Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shedding Tears and Finding Hope at a Wedding

View from a lighthouse in Edgartown
Last Saturday afternoon, the sun was shining on Martha’s Vineyard, a preppy, swanky island off the coast of Massachusetts. I sat on a hard pew in a Catholic church among my old crew from high school, waiting for Maureen, one of my oldest friends, to walk down the aisle.

The music transitioned. The parents of the bride and groom. The flower girls. The maid of honor.

My stomach was slowly starting to knot.

Then Maureen, on her father’s arm. They glided down the aisle as the music swelled. She was beautiful, and not because of her gown. She was full of joy, optimism, dreams, thanks to her love for her groom, Jason.

I once felt that way. Now I was sitting here alone (and without tissues, dammit).

The readings from the Book of Whatever began and the knot in my gut moved up to my throat. Max and I had a Catholic wedding. We had readings from the Book of Whatever.

I couldn’t sit there anymore. I had to leave.

I slipped out of the church into the sunshine and hurried across the street to a bench. The tears welled in my eyes as I thought about five years ago, when I was engaged, so full of hope for my marriage.

Look at how that turned out.

I hung my head. Five years ago I was preparing to walk down the aisle on my parents’ arms, and today I sit here divorced and alone. What bullshit!

Then, I told myself it was also bullshit to sit here wallowing. Shake it off, Kat, and get your ass back inside.

I did it. I was in time to hear a few more words from the priest before Maureen floated back down the aisle, this time on the arm of her beaming new husband. They were so happy. Though I still ached a bit, I am so happy I didn’t miss that moment.

So then we headed to the reception. It was at a picture perfect golf course. I mean, you wouldn’t even believe how lovely everything was. I grabbed a glass of champagne and smiled to myself. I figured I was in the clear since I’d already gotten weepy at the church, so time to just enjoy this celebration.

Of course, I was wrong. 

Divorce just loves to throw a brick at your heart, particularly when you’re not expecting it.

After my friends ate every miniature shrimp, spanakopita, and bacon-wrapped somethings at the cocktail hour, it was time to take our seats under the tent to welcome the families and the newly married happy couple!

There I was, clapping away, a happy woman cheering for my dear friend and their elated families, when the first dance song started. Of course, it was my first dance song, "Can’t Help Falling in Love." Of fucking course.

I turned to one of the girls at my table and blurted out, “I’m leaving!” and ran out of the tent onto the golf course.

As tears blurred my vision, I found a bench as the sun set. This time, the tears weren’t gentle. They were forceful. Just like at Nora’s wedding, I started sobbing, that icky gasping kind of crying that adults rarely do. What the fuck?!  This is my third wedding since I got divorced! But I guess I’m still not used to going to weddings without Max. We went to soooo many weddings in 2006-2008, and we traveled for many of those – Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Seattle, and the list continues. And further, Max had always wanted to go with me to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. We actually had a trip to Nantucket booked for December 2010, but he was so sick with depression we had to cancel the trip.

Breathe, Kat, breathe.

I pulled myself together and went to the restroom. Shockingly, my makeup was intact. (Thanks to 2010-2012, I am quite skilled at crying in public without smearing my makeup.) Again, I took a deep breath and went back to the reception.

I had a wonderful time, dancing, laughing, and drinking champagne. I left my tears on the golf course.

But, there was one really special moment I didn’t see coming.

When I stepped off the dance floor to kick off my high heels and chug some water, Maureen’s mom (whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a decade) approached me.

“Kat, I know that life has dealt you a tough hand. But, I really want you to know… it gets better.”

I was stunned. Maureen’s mom was divorced prior to marrying Maureen’s dad, something that we have never spoken about. It was so thoughtful (and vulnerable) of her to reference her past pain to give me hope. Afterall, this was her daughter's wedding day!

For just a moment, we talked about divorce without actually saying the D-word. I confessed to her that I don’t understand why I had to go through the heartache, but I know that I will someday.

“Yes,” she assured me, “you will eventually.”

This from a woman who has been remarried for nearly 40 years. This from a woman whose brand new son-in-law is on his second marriage.  Both unions truly give me hope of finding love again.

I believe her. Someday I will understand my heartache. And with each passing day, divorced life does get better.

If you are divorced, do you feel that you understand why you had to go through it?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is Getting Remarried My Dream or Nightmare?

“Would you ever get married again?”

If at first you don't succeed, try try again!

People love to ask me this. Well, probably just in general, people love to ask divorced people this complex question.

Here’s the thing about me and marriage – I never pictured myself married.

For as long as I can remember, if I thought about what my life would be like when I grew up, I pictured myself writing. That’s it. No husband, no kids, no dog. (Maybe a hamster though.) I never pretended to be a bride. I never planned my imaginary wedding. I never started the description of a dream with, “Someday when I get married…”

My vision of my life as a grownup did change when I was 22 years old. I volunteered at one of the Paul Newman camps for children with serious illnesses, and for the first time I realized that I wanted to be a mom someday. (I have always adored children, but actually wanting to be a mom hadn’t occurred to me.) But, oddly, the husband/dad aspect of the equation still didn’t register in my mind.

