You are like Oz: the man behind the curtain is much smaller and vulnerable than he appears to be.
I see you everywhere, broken hearted divorced guys. You come up as my matches through online dating. You are my friends. You are the guys who talk to me and get close, only to retreat away. You are the men who comment under my articles, an anger seething in even the mildest words.
You are broken hearted but you won't say so.
You'll use words like "angry" or "over her" or "not ready," but not once will you admit it: You are broken hearted. Your spirits are down. Your heart is broken. You wonder if you will ever be whole again.
You wonder if you will ever find the person you were before all of this began. You won't say a word to anyone. Why call friends and burden them? Why go through the blow-by-blow of your disintegrated and dead marriage with family? Do they need to hear your heart's worst pains?
No, you tell yourself. A real man goes this alone. And besides, you don't want to be known as the "sad" guy. You don't want pity or someone's "I'm sorries." Instead, you want to feel like a man again. You want to feel human. You want to wash yourself clean of this experience and magically, voila, be a new person again.
Except that doesn't happen. Not to anyone. It comes in time, but to you, it's taking too long. Why does it need to be never-ending?
You don't log on to support groups and sites like divorced women do. You don't tell your friends, "Man, I need a beer." No, you go through life's daily motions and do what you feel you're "supposed" to do.
You hop online, sure that another woman, sex, or even just a night out with the opposite sex will make it all go away. For a few moments, it does. The sex feels good. The company feels good. Everything feels good, until suddenly, she wants more. Why wouldn't she? She thought she was signing up for a different man than the one she got, but she wasn't.
In many ways, you're an imposter to yourself and to your soul. You never show what goes on behind the scenes. You are like Oz: the man behind the curtain is much smaller and vulnerable than he appears to be.
That's when you retreat, sure that "No, you can't go through heartache again," or in a panic you break it off. You go on the next date and the next date and the next date, leaving behind you a trail of broken and confused hearts, and instead of feeling stronger and better, you feel more broken, more incomplete and worse about who you are.
And who are you, really? You can't even answer. So for all of you broken hearted divorce guys, I give you these gifts:
- The gift to be sad: It's OK to be sad and hurt. It's OK to mourn and grieve. But whatever you do, don't do it forever in that man cave of yours. Come out, and seek people who will help you get back on the road again. You aren't less of a man for being sad. You are less of a person for denying yourself the right to heal and instead, going out and hurting others.
- The gift to be shaky: No one expects you to be a pillar of strength. No one expects you to get it all right the first time. You're allowed to make mistakes, have breakdowns, and get it "wrong" sometimes.
- The gift of love: You have people who love you and people who have yet to love you, but they will. Allow yourself to let the light in. Not everyone will be just like your ex. Not everyone or everything will be awful, the one, amazing, or inspiring. Each person who comes to stand on your sidelines and cheer you on. So let them. They want to be here for you and give you the love that you deserve. That we all so truly deserve.
Divorce isn't for the weak, but life requires us to be strong sometimes. The problem is, broken hearted man, you have confused strong with silent and strong with unbreakable.
The truth? The strongest of us have been broken the hardest but we grieved. We spoke out. We were not silent. We allowed ourselves to be utter, complete messes until eventually, we built ourselves back up again, even better than before.
Believe it. It will happen.
Someone Who is On Your Sideline