Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jenna: The Early 30's Divorcee

There's a new phenomenon I've come across lately that implies one of two things. One is that the institution of marriage just ain't what it used to be...or dreaded number 2: that I must be getting old. This phenomenon is the recent appearance in my dating pool of a creature I'd like to refer to as 'The Early 30's divorcee'. I have encountered not one, but several of this species of late...and let me tell you, it's incredibly confusing. They are a wily bunch. At the start, there's something about them that exudes maturity and an energy seemingly focused on you. From past experience, they know how to talk to a woman (and generally, what to do with one in the bedroom), act the gentleman, and how to be on their best behavior. After all, they've already been through one round of training. In an effort to prove to themselves that they've moved on, they may appear completely healthy and non-commitment phobic...on the outside.

But bubbling deep (or not so deep) beneath the surface, lies the beast. Of course, it all depends on how their marriage ended. This series of comments generally excludes arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, or citizenship oriented marriage situations. The young divorcees I've encountered, however, have harbored some pretty serious feelings of anger, jealousy, bitterness, and the urge to drink, strangle things, and wish venereal diseases upon their former loves. Something about the vulnerability of opening themselves to someone new unleashes this flood of emotions within them, ripping the scabs off old wounds and resulting, ultimately, in an emotional nuclear meltdown. Do not be fooled.

And though I seem to have found myself on the wrong end of this situation more than once (is there really a right end of this situation?), I cannot say I blame them. If I blame anyone, it is myself. I knew what I was getting myself into. The facts are these...

These damaged individuals have been through an ordeal I never hope to understand. Entirely unlike myself, they thought they found the person they loved so much that they were done looking. They decided that this person was the one they were going to live and die beside. They were courageous enough to take that information and share it with their partner, friends, and family. They actually went through with it and got married. There was probably a wedding and lots and lots of pictures. Aside from that, lots of firsts, lots of memories, lots of moments shared with this person, in this relationship, that will forever be etched in their mind. Maybe their tradition was to make crepes together on Sundays, or read the New York Times every morning. The details are not important. They built a life and a routine and, at one time, felt certain that this was right and all was well with their little world.

Until everything changes. And it ends. Whether it happens quickly, with a painful cataclysmic event, or slowly, wearing away over time...there's still the day they realized it was over. That some things would never be the same again. That they couldn't fight hard enough to make it work...and maybe...they had been wrong. Then there's this whole other process of coming to that decision, and all of the pain, anger, and discomfort of mourning the loss of someone and systematically extricating their lives from one another. Then, there's the healing process. The days they feel okay and the days they don't. Feeling like they're ready to move on one moment, and the overwhelming awareness that they are still an absolute mess, in the next. The fear of repeating past mistakes, or the realization that maybe their instincts can't be trusted.

There's no amount of ego stroking (or stroking anything else for that matter) that can actually heal the wounds of the past. I'm pretty sure that time and therapy are the only things that can do that. Plus, there's absolutely no way that in my life experience (disappointment and heartbreak included) I can ever really understand what this is like. There's no way that I'll ever be in the same emotional place as someone who has been through this. I can empathize with the situation, I can acknowledge and be supportive, but I cannot really understand. I hope I never do. But after much deliberation, I've concluded that in the future, I'd be better served to date people with emotional baggage similar to my own.

Note: It is not my intention to offend any of our readers that may have been through a divorce. My parents are divorced, I have friends who are divorced, and 9 times out of 10, getting out of a bad marriage is a courageous, if difficult decision, that allows people to go on to lead more fulfilling and happier lives. My love for anyone who has been through this difficult situation is boundless...I'm just expressing my frustration with my own romantic attempts to manifest that support into anything more than friendship.

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