By Jennifer Christy
Remember when Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch on national TV and proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?
I thought it was a very romantic gesture and yet he was ridiculed and criticized for it, as if his feelings of finally finding someone he could love forever was something to hide away and suppress so that no one would feel uncomfortable with his happiness.
Tom had already suffered two previous divorces, which anyone that has gone through at least one knows is a hellish (but seldom talked about in detail) experience. At the time of his love affair with Katie, I had never been divorced, but after experiencing two of my own divorces, I now understand his actions even more keenly.
Maybe the people who criticized his behavior had never experienced divorce – had never experienced the mind numbing loneliness of coming home to an empty, cold house and going to bed with only a pillow to soak up your tears. Maybe they didn’t understand how it hurts when you have no one close to your heart to share your triumphs, dreams, or ambitions with. Or, when you’ve been in a fender bender and your airbags deploy, and your head is lacerated and there is no one to call to come give you a long comforting hug as your body goes through the stages of an adrenaline dump and shock.
After awhile of being alone, you get used to it, like anything else in life and you adapt. I filled the hours of my loneliness with writing and reading and children.
Family parties were excruciating reminders of my singleness –
especially when I had to go alone without my kids because my former husband wouldn’t allow my children to attend during his “parent time.” And of course, my family wouldn’t adapt the time of their parties to accommodate my “parent time”. I often would find myself watching my siblings with envy as they cuddled their spouses and exchanged quick kisses and knowing glances. I would look away, idly rubbing my finger where a wedding band once resided, longing for a complete family unit again. God! I missed that so much!! And then, on top of it, to find out about family “couple” parties after the fact was just salt in the wound. I think I’ve swallowed gallons of tears to keep from showing my hurt over the last 3 years.
Like Elsa from the movie Frozen sings “Don’t let them in, Don’t let them see, Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal. Don’t feel. Don’t let them know…” You learn to put on a brave face and make everyone think you’re living the enviable single’s life of parties and friends and fun!
You go on lots of dates and meet lots of guys, some are interesting, most are creepy, one or two make you want to run to the bathroom and lock yourself in a stall until they go away….
You go around and around and around the relationship block until you’re dizzy and out of breath before you realize, “Hey, I’ve seen this all before. There is nothing new here. I’m wasting my time. I must have missed my chance at love and all that is left are broken people chasing their tails and going nowhere in life.”
And you become somewhat cynical and jaded. You change your dating tactics from “finding the one” to just finding someone you can have a decent conversation with and maybe meet up once in a while to go see a movie together or go for a hike…