Divorce is such a personal experience, isn’t it? For some, it’s a tragic and devastating, condolences-worthy end and for others it’s the perfect occasion to throw the century’s most epic Divorce Party. And then, there are those of us, for whom the sometimes-rite-of-passage falls somewhere in the middle. No matter your circumstances and where you fall on the condolences-to-congratulations continuum, one thing is for certain. It’s a new beginning. And, how you embrace (or avoid) this particular new beginning is likely the same as how you’ve approached the perhaps less momentous other new beginnings in your life.
Generally speaking, I confront change confidently and always have, even if I don’t like it. Uncertainty has always been my normal. My divorce was really no different. My failed marriage left me feeling disappointed, not bitter. Relieved, not excited. Liberated, not afraid.
With that said, dating and my “next relationship” were the furthest things from my mind. Although my ex-husband and I had no children together, there were three pets (which, it turns out, are indivisible assets), financial entanglements, and a healing process that needed to be addressed before I could even contemplate a new love interest.
The first six months post-divorce I spent focused on my upwardly mobile and demanding career, my participation in group and individual therapy, losing the excessive “unhappy weight” I had accumulated throughout my marriage and dealing with the logistics of untangling from another human being – financially, emotionally and psychologically.
As time went on, well-meaning family and friends would say such things as: “I have a nice guy for you…when you’re ready”; “Don’t you think you’re ready to start dating yet?”; “When do you think you might be ready to start dating?”; “I think you’re ready (to start dating).” None of this bothered me at the time but I also never really knew how to respond. Of course, it also depended on who was speaking. For example, if it was my Mom…she would obviously get the stink eye and some choice expletives that translated into MYOFB (mind your own f*cking business).
I can characterize my post-divorce love life as a series of open-minded yet ultimately poor choices facilitated mostly by: Olympic calibre online dating; too many blind dates – arranged by people who should never play matchmaker again; organized, disorganized and makeshift singles events; and a general excitement around the idea of new possibilities.
Highlights included: “falling” into a long-term, long-distance relationship with a significantly older man seven months into my new life; an accidental and short-lived relationship with a much younger man whose text messages – among many other things – should’ve been a deal-breaker (Hi Sewty! = Hi Sweetie!); and taking a chance with a “separated” man who was still living with his soon-to-be-ex-wife. All great blogs for another time…
With the benefit of hindsight, and because I’m an introspective, chronic-thinking, self-help junkie, I can say with certainty that I had no business being in any of those relationships. And, not because I wasn’t ready.
You see – I don’t believe that there is such a thing as being ready. Ready for what? To be loved? To love another? No way. That is what every human seeks, at the most basic of levels. When people talk about being ready (or not ready) they’re usually thinking many steps WAY ahead of themselves and are actually talking more about logistics than anything else, such as: moving residences, making familial introductions, having “the talk”, not getting hurt, and so on.
Those are certainly important considerations but what they call for is for you to be prepared. Not ready. There is a difference and the sooner that you can understand and know the difference, the sooner you will be on your way to whatever it is that awaits you. If you’re not convinced – think of your coupled friends. There will surely be at least one or two who found love despite your or their belief that they were ready. Also, think about your friends with children – or think of your own if you have ‘em. How many times do parents “plan” for the right time to have a baby? And, how many of the babies you know have come out at the time planned for them?
So, looking back – I had no business being in any relationship – not because I wasn`t ready but because I wasn’t adequately prepared. Unknowingly, in the time between my last “fake” relationship and my current , very real relationship (ultimately, my second and final marriage) I made some very deliberate and significant changes to my life that ended up making all the difference between me being prepared and unprepared for the love that lurked around the corner.
Now, as a professional matchmaker and dating coach, I’m able to take my experience (as well as the experiences of others) to guide my clients as I help them prepare for the next chapter in their book of love. And, I can do the same for you!
Here are some questions to ask yourself – to get started:
- How do I feel in my skin these days?
- Do I still know myself or do I need to spend some time getting reacquainted with the old me?
- Is my “love closet” (I adore this term, but did not coin it and cannot recall who did) empty (that’s a good thing) or are there a few lingering skeletons and/or cobwebs (in the form of: exes, FWBs, FBs, crushes, and/or other lustful pursuits)?
- Do I have somewhere I call “home”? (P.S. Your once-shared marital home does not count if your soon-to-be-ex still lives there…)
- Am I OK spending time on my own? (And, by this, I mean solo and alone-alone, not single as in “without a partner”.)
- Do I have a fulfilling career, job, volunteer or outreach engagement that gives my life purpose outside of my children, family and friends?
- Do I have the financial freedom to enjoy the social activities that require spending money?
- If I were prepared for dating, would I have time to date?
- How do I feel about dating, relationships, love and marriage?
- If I were to start dating, would that be my only form of socializing that did not involve children or work?
I am grateful to have been given a second chance at love. I have been with RJ since October 2011. He is my lobster (unavoidable “FRIENDS” reference, for those who watched/know), and I am his. Our story is a best-seller waiting to be written, no doubt. There are no amount of blogs that could possibly do our story justice. What I will tell you is this: I was not ready. I am still not ready. There is no way to be ready for RJ – he is a larger-than-life enigma. There is no way to be ready to go from zero kids to four step kids overnight. There is no way to be ready for a third person forever in your relationship (the mother of said step kids – a.k.a. my sister wife). There is just NO WAY. I do, however, believe that I was adequately prepared. Prepared to love someone wholeheartedly. Prepared to be loved and cherished. Prepared to commit to and build something greater than myself. Prepared to be a different kind of statistic. The kind that “makes it”.
You can be that kind too. So long as you realize that you will never be ready. If that is what you are waiting for, you might very well be waiting forever. If you focus your time and energy on becoming prepared – and not just for dating and love – but for the rest of your life, then you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Stacie Ikka, Sitting in a Tree
Check out Stacie’s Profile and amazing Promotion on Divorce Angels http://divorceangels.ca/promotion/25-off-initial-consultaion-20-off-subsequent-services-with-stacie-ikka/