Friday, May 11, 2007

Check It Out: Fear Of Flying? Oh Hell No!

So this, apparently, is how the "other side" copes with divorce. Doing some research yesterday, I ran into a blog titled "Fear of Flying? Oh Hell No!" In the words of the author:

Time for a BitchFest by Flying Solo
Why the fuck do some people think they need to feel sorry for me right now? I'm getting a divorce; it's not like anyone DIED! This is such a weird place I am in right now though. My friends are either hooked up in couples or are so far immersed into the single life that they aren't sure whether to start inviting me along or not and so I get shoved into the corner. I mean just because I am getting a divorce doesn't mean that I'm depressed or crazy or need to be left alone. I mean, this doesn't apply to all of my friends, but fuck, I feel like people just aren't understanding me right now. To some people, I mention the divorce and they clam up and don't want to talk about it (is she going to start crying, am I going to say something to offend - UM, NO!).

I'm still a fucking human being with needs, urges, moods (both happy and sad) and I just feel like so many people are afraid of me right now. I hate that life is so in limbo right now and that I don't have something stable to cling to. I just wish some people would realize that I'm still me - I'm just going through a shitty time and it would be nice to know that they are at least trying to understand me. I just want life to be normal again, but I know it won't be for a very long time to come.
And that, as they say is that. The blog documents Flying Solo's travels on the path of divorce where she writes about dating, men, sex, her relationship with her ex, life, and everything else that comes with it. Her posts are raw and passionate, and she is clearly about being empowered through this experience (which is hot). Men, check it out -- you may learn something about women that you do not know already.

Evolution Example: Plan A Divorce Party

Let me share with you a little bit about my divorce story.

Right before I moved out of my home and began our separation, I found out a number of disturbing things about my wife. I found out that she had tried to cheat on me at least once; that she had secretly been planning our divorce behind my back for months; and that she had hidden money from our joint savings account into her own personal account. On top of this, I found out that she had begun recording our conversations, and my interactions with my son (presumably, for the purpose of achieving leverage of some kind). I will be frank here; I was devastated. Depressed already by the fact that we were getting divorced, I felt betrayed and humiliated by what I was learning. She clearly did not respect me; if anything, she resented me as a husband. My contributions to our relationship were not appreciated or recognized. And at every turn, she began to paint herself the victim in this process - even though she had put events in motion months ago.

Here I was. Depressed. Angry. Upset. Empty. Drained. Devastated. Neglected. Loathing myself, and taking heaping mounds of self-pity on a daily basis to make things worse. Smoking one and a half packs of cigarettes a day. Crying for no reason. Sleeping barely. Hardly able to work and focus on anything more than "what did I do to deserve this and why is this happening to me I don't understand I must be worthless why do I still love her what is going to happen to me".

In speaking with my best friend, I had a moment of clarity and asked him for a favor.

"Dude, I need you to do something for me. I think this might help."
"Sure man, anything. You name it. Just name it. I hate seeing you like this." You could hear the anguish in his voice; he was sad to see me in so much pain, and clearly wanted to help.
"I want you to get our friends together and throw me a divorce party."
"A what?" He was puzzled, but curious in a "you've got to be kidding me" kind of way.
"Dude, just get our friends together at our favorite bar on Friday. Tell them it's a divorce party. The rest will take care of itself." I was very serious with these words, so he knew I was not joking. I wanted to see my friends, and have my friends see me as well.
"You got it. Hang in there, bud." His voice had changed at this point; he had a way to help that he understood. MBF and I had been through quite a bit at work, and I recognized that he decided to use his "let's get this done" voice.

The next week, MBF set up an eVite for my "Divorce Party". The day before the party, I went to Banana Republic and bought a new outfit. New boots, jeans, cool shirt, cologne, belt, socks. The works, basically. I wanted to look good, and take pride in my appearance (the last thing I wanted to do was show people how I had been feeling through my clothes). The whole experience of shopping for the outfit was interesting. I told the girls at the banana "Listen, I need an outfit. My friends are throwing a divorce party for me, and I want to look great." They chuckled, and were very helpful. Honestly, it was nice being open about this -- it was my first time discussing my divorce publicly outside of my circle of close friends and family.

