telling me that he has never opened up to anyone like he has to me. I gave him more tough love. Then I told him he cannot be in contact with me as long as he has a girlfriend, but whenever I do see him through our mutual friends, he need not worry about me, his secret is safe. He was relieved that I can be discreet (other than telling YOU, dear readers!). Oh, and he asked, “I believe everything you said to me was true, but I have to ask… Was that really your first time having sex in three years?!” I said, “Yup, you can’t make that shit up!”

Six days after this phone call, I can now tell you with certainty that even if he breaks up with his girlfriend (and that's a big IF), I’m not interested. He is a sweet and fun guy and we had a great time together, but the last thing I need is a to date a guy I cannot trust and has a lot of relationship baggage. Unfortunately, he has both characteristics. Cheater, I wish you all the best!

It’s your turn. What was your first sex post-breakup like? Who was the person? Were you able to enjoy it? Any regrets?

See also: In Favor of Casual Sex.
Super Sunday Sync

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Catching My Breath: Attending My First Wedding Post-Divorce

“Wise men say, only fools rush in…”

I rushed out of the softly lit ballroom.


Last night at Nora's wedding, I ran down the hall in my towering high heels. My eyes filled with tears and my throat thickened. My hand covered my mouth to keep any sobs from escaping. My breathing turned from shallow to near hyperventilation by the time I reached the bridal suite, the private room reserved for the bridal party. I flung myself down on a velvet couch, the full skirt of my bridesmaid dress fanned out around me. With my face buried in my hands, I gasped for breath and the tears started.

Apparently another bridesmaid and a friend spotted me leaving the ballroom and kindly followed me (I didn’t even know they were behind me). They entered the bridal suite and saw me, a trembling pile of pathetic bridesmaid elegance with my updo and rhinestones and liquid eyeliner. I looked up at them and thinly said, “That’s my wedding song.”

My hands started shaking and briefly I got lightheaded. I felt like I was about to drown. My entire body was reacting to having heard the song!

Each of them hugged me tightly as I started rambling to justify my silent outburst.

“I did so well today!" I exclaimed. "I haven’t cried at all, not even a little. Max even texted me before to see if I was OK and I told him I was and I really meant it. I made it through their first dance and was all happy for Nora, even though it made me think of my first dance with Max and how we took dance lessons but I still wasn’t sad. But then our song came on, our fucking song, of all the romantic songs in the fucking world, our song!”

Even in the moment, as I tried to recapture my own breath, I couldn’t believe the abrupt change in me. One moment I was the happy bridesmaid clapping and cheering and genuinely grinning with joy for my friend, and then boom, I hear a few bars of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and I go to pieces. Another one of those wacky emotional rollercoaster divorce moments had blindsided me.

I looked up at my friends. “Shit, did I make a scene? I was trying not to! Did anyone see me?”

During the week leading up to the wedding, I had given myself a talking-to about making sure I just enjoy the wedding and do not take away from the happy experience for anyone else. Up to this moment, I’d totally stuck to it, from the toast I gave at the rehearsal dinner to walking down the aisle in the church. I had maintained my composure and genuinely enjoyed everything about the wedding festivities.

They assured me that no, I didn’t make a scene. (Added bonus: with almost 300 guests at Nora's wedding, it would be easy to get away with escaping the ballroom unnoticed.) I sighed with relief.

Enough of this, I told myself. I took a few more deep breaths as I shook it off. I dabbed my eyes with tissues; remarkably, I hadn’t totally screwed up my makeup. Over the past few years of crying in bathrooms, I have gotten quite skilled at crying and not messing up my makeup. I stood up and found that I was again grounded. 

I exhaled.

“OK.  Let’s go back in there. I don’t want to miss anymore of the wedding.”

We left the bridal suite and I calmly strolled down the hall back to ballroom. My confidence and composure returned. The rest of the evening was wonderful, and I didn’t shed any more tears about me, my divorce, or Max. (In fact, I ended up only getting two hours of sleep last night, but that'll be a story for another week!)

