Starting Over Again part 23
A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON ADJUSTING TO DIVORCE
THE GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF DIVORCE IS THE LOSS OF FRIENDS
Just when you needed them the most, they desert you. Your overall happiness and well-being are greatly affected by the people around you, by your support system of people. And now, the most traumatic thing of your life happens and they all fade into the woodwork.
MOST FRIENDS DON'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE YOUR DIVORCE
Do they say, "Congratulations on your divorce and for getting out of a miserable relationship," or do they say, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry to hear about your divorce"? Their own marital relationships may not be very stable, and they may secretly feel that what you have may be catching. Trying to relate to you and your divorce now seems too threatening. For whatever reasons, good or bad, most of your friends desert you like rats leaving a sinking ship. The ones that do hang in you will eventually tune out for not understanding you or having the same interests or priorities or values.
HERE YOU ARE, NOT ONLY WITHOUT A MATE BUT WITHOUT THAT SOLID SUPPORT BASE OF FRIENDS YOU ONCE HAD
You are as close to zero in the friends department as you are ever going to be. You may be bitter that your ex took the friends but the closer you are to zero, the better off you may be in the long run.
UP UNTIL NOW OTHERS HAD SOME SAY IN WHO BECAME YOUR FRIENDS
Your parents didn't like to see you running around with certain people because they feared you may become like them. For whatever reason your pardnts did have an affect on who you chose as friends. Your spouse didn't like one or the other part of a couple so you had to drop them both as prospective friends.
NOW IS PROBABLY THE FIRST TIME YOU WILL BE ABLE TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN FRIENDS ALL BY YOUR SELF
Remember, though, that your parents were right.
You do tend to become like the people you hang around with. If you choose happy, successful people, and can be comfortable with them, you will tend to become like them in time.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT, AS A RESULT OF YOUR DIVORCE, YOU MAY NOW SEE YOURSELF AS A WORTHLESS, "JUNK" PERSON, MAKING YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE WITH HAPPY PEOPLE
I belong with miserable, unhappy people. 1 don't like this kind of people, but I am not comfortable with happy people either, because I don't see myself as one of them. Therefore, I either associate primarily with other unhappy people and stay unhappy as a result, or I stay away from social contact altogether and hide out at home.
IF YOU REMAIN IN YOUR LITTLE BOX LONG ENOUGH, THEY EVENTUALLY COME AND PUT YOU IN ANOTHER BOX
But I prefer my known miseries to the unknown of venturing out again. Losing your life by dying is not your present problem. Losing it by wasting it away being unhappy is your present problem. You'll never get a chance to blossom and bloom again hiding out at home.
THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE THAT IS TRULY VALUABLE IS TIME
To waste some of your best years being unhappy is the greatest loss of all. Yet you have been grieving over your loss of money, property, etc. as a result of your divorce, with nary a thought to the time you are wasting.
SO GET BACK OUT INTO THE MAINSTREAM OF LIFE: DON'T WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE
Your happiness, success and well-being are all dependent on your contacts and relationships with other people. So get out. It may be uncomfortable initially, but do it anyway.
IT IS OKAY TO WITHDRAW TO YOUR CAVE LIKE A WOUNDED ANIMAL TO LICK YOUR WOUNDS WHEN YOU ARE HURT
However, the trick is to avoid getting hung up there. Many are still hiding out at home years after their divorce.
OTHERS DASH RIGHT OUT TO FILL IN THE MISSING HALF
If a find a replacement quickly, I won't have to go through the pain of missing the old one. I can't stand turning over at night and not having anyone there. So the big desperate hunt is on, because anybody's better than nobody.
ONE EXTREME OR THE OTHER, EITHER WITHDRAWING FROM THE WORLD OR EMBARKING ON A DESPARATE MATE-HUNT
Both are wrong. What you need to do now is to develop a lot of new, solid friendships for a lot of different reasons and to fill a lot of different needs. To ask one person to fill them all at once is too much to ask.
WE USED TO HAVE AN ENTIRE SUPPORT SYSTEM OF RELATIVES THAT LIVED WITHIN A FEW MILES
Now, our relatives are scattered throughout the country. When I was divorced the second time I had no relatives within 1200 miles. Most newly divorced are in a similar situation. Yet only a few decades ago, when a person had a crisis he or she had relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, parents, grandparents, etc. all within a few miles. When you had some personal crisis, you could always go have a talk with Aunt Hilda or Uncle Henry, some relative you could trust and were comfortable talking with. Someone not as personally involved as your parents may be, but who could still lend an ear.
