Or how to be sane in a crazy post-divorce world.
I’ve been accused of being crazy many times post-divorce. In the interest of full disclosure, even pre-divorce, when my son was in kindergarten, his school employed the standard mother’s day gift: a handmade card inside of which the kids got to show off their penmanship and newly acquired language skills. The stem provided was, “My mother is…” My clever son’s fill-in-the-blank was, “crazy.” I feared this was not exactly a ringing endorsement of my services as psychologist and life coach.
So it’s not surprising I was taken by Heather Havrilesky’s article, “TV’s New Wave of Women: Smart, Strong, Borderline Insane.” I knew there would be useful data here for my work in progress, an instruction manual on how to be crazy post-divorce. I’m going to stay away from the TV behaviors I would not recommend, like drug use, promiscuous sexuality and child endangerment, and stick with the good stuff.
My advice for being crazy post-divorce:
1. Spend your time poorly. Spend too much time alone and you’re an isolating freak. Spend too much time out and you’re in denial, trying to run away from your problems. If you need time to sulk, think, lick your wounds and regroup, go for it. If going out helps you keep your mind off problems, meet people and have fun, go for that. Try to be intentional, and aim for moderation in your choices.
2. Have mood swings. You get tearful, anxious, angry and/or sad, maybe all at once, and friends say you’re a hot mess. Or, you’re not hysterical enough often enough. If you’re the wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve type, you can only do your best and remember it gets better. If your style is to be Zen-like in your demeanor, bravo! Do consider that it’s good to let people know what’s going on with you. It helps you get the support you need and keeps you from stuffing all your feelings which will eventually explode at the wrong time with the wrong person.
3. Make terrible dating decisions. It’s either too soon, or not soon enough. You’re rushing into a rebound relationship, or you’re too picky and not giving anyone a chance. The problem is that, as in most things that happen post-divorce, there is no right answer. If you think you have your head on straight and you’re ready to date or be in a relationship, have at it. Not ready? Don’t let your friends push you into something when you know the time isn’t right.
4. Start a bad workout regimen. You throw yourself into working out or you just don’t feel like you have the energy for it. Unless you’re in that very happy middle ground, you will be criticized. I’d suggest you make a plan for what you’d like to be doing and aim to reach that goal. Don’t worry about what other people think. Moderation is key here as well.
5. Eat wrong. Some of us eat when upset, some of us can’t. A little weight change isn’t going to kill you though your friends see it as revealing your inner crazy. Just be sensible and mindful about your eating. Think about how to cope with your feelings in ways that are more positive than eating or starving. Try to do those positive things.
6. Communicate inappropriately. You constantly talk about the divorce, analyzing it’s every nuance ad nauseum; not only are your friends convinced your obsession is unhealthy, you’re driving them crazy. Or, you’re not sharing enough; while relieved about not having to listen to yet another post-divorce raving lunatic, people are convinced it’s only a matter of time before you finally go off the deep end. Consider what’s really helpful to you and act accordingly.
No matter what you do, everyone’s an expert in whether it’s right for you. It’s just like the way we judge our TV women: they’re not doing the right things enough of the time, and they can’t seem to get it together and have it all. My alternative is to embrace your inner crazy and accept the insanity of post-divorce life. The real expert in what’s best for you, is you. You can tell whether you’re on the right track by looking at how you’re spending your time, coping with your emotions and taking care of your health. Make adjustments. You’re a work in progress. As for me, I’m happy to still be considered a crazy mama.