Are you there, God? It’s me, Marye. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I am juggling quite a few issues and I sure would like it if You’d snap Your fingers, wiggle Your nose, or whatever You need to do to smooth things out.
Have you ever read Judy Blume’s classic coming of age story, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? The main character, Margaret, has long conversations with God about the changes in her life, in her pubescent body, and in her thinking. I was thinking about the book recently and wondered what it would be like if the book was updated to reflect a 55 year old, recently divorced Margaret. I identified with the character in 1970 when I was 10 and the book was first released – I think Margaret and I would still have a lot in common.
My Circumstances Are Changing and I am Scared
Divorcing after 30 years of marriage is hard. I am sure it is difficult at any point, but it stands to reason that roots grow deeper as the years pass. I think Margaret would have looked at the prospect with the same trepidation she felt when she contemplated the move from her home in New York to the wilds of New Jersey.
Anyone who is not afraid of the future when contemplating a divorce or their life after a recent divorce is either independently wealthy, in denial, or nuts – quite possibly all three. There are a lot of unknowns and there is no way to predict the outcome. It’s a matter of coming to the place where staying is much more frightening that leaving or having a divorce that you are resistant to violently thrust upon you.
One thing that helped me was to change my thinking mid-stream. When I caught myself worrying about what would happen if I lost a client, couldn’t find replacement, and couldn’t pay my bills I switched it to what would happen if I got a hit show on Food Network and started making serious money?
One is as possible as another, really. Both scenarios exist only in my mind. Each is a fantasy. I can choose to contemplate either one, can’t I?
What is that thing that you are most afraid of? What is the opposite circumstance? Begin to switch your mind over to the positive things that are possible. Sure, something bad could happen but why not wait to worry about it until it actually does?
I Don’t Understand the Changes in Me
Margaret became frustrated about her lack of development when she saw that her friends were getting bras and Tampax “You’re a Woman, Now” goodie bags. She had trouble understanding her changing emotions, too.
I don’t need Tampax goodie bags, been there and done that, but I really do wish they handed out menopause goodie bags. You know, something along the lines of “You’re an Old Woman, Now!”. Tweezers, Maalox, and Depends with a cheery pamphlet about our changing bodies would be great, don’t you think?
Going through divorce in midlife is tough. Your body is changing only this time you’re not really looking forward to it. You question your attractiveness, whether anyone will ever want you, if you can swing the cash for a boob lift. You wonder if you will be able to navigate the dating scene, if you’ll make new friends, and if you really snore as loud as the ex said you do (yes, I do. Terribly).
Those basic fears aren’t that much different than the ones I had at 12. I don’t always understand the changes in me.
The changes were going to happen whether you stayed married or not. They seem more frightening because you are no longer in a comfortable relationship. Please understand when I say comfortable I don’t mean good. I mean you’ve been in a relationship where he’s seen you puke, give birth, and sport unshaven legs from October to May. Now you have to get used to someone else. I promise you, it isn’t easy. I was an only child and I do not like sharing my intimate moments. I don’t even like brushing my teeth in front of people.
It’s made worse by the fact that living with an abusive partner results in a unique type of self-hatred and self-consciousness. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to take courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable again. When the time comes you’ll know it.
You know what? You’re going to be just fine, I promise. After all, you are quite incredible you know!
I Want to Know I Am Acceptable and Accepted
All the way through the book Margaret consistently lets the reader know that her goal is to belong to her peer group, to grow-up as quickly as possible, and to have His approval.
Really, isn’t that what we all want? We want to feel like we are part of our group – a place where we are accepted for who we are. We want to heal and grow so that we can live fuller, healthier lives, and we want to be approved of by some authority figure whether it’s God or our counselor.
The twist to the story is that we can’t feel accepted until we accept who we are, ourselves. There are not enough kudos in the universe to fill us up if we haven’t learned to like who we are. That’s where it has to start – inside.
In the end, Margaret finally achieves a milestone. We will hit our milestones, too. In the meantime, we need to learn to be happy right where we are. If you’ve never read the book you should. There’s a lot to think about in it.
Do you need a group that understands your particular issues? Join First Wives World today and find the acceptance you are looking for.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Jozef Turoci