Divorce or Dating.
I’m not sure which D-word I dislike more.
The actual process of getting divorced was pretty straightforward. We’d had the legal red tape and rigmarole when we were legally separated in early 2013. That was hard. But the divorce was much, much easier. I only had to sign one piece of paper, as opposed to the fifty-something back in 2013. Sana came with me to a Justice of the Peace (JP) and I signed the page that Mr Ex had also already signed. There was a long line of people waiting for the JP, so it wasn’t even a situation involving small talk. It was just, “alright, sign here… alright, next person!”
And that was a blessing.
Two weeks later, my divorce certificate arrived in the post.
Julia, my work colleague and dear friend – the one who randomly rocked up at my Church of Quirks on the day I first visited there, a couple of chapters ago – was separated and pending divorce, too. Her ex-husband and my ex-husband (no connection whatsoever) were both arranging our divorce paperwork, albeit from different countries. Mr Ex was in Bristol, England and Julia’s husband was here in Australia. Yet, unbeknown to both Julia and myself, our ex-husbands lodged our divorce applications on the exact same day. No mean feat for two strangers living in different countries! How bizarre.
So, Julia and I both received our divorce certificates in the post on the exact same day. Surreal. I have a divorce buddy. A fellow Jesus-loving, starting-life-from-scratch-again, had-a-cheating-husband, now-living-out-Plan-B buddy. (Not something I ever thought I’d say!)
It never fails to amaze me how easy it is to get divorced.
Sadly, I think buying a house with another person is actually a far bigger commitment than marriage and significantly harder to ‘get out of’.
Marriage, on the other hand, is ridiculously easy to get out of!
So, anyway, I was now divorced and feeling quite content and happy. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. I was OK.
That lasted only a short while, before my next mother-load tunnel popped up.
An email from my ex-father-in-law.
He wanted to share some news with me. He wanted me to hear it from him, rather than anyone else. He wanted to give me time to digest it.
“Mr Ex and Cosette are expecting a baby.”
And that killed me.
My heart was smashed into a zillion tiny pieces.
And I broke.
It’s one of the three times in my life that I have experienced darkness beyond words.
The first time was when Mr Ex revealed the affair and walked out. The second time was when I signed my separation papers. And the third time was hearing that Mr Ex and Cosette had a baby on the way.
I really, truly wanted to die.
I remember sitting on the bathroom floor in a mess. No will to live. There were sleeping pills on my bathroom shelf.
Would I ever do that?
I thought about it. But, no. Despite my very best efforts to be an atheist and despite my very best efforts to give up on myself, my life and my God, He just doesn’t let me go.
What saved me?
This blog. By the Grace of God.
After a time of dry-reach crying and hysterically throwing metaphorical ink pots around my house, I logged onto WordPress, my beloved blog host, and I wrote what would form a part of Chapter 19: Free Will and Throwing Ink Pots. Writing is my therapy. And a gift from God, I believe.
So, a big thank you to each and every one of my readers. And thank you, God, for 20somethinganddivorced.com.
In that chapter, I wrote about the feeling of the walls closing in. And me fighting back, like Martin Luther when he literally threw ink pots at what he perceived to be the devil. This was my ink pot moment.
While that chapter worked perfectly within my blogging time-frame (I was up to the bit about signing my separation papers), it was well and truly inspired by my reaction to Mr Ex’s pending fatherhood.
Oddly enough, my parents and friends didn’t see the baby news as upsetting. Sure, they thought it was annoying, unfair and perhaps a little shitty, but definitely not ground-breakingly terrible.
So why did I react in the way I did???
Perhaps knowing for years that I would be the person to have Mr Ex’s children, I was mourning the loss of the children that I may never have.
I’m not sure what it is with women and babies.
I spend 99.999% of my time grateful that I can be a selfish, single person with no nappies to change and the divine luxury of sleeping in (when I’m not skating, that is). I do what I want, when I want.
But then I’ll see a deliriously happy couple (you know the ones… they sit on a church pew and rub each others backs) and I want what they have.
And social media is the WORST for that.
I call it “IRWWTH” (pronounced “earth”) syndrome. I Really Want What They Have.
But, when I truly, honestly, deeply listen to myself… I mean really listen to myself… I am happy. I am complete. I am content and fulfilled and all that jazz. I really am.
It is only when I listen to the universe – through social media or that son of a bitch stereotype that tells us couples, marriages and children are the epitome of fulfillment – that I get jaded.