What was your first wedding post-divorce like for you? Read Nora's perspective on this time in our friendship.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Story of How He Proposed

Today is five years since Max proposed to me. Crazy, seems like it just happened. Just for posterity's sake, I consulted the blog I kept during my wedding planning (ironic, right?) and pulled the following piece of history, just for you.

You can't have a wedding without a proposal (though supposedly my dad never actually proposed to my mom, but that's a different story), so here's the e-mail I wrote to Stacey, Melanie, and Margo the morning after Max popped the question:

June 21, 2008
Hello my dear friends in Europe --
Well, since I can't call you guys, i have to tell you over e-mail.

Max and I broke up.

JUST KIDDING! We're getting married!!!!! Ahh!

He proposed to me last night in NYC and I said yes (obviously). Oh my gosh I can't believe I'm even writing this! :-D

I know you want the story, so I'll write it out for ya.

I suggested last week to make Friday night a date night because as usual, I have a ton of plans the next few weeks, so I wanted some quality time with max. So on wednesday, he starts making suggestions, like cooking me dinner, maybe taking a picnic to my favorite park, etc. Then Thursday night, I'd nodded off on the couch and he wakes me up and tells me we're taking a 6:30 train on Friday, and everything else is a surprise.

As we're getting ready to go, max insisted on bringing a backpack to put jackets in. Hmm... a backpack... what else could be in there?! I admit to having moments of suspicion during the course of all this. :)

So we go into NYC and have a drink at Cipriani in Grand Central. Then we walked to a restaurant on the upper east side called Candle 79. Turns out it's supposed to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. Even better though -- it was all organic AND vegan! I was in heaven. Max said it was because whenever we go out to dinner, i have to scrounge the menu to find something to eat, so he wanted to take me somewhere that i had a whole menu of choices for me. At the end of the meal, he said the night wasn't over yet -- he had bought 2 tickets for the last elevator up to Top of the Rock in Rockefellar Center. we went there for my b'day a year and a half ago, and max said he wanted to take me at night -- he said "i know you love sparkly things, and the nyc skyline is the biggest sparkly thing i could think of." Now... i admit... i start to wonder again.

We go up to Top of the Rock and the views were of course gorgeous. Lightning came, which was very cool to watch, and people started to clear out. max seemed a little antsy about picking a spot to sit. Then his eyes were getting shifty, checking to see if people were around. He kept wanting to go outside, but the rain was starting. Finally he said to come outside... he had one more surprise. Yup, you guessed it -- he got down on one knee outside -- a little rain, a perfect view of the empire state building -- and pulled out the little box. I have attached a picture of us about 3 minutes after i said yes. :-D

I had said that i just wanted a proposal story that would be fun to tell people now, but cool to tell our kids. This is the perfect story!

lots of love,
Kat



P.S. My engagement ring sold on eBay almost exactly five years to the day after Max bought it for me.

P.P.S. If this isn't your first time reading my blog, you can guess that we did not have sex when we got home that night, or at all that weekend. Yes, I still remember that.

If you're divorced, how do you feel now when you think about the day you got engaged? Sad? Angry? Wistful? Indifferent? A messy mix?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad and the Day My Marriage Died

“Kat, divorce papers. Now.”
Dad and me on a bad hair day in NYC.
I'll never be too old to hold his hand.

These words my dad said to me still ring in my ears.

Let's go back to the month that I stayed with Sue in August 2012. Before I left, I clearly told Max that I was out of ideas and this was the last straw. I told him we should take this time to figure out what each of us wanted.

“But if you want to talk to me, see me, whatever, feel free to contact me however you want,” I told Max.

“You can contact me too, you know,” he said huffily.

“No,” I replied, looking straight into his brown eyes. “The point of me leaving is for you to come to me. If you want to see me, you come to me.”

To that I got the usual reply: silence.

When Max dropped me off at the train station, I was nearly hysterical. I lugged my huge suitcase up the stairs and onto the train, never taking off my sunglasses. Tears streamed down my face as I rode the train into Manhattan. I couldn’t believe he let me go.

I spent the first week checking my phone constantly. Surely Max was lonely. Surely he would email or text or something. He worked near Manhattan for God's sake, so surely he would come to his senses and ask to see me one evening.