It wasn’t until I started dating Max when I was 25 that it occurred to me that it was maybe a touch unusual that I’d never wanted marriage. I come from a family of long marriages, including my own parents who got hitched in 1970. (Rock on, Mom and Dad!) I honestly don’t know why I never imagined myself married.

But then then there was Max. He made me feel loved and unique and important. He was smart and funny and dependable. I wanted to be around him as much as possible. I wanted to create a home with him, and eventually raise children together.

It absolutely floored me.  For the first time in my life, I was imagining myself... married. The difference was Max, my first (and still only) love as an adult.

When you’re a grownup, you’re supposed to want to marry the person you love, right? 

When he asked me to marry him, of course I said yes!

Well, if there is one huge lesson I learned from the end of my marriage, it’s two people can love each other but that isn’t necessarily enough to keep a marriage strong and healthy. I think I intellectually always knew that but now I’ve lived it. I married someone who was not a good fit for me for a number of reasons beyond our lack of a sex life, but I guess I naively believed that love was enough. (You’d think that Patty Smyth would have gotten through to me, but apparently not!)

So, would I ever get married again? 

As what would have been my fifth wedding anniversary creeps closer, my short answer is:

 “…yes, I think so.”

I do still believe that marriage can work and be a wonderful gift. I want to find love -- who doesn't? -- and if love paves the way to marriage, I would be open to it. There are things I would do differently (read: better) if I were to marry again. I know plenty of people in perfectly imperfect marriages, and it just delights me that these two individuals found each other in this big, crazy world. Maybe my would-be husband is out there!

All of this said, just the way marriage was not my goal before I met Max, it certainly is not my goal today. I do not feel that marriage is the only way to show love and commitment. I do not believe that my life will be incomplete if I never marry again.

And I will never again believe that love would be enough to sustain a marriage.

Oh, and I'm never, ever, ever changing my name again. Case closed!

If you are divorced, how do you feel about getting married again?

P.S. I'm two-thirds of the way through my Dating Diet. I'm doing pretty well in some ways (home improvement projects are done, hair is deep conditioned) and not so much in others (weight loss! WTF!).

Skip To My Lou

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Simple Pleasures of Being Married . . . and 5 Joys of Being Divorced!

You know what I totally miss about being married?
Holding hands while walking to dinner. That was pretty awesome.

You know what I don’t miss about being married?
Compromising on what to have for dinner. That was pretty annoying.

Ahh, Max and I loved annoying each other!
I have been divorced for 19 months (wow!) and living on my own for a year. I can clearly remember – and sometimes, even ache for – the simple joys and pleasures of being Max’s girlfriend, then fiancĂ©e, then wife. He was an awful partner in the biblical sense, but sweet and fun as my significant other.

But other times, when I’m out with friends or blogging on my couch with a cup of tea, I revel in my single/divorced status (I’m never sure which word to use to describe myself). I feel so pleased with my life that I can’t even imagine how a boyfriend would fit in!

It’s the everyday pleasures that make up our lives, so let’s take a look what made me happy when I was married, and what I’m embracing now.

Simple stuff I took for granted when I was married:

  1.  Snuggling and hand holding anytime. I’m physically affectionate, and the truth is I don’t get much contact these days. Just last night, I woke up in the middle of night and my barely waking thought was, I wanna snuggle. Dammit. Pooh Bear and my assortment of pillows just aren’t the same.
  2. Being part of an automatic team. Carrying the groceries up from the car. Putting up the Christmas tree. Attending events when you know no one but your significant other. No problems when you’re married, but challenging (or even depressing) when you’re not.
  3. Getting opinions on how I look. Max is definitely a guy’s guy, but he could be quite useful with helping me decide what clothes look good on me. Now I have to text selfies to my girlfriends and await their verdicts.
  4. Talking about my workday. Max’s brain works differently from mine, so I really liked being able to share my workday and listen to his perspective. He would really help me sort through challenges and frustrations and focus on my goals. 
  5. Not worrying about locking myself out of my apartment. I am super paranoid about locking myself out of my apartment. Like I put my key in my purse a moment before I leave and then look for it like six more times before I close the door. It’s pretty weird. At least when I lived with Max, I knew I’d never have to wait that long for him to return should I ever lock myself out (which I never did in our six years living together). My solution today? Jen and Tina both have copies of my keys.

