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I was told Javier Bardem would be here

August 16, 2010

Everybody is talking this weekend about “Eat Pray Love,” the movie adaptation of the bestseller about a woman who travels around the world when she gets divorced and finds enlightenment. Now, in theory, I should be all over this bookmovie because I do feel like going through a divorce allowed me to know myself and see my place in the world in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. In almost every way, the process of divorce has been a hero’s quest for me.

But. I’m a mom. So I couldn’t just take off to exotic destinations and eat artisanal pasta and mess around with foreign eyecandy, and that’s where the book lost me. I’d rather read a book about my experience and the experience so many of my parent friends tell me about instead:

Eat: When it all hits the fan initially, you pretty much can’t eat, so you lose 20 pounds without even noticing it. Then you get so stressed out that you start eating to relieve the stress. Lots and lots of ice cream, homemade chocolate pudding (I finish mine by sprinkling some dark brown sugar on the top so it melts in and forms kind of a sauce), cookies, and pizza. Of course, all this emotional eating is done after your kids are in bed asleep, because you attack their diets with renewed energy–there’s nothing like divorce to make you feel like you have to be SuperParent, and part of that is packing bento boxes full of whole-grain, vegetable-rich meals which your kids will then trade for lunchables and Oreos in the school cafeteria.

Pray: First you pray that you won’t lose your kids somehow in the divorce, or all your savings. Then you pray you can pay your rent, now that you’re a one-income family. The whole time you’re praying that your kids will grow up emotionally healthy, that getting divorced will save them instead of hurting them even more. Then you start praying that you can have a good relationship with your ex, so that the disease that broke your marriage apart won’t stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. I actually thought this prayer was in vain, but I’m starting to think the healing is sprinkling down so gently I didn’t notice it initially.

Love: You love your children. so much and so fiercely that you don’t need any other love for a long, long time. And while the logistical and legal wheels turn you find that you love yourself more than you had since you were 17. Another miracle is that the people around you–even those you didn’t think cared about you–turn and put their hands out, so when you fall they catch you. Love is all around, and it’s all you need.

Going through the stages is important. I couldn’t be a truly good parent (and co-parent) for my children until I let myself be who I am, and that meant I had to go through a lot of grief and anger and ice cream to get to being happy with my place in the world. It’s not easy and it hurts, still. Not every day anymore, but a few times a week, at least.

This gentle balance, the maturity (as some of you have said in the comments) required to co-parent with LOD, has been hard-won for me. But I do not regret the fight, and I’m optimistic about the outcome.

But I do miss my kids. It’s Day 6.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. irretrievablybroken permalink
    August 16, 2010 8:34 am

    Mine leave tomorrow for eleven days with their father and his family, 3,ooo miles away. They seem quite excited about it. It’s the longest I’ve ever not seen both of them. I woke up at dawn today already feeling like an amputee.

    Congratulations on this project, by the way. It points in a very good direction. Divorce websites: the final frontier?

  2. August 16, 2010 10:25 am

    I love this post. I was discussing this exact thing with my sister yesterday, who is in a fairly unhappy marriage and trying to figure out what to do. I’m glad this revelatory journey worked for the Eat Pray Love chick, but even though part of divorce is about finding yourself, acknowledging that it’s ok to want what you want, and being a bit selfish, most of us can’t just take off to “find ourselves” and have hot monkey sex with guys with sexy accents. I like your reinterpretation very much.

    I love what you guys are doing with this blog. It is a game-changer for me, seriously, helping me see what I could be doing better, what I am capable of, what my ex may or may not be capable of, and just knowing that there are other people out there who understand this process of “I don’t hate him, I just can’t live with him.” And that this process isn’t necessarily something that is going to scar our kids for life. They might turn out even better for it.

  3. August 16, 2010 7:56 pm

    I’m not divorced but I had the same reaction to the idea of the book, so haven’t read it–sure, I’d take the travel, delicious food, hot monkey sex, all covered by a fabulous book advance… but I don’t have the money and have to live a “real” life governed by ordinary constraints, and to me that’s where the rubber meets the road: tell me about spiritual reconnection and healing you gained when you had to pay the bills and work an imperfect job and take care of the kids, etc. etc. Which is why I loved this post, Moxie. There’s bad stuff and there’s good stuff and somehow wisdom and healing starts to arrive without you knowing exactly where, when, or how. Honestly, for most of us, I think that’s how it happens, in little bits here or there, quietly.

  4. nancyd permalink
    August 16, 2010 8:56 pm

    I hear you about having the kids away. My 7 year old twins go away with their dad for 9 days starting a week from now and I am already upset. One day at a time? My thoughts are going out to you.

