I was talking to a friend the other night, we’ll call him Macallan. (Guess where I met him? Yep, the bar!) He’s on the road to divorce and just like every other divorced person he asked me what he’s supposed to do next. Answering the “what’s next” question can be rather difficult and there’s no definitive answer because it’s going to be different for everyone. I will tell you that your world’s about to get ROCKED! You’re not only having to adjust to living in a new place by yourself, but you have to find new single friends to go out with, and then there’s dating. Being divorced and dating is a completely different ball game, you’ll see. I’d suggest using this time to figure out more about yourself rather than finding someone else to settle down with right away. I know some people can move right into a new relationship with ease, but I definitely needed to go through some “phases” and you may or may not do the same. I’ve named them and outlined them for you. Good luck!
Phase 1- I can’t be alone
You’re excited about being alone and starting a whole new chapter, you get the ENTIRE bed to yourself! But you’re also terrified and overwhelmed, your routines that defined you are completely gone and your days no longer make sense, there’s no rhythm. One night you’ll eat dinner at 6 and the next night you’ll eat dinner at 10. The inconsistency of your life will make you feel like you have no idea how to function! In this phase all you’re looking for is a replacement, you want a new person to give you everything you wanted in your marriage (and they will) but you still want to operate the way you used to, because your old life is all you know. The first person to give you attention (often referred to as the rebound) will be the first person you latch on to. You will convince yourself that it’s meant to be, you will dig your claws into this person and you won’t let go. All of your friends will know this is a disaster and will tell you it’s a disaster, you will ignore them and set out to prove them wrong! You only know how to function as someone’s other half and you’re excited you found someone new, it’s thrilling and for a minute it’s just going to work. You’re thrown right back into your comfort zone and it feels great, but notice I said it’s only for a minute. I can assure you it will be all wrong and your friends will actually be right (your friends, because they’re awesome, will not say “I told you so,” they will say cliché friend things because they know you’re hurt and emotional and there’s a good chance they might get punched in the throat if they piss you off, seriously you’re a train wreck), but you need to go through it. You’ll realize that the control you had over your life is now gone, but it will come back, along with a routine and you won’t even know it! Inevitably your “replacement” will see how not ready for a relationship you are and head for the hills. You will be angry and sad and think it will be impossible to actually like someone again. Once again you will say, “What next?” Here’s where you’ll begin phase 2.
Phase 2- The Shit Show
You’re going to feel like a beast that’s just been uncaged and everything you see is new and beautiful and amazing and you have to have it all. You will be at every happy hour in town, I mean, you’re everywhere, and before you know it, you know everyone! Your phone will NOT stop (now’s a good time to invest in a Mophie)! They’re following you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, hell your LinkedIn is blowing up. Your partying knows no limits and everyone wants to be around you, you love life, you’re living the dream and everyone wants to be a part of your dream! You’re going to party HARD, so hard that your favorite most trusting co-worker is going to drag you out of the office and throw you in his car to take you to the drugstore and pump you full of Pedialyte and Tums and give you time to pull yourself together. Those awful mornings won’t be enough to stop you, you’re like a Goonie, and Goonie’s never say die! You treat every day like a Friday and you would rather get a root canal than spend a night at home alone, even if it’s a Tuesday (it’s Taco Tuesday, you don’t stay in on Taco Tuesday)! At this point you have discovered it’s incredibly easy to meet people and get their numbers, and anyone that wants your number, gets it! Some people make it rain with cash, you’re making it rain with business cards. You only want to party, make-out, and get all of the attention that you never got in your marriage. Most of all you want the validation that you’ve still got it, and the network of people you’ve been building proves that you do! You’re going to like this, a lot, and slowly but surely you’re turning into a tiny little devil and you are destroying everything and everyone in your path, including yourself. It’s in this phase that you’re going to start to wonder what it’s like to do all of those ridiculous things other single people have always talked about, dating multiple people at the same time, using people, playing head games. You want to know if it’s easy; the answer is yes! It’s extremely easy, and it’s here that I will caution you. Whatever you’re doing to people is going to be done to you. Karma is real.
Phase 3- It’s all about me
Here’s where you turn into a douche. You’re still fun and you’ve got the best intentions, but your moral compass is gone, you drowned it with the extra shot of tequila on Margarita Monday (not your fault, it was half price). In this phase you don’t care about anyone else’s feelings but your own. Nobody understands you, nobody knows what you’ve been through, and the more people that tell you not to do something only pushes you to do it even more. You do things to spite people and you don’t care, you’re completely emotionless. By this point picking people up at a bar is second nature and you don’t care about their feelings or the fact that you made them fall in love. When they do fall in love you do everything to sabotage it, and you’re damn good at it. They’re filling a void for you and that was all you wanted. But, everything you are doing to people in this phase and the last is now coming back around to bite you in the ass. It hurts, and it sucks and you realize you’re being a completely awful person. Then someone does it, they make YOU fall in love, head over heels- just when you thought you were heartless and soulless. The chaotic world you thought you had control over comes crashing down, you’re excited but scared, you didn’t think it was actually possible for you to get butterflies again and here they are, flappin away. It doesn’t work out, you feel horrible, but you can’t feel that bad because hey, you found out it was possible for you to actually like someone! That special someone just checked you right back into reality and threw everything into perspective.
Phase 4- The Reflection
You’ve met a ton of people, they’ve all been completely awesome and you’ll realize they have taught you a lot. A lot about yourself and a lot about what you want. At this point you know you don’t want to purposely hurt anyone’s feelings anymore and you’re just over it, all of it. You’ve had enough of the super late nights, the alcohol (the heartburn), meaningless kisses and the games. All the complex questions you’ve been asking yourself about life and relationships you’ll be begin to answer. A part of you, the major part of you, is terrified to be in a relationship again. You just gained some control over your life, you’ve established routines and you’re finally comfortable; starting a new relationship would just throw you off again. For as terrified as you’ll be about your new found fear of commitment, you’ll also remember the people that you did like and you’ll remember how you thought it would be easy and fun to start something new together. You’ll come to appreciate everyone and all of the experiences, even the bad ones. You’ll look in the mirror and realize you’re a better person. You’re older, wiser, and more mature. While you were never an awful or a mean person to begin with, your crazy soul searching ways got the best of you, but it was necessary and it’s ok (Juan Pablo voice).
Phase 5- Chillin
Started from the bottom now you’re here, and it feels good. You’ve wiped the slate clean and told your “fan club” to hit the road. You can make it through a day without having to charge your phone, there are no more drunk texts, no more people you’re using to fill that void and you’re completely content. You’re still going out, having fun, meeting people, but you’re completely comfortable in your skin and in your situation. You’re not mad at yourself and you’re not beating yourself up over the mistakes. They got you to where you needed to be and most importantly you learned. The only people you’re entertaining now are the ones you would actually take home to mom. You know one day it will happen, you’ll meet Mr. or Ms. Perfect, you may have even already met that person. Life’s funny. You’re having more fun watching other people go through the same things, you see the guy at the bar that just paid way too much for bottle service and somebody says he just got divorced. You’ll laugh and shake your head. He’ll be alright, we’ll all be alright. Everything always turns out the way that it should.
I can’t say how long it’s going to take you to go throw your own phases. That depends on you and what place you’re at in life. I had a lot to learn, I’m curious to begin with so I had to do quite a bit of exploring. It might take some of you more time to get to where you need to be, but who cares! Take your time and enjoy the ride. Despite what everyone is telling you, you are totally normal!