I think, much like labor and childbirth, one has to experience the blindsiding pain of kid-addled divorce (or permanent separation from a life partner) to fully fathom the pain.
I’d been through plenty of breakups before separating from my son’s father, and though each one of those hurt at the time, the sting was nothing compared to the devastating pain I felt to lose the Father of my baby: the one man I thought I would spend my entire life with, that we would spend our entire lives with.
In the loss of a relationship with the Father of my son, I lost not only the tender recollection of the memories
our beginnings — a rock concert, snowboarding trips, spring in Amsterdam — but the promise of future memories as well. The combination of the two was lethal and brought me to my bed in the days following the separation, unable to even open my eyes because the tears had swollen them shut. I mourned for Christmas when our son would be five, I cried for the terrible mistakes we both made, I pushed back queasiness thinking of the way we’d irrevocably altered the fabric of our innocent son’s life, by failing at this.
Eventually I got it together: with the aid of some excellent girlfriends, an amazing family, a well-loved career, and a sudden realization that I am a strong, capable woman for the love of all things holy, and I can do this.
Slowly, the days clicked by and I was six months into single motherhood, then a year. I think it was around the year mark, when I caught a whiff of man cologne in the produce aisle at Safeway, that I began to think about the possibility of taking the love plunge again.
Thinking about love as a single Mom is so incredibly different, so much more complex. There is now a child to consider, first and foremost, but there are also the memories of that Failed Relationship, the knowledge of the pain and a deeply ingrained fear of ever going there again. But, there is also an undeniable knowledge of the increased richness of life with soul partner, of navigating the uncharted pathway of life hand in hand with a man who loves you.
I’ve been dating, here and there, and wondering whether it’s worth it to put my heart out there in the storm again. I waffle: should all my attention be focused on my son and the things I must do to raise him? How much selfishness am I allowed? Is a potential partnership worth all the possible shrapnel?
I don’t have the answers here, and I wonder if you do. How long did it take you, post divorce, to stick your toe into the sharky dating waters? Did you find your match, or do you hold hope? Would you be just as happy at home on Saturday night, watching 101 Dalmations for the thirty billionth time? Because often times, I think I would.