Like my husband, my phone remained infuriatingly silent.

By the second week, I tried to stop checking my phone so much. I kept up with my work, and miraculously, no one at work except my manager had any clue what was going on with me. I was going to yoga and eating healthy and trying not to booze too much. But still, I prayed that Max would send me flowers, or serve me divorce papers, or show up and fuck me passionately up against a wall, or confess that he was having a lascivious affair with a transvestite. I mean, seriously, SOMETHING was better than silence.

By the third week, I started to face facts: Max wasn’t coming to get me. Looming on my calendar was my cousin’s wedding the following weekend (wonderful timing). I had previously given Max plenty of opportunities to decline. He had insisted that he would attend. So now here I was, days away from the wedding and I hadn’t heard a word from my husband in weeks. I sucked it up and emailed him to ask if he would be coming to the wedding. He wrote back, “I think it would be kind of weird for me to go.”

True? Of course. Cowardly and pathetic to email me? Absolutely.

I called Max immediately and after years of being calm and even keeled, I finally lost my shit on him. I couldn’t believe how the past three weeks had gone. He had hurt me, but worse, now he’d disappointed me. Max would take a bullet for me, but he wouldn’t (couldn’t?) fight for our marriage. I cried, I shouted. I hung up the phone and cried in a way I’ve rarely cried in my otherwise charmed life. It was like the pain of the previous weeks at Sue’s, plus the moment he told me he wasn’t attracted to me, plus the previous six years of rejection exploded out my tear ducts. After a few minutes of hoping Max would call me back to apologize and say he would do anything to keep me, I gave up and called home.

My dad answered the phone and I word vomited all over him between sobs. I was heartbroken that Max wasn’t coming for me. I was embarrassed that this wedding was going to be the start of going to family functions alone – the only single one. I was incredulous and disgusted that I’d let things get so out of hand in my marriage that things were now this fucked up. Finally, I paused for breath.

You know how sometimes you need someone to state the obvious in just the right way for you to finally get it? That was Dad in that pivotal moment in my marriage and life.

He firmly said, “Kat, divorce papers. Now. He is screwed up and he is never going to get better. I know you love him, but you’ve done absolutely everything you can. Enough is enough. You have to get away from him, and you have to do it now.”

Harsh? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely.

If he’d said it a few weeks sooner, I would’ve said there was no way in hell. (I was still saying, “Divorce is not an option.”) If Mom had answered the phone, she would’ve ended up crying right along with me. It was time for Dad to do the Dad thing and offer a solution.

He said he would call my aunt and tell her that I would be attending solo but for her to not tell anyone why. Next, he was going to make a few phone calls to get the names of some lawyers. Finally, he told me he and Mom loved me.

I’ve never asked him, but that moment must have been one of the hardest parenting moments for Dad. I mean, Dad was overjoyed when Max showed up on the front doorstep one night with an engagement ring in hand, coming to ask Dad for permission to marry me. On my rainy wedding day, I sat between my parents as we rode to the church, Dad holding my left hand and Mom holding my right. They walked me down the aisle together, each of them smiling ear to ear. My conservative, Catholic father put aside any ideas, beliefs, or visions for me and held up a mirror in front of my face. For the first time in my life, Dad told me it was time to give up.  

And I did. I have no regrets.

Did your parents or other family members support the decision to divorce?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Am I Ready to Date? Snooping Online Dating Sites to Find Out

I’ve been thinking about dating more lately. I don’t think I’m ready for anything serious, but I think I’m ready to go on some dates. I want to practice picking what to wear, making conversation with a stranger, asking date-appropriate questions. I also want to learn how to graciously turn him down and get turned down. I think it all sounds fun and interesting, and potentially some great fodder for my blog! And as we've clearly established, I need to get myself on track to have sex sometime this century.

(Yeah, yeah, I know, living with my ex-husband doesn’t exactly set me up for much dating success. Can’t you picture it? The guy asks where I live, and I say, “In G-town with my ex-husband. That’s not weird for you though, right?”)