The week leading up to the party, monitoring the guest list on eVite was like watching a stock climb; it was just one of the best things for me. Every day, a few more people we RSVP. Those that could make it were excited about it; those that could not always had encouraging words to share. First it was 5, then 10, then 15, 18, 24, 28. The day of the party, over 35 people showed up at our favorite bar. It made me cry, seeing how many people decided to come out and show their support. It also enlightened me, and showed me that divorce (like any other experience) can be empowering. This was not a "let's feel sorry for the divorced guy" party. Instead, it was a celebration of friendship, where my friends each took time to express their care and affection for me. They stood up for me; they told me that things would be ok; and offered their love, support, and guidance.

The party was perfect; exactly what I needed. I will never forget that evening, the people that came, and how happy everyone was to see each other. I hugged and kissed everyone goodbye, and said "thank you for coming." I think that was the first solid night of sleep I had in weeks.

So here is my advice to you. If you have not had one already, ask your friends to plan a divorce party for you. The divorce party is an opportunity to shed your negative feelings about the process, and embrace the positive aspects of your relationships with your friends. You can also be a little selfish, which is always a good thing during these times. Here are some things to remember:

  • Plan the party in advance so that you can pull together the largest group possible.
  • Use eVite or some other invitation site to manage RSVPs.
  • Ask your best friend or some friend that you trust to coordinate the party for you.
  • Buy a new outfit, get a haircut, and look your absolute best for the party.
  • Let people buy you drinks, but do not drink your sorrows away. If anything, drink to embrace your friendships and celebrate the time you are spending together.
At my party, I had three rules that I told everyone. These rules needed to be followed, and anyone that broke these rules had to drink a shot of Bacardi 151:
  • No feeling sorry for me. We are here to celebrate our relationships, not offer pity.
  • No calling my wife names or making fun of her. We are not here to berate her.
  • No talking about my relationship with my wife, the past, or what led up to the divorce. We are not here to dwell on the past, but rather celebrate the future.
Needless to say, I had a few 151's that night. After my second, however, it was enough of a deterrent to remember to follow these rules. All in all, the party was great - and it helped to get me back on track understanding what I needed to do to set my life straight. Try it; I hope it works for you.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Law of Evolution #3: Establish a Support System

Evolutionary Law #3: Establish a Support System. As I work to transform my life, I will ask my family and friends for their love, strength, and support. I will communicate the seriousness of this request and explain what specific acts of support I require.

Part of being responsible in life means that we must identify and meet important personal needs. As we travel through our divorce experience, everyone will agree that our needs change; in certain cases, rather drastically. Some people can handle these changes on their own. Some, however, cannot and require guidance or assistance. In either case, the earlier in a divorce that a support system of family, friends, and activities is established, the better the chances are that you can move on with your life.

When I first started meeting other people that were experiencing divorce, I would respond to their story the same way that people responded to mine. "How are you holding up?", "I'm so sorry", "It's a difficult process", "That's horrible", "Hang in there", "Be strong" were some of the things said. My comments would evoke sympathy and empathy, partly because that is what I wanted them to feel, but also partly because that is what I thought they wanted to hear as well. It's funny; when you tell someone that you're going through a divorce, what's the first thing they respond with? "I'm sorry", usually. This is typical of how divorce is viewed socially, and while the sympathy has its place, this can also perpetuate negative aspects of this experience. Empathy and sympathy can be, but are not always supportive and empowering Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants. This led me to ask if I truly wanted to be supportive of someone getting divorced, what would that look like? If someone wanted empowering support to get through their divorce, what would they ask for?

Now, when I meet someone that is getting divorced the first question I ask them is "Do you have a support system?" This is usually met with an odd look, followed usually by "What do you mean?" Most men I speak to about this feel supported, but have a difficult time explaining how. Well, a support system is a network of friends, family, peers, and activities designed to help you transition your life from unhappily-married-husband to empowered-single-guy. The system should help keep you on the path of empowerment and responsibility. The initial experience of some men in divorce is often very reactive. Some men just "go with the flow", and try to live their lives while experiencing the interruptions that divorce brings. This adds to the angst, as the reactive nature of this interaction enhances the "loss of control" feelings that divorce drops on us.

