The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - An Introduction

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - An Introduction

My first foray into the Social Networking world was some years ago, in 2005 I believe, with Yahoo. They had a site called Yahoo 360° that was their own attempt at MySpace, which, at the time, was all the rage. I hadn't been bitten by the MySpace bug yet, but I was already an active member of Yahoo, so to get my feet wet, I set up a Yahoo 360° profile.

Blogging was an extremely attractive prospect to me. I love to write, I love to give myself that type of "outlet" to my problems, fears, joys, and experiences. I've kept diaries and journals off and on over the years and they've always been therapeutic when I took the time to keep them up. But this... a public diary? How do I approach such a thing? How much do I divulge? And what, praytel, do I write about that would actually entice people to read it?

Browsing thru existing blogs, one thing was an absolute MUST: I could not, would not, write about mundane things that no one but myself would care about. I needed an angle-- Something that I could write passionately about. Something that people, in general, have an interest in. Something that would grab the attention of the public. And something that had a "theme." I found that, to me personally, a blog that jumped around all over the place was difficult to read. A theme would keep me in check, and allow me to focus, rather than a stream of conscious that I was sure would bore to death anyone who came across my page.

The idea came to me fairly quickly. I was newly divorced and discovering the delights and annoyances of being single and dating in my 30's. It was perfect!
Love, sex, relationships, dating... The overall general interaction between men and women has always been a fascination and a sure-fire hit to our society, if not our entire species! I had my topic, I was ready to roll...

Yahoo has since shut down their 360° forum, and the experience I had there was both rewarding and therapeutic. So I am going to retell my adventures in a retro-active tale here, and see if I can gather the same, if not bigger, audience I did there. Maybe I can even get inspired enough to bring the whole thing up to date and wrap it all up into a happy ending? We shall see...

So, here we go! Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am 37 years old and I've been divorced just over 6 years now. Fasten your seat belts, boys and girls, it's gonna be one hell of a ride!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chapter 1: Foreword: Divorce

So one morning I woke up and found myself 31-years-old and divorced.  This was a situation that I’m sure many thirty-somethings have awoken to, and I realized that I wasn’t exactly the exception to the rule, but it felt like I was the only one in the world.  I had a strange mix of emotions that managed to encompass elation, fear, anxiety, loneliness, failure, and freedom all at the same time.  I questioned everything I was about to do in my personal life.  My desires about the person I wanted to shape myself into on this new venture in my life ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.

On one hand, I wanted to redefine myself as my own person, capable of standing tall and declaring with one voice that I could face the great unknown and succeed as a separate entity in this world obsessed with coupledom.  On the other hand, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.  I knew that, someday, I wanted to be married again.  I also knew that I would not fall prey to only good looks and charm again.  I had a second chance at finding the perfect mate, one that would offer me stability, security, passion, and intellect, all rolled into one man.  Was this a delusional fantasy?  Would I eventually start to lower my standards for fear that I actually would spend the rest of my life alone?  Or would I fall under the spell of my romantic delusions and fall for the wrong person all over again, only to find myself single again in another five to seven years?  The answer to all of these questions was:  I had no idea.  I had done this once, and was being given a second chance to do it right.  I had no intentions of doing it a third time.

Our society has over-glamorized love, marriage, and divorce.  With the media exposure of the constant revolving marriages in Hollywood, I think that most people have become somewhat desensitized to the emotional repercussions of divorce on an individual.  We are seduced into thinking that love is riding off into the sunset, marriage is mundane unless there’s constant excitement, and divorce is something that happens all too easily when there’s a bump in the road.  Those of us who have been in love, married, and divorced, whether for the wrong or right reasons, know that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Marriage is hard work.  Even in the best of marriages, they will agree.  You have to work at it almost every day.  And when you allow one or more aspects of your marriage spiral out of control to the point that you can’t reel it back in to fix it, you entertain the idea of divorce.  There may be some couples out there that approach this decision lightly, but, for the most part, I don’t think most do.  It’s the final decision.  It’s the conclusion you come to when you feel you’ve exhausted every possibility you can think of and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s the big heavy iron door with an exit sign on it that you’re afraid to open, but you feel so lost, so helpless, so hopeless, and so desperate that it’s your only way out.  My ex-husband and I kept trying to find our way, and we approached that door several times, only to shy away from it and try again.  Finally, after about two years of watching our four-year marriage decline, we grasped the handle and stepped through.  It wasn’t an easy decision, by any stretch of the imagination.  I don’t really know what all he went through mentally, but I know what I went through.  I questioned the decision to get a divorce every day.  Did I try hard enough?  Did I give my marriage enough opportunity to revive?  Did I ever give him enough chance to prove himself to me?  Was I actually just impossible to live with?  Would ANYONE ever find me worthy enough to marry again?  Was it him, or was it me?  If I couldn’t make this marriage work, what made me think that I could make a marriage work with anyone else? 

