Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true, because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and…they just had a great thing, and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.

— Louis C.K.

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of my very very difficult and horrible divorce, I did a lot of reading about divorce, loss and grief. I learned that divorce is like a death and — in some ways worse — because the pain of betrayal and hurt is so intense. When once you were partners and lovers — now you feel like enemies. And it hurts. A lot. Read More →

My most recent Huff Po blog.  Since everything else in the world is such a mess (government shut-down, I’m filled with anger about all of that) — I thought I’d focus on something lighter.  

One night, a few years ago, I went to a party for a professional organization I am a member of.  Most people there were getting pretty drunk, feeling the effects of the lousy economy.  I saw an old friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in many years.  He flirted with me and told me, “I’m married and I’m miserable. I hate my wife and I hate my life.”  I was a bit shocked at his honesty, but I had to admit I wasn’t particularly happy either.   He also told me that he’d had a crush on me when we were young—and would I have dated him back then?  I lied and said, “Oh, yes. I would have dated you.”  Truthfully, I wasn’t particularly interested in him way back then.  But now, he had evolved into a mature, attractive man, with a lovely sense of humor, and I was interested.  In fact, I went home and had my first erotic dream in a long time—and it was about him.    
Two years later we were both divorced.  Are we happier divorced?  Yes, at least I know I am.  Has he asked me out on a date?  No.  But I haven’t asked him either.  I have flirted with him and though it would make such a great Hollywood story if we did hook up, life isn’t all Hollywood, is it?  The point is, we were both miserable and we had the courage and honesty to do something about it. 
I don’t know if he initiated his divorce or his wife did.  In my case, I was the first one to point out that the patient (our marriage) was on life support and barely alive and then a few months later, it was my husband who pulled the plug.  Excellent teamwork, I have to admit.
We actually were a great team on some levels, we functioned well in so many ways. But there were simply too many losses, we were the Buffalo Bills of marriage.  One damn loss after another.  It was as if life was saying, “Just because you’ve suited up for so long doesn’t mean you have to stay in the game. Run!  Get out of there!  You’re dying inside.”
So I thought, well, if I can have so much fun flirting at that party there must be hundreds of interesting men out there.  And there are, probably hundreds of thousands, in the tri-state area alone.  But finding one that I actually want to spend time with, talk to, sleep with, and forsaking all others for—that’s a different matter. 
A friend of mine, also mature, but never married, told me her theory about dating men over 50.  Once the need to procreate is past, they are in no rush to get married.  And from my own research —neither are millions of women.  I’m reading a book called Sex at Dawn and one of its main points is that we are truly meant to be promiscuous, so what’s the rush to find Mr. or Ms. Right?  (Who, in fact, really don’t exist.)  What’s the rush to cook, clean, shop, spend all your time with one person?  Once your kids are grown, it’s actually quite nice to do whatever the hell you want to do. 
The truth is, I like being single and I certainly don’t want to settle for someone unless I totally adore him and he totally adores me.  I believe that is possible.  I know that is what I would want next time around.
I do know women who dated like mad after their divorce and met lots of men on-line and slept with most of them and then eventually, after a couple of years, got married.  Well, I know one woman. But she is very happy and she said the guy she married was nothing like she imagined he would be and it’s all worked out beautifully. 
Sometimes I think that like everything else in my life, when the time is right, when it’s supposed to happen, it will happen.  My mate will materialize.  I may have to do the work: go on-line, talk on the phone, go out for coffees, dinners, walks in the park, send emails and texts (just thinking about all of this makes me want to lie down).
Then again my neighbor reads Tarot cards and the cards say, “You know him already.  He’s someone you’ve known for a long time.”  So I look at every man I know and I think, “Is it you?  Is it you?”  So far it isn’t him. 
I have male friends I adore.  But moving from the friend category to the lover/partner category is fraught with danger.  I see a big X when I think about attempting that with any of my lovely men friends.
I did have love after my divorce.  I met D at a grief group (he’d lost his brother and his dad, I’d lost my mother).  We became best friends and hung out all the time  and watched movies, and rode our bikes and talked and we were inseparable.  He wanted it to be more and I knew it wasn’t supposed to be a relationship relationship.  I just wasn’t ready.  My heart was pretty shut down after my divorce and I cared too much for him to just fool around.  I met some men on-line and fooled around with them – they were lovely, but unavailable, both by time and inclination.  My friend D started dating one of my best friends, P, and that nearly killed me.  It nearly killed her too because it didn’t last and everyone’s heart was a tiny bit shattered. 
Now D is with the perfect woman for him, L, I love her almost as much as I love him.  We go to Sunday night movies together as a group—sometimes the three of us, sometimes with other friends from the alphabet.  I still love him deeply and I know he loves me too.
So where is Mr. Next Guy?  Beats me.  But truthfully, I know he’s coming.  One of these days.  Maybe it will be at another party and someone will say, “I had a crush on you back in 1983…would you have gone out with me then?”
And maybe I’ll have the courage to say, “No, probably not in 1983, but I definitely would now, in 2013.”

One night, a few years ago, I went to a party for a professional organization I am a member of. Most people there were getting pretty drunk, feeling the effects of the lousy economy. I saw an old friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in many years. He flirted with me and told me, “I’m married and I’m miserable. I hate my wife and I hate my life.” I was a bit shocked at his honesty, but I had to admit I wasn’t particularly happy either. He also told me that he’d had a crush on me when we were young — would I have dated him back then? I lied and said, “Oh, yes. I would have dated you.” Truthfully, I wasn’t particularly interested in him way back then. But now, he had evolved into a mature, attractive man, with a lovely sense of humor, and I was interested. In fact, I went home and