By Jackie Pilossoph
Anyone who has ever gone through a divorce can tell you that those first few months are brutal in many regards. One difficult thing I can say from personal experience is that I temporarily lost my self-esteem, my confidence, my self-love.
Having been brought up as part of a very close and loving family, people would often tell me how self-confident I was, and how strength exuded from my core. Well, the day my ex moved out, all that went buh-bye for awhile, with fear, vulnerability and insecurities taking their place.
So, when it came to men and relationships, those new and horrible qualities were showing their ugly faces at times, and I think men could detect that. Some men were kind to me, some were just disinterested, some thought I was a weirdo, and some tried to get me into bed under false pretenses.
The guy I’m referring to is “Ken” — a nice-looking 40-something guy I met about five years ago. I was having dinner with some girls at a neighborhood restaurant, when I noticed a guy staring at me. We exchanged a smile. A few minutes later, my girlfriends and I decided to go to a bar across the street, and a little while after we got there, Ken showed up. I felt like he followed me there. It was a little scary, but made me feel really good, since I had been on a total of one date since my ex had moved out months earlier. For a guy to show me any indication that he was interested was astounding to me. Simply shocking.
Ken introduced himself, and he and I spent the next hour or so chatting. He told me he was going through a divorce and that it was really difficult. I was enjoying him, and I ended up staying out with him until about 2 a.m.
He then drove me home, came into my house, and we kissed. When he tried to take me upstairs, I told him I wasn’t ready for anything else, and he left. He didn’t ask for my number and he never called. It always bothered me, and I always wondered why I never heard from Ken.
Here were some possibilities I came up with. A. Maybe he got back together with his wife. B. Maybe he just wanted sex. C. Maybe he just didn’t want to date anyone. Or, the worst one, D. Maybe it was ME. Maybe I had bad breath, or maybe he felt some back fat over my sweater. I tried not to think about it, but as low as my self-esteem was, it was hard not to believe that the reason he never called was D.
When you’re in that state of mind, your marriage just failed, you’re over 40, and everything seems hopeless, your attitude is, ‘It HAS to be ME.’
Get this. Recently, I met a guy who knew Ken. He actually worked for him. I asked if Ken ever got back together with his wife.
“What are you talking about?” the guy asked, “Ken is happily married.”
“Well, about five years ago, he was separated.”
The guy looked at me and said, “I’ve known Ken for years, he’s never been separated. Ever. I’m sure of it.”
So, there you have it. Ken was an unfaithful cheater who liked to prey on the insecurities of a recently separated woman. One word: scumbag.
The lesson in all this is, when you are dealing with a break-up, don’t forget to like yourself. Love yourself, actually.
Sure, there are probably a lot of mistakes that you made in your marriage, and there is probably a lot you’d do differently, but it is so important to forgive yourself and remember ALL of your good qualities. Because, in the end, if you like yourself, others will too.
I can’t resist ending this with another GREAT story. A friend of mine, who is divorced, recently called an electrician to fix a broken outlet. The guy came over and they had this major attraction to each other. My friend said her heart was pounding the whole time he was there.
He ended up calling her later in the day, the same day.
“Are you home?” he asked.
“Yes,” was all she said.
“May I stop by?”
Again, she said, “Yes.”
He came over and they had sex on the floor in her foyer.
Doesn’t this sound incredibly romantic and fun and exciting? Yes and No. He told her later that he was married, and that he had never done anything like that before.
When my friend told me the story, I wished she’d stopped after the sex. It was extremely upsetting and disturbing to me, and I felt so sorry for my friend, but I felt even sorrier for the electrician’s wife.
Again, this is a case of a cheater taking advantage of a woman who he thinks doesn’t think she deserves better than a married man. I have a few things I’d like to say to that guy and they aren’t very nice.
As far as my friend goes, the only piece of advice I can give her is: Ask him next time. Just ask, “Are you married?” You’ll know if he’s lying.
“Maybe she didn’t want to know,” you might respond. Knowing her as well as I do, she would not have slept with him had she known he was married. I know her.
Just remember, divorce is hard. Plain and simple, it’s trying. It wears on you, sometimes for years. And, it can cause you to doubt yourself, hate yourself, lose the belief you have in yourself. But here’s the key: ONLY IF YOU LET IT.
Focus on doing the right things, and when you look in the mirror, if you don’t like what you see, you have the ability to change it. Also when you look in the mirror, remember what you felt like when you first met your ex. Whatever you liked about yourself has to be there still, somewhere inside of you.
Find it!! Have faith in your strength, your courage and the love you have to offer. Things will get better! So, don’t let the cheating man who preys on vulnerability into your world. Identify him, and then run! Good guys are out there. I promise.
Lisa Barr, editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Jackie Pilossoph is the author of FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE (great holiday reading, by the way) and two other novels. She is also a writer for the Pioneer Press and several other publications. Pilossoph holds a master’s degree in communication. She is currently getting her fourth novel ready for release. To learn more and to buy her books: www.jackiepilossoph.net.