I don’t want to be that bitter, jealous, angry ex-wife. And I’m actually not.
So, how do I stop her from creeping in?
Fight like hell to listen to God, not the world.
And when I say ‘fight’, I do quite literally mean fight.
Much like my chapter about throwing ink pots, I had to fight. Fight the demons that tell you bullshit about your life. Fight the little voices in your head that belittle you and erode your sense of fulfillment.
And that is why my beautiful parents bought me a dog tag. It’s not your average, everyday dog tag. It’s a Tiffany & Co dog tag!
And it has two little words inscribed:
One of my dearest, dearest friends at Happy’s (church), Michelle, gave me the idea.
“I know” signifies the beginning of my go-to Bible verse. Jeremiah 29:11.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future’.
God tells me that I am loved as I am. God tells me that I’m complete as I am. God tells me that there’s nothing I could do that could ever separate me from His love. God tells me that I am made new. God tells me that I am worth it. God tells me that He has a plan for me. And a future.
The world tells me that I need a partner, a baby, a Thermomix and those annoying ‘My Family’ car stickers.
Don’t listen to that.
One of my favourite books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes. I can totally relate. It was written by King Solomon and I’m SURE he was feeling emo and dark when he wrote it. He wrote the book of Proverbs first (the previous Bible chapter), which is all nice and rosey and chipper. But then maybe he lived a little and discovered how shittily, shittily unfair this world can be.
Ecclesiastes starts off with, “Everything is meaningless; completely meaningless”. A little while on, it says, “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless – like chasing the wind.” Not the most commonly known Bible verse, that’s for sure. But I love it. Because it addresses the universal disappointment that we experience when we place our hope, identity and faith in anything other than God. We will be disappointed. Guaranteed.
But in God, we have hope. We have completeness. We can move mountains with Jesus.
That sounds really preachy. But, truthfully, I’m writing that to myself more that anyone. Because that is the stuff I need to be reminded of regularly.
The other part of my pain?
HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW is it fair/possible/OK for Mr Ex and Cosette (who cheated on their respective spouses) to have a baby, when there are SO MANY beautiful, faithful couples experiencing infertility?! And HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW, HOW is it fair/possible/OK for Mr Ex and Cosette to get pregnant seemingly at the drop of a hat, when Mr Ex and I were trying for HOW LONG?!!?? And we didn’t get pregnant?!
SOOOOOO FREAKING UNFAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But that’s life.
And truthfully, I know I should be thankful that I never had children with Mr Ex. Because if we had children, things would be SO much more complicated, painful and unfair. I know that. But still.
It was in that headspace following the Mr Ex/Cosette baby news that I signed up for internet dating. eHarmony, to be exact. Just the free trial. (Thankfully, I didn’t part with any dollars.)
It really hit me that I am single. And he’s totally not.
I went on a blind date with one guy. We had several mutual friends, so it seemed like a safe bet. I lasted on this date for 32 minutes, before I managed to excuse myself and escape! I rang Andrew, Cosette’s ex-husband and my now-dear friend, as I was
walking running to my car. We just laughed. It was an utter disaster! Basically, the guy (a 33-year-old Christian) was still living at home with mummy and daddy, he actually told me that his mummy does his washing for him and that’s why he likes living at home, he told me that he’s never had a girlfriend before and that he has lots of first dates but they never go any further AND he told me that he understood my divorce because HIS BEST FRIEND MOVED TO QUEENSLAND.
A best friend moving interstate DOES NOT equate to your spouse CHEATING on you and walking out!!!!!!
He’s probably a really lovely guy. And I’m sure his awkwardness and nervousness would be endearing to the right girl. But that was definitely not me.
My next internet dating experience didn’t actually result in me meeting anyone at all.
A friend of mine had been dating some guy called Steve. She told me a little about him; Steve, aged 30, a Restaurant Manager from Glenelg. I was really happy for her! And although it was still new, it sounded positive! No one had met this Steve guy yet.
And Steve had no idea who I was.
But I think God revealed His epic sense of humour and desire for me to have good blogging material, because eHarmony emailed me a notification of a ‘kiss’ and ‘5 questions’ from…guess who? Steve, aged 30, a Restaurant Manager from Glenelg.
WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?
The guy that my friend is dating IS ALSO ON eHARMONY?!?!? Dating my friend but also shopping around for girls online?!? Sending me creepy questions and a ‘kiss’?!?! VOMIT!!!!!!
And you know what’s worse?? He’s a Youth Leader at a local church.