I felt like a failure.  I failed at marriage.  He had his faults, there’s no doubt about that, and all my friends constantly reinforce the fact that he had just never grown up.  But I was no saint, either.  I can say that I realize now that I suffocated him.  I so desperately wanted him to grow up, but I can see now that I never gave him the room to do so.  The more I pushed (okay, nagged) the more it suffocated him, and he couldn’t find his way.  The more this happened, the more frustrated I got, and the vicious cycle continued until that heavy iron door was the only option left. 

I am capable of looking back over my marriage now and realizing that I made the right decision.  I know that he was not the man that was meant for me.  I believe that our paths crossed and we were perfect for each other at the time, however those paths took off in very different directions, and the longer we went on, the further apart we got.  However, I can only hope that he, wherever he is in life now, has realized the important lessons there were to be learned from our failed marriage.  I am a better person now, and I know where I went wrong.  I know that I will approach marriage in a very different way in the future, and I really do hope that he has grown as well, and will be a better person for the right woman in the future.

That being said, I now faced a new door.  Dating.  I was 31-years-old, and it was 2005.  The last time I had truly been in the dating world, it was 1997, and I was still in college.  There was now a whole new world out there, as the last eight years had seen the dawn of the obsession with the Internet, and divorce had become the norm rather than the exception.  There certainly should be an over-abundance of single men out there, but exactly how would I go about meeting them?  And, more importantly, how would I go about weeding out the ones that were carrying too much baggage from previous marriages, scorned relationships, and the jadedness that comes from too many failed encounters?  This didn’t even address the baggage that I, myself, was carrying from my own marriage!

The obvious choice was Internet dating, but I was still apprehensive.  Before I started dating my ex-husband, I had met and/or dated a few people that I’d met online, and there was always something just a little “off” about it.  When you meet someone spontaneously in a bar, or a club, or even just within a group of people, there’s no pressure.  You can talk, watch their body language, read them through the inflections in their voice and the comments they make, and, above all, you can decide internally how you might want to proceed with this person.  You might be intrigued by this person, and want to flirt a lot, make future plans, or exchange contact information.  You might enjoy this person’s company, but not enough to exchange phone numbers, however enjoy running into them at a later date.  You might be flat out annoyed by this person and hope you never see them again.  The point is, you can decide, based on visual, audible, and intellectual decisions, how you may or may not want to continue a relationship with this person you just met.

When online, all these factors are removed.  You are reduced to assessing someone simply by the way they type.  They can say anything, and without a face-to-face restriction of social decency, a lot of times they may say things that are much bolder than they would if they met a woman face-to-face.  They can be crass and indecent, without fear of being slapped.  Other times, they may say exactly what they think you want to hear, without benefit of you looking for telltale signs that they are lying.  Online, you can be anyone.  You can be charming, sexy, intelligent, educated, beautiful, rich, older, younger, whatever your heart desires.  One might wonder why ANY of us take the chance of speaking to anyone online?  But we all do it.  We all talk to people online, and try to insert our own version of their personality based on what we see on the screen.

Then what happens?  You take the big step.  You decide to move the relationship from cyberspace into reality.  You might try the telephone first, or you might go straight to a meeting.  Either way, the sheer fact of the matter is that neither one of you would have agreed to take this relationship into reality if you weren’t interested in dating.  I know of very few instances where people met offline with the pure intention of being “just friends.”  So now you’ve agreed to meet.  And now the pressure’s on.  You can’t walk into this thinking that you’ll walk away as “just friends.”  You know this other person is interested in you.  You know that you are meeting with the expectation that this will turn into a date.  And what happens if you meet this person and your internal radar goes off and you feel no attraction and no “click?”  How do you back out gracefully?  Or even worse, what if you DO feel the “click,” but the other person doesn’t?  The rejection is devastating.

So, needless to say, the concept of online dating was less than attractive to me.  However, many thirty-somethings realize very quickly that their exposure to new people is very limited.  Once upon a time, we had high school, with a constant parade every few months of new faces.  Then there was college, where the parade of new faces might change on a daily basis.  You could make as many friends as you wanted, and then meet their friends.  Finding dates amongst this network was easy, if not a guarantee.  Now you have a full-time job, with the same faces everyday, and your network of friends has shrunk since you graduated college, got married, had children, or whatever your personal circumstance is.  Somewhere out there, through the six-degrees of separation, is the mate of your dreams.  How will you find him or her?

I have been divorced for over a year now.  I have watched myself grow mentally, and react in ways that vary from cynical and jaded to flat-out childish.  What you are about to read is my own journey within myself, learning more about life, love and people than I ever could have learned at a younger age.  This isn’t an exposé on the men that I’ve met.  This is an in-depth analysis of the mental processes I went through as I redefined myself as a single woman in today’s society, with all its humor, chaos, love and loss, warts and all.

Ultimately, I would be honored if only one person was able to avoid some of the mistakes I made.  But in reality I realize that, in order to grow as a person, you HAVE to make these mistakes.  You have to fall down, pick yourself up, and laugh at the fact that you just tripped over your own two feet.  One thing is for sure, it’s a wild ride, no matter which way you look at it.  And in the end, I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. A really good read. A bit more than I expected, but really good & honest.


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