It came out of nowhere, a sudden shift to actually want to date, post-divorce. One minute I’m in the corner patching up my war-torn heart, thinking no way in hell will I ever find myself romantically involved with another, the risk is just too great. Feeling there was no way this little heart of mine could possibly take another round of this, hell; I’d take up needlepoint and bake my way into Weight Watchers before I let someone into these four chambers again. But before I ever even realized what was happening, a switch had flipped and I was ready to try a date, see what it was about. This girl had Redboxed her way through one too many child-free weekends of Eat, Pray, Love and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
Suddenly awake and very aware of my surroundings, I found myself noticing there truly were good-looking men living outside of Hollywood. Good looking men could genuinely be found living in Maine. Everywhere I turned, I saw a sea of everything I was attracted to in a man, physically. Here I was, just over forty, and altogether boy crazy.
I started running my errands in the city, and fully admit to having more than one thought of taking out the heel of an innocent male shopper with my cart at the local Whole Foods. I liken my awakening to when you buy a new car and suddenly everyone is driving the same car as you and sometimes, it’s even the exact same color! Everywhere you turn, there is likeness. I divorced and suddenly everyone around me seemed to be divorcing or divorced. I wasn’t the only one trying to figure this thing out, I was definitely not alone. This is where it’s crucial to have some friends that can confirm the thoughts you’re having are completely normal and right on par.
The day the UPS man asked me out after delivering a package, I recognized I was actually date-able material, if I wanted to be. Turning the occasional head was kind of fun, but why was it always of the polar opposite of what I was attracted to? The awkward approach of the newly single dad with the uneven mustache and father to one of my daughter’s acquaintances, “So… I heard you’re divorced now…” I turned down the handful of local offers I received, taking less than a minute to decide that dating in my town was definitely not in my best interest. I branched out to where the view was more pleasing to my eye, hence the errand running in the city. I remember setting out on the exotic journey of post-divorce dating thinking it would be nothing short of elementary. Every movie I’d ever watched and every book I’d ever read with a plot akin to my life, made it look so easy. All I needed to do was simply meet a man aware of the artful mix of scruffy and sexy who was intelligent, conversational, musical, empathetic, open-minded, caring, healthy, and kind, and long walks of the hand holding variety, on the beach at sunset, would be mine. That couldn’t be too hard, with all the outdoor loving men in southern Maine, this was kid stuff. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, thinking back to my ignorance.
It took longer than I expected it would, but eventually there I was out on a few dates and suddenly quite aware of the reality that I may actually have to get naked in front of another man. My inner insecure and oh so fragile self, took one look in the mirror, and soon I found myself spending most of my free time at the gym, in yoga classes, or riding my bike for twenty-five miles at a time. Getting back into a fitness routine brought more than just a little inner confidence, it brought peace of mind, clear thoughts, and happiness. For the first time in a long time, I felt great, inside to out, top to bottom, I was Jayne, version 2.0.
I remember those first tastes of the dating scene all too well; suddenly there was a whole new world to explore, uncharted and unfamiliar. The ball of nerves I’d become before each first date, the butterflies felt within my belly on my way to our third date, the replaying of the internal film in my mind of those shared experiences that bring you closer together. Shiny and new captured my attention a few times, but eventually repetitive patterns gave way to as is and the truism, actions speak louder than words, became clearer each time. Thankfully, we will always be a work in progress, the human race. Life lessons abound, and I never want to stop learning. As long as I’m breathing, I wish to be growing.
When it comes to dating, I’ve shared some stories that have left a few of my friends laughing so hard, they’re breaking a sweat, standing cross-legged, and wiping tears from their eyes. Debauchery has its rightful place in the post-divorce healing process, why pretend it doesn’t. Eventually the chaos of change divorce brings, settles down, and a new rhythm takes its shape, you live the life of the one you decide you want.
I played the dating game the only way I knew how, and with that, learned my fair share of lessons. I am thankful for those experiences and also for the stepping-stones each date and relationship eventually became. The ending of my last endeavor of trying to build a relationship finally allowed for the awakening within that had patiently awaited the proper time to reveal itself. Once revealed and processed, I took a much-needed hiatus and swore off dating, I needed to spend some time strengthening some of my own weak spots without the distraction of B-O-Y-S’s.
2013 arrived and with the New Year I made a promise to myself to take more chances. With that promise, I had to remind myself that taking chances meant simply being me, being truthful, and going with my gut. When a dear friend spoke the following words to me, “I think you two have a lot in common,” I realized I was due for a good dose of fluttering butterflies. I tabled my dating hiatus, took the chance I promised myself I would, and went for it. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and jumped in. I reached out to a complete stranger, vulnerable beyond even my comfort level, and just tried to have fun with it. What did I have to lose? Absolutely nothing. Well I must have done something right because we met, had a great time, confirmed some common threads, and I walked away finding myself intrigued. Of course I was quickly reminded of the reality of dating post-divorce, with children, I have about six minutes a day to devote to someone extra. Heck, my six minutes of free time each day would be better spent plucking the elusive hairs from my body that hitting your forties brings!
Eventually I realized what I was missing most was companionship of the male/female variety. Life is messy; it’s stressful and all-consuming. Parenting never ends, and for me, I work the entire weekend my kids are away. It’s easy to put dating to the back burner and say you just don’t have time, but for me, I think I’ve finally realized that I’m ready to hand over a few of those free minutes of mine to someone worthy of them.
No time like the present to start, I’m off to a lunch time class at the gym so I can enjoy a guilt free tequila infused evening with girlfriends, in the city of course.