And thus ended my very short 1-week spell on eHarmony.
Let me just say, I’m glad it’s over.
And I’m glad I never parted with any money. And I’m glad I never uploaded a photo of myself or any specific details about me.
Internet dating is truly heinous.
A little while later, there was a guy (not internet dating, but real life) who asked me out on a couple of coffee dates. I wasn’t sure if he was “interested” or not, but I later found out that, yes, he was. The couple of coffee dates were followed by a pier-side dinner at Glenelg (I did wonder if we went to 30-year-old Steve’s Restaurant?!) and a couple of pub catch-ups. You would think I’d have big trust issues, considering my history with Mr Ex, but oddly enough, I do trust people easily. Stupid me, perhaps. But anyway, I enjoyed his company and I considered him a friend, so I had him over to my place for dinner and British comedy. Let’s call him British Comedy Dude.
Despite catching up with British Comedy Dude on a number of occasions, sharing a friendship circle and developing a [what I thought was genuine] friendship, he then unexpectedly began ignoring me. Like, literally just stopped talking to me and responded to any texts with a couple of words max.
I don’t know what happened. Someone later told me that he was interested in me, but he changed his mind. All I can deduce: British Comedy Dude heard ‘my story’ (i.e. the abridged version of this entire blog) and he ran a mile. At least I think that was the reason. He never communicated, but timing-wise it added up. And it pissed me off, mostly because I thought we were friends.
So, I see a major problem with the dating scene.
And that goes 100% for church dating scenes.
I’ve seen it time and time again with others and I’ve experienced it myself once.
The formula goes something like this…
Guy is interested in girl. Guy asks girl out for coffee. Guy and girl get coffee. Guy and girl get to know each other. Guy and girl hang out a bit more. Guy changes his mind. Guy backs right off.
Is it just me, or is that not OK?!
I can’t offer any amazing revelations for an alternative to this formula, but my two cents worth is: I don’t think we should ever compromise our compassion.
And it seems to me that that formula seriously compromises compassion.
If we decide we don’t want to pursue a friendship/relationship/any kind of connection with someone we’ve been hanging out with/investing in/share a circle of friends with, I would say it’s never OK for you to just start ignoring that person.
COMMUNICATE, people! Communicate!
Own your feelings!
Be bold enough to SPEAK!
Have the guts to tell that person how you’re feeling.
There’s a good chance that person may agree with you. And if they don’t, at least have the heart to show respect to that person by giving them some kind of communication. Sure, conveying our feelings can be shithouse to give and receive. But I think it’s just common courtesy to tell a person how you are feeling. They deserve that. Because they gave you their time and energy and they let you into their world.
And in my case, at the risk of sounding woe-is-me, I was a damaged, recovering soul.
While I didn’t think British Comedy Dude was a good match for me whatsoever and while I didn’t feel any spark there, I did consider him a friend and I did take the leap of faith in sharing my story with him.
But then I realised something.
It was forced.
I was reacting to my hurt, pain and devastation at Mr Ex’s happy little life with pending child. I was being reactive.
My most successful friendships are the ones I never saw coming. The ones I never even wanted. The ones I didn’t pursue or hope for or self-generate. The ones that effortlessly happened.
So I made a promise to myself:
“Ess, that’s it. Don’t force it.”
And so, dating was over before it even properly began.
If I ever embark on the world of dating again, I have two rules in place:
- He loves Jesus more than me.
- It must be effortless*. Like, Holy-Spirit effortless. That deep-down effortlessness that you just feel in your soul.
*I described ‘effortless’ in In The Stranger. There are those people in life where your soul just goes, “Oh there you are! I’ve been looking for you!” and I think it is Jesus in and within these people that our souls are recognising. You connect on multi-dimensional levels and you are sure you’ve been friends for years.
I was talking to Andrew (Cosette’s husband) recently and I acknowledged the fact that I really have limited my dating options. I said to Andrew, “If I ever date, it’ll be with a fellow wine-drinking Jesus freak, who is the same breed of crazy as me, and who isn’t fazed by my F-bomb-riddled life.”
…Yes… That does limit my options SIGNIFICANTLY.
But I’m OK with that.
And if I’m single forever and ever, I’m OK with that too.**
(**And if I ever doubt that, I’ll just scroll up and re-read this chapter; what God tells me, versus what the world tells me).
And on that note, Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City has some wise words of wisdom…
“…The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous!”-Carrie Bradshaw.