I have a friend who's in the process of a divorce after having been with her soon-to-be-ex-husband for a decade. She has two young children and a full-time job and has been thoroughly demoralized by the last few years.
The last time I saw her, she told me that someone from her past had heard that she was getting divorced and told a mutual friend, "Maybe now I have a chance with her." This was shocking to my friend, because she really thought she was over. Done, undesireable, on the shelf.
I knew she wasn't (she's hilarious and pretty and wild), but I vividly remember feeling like that myself, as I dragged my worn-out, soul-weary ass through every day of the end of my marriage and the beginning of the divorce process. I could not fathom that anyone would ever want to be with me. Not least of which because I had kids, but also because I felt like a dried-out shell.
Has anyone else experienced that? Feeling like everything was completely over for you? Being the bitter, '70s-style divorcee, sitting alone and lonely with your cats as soon as the children go to their father's for the weekend?
That was not at all what happened, though. To my everlasting shock, men seemed to pop out of nowhere and want to date me. And some of them seemed to want to date me even more because I have kids and weren't afraid of that side of me.
So I got that my frend was shocked that someone wanted her, but I wasn't surprised at all. She is a catch, and even though she may not feel like it right now, she's the It Girl. I plied her with a few drinks, and then her real question came out: "How do I know how to have sex anymore and what I like?"
Ah, yes. Terrifying. A decade with the same person in a huge rut disconnects you from your body. Plus the pregnancies and all the accompanying stretchmarks. I had years of thinking I didn't have any sex left in me anymore. For me what helped was doing burlesque (that link describes my experience taking the class and glosses over my having done one public performance–I was invited back for an "all-stars" performance [!!] two years later and I did it, again, in public), but not everyone can or will do that. Some people start exercising, or buy a lot of sexy shoes, or run a marathon, or jump out of an airplane. Some people just watch Nicholas Sparks movies and drink a lot of Diet Coke.
So I told my friend what I figured out: You find someone you're really physically attracted to, and you just screw up your confidence and do it. And the details come back to you, and that person brings something new to it, and if you like it, you keep doing it.
The first person you date post-divorce is probably not going to be your life partner, but you can learn so much about what you like and don't like and who you are now from dating. It's ok to make mistakes (as long as they're on your time and not your kids' time) and have fun. It's great to have fun. It's awesome to have fun. Fun is fun.
Also: Therapy. You need to see someone for a few months to help you figure out why you married someone you couldn't stay with (no matter who asked for the divorce) so you can avoid getting into the same situation again, and can move on to a life full of friends and forward motion and, you know, fun. A few months with someone who can help you sort it out and figure out how not to repeat mistakes is the best investment you can make in yourself and your children. In all areas of your life, but also sexually.
Readers? Dating post-divorce? Sex? Therapy? What have you got for my friend?