Every weekend I have a  brunch date with 1990.
Don't you want to go out with me?
Since it’s 2013 and I have dating on the brain, I ended up checking out some online dating sites this week. Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid are both free, so I started there. (If I were ready to date for real, I’d be willing to pay for a service. But I’m not, so I’m OK with the freebies for now.)

You might be wondering how I was able to do this when I live with Max. Over the past few months I’ve gotten good at sitting next to him on the couch while blogging and tweeting things he would never, ever want to read. I tip the screen and position myself just so that it doesn’t look like I’m hiding anything but I know he can’t see. (By the way, he is fully aware this blog and my Twitter account exist, but he has no desire to read them. You have to hand it to him, he’s got willpower. If I knew he were writing stuff about me I would’ve read it all a long time ago!) So, with my laptop tipped just so, I started poking around OK Cupid.

I looked up guys looking for girls, age range 30-43, within 25 miles. There were thousands of returns.

Thousands!?

I started reading profiles and looking at photos. I was heartened that plenty of guys were attractive and some even had some witty stuff in their profiles. But then some stuff was so generic or lame I felt like I was a contestant on The Bachelor. I mean, seriously, EVERYONE said Family and Friends as two of the six things they can’t live without. Duh, I love my family and friends too and could not function without them, but that doesn’t change that it’s a really boring answer. Or for your taste in music or movies to be “a little bit of everything” actually means that you don’t have an opinion or you are too timid to share it, so you probably should’ve just left that question blank. Curiously, one guy wrote that one of his hobbies is spending a lot of time thinking about peace in the Middle East. Good for you man, but, um, I just wonder if that helps you land dates? But hey, what the hell do I know? I’m 33, divorced, and my hot date these days is battery operated.

Browsing the photos has been an experience in itself. The photos in some ways were very much like what my friends post on Facebook:
  • Guy at a Yankees game. 
  • Guy at the bar on St. Patrick’s Day. 
  • Guy about to run a road race. 
But then there were the ones that aren’t so Facebook-ish:
  • Guy at a wedding but with the ex-girlfriend clearly cropped out. 
  • Selfie taken IN THE BATHROOM where you can see the TOILET in the background (do you really want to associate yourself with crap?). 
  • Guy shirtless (one shirtless photo is appreciated, five seems a little excessive, no?).

As I nosed around looking at these men and judging their grammar or admiring their abs or whatever, I had yet another one of those post-divorce moments where I had polar opposite feelings at the same time: super excited and totally bummed about dating.

As I looked at these men, these strangers, it hit me: Not one of these thousands of men is Max. Not one of them loves me the way Max has. (Fine, none of these men have broken my heart the way Max has, but just go with it for a sec.)

Then I thought, holy shit, I have to start all over. I have to go back to being on my best behavior and remembering to shave my legs and not peeing with the door open. For eight years, he knew everything about me.

Confession: I'm not actually sleeping alone.
Max accepts that I sleep with a Winnie the Pooh, something I kept under wraps for about a year. He knows that The Hunger Games gave me nightmares but that I kind of love The Exorcist. On a road trip, when I tell him I need to use the restroom, he would never ask me if I can wait another 50 miles (because no, I cannot). He respects that I’m a strict vegetarian even though he’s a meat eater. Max started dating me three years after my mom’s stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and two months after my brother-in-law died of lymphoma, so he knows how cancer haunts me. He hates that every weekend morning, I watch reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 while I have a bagel, eggs, and coffee, but he knows better than to tell me to watch something else. 

Most of all, Max knows just how hard I tried to save our marriage and that I stayed faithful even when he refused to touch me. 

None of those thousands of men staring back at me on OK Cupid know any of these things, those small things came together to create intimacy between Max and me. I closed my laptop and sighed.

Being single again means a clean slate, a fresh chance to present myself in a new way, work on being a better partner, and finding a better romantic match for me. But dating also means being vulnerable all over again and hiding my stuffed animal. Am I ready for that? I'm just not sure yet, so my profiles remain empty.

I cannot decide if dating sounds like a total blast or a total drag. Have you started dating after your divorce? What were those first dates like? Were you able to have fun or did you cry in the bathroom?