NOWADAYS WE HAVE NO CONFIDANT NEARBY WHEN WE REALLY NEED ONE
We have to go pay some professional at $50 an hour to listen to us. We have the same needs but we do not have the same support system of friends and relatives. We have no readily accessible 'family'. We moved away or they moved away or both. So when we lose our married friends we do not even have relatives to fall back on.
NOW WE NEED TO GO OUT AND DEVELOP A WHOLE NEW "SINGLES" FAMILY OF FRIENDS
People that we see regularly who fill a lot of different needs that we could never expect just one person to fill.
ONE OF YOUR BASIC NEEDS IS TO HAVE FRIENDS THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH
Joy shared is doubled, pain shared is halved. Looking at a beautiful sunset by yourself just Isn't all that good. But when you can turn to someone and say, isn't that beautiful, then you double the enjoyment that you get out of that sunset. If you received an unexpected check for $2000 who would you call to share your joy with? If you have a bunch of people you would call then you have what we call some 'security blanket' friends. If you fell and broke your leg today who would you call after you got out of the doctor's office? Probably the same people you would call to share the joy about the $2000.
THOSE IN THE DIVORCE PROCESS OFTEN DO NOT HAVE ONE REAL SECURITY BLANKET FRIEND
And they need at least one badly. A security blanket friend is someone who accepts you, just the way you are, with your insecurities and imperfections. Everyone needs a buddy that will be your friend in bad times as well as good. Someone you wouldn't hesitate to call at 2:00 in the morning and say, Hey, I' m really hurting and need to talk.
SECURITY BLANKET FRIENDS ARE WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR RIGHT NOW
Unfortunately most newly divorced have the false idea that what they
need now is a new ' mate'. A mate comes later, not initially.
SOME TRY TO MAKE THEIR DATING RELATIONSHIPS PLAY THIS ROLE
This turns off most relationships and sabotages them before they even get started. If a dating partner hangs in after you've "dumped" on them, you may end up dropping them after you regain emotional equilibrium since you feel that a person who has witnessed your big setback is not an ideal mate.
Initially, keep dating relationships and 'buddy' relationships separate. A security blanket friend can be someone of the opposite sex, and perhaps ideally someone who is more than a friend but less than a lover. This friend should give you something like the strong bond developed in the armed forces by the men who go to war together. People who accept each other as they really are, not as they may appear to others to be. Someone who can be solidly relied upon for aid under even the most difficult circumstances.
When you both have this kind of a security blanket relationship, you will maintain it without romantic expectations or entanglements. You can build on mutual interests - perhaps both of you are going through the divorce process and need support. You can help each other solve problems together and you can share a non-judgemental empathy. Companionship is there when needed - perhaps an occasional night on the town, attending a singles function together.
You may start out with a romantic interest in one another and see it evolve into a ' buddy', security blanket relationship.
SHOULD YOU HAVE SEX WITH AN OPPOSITE SEX BUDDY?
When you have become the best of friends, perhaps it is best not to chance splitting up over sexual games or manipulations.
SOME OF THE BEST PLATONIC SECURITY BLANKET BUDDIES START OUT WITH SEX
Sex may be dropped but the friendship remains. With this type of opposite-sex relationship, where sex is no longer important, you can openly discuss your dating relationships with others and still have someone who understands the opposite sex give you an honest answer since they're no longer trying to keep you in a bed-relationship.
SAME SEX SECURITY BUDDIES ARE NEEDED AS WELL
When we are divorced we get so hung up on chasing members of the opposite sex that we forget that our best friends are usually same-sex friends. You need to develop a list of same-sex single friends, friends that you can do things with regularly no matter how big a relationship you may have going with a member of the opposite sex.
DO NOT DISCONTINUE CONTACT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AFTER MR. SUPER OR MS. RIGHT COMES ALONG
Friends are like department stores that accept your credit card. Doing things with them keeps them available to you. But too many stop contact with their single friends when an all-encompassing relationship develops with someone of the opposite sex. Then, if those friendships end, and you are trying to fill all your emotional needs with that one person, the strain can be too great, causing that relationship to end and then you are back to zero. The friends you dropped when you thought you didn't need them are not going to be around when your all-encompassing relationship ends and you need them.
STEADY FRIENDS CAN TAKE THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE OUT OF SINGLE FRIENDS AND RELATIONSHIPS
Make it a point to go out at least once a week to a place where you can socialize with a group of single friends. Get out at least once a week to meet new people who can become supportive friends.
NEXT ISSUE: How and where to develop your new singles network of the friends that you need so badly now.