I wrote this on January 31, 2011 just 10 days after my divorce. My ex and I separated in October 2009, so we had been apart for 15 months. I had a lot of time to overcome the initial shock and grief of losing her. Now (August 8, 2011) my thinking is a bit different than it was when I wrote this over 6 months ago. So here it is.
After turning down a dating service when I was 18, I thought I met the perfect woman 3 years later in Colorado. I had it in mind that the next woman I started dating, I would marry her. I kept that expectation after I met her and in 2001 it became true. We married and 8 1/2 years and 2 kids later, we were still happy. Unfortunately, that happiness was shattered when she broke my heart and betrayed me. I never would have thought I would get divorced. I always saw myself as a “one woman for life” guy who would grow old with the first woman I married. But then I never thought I’d move to Colorado, graduate from college, get fired from a job, want to become a nurse, drop out of nursing school or nickname my stomach “Phil”.
Now as a single man for the first time since Christmas 1999, I feel free. I’ve already gone through the mess of a break-up. I endured the tremendous grief and turmoil of a love lost. I’ve come out of the valley and I’m ready to move on. Now after the divorce is over, I feel as if a HUGE weight has been lifted from me. Being a bachelor does have its perks. I can do what I want to (most of the time). I can go out with whomever I choose (anytime I have childcare). I can look at a woman and think, “Man, she’s hot! I should go talk to her!”
I was married for a third of my life and gave up a lot. I stopped writing my zine (a personal publication with poetry, blogs, band interviews and music reviews). I quit playing drums in band. I stopped going to see bands I loved. I quit pursuing many of my passions to instead pursue my duty of being husband. That’s where it was all wrong. I gave up passion for duty. I was miserable sometimes.
When I was married and my wife was away, I wondered who I was at my core being. If my job, degree and family were stripped away, what would I be? What was my identity? A husband, father, college graduate and employee? Any of those could have been taken away. My passions should have defined me but I didn’t have many passions then. I realize now that I didn’t have much of an identity while I was married. I just went along with whatever happened around me. I was a different man back then who had some direction of my own but who also walked in the footsteps of others. It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday things like school, work, taking care of the kids, shopping and other things. Life is so full of routine and constant repetition. It really takes stepping out of that bubble of sameness and making it clear that you’re thankful for your spouse. That they really mean something to you and aren’t just a roommate who you happen to be married to. Unfortunately, now I know this as hindsight.
Toward the end of our “happy days”, we were just roommates living together. Sure, our lives were hectic and there were excuses for not pursuing passion, but whose lives aren’t hectic? I was asked once by a coworker what I did for fun. I stared at him with a blank face and couldn’t think of one thing I did for fun. Not even one! I could have told him what I used to do for fun but those were all things in the past that I had given up or had allowed to fade away. I gave him some lame answer like hanging out with my wife or something like that. I wasn’t a loser back then, I had just given up my passions to follow marriage. If I were asked that same question today (what do I do for fun), man I would have so many answers for him, “I love to fish, hike, back-back, camp, ride my bike, play my PS3, go out on the town, critique movies, read a good book, write, play the air drums, discuss politics, learn about science, enrich my life with scripture, debate with people I don’t agree with, blog, listen to talk radio, listen to music, research genealogy,” the list would be pretty long.
Now that I’m single, I can pursue those things. Come to think of it, I could have been doing all those things while I was married and I know how much I missed out on! I’m enjoying life so much more than I have in a long time. It’s too bad that it took separation and divorce to get me here, but I am here!
I saw a bumper sticker once that read, “I think, therefore I’m single,” If you are familiar with what the philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” you will catch the irony in that saying. I don’t know what Descartes would think about that bumper sticker but I know what I’d say about it. Now that I’m single, I do think for myself and my kids. It’s a relief when I’m faced with a decision, I don’t have to discuss it with anyone, I just spend about ten seconds mulling it over in my mind and the desicion is made. However, I don’t believe that married people can’t think, as indicated by that bumper sticker. Two heads are always better than one. Right now I’m stuck with just my head, so I’m using it to the fullest.
Living alone like this is fun but I don’t want do it forever. I don’t want to be some old man drooling by myself in a nursing home. I want to drool with someone special and I know I will find her someday! Probably not in a dating service (see my entry entitled “Dating Service”) but I will find her! I still want to enjoy my passions when I remarry. It probably won’t be to the same extent as I’m enjoying them now but I don’t want to have to give up what I love to be with someone I love. I want us to enjoy them together and enrich our lives with new desires and passions. I don’t want my marriage to be a duty but instead a delight.
You might be wondering, “What’s this guy thinking? He just got dumped 8 1/2 years into his 9 1/2 year marriage and he wants to marry someone again? Isn’t he done with marriage?” I’ve learned that if you have truly entrusted your heart to someone, they can make you feel immense love and passion but they can also cause you so much heartache and grief. However, as my father once said, “Not all women are evil,” and I think that’s one of the most logical and wise things I’ve heard in a long time.
I don’t think that all women are like my ex. I know I have it in me to fall in love again and be a good husband (and maybe a father) someday. Finally, I want everyone to know something. This isn’t a “want ad”. It’s a proclamation. It’s a sign! I’m a new person than the one who read that “Dear John” letter in the fall of ’09. A chapter in my life’s book is over. But my story isn’t over yet and a new one has begun. I can’t wait to turn the next page!