Related reading: 10 Tips For Successful Online Dating5 Online Dating Profile Turnoffs.
Super Sunday Sync

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Journey to the Center of the Bed

I just touched a huge milestone in learning to live post-divorce: I am sleeping in the middle of my bed!

Sing it, Cher.
Let’s take a look back on the journey that my bed and I have been on.

The first joint purchase that Max and I made was this bed. I wanted a queen, he wanted a king, and in a rare occurrence, Max won the debate. We bought the bed right before we moved in together in May 2007. 

(Eerily, at the time our friend Kim said, “Oh no, not a king size bed! I heard that the divorce rate is higher among people with king size beds!” If I were making this all up, we could call that foreshadowing.)

Anyway, I remember our first night in that new apartment. We officially lived together! In a beautiful two bedroom apartment! We just bought a BED together! This is when normal couples would christen the bed and the apartment, right? I mean, we're "living in sin" anyway, so let's get our sin on! Nope. Max proclaimed that he was so tired from moving that he couldn’t wait to go to sleep. I rolled over and for the first time of many in our bed, tears filled my eyes and rejection filled my heart as I told myself, “This will get better. It has to.”

Over the years, I have had mixed feelings about our bed. It is huge with a pillowtop and deliciously comfortable. Thanks to our wedding shower, we have high quality sheets in attractive colors. Our duvet cover is from Crate & Barrel (of course). In all the ways my bed can, it physically meets or exceeds expectations. But a bed is more than just a place for sleeping. It’s supposed to be a place for sexual as well as emotional intimacy. In that sense, our married bed was a dismal failure. Even snuggling in bed often seemed like a chore to Max (I realize now that it was him fearing that snuggling would lead to me wanting sex).

I’ve heard of couples who could fall asleep in an embrace. Max and me? Never. When we slept, we never touched. Neither of us is a big person, so with Max on his side and me on mine with no one crossing the line down the middle of the bed, the space between us was vast, both literally and emotionally.

With all of this sadness, I also loved sleeping next to Max. If I awoke from a nightmare, I could roll over and hug him and feel safe. On the weekends, if I woke up first, I would often lie in bed reading, just to feel the peace of resting beside him and listening to him breathe. If either of us slept in the bed without the other, we never crossed the middle line; if one wasn’t physically in the bed, the presence was.

In October 2012, I finally got Max to leave the master bedroom. After spending August staying with a friend and then spending September looking for a divorce lawyer, by October Max's departure was long overdue. He didn’t take it very well, but honestly, I think it was initially more about being downgraded to the double bed in the guest room than it being about leaving our married bed (lovely, right?).

So I’ve been sleeping alone in the master bedroom in the king size bed for nearly eight months now. Until very recently, I slept completely on my side. It’s interesting because when I sleep alone in any other bed, I always spread out and use the whole freaking thing. But I just couldn’t do it in our bed, even fast asleep. I guess there was still part of me that wanted him in the bed with me. I missed him. I miss him.

As the months have gone by with us in separate bedrooms, we have evolved from awkward and cold towards each other to sort of pleasantly neutral to, now, pretty pleasant. I know it sounds super weird, but it’s kind of nice living with my EX-HUSBAND. (But to be clear, I still desperately want this damn condo to sell.) Because our relationship has changed so much during this forced cohabitation, I’m starting to see him less as the man who unintentionally repeatedly hurt and disappointed me and more as a good man who could be my friend. We are like friendly roommates who chat and enjoy each other’s company at home, but we never do anything outside the home.
No matter how much roommates like each other,
they have separate beds.

And you don’t share a bed with your roommate.

I’ve been inching towards the middle of the bed ever since Max told me that he’ll likely have me take the bed when we go our separate ways. Even though I used to call it The Bed of Constant Rejection, the fact is that it’s just a piece of furniture -- and a really nice one at at that -- so I better get over it.

This week, I officially turned a corner. I woke up not in the middle of the bed, but perpendicular. Like I was lying horizontally across the bed! Clearly my subconscious no longer feels Max is supposed to be beside me.

What has the transition from sleeping together to sleeping alone been like for you? Did you retain the married bed? Do you still sleep on your side of the bed? 
Super Sunday Sync