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What Divorce Is Really Like From Someone Who Knows

Why the reality is far from a pretty picture.

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A scene from the 2016 movie, "Bad Moms" with Mila Kunis and David Walton
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The summer before I got separated, I sat in a movie theater with girlfriends watching Bad Moms. The main character, Amy, played by Mila Kunis, caught her husband cheating and they immediately got a divorce.

Amy had a few bad moments right after that. I remember her looking at family photos and crying. But then she seemed to pull it all together, looking fabulous driving her young kids to school. Within a few weeks, she met a gorgeous single man. They fell in love, their kids got along, and she was able to continue living in the home where she raised her children. Oh, and she managed to still fit in lots of girl time with friends.

Every so often, I enjoy a good Reba rerun. I watched the show when it first came out in early 2000 when I was happily married. I thought nothing of the fact that Reba lived in a very large home, had a few kids and her daughter’s husband living with her, and didn’t seem to have a steady job. She still communicated with her ex-husband every day — he and his new wife lived a few doors down and would come over unannounced whenever they liked — even though he cheated on her.

When my ex and I decided to divorce, I got hooked on the show Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. Again, the main character, Abby, an author in her 40s, stayed in her large, modern home and successfully juggled her career, kids and social life as she walked around in heels and carried designer handbags. There seemed to be attractive and eligible men around her at every turn, and she had a wonderfully supportive network of girlfriends who had all been through similar situations.

I love these shows and movies. I’d be lying if I said they hadn’t skewed my view on what divorce is really like. I didn’t consciously watch and think, “Okay, I’m on the brink of divorce, but these shows make it look pretty easy.” But just like fairytales warp our thinking about what love looks like when we’re young, these shows were a big part of why I faced my divorce with rose-colored glasses.

I thought I’d be able to handle everything: caring for my kids, paying the bills, making house repairs, dating, building my career, and keeping my mental health in check, all while looking fabulous.

I can assure you that’s not the case. Not even close.

My divorce was six years ago and today I’m working from home in my pajamas. I have zero makeup on and decided my hair could go another day without being washed. I lose sleep regularly and fall into bed with tomorrow’s to-do list running through my mind.

I didn’t just have one moment of crying like Amy in Bad Moms. I have several a month and that has been a constant since my divorce.

There are no attractive, eligible, evolved men available for me at every turn. In fact, since my divorce, I’ve dated a few men and then got into the most tumultuous relationship of my life before ending it after three years.

There are many days when I’m so overwhelmed that I get nauseous and my anxiety bubbles up in my chest because not only am I not sure how things are going to turn out for me, but I also don’t have a partner to whom I can vent or bounce things off. I have a few close girlfriends, but they have families of their own. They are not readily available to come pick me up off my kitchen floor when I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the day.

I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture of what life after divorce is like as a middle-aged woman. I’m just giving you a raw, honest look.

I like the scenes portrayed in the movies and shows a lot better, but that’s not how it is. I can sit here and feel sorry for myself (which I have), or I can accept the fact that life after divorce doesn’t come with a guarantee I’m going to find love or be surrounded by girlfriends.

What I do have now is strength and resilience. I have the gift of doing things when I want and how I want because I am the only adult in my house.

I’ve learned what peace and solitude really feel like. If someone wants to be a part of my life, it’s up to me to make sure they aren’t disturbing what I’ve built.

Divorce at this age is not everything falling into place effortlessly. It’s grit, loneliness, sweat, lots of tears and second-guessing yourself.

It’s also a wonderful chance to really get to know yourself. And I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Are any of you divorced? How has it been for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships