As you may know, my pals at FWW and I are engaged. Yes, we've made a commitment to changing the face of divorce and creating new terms to define this life event.
Divorce is a change that whether you wanted it or not, transitions you to something else. Often that transition becomes a springboard to a new career, a new love, a new way of looking at life and yourself.
It no longer is the end but a beginning.
When I split from my first husband, I never thought of myself as a divorced woman. I just thought of myself as a free woman. Free to do anything I wanted. Free to have a life full of possibility instead of predictability. Free of someone who criticized what I did to keep me connected to him even though his opinion hadn't mattered for a long time. Free to reinvent myself and find someone who was truly compatible with me instead of someone who fit a resume I was programmed from childhood to care about. The liberation was intoxicating.
Oh yes. I was one of those people you rarely hear about. I was someone who settled. Okay, I admit it. I was 30. All my friends were getting married and suddenly it hit me that along with finishing college, finding a paying job, and being single in the city for a few years, it was now time to find a husband as part of a life trajectory that resembled synchronized swimming. But early on in the marriage I knew I was drowning.
So I got out. Despite my friends telling me that I should stick it out because a) I may not meet someone else or b) he wasn't that bad. But something deep inside knew that we weren't in sync as though a VCR tape was shoved into a DVD player. Nor did I want to live my life knowing that I had settled. It felt like cheating.
And guess what? Unlike my mother's generation where it may have been a stigma, being divorced in the '90s was a very different experience. There was no scarlet letter burned on my chest like Hester in Nathaniel Hawthorne's book. Neighbors or friends didn't shun me. Nor did boyfriends.
In a perverse way, the fact that I had been married actually was considered positive. It meant that I could make a commitment, I could sustain a relationship and more important to boys who seem to like the competitive chase, it meant that I had been chosen. The guy could be a bore and snore but he had asked me to marry him so I must have been a prize.
Fast forward a decade and I am indeed a happily married woman with a son and two stepdaughters. Because I had already been married, I was in no rush to make a commitment until I had found the right guy. I used the time while I was single to discover who I was and who I wasn't. Those lessons learned were invaluable. Unlike some of my friends who have never been divorced, I don't feel entitled in my marriage but truly grateful. That light shines on my family daily.
It is why stars like Kate Hudson say divorce was one of the best things that ever happened to them. Because when you learn to love yourself, be with yourself, you can love others more fully. And even though I am remarried now, I still consider myself a free woman. Because I know I can be alone and not be lonely. I can also fend for myself if needed. That empowers me every day.
But many other people struggle with the term "divorced." So we have asked readers to come up some clever terms to define it or just share their observations to help others. Here were two that I like:
"Divorce is when the old bag gets a new handle."
"Divorce is liposuction without the anesthesia. It hurts more, but you wake up at least 100 lbs. lighter."
I also was inspired to come up with this line as a result of my fellow divorcees. My saying would be, "Divorce is a time to buckle your seatbelts. It's a bit of a bumpy ride at first but then you are on the road to a real ‘happily ever after' because you are finally steering your own life."