To establish a support system, men must first understand what kind of support they require. This is the key aspect to this law. To ask the question "what type of support do I need", we must assess our current situation, and find out where our life will change the most as a result of the divorce decision. Ask yourself, for example, questions like these:
  • If you are moving out, do you need to find a new or temporary place to live?
  • What is your job situation? Can your work be flexible given your situation?
  • Do you have children? If you will be visiting them, do you need a place to spend time with them outside of their residence? Will you be taking primary custody of your children?
  • How are your finances organized? Do you have money for legal fees? Do you know what new expenses will be incurred as a result of the divorce? Can you afford it?
  • How large is your circle of friends? Do you have male and female friends that you can talk to, or spend time with? What friends do you trust?
  • Do you have an attorney? Do you have a therapist? Have you been to the doctor recently, or had a checkup in the last six months?
  • What are your plans for your marriage? Do you want to reconcile? Is your partner open to this? If so, do you have a counselor that you can both go to?
  • If you want to get divorced, do you have any plans for your new life? Are there any new goals you want to accomplish? If so, what are they; and what do you need to accomplish them?
It's important to think about and consider what you want and need before you ask friends and family for support. Think about your own experiences with people asking you for help. When someone is prepared, has a plan, and asks you for assistance, are you not you more inclined to help them? Well, this works the same way. Being prepared and asking for specific help shows that you are serious about moving on and changing your life. It speaks to the level of control that you are looking to exert. People find this empowering, and it is easier to enroll someone to help you from this standpoint compared to "Umm, my life is about to get real hard. Can you help me?" That being said, here are some things to consider when asking family and friends for help:
  • Before you ask, have a firm idea of what your family and friends can each best help you with and play to their strengths. This means, for example, do not ask your broke father for money. Do not ask your brother (whose wife just had a baby in a two bedroom apartment) if he has room to take you in. Do not ask your boss for more vacation/leave time if you have already taken your fill. My point here is that in each of these scenarios, failure was already pre-determined because the situations did not lend themselves to success or even negotiation. Your father cannot manufacture money he does not have. Your brother just had a baby; he does not need to take care of you as well. Your boss has already given you leave; asking for more may make you appear weak or selfish in his eyes (not a great perspective to be viewed at from your boss).
  • When you ask for something, be ok with a "no" before asking. Even though you are getting divorced, your problems do not outweigh the considerations of your friends and family. That being said, you may be rejected - especially from people you least expect. Before you ask for anything, be clear with yourself that your friends and family have the right to say "no", and that this does not reflect negatively on them. Do not pass judgment on them; just as you do not want to be judged for getting divorced. Remember that, regardless of what they say, these people have chosen to stand by you. Honor that.
  • Remember, people are watching how to react to your divorce; honor your commitments and responsibilities. To be honest, this is more common sense than anything else. If you borrow money, make sure you pay it back. If you move in with someone, be a good roommate. Don't be late for meetings or events, and always remember to say thank you and be gracious; even if you do not get what you want. Your family and friends are watching how you react to the new challenges in your life. They will talk about it, and work together to either build up or erode the support they have for you. Demonstrate to them that this experience has empowered you.
Support makes any stressful event or experience easier to deal with. With divorce, this is certainly true. To make this work for you, though, you must first really understand what support you need, and then examine who in your world can offer it. The more prepared you are up front with understanding the types of changes that will be expected in your life, the more likely you will come out of this experience intact, empowered, and ready to move on with your life. Lastly, remember that your friends and family are here to help you through this. Let them help in ways that make them comfortable, and show your gratitude. Please and thank you still count for a lot; do not forget that.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Check It Out: Darn Divorce

Slightly silly and occasionally cynical, Darn Divorce is one blogger's collection of news, stories, and opinions on "the dreaded D word".

The blog's commentary on divorce-related topics is relevant, interesting, and entertaining. I don't necessarily agree with everything on the blog, but I find most of the posts worth reading. The blog contains a number of interesting posts that relate to different aspects of divorce ranging from parenting, dealing with your ex, moving, splitting posessions, and of the like. Additionally, stories from the news that relate to divorce are detailed and comments on as well.

The blog helps provide insight into what the experience of divorce is for different people, and at different levels. If you want to learn more about the blog, feel free to visit their about page or check the out at