A dear friend of mine pointed out that my Divorced Dad’s musings, most notably this one, could be construed as passive-aggressive behavior towards my children. Please be assured, kind reader, that my children are unaware of the existence of this blog. To the best of my knowledge.
And so you raise your two children and remind them of this belief every year on their birthdays. By the time they are adults, they have heard you state this belief enough for their eyes to glaze over. But they know it is an important belief, and one day they will share this belief with you.
But that day has not yet arrived. It is 11:00 p.m. on your birthday and you have not heard from either of them. There are several possible reasons:
Your feelings are probably hurt, and why shouldn’t they be? The Divorced Dad loves his children and hopes that his love is reflected by them.
And so what does the Divorced Dad do when one or both children eventually call (because they will) and say “I’m sorry about your birthday?”
The first word out of the Divorced Dad’s mouth should be “and?” The reason for this, you have learned, is that your adult children are still not fully raised. They still have knowledge and wisdom to acquire. Which is why they will not understand what you mean when you ask “and?”
Without getting angry, the Divorced Dad will explain the three meanings of “I’m sorry”:
Just remember, your children are still capable of mistakes, and you are now teaching them how to be grown-ups capable of fixing those mistakes.
We are upon the end times. The last episode of “Mad Men” will air this weekend, and then I will have to get a life. “Mad Men” has been my steadfast partner through divorce and courting. What a funny word, “courting.”
And so as I begin the ritual of mourning one’s favorite television entertainment, a headline in one of the Gawker websites caught my eye. “Mad Men Characters, Ranked,” written by one of my favorite man-children, Drew Magary, who takes great pleasure at poking people in the eye (metaphorically).
Drew named Roger Sterling as his Number #1 character, followed by Don Draper. There is no methodology to this ranking, other than creating a list that would piss off “Mad Men” fans.
I got to thinking about how to rank “Mad Men” characters using a methodology and came up with a spreadsheet filled with lots and lots of numbers. Using IMDB’s database, I culled the names of 94 characters. I then assigned each character a 1-5 point score (5=highest; 1=lowest) in these categories:
The results totally shocked me. Email me if you would like the review the spreadsheet.
Here is the ranking:
When Maria Shriver posits an opinion publicly, she understands she has a choir ready to shout “amen” to her preaching. When she writes about the subject of divorce, as she recently did in the Huffington Post, she must know that she is wading into it.
Her five pieces of advice are fine: 1) do some soul searching; 2) set goals; 3) ask for what you want; 4) believe you can; and 5) respect your progress. Seriously, I am sure that Dr. Phil or Ellen would love to get a recorded hour with Maria to discuss this high-minded list. I cannot disagree with this advice, and I am not about to trash talk a fellow Georgetown grad.
However, if you are a rich, famous, connected, and beautiful woman with a strong family supporting you, you might experience divorce differently than the average schlub. The concept of reinvention is obviously appealing to Maria Shriver.
However, I would argue that, for the rest of us, the most important thing is just surviving the shattering consequences of divorce. Because going through divorce can make you feel like you are not going to survive. Short of the death of a loved one, it may be the worst blow imaginable. Your confidence is shot, and before you embark on the journey of reinvention, you have to possess at least an iota of confidence.
Make peace with the reality that it will get worse before it gets better. If you wake up every morning hoping that it will all be over, you will be deluding yourself. Getting through divorce is a long process. So every day, you just put one foot in front of the other. You go to work and focus on your job. You try to eat healthy food. You exercise regularly. Life sucks, but you have to take care of yourself if you have any hope of surviving.
Do not start dating right away. Oh, sweet Jesus, the temptation of the touch and taste and feel and smell of another person in your bed is like a narcotic. However, along with that sweet earthly delight comes complications because we are not talking about a blow-up sex doll. There is another person in bed with you, and there is no way you are ready to deal with the responsibility of another person’s hopes, dreams, and ambitions. You are a mess. You might be horny, but there are other ways to deal with that issue that do not involve hurting an innocent person.
Create a budget. Don’t know Excel? You’d better learn. Seriously, whip out a spreadsheet and figure out all your revenue streams and outlays. You will surprise yourself about what you will learn, not just about your money situation but where your priorities lay.
Spend more time by yourself than you would like. Lots of people confuse being alone with lonely. In your divorce, you are alone. You are probably also lonely. Go ahead and be lonely for a while. Live inside your head for a while. Embrace silence every day. Why? Guess what? You have just learned the hard way that, in life, we are on our own. When you are finally ready to be with other people – or with another person – you will appreciate them so much more.
Create a list of “needs” and “wants.” Get rid of as much stuff as you can. Simplify your life as much as possible. Stop buying shit. And create a list of the things in your life: do you need it or want it? You need soap and toothpaste. Do you need that Ethan Allen four-poster for your bedroom? You need to buy gas so that you can drive to work. Do you need that new BMW? You need an Internet connection. Do you need 500 channels on TV? You need food in your refrigerator. Do you need to eat out five nights a week? You need to keep your new home clean. Do you need another McMansion? You need to do the laundry. Do you need those Christian Louboutin shoes?
You might surprise yourself to learn that you don’t need so much shit to be content.
I’m waiting for that call from Dr. Phil or Ellen.
My first vote on Tuesday will be against my economic self-interest. You see, I have benefitted financially from the incumbent in office. He is a good person of stout beliefs who has delivered on many of his campaign promises. However, the promises on which he delivered have had a deleterious effect on my humble, flyover state. I may take a financial hit with his defeat, but my fellow citizens and I cannot stomach another term from this otherwise fine person. In these circumstances, you gotta do what you gotta do.
My second vote will be enveloped in something worse than the stench of decay. Though I have met her only once, the challenger is someone whose beliefs, public record, and behavior inspire me to despise her. I suspect she is dishonest and perhaps mentally unstable. Elected to the office to which she aspires would be nothing short of an utter disaster. However, the incumbent fits the dictionary definition of “captured” when it comes to all the special interests and issues I find abhorrent. Though I believe the incumbent will win re-election by an 80-20 margin, I will vote for the person I despise. In these circumstances, you cannot let the powerful bully think he has clear run of the yard.
I pray that your voting experiences will be more pleasant.