  5. August 16, 2010 11:24 pm

    I like your version of E/P/L. I don’t think I could stomach the mass-market paperback version.

    Also, you’ve got me rethinking my plans to start packing bento boxes.

  6. BratGrrl permalink
    August 17, 2010 7:34 am

    Friends who load the guilt on me for trying to main a cordial, dare I say, friendship with my co-parent should be expecting a link to this blog in their email boxes fairly soon. I received it as a gift from a child of divorce who is married to a child of divorce. She is the only one who, though sharing my initial fury with my (soon-to-be) ex for hundreds of mid-life reasons that I won’t rehash here, understood when I refused to hate him, so we could focus our energies on our daughter. This friend is the one who brought me tamales when I forgot to eat, and listened. I love to hear her stories about her mom, who refused to talk poorly about her dad, and let her grow into a woman who can love her husband without fear and misgivings of the male species.

    And, by the way, my 6yo daughter is about to embark upon her longest stretch of days away from mom (after much avoidance, I just found the nerve to count them out on my fingers – four!) and I’m empathizing hard with your countdown. Thank you. I feel unbelievably blessed to have been sent this blog.

  7. liza permalink
    August 17, 2010 1:08 pm

    My friend ate nothing but homemade salsa for two months after she found out her husband was cheating on her, and now she wears a size zero. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite that way for me :).

    Day 6. Ugh. Parting is not really such sweet sorrow, is it? Does it make you wonder how you will possibly exist when they go off to college?

  8. AmyinTexas permalink
    August 17, 2010 2:11 pm

    Am I the only divorced mom who thinks “time with dad” is a great perk to being divorced?? My girlfriends used to tease that “Wednesday nights at Dad’s” might make them consider a divorce as well. Mine were gone for 2 weeks with dad this summer… quite frankly, I would not have balked at a 3rd week. I feel like I pull the bulk of the weight during the school year… a little time off during the summer is welcome.

    Anyway, I agree with the EAT part (I’m still hooked on those darn Laptop Lunches for myself and the kids). And the PRAY part. A therapist once told my ex and I that growing up in a house without love would be just as “damaging” as growing up in a divorced family. I pray she was right (though I am a child of divorce and I turned out okay. Didn’t I?? Well, maybe not).

    But the LOVE? Well, I definitely love my kids and probably work harder to give them “normalcy”. And I fell in love again. And remarried. And had a 3rd child. And I definitely learned to love things about myself that I hadn’t noticed before. But in general, I lost a lot of friends in the divorce… and my own family still feels bitter that they didn’t have more control over my post-divorce life. And well, honestly, I became a huge cynic about romantic love. I still cry at weddings, but for a different reason. I feel jaded and cranky about “love”. And that makes me sad.

  9. Jamie permalink
    August 17, 2010 4:34 pm

    Wow, the pray section sounded exactly like my prayers. This will def be a new daily read for me as I am just in the beginning stages of separating – although have been wanting to for 4 years. Thank you!

  10. August 18, 2010 8:58 am

    Loved, loved, loved your version of Eat, Pray, Love! I may have to cop for my sight cause I swear i went through every emotion during the split with my daughter’s dad! What a wonderul post. Glad I found your blog.
    -r

  11. August 18, 2010 7:50 pm

    well shit. this couldn’t be more right on. i really commend you both on this blog, and i know i’ll be back to absorb more. because you’re right, you just want to hear other people’s stories like your own. especially when it involves heavy loads of ice cream in the middle of the night. currently i’m on day 20 of missing my son, we co-parent old school like the cave people we are when we are together, and i’m about to lose my mind.

  12. moeym permalink
    August 18, 2010 8:18 pm

    Fabulous post! Much better than the movie was :)

    I’m so impressed that you and your ex are doing this blog. I hope my son’s dad and I can approach your mature stage of co-parenting someday; for now we’re just a couple months into the divorce process and I can totally relate to the “pray” section– fears of somehow losing my boy.

    I’m definitely going to subscribe; thanks again to the both of you!
    M

  13. Carrie permalink
    August 19, 2010 1:28 am

    I managed to train for a marathon the year of my divorce and through copious over eating still gain weight. Focusing on something other than the divorce and redefining myself as something other than a divorced woman helped with the healing.

  14. skg permalink
    August 23, 2010 12:23 pm

    I haven’t even read this whole post or comments, so please bear with me. The reason I’m commenting so prematurely is because of the visceral reaction I had to this book. I purchased it when it first came out and could not actually finish reading it. It was all so self absorbed and entitled. Later, after donating it to the library (who knows why since this can not be considered “paying it forward”) I started seeing all this good press about the book. Then, the movie. Why? Who is relating to this? What inspiration are readers/viewers gaining from it? Seriously, I really want to know.

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