Turtle's Progress

Monday, April 24, 2006

DWS (Divorced Woman Syndrome)

My youngest daughter, Erin, first used the term "Divorced Woman Syndrome" or DWS when I began to come out of the shock brought about by my separation and divorce from her father. Just as we often see and hear about women who blossom in their widowhood, I seemed to do that after my divorce. Within months of signing the final papers, I was also an empty-nester. Erin was off to Auburn University where Meghan was in her second year, and I had the entire house to myself. I went to work everyday and became more interested and vested in my job. I began to make the house “mine” instead of “ours”, and to appreciate the amazing women who helped me get through this tough time in my life. My appearance changed for the better – glasses gave way to contacts, gray hair became “spiced tea” (according to the Natural Instincts box), weight came off without stringent dieting, and I began to like myself more than I ever had in the past.

My first big act of independence and trust in myself was driving nearly 2,500 miles cross country. My parents were selling their 1988 Honda Prelude. I needed a car and knew it would suit my needs perfectly. My sister agreed to drive from California back to Alabama with me. The plan was to swap-off driving – about one hour into Lori’s first shift she said “no way”. Interstate driving was putting her to sleep so I became the designated driver. We made our way to southern California, caught I-10 across Arizona and New Mexico, and picked-up I-20 just south of El Paso for the long haul across Texas. At the east side of Texas we stopped to see a dear friend (one of the amazing, mentioned above) who had recently moved there from Alabama. Two days later we began the last stretch across Louisiana, Mississippi, and into “Sweet Home”. Having been forewarned, I was careful to follow the speed limits in Louisiana. It was there I learned to “do as the long-haul truckers do”. The truckers stayed within reasonable speeds of the limits in Louisiana and Mississippi, but in Alabama they cut lose. Obviously knowing there was a shortage of state troopers at that time. My sister finally woke-up from her four day nap about the time we reached the Anniston city limits!

Over the next few years my social circle and activities expanded. A group of single women from work and I began going to plays together. I saw my first Broadway production, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and many good quality shows put on by our local community theater. A group of six or eight of us went to Birmingham to see Wynonna Judd and Michael Bolton together in concert. At other concerts, Huey Lewis rocked our world with a long harmonica solo, Aerosmith nearly rendered us deaf, Elton John played all of our old favorites, and Rod Stewart’s energy seemed to be endless. I went to student art and music shows at our local university, and “Business After Hours” sponsored monthly by the Chamber of Commerce. A good friend taught me the rudimentary skills of sailing during trips out on his boat. I started a book group which met monthly. Many trips were made to Auburn to visit my daughters.

My former husband’s sisters and I have continued to be close, and during this time they could not have been more supportive. We continued our newly established tradition of having a “Sister’s Weekend” during the month of each of our birthdays. Sometimes we took trips – a fun time in Helen, Georgia comes to mind with stops at the Cabbage Patch Doll Hospital, but most times we just met at my house and played. Went out to eat, talked, “Sweated” to Richard Simmons’ “Oldies”, talked, dyed our hair, talked, laid out by the pool, talked…. They may be my former sisters-in-law but they will NEVER be “former” family.

I discovered politics. For months I could be found every Wednesday afternoon on the corner of 11th Street and Quintard Avenue, across from the post office, holding my sign protesting the looming war on Iraq. A new group of like-minded friends emerged from these encounters. Despite our attempts to be “low key” with signs like “Support Our Troops, Pray for Peace” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, we still elicited hostile hand gestures and remarks from those driving by or stopping for the red light. My protest letters to the editor were published, and our pictures were often on the front pages of our local newspaper.

I believe that most women are social creatures and when our main social relationship is lost through divorce or death, we will eventually rise up and create new ones. Had I still been married I would not have experienced most of the things I’ve noted here. Not necessarily because my former husband would have stifled any attempts to do those things – I just would not have felt the need to do any of them. And what Joy I would have missed!

Oh, I also had a few dates, a couple of short-term relationships, met my current husband and threw myself a 50th birthday party – that will have to be another story!

Here I am pre-DWS in 1993, and post-DWS in 1998. What a difference 5 years can make! This one's for you Lori -- you said you wanted a good laugh!

4 Comments:

At 7:49 PM, Blogger erin said...

I couldn't focus on your pre-DWS picture because I was blinded by that HORRIBLE shirt. What were you thinking? More importantly, why didn't I stop you from leaving the house in that?

 
At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Meg said...

That "pre" picture actually isnt that bad for what I remember of the time period. I love that you are incapable of just writing about what you had for breakfast...heck,you could probably make that topic into a deep soul searching event.:)
I love you!

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger lori said...

Now that was funny! Now I have to get ready for my 4 hour nap to Deed's. See ya there!

 
At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Joyce said...

Wow, do I remember that shirt, or did I try to leave that thought way in the back of my mind?
As has been written, "You Look Marrrrvelous!... Now that the shirt is gone and the Spiced Tea continues to be part of your style!
Please tell me you no longer own that shirt!! Perhaps that will be a mission of mine, to find that long lost shirt, at the Goodwill, which there was probablly only one made.
Love You!

 

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