Simple stuff I embrace about being divorced/single:

  1. Cooking whatever I want. Now that I don’t have to look for recipes that could work for my vegetarian requirements and my meat eating significant other, I’m getting better at cooking. I try more stuff, like this and this!
  2. Sundays. After I moved into my own apartment last year, Sundays were hard for me. I often felt lonely, and even worse, bored! Like, what the heck do I do with myself? No more. Now I love Sundays! They’re great for low pressure dates, or hanging with a girlfriend, or doing alone time. This past Sunday, I ran 9 miles and then took a yoga class, read a book on my patio, and was in bed by 10 p.m. PERFECTION.
  3. Not turning on the TV. I am pleasantly surprised that I sometimes have entire days when I don’t turn on my TV at all. That never happened when I was married. Max is a channel surfer (I hate even watching people do that!). There was always a football game or show on the History Channel that Max would watch. TV came to symbolize noise pollution in my home, not to mention a way to mask the silence between me and my husband.
  4. Making my bed. It’s funny that this makes the list because I always HATED making my bed. As an adult, I tried to force myself to make my bed a few times a week. But Max always got up after me, so that meant our bed was made maybe twice a month. Now? Every single day, I take pride as I smooth the Crate & Barrel duvet cover (wedding gift, of course) across my king size bed.
  5. Having an orgasm. I was in a sexless relationship and I didn’t masturbate, so for years, I had no orgasms. NONE! How freaking sad is that?! I was completely depending on someone else to provide me with the most basic human desire, which is just silly. I'm currently on a break from dating, but no matter -- I have my goody drawer, as every adult should. 

I am proud that I can fondly remember and even miss the little joys from my marriage, but that they don’t cast shadows on my single life.

What are the little things you miss about being in a relationship? And what’s are your simple pleasures about being single?

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Dating Diet, Part 2: A Tribute to 3 Friends I Met Since My Divorce

"My friends have made the story of my life."
–Helen Keller

I’m blessed to know how true these words are. 

Since I was a child, I have had great friends. Today, I have friendships that reach back to the 1980s, but I’ve also built new ones over the past 18 months.

Last week I shared my plans to work on myself while I take a 30-day break from dating, which included contacting three friends to tell them I appreciate their friendship.

Here are three friends I’ve made since my divorce. I'd like to tell them in front of the blogosphere that they're awesome and I so appreciate them!


  • When we became friends: We met at work, and I’d say we started hanging out in the summer of 2013. Then we trained for the NYC Half together, which meant running during one of the coldest, most snowy winters EVER. (Thanks, Polar Vortex.) You must really like someone if you’re willing to run in 5 degree temperatures with her.
  • Why I appreciate her: Mandy has a sunny personality and can talk to anyone. Whether we’re running 10 miles or hitting up happy hour, I am positive that we’ll have fun. Oh, and we are equally obsessed with talking about eating healthy and exercising as we are with discussing drinking and chocolate and peanut butter desserts.


  • When we became friends: The funny thing is that we've been working together since 2009, but I'm not quite sure when Yoshi and I started to become friends. I think we started hanging out in groups around the time I filed for divorce, and by the time I moved back to Ford a year ago (and right around the corner from him), he was not just a coworker anymore. He was definitely my friend. He even helped orchestrate my divorce party!
  • Why I appreciate him: We can talk for hours (especially when there's wine in front of us) about everything from daydreaming about creating a company to dating to debating, well, anything. He mostly grew up outside the U.S., so I also love hearing his stories. Yoshi is fiercely loyal. I have no doubt that I can call him anytime for anything, and no questions asked, he would be by my side. And he'd probably bring me a glass of pinot noir. Oh, and he took me to see Pitbull, my secret boyfriend, for my birthday. Now that's friendship!


  • When we became friends: Back in March, the night I went out with Tina and got drunk and awesome. Meredith and I happened to walk to the bar together, a little separated from the group, and we just hit it off. Before she left the bar that night, I said, “You’re fucking cool. Let’s hang out. Can I get your number?” Over the coming weeks and months, we hung out and I was right. She's fucking cool.
  • Why I appreciate her: First, Meredith totally gets it when I talk about my impression of someone’s energy (some people look at me like I'm a little nuts). Second, she is just down, you know? I feel like I could tell her anything and she won’t judge. She is just all about trying new things, meeting new people, rolling around in new experiences. For example, she loves EDM, but randomly decided it would be fun to come see Miranda Lambert with Tina and me. Meredith didn’t know a single country song, but just figured it would be a cool experience.

Honorable mentions go to..
  • Kevin, who I don’t see often but when we do hang out, the conversation is awesome. We are just really comfortable with each other and we can talk about anything without holding back. It’s cool to connect with someone like that, especially since we don't see each other a lot.
  • Steve, who I have only known for three months but we bonded quickly. I also appreciate his perspective on things since he’s older than me. But, since we get naked sometimes, I don’t think we can exactly call him a “friend.”

To all of my friends, I love you guys. 
I really, truly do!
I hope I'm as good to you as you are to me.

Dear reader, give props to a friend you’ve made recently (you define “recently”). Why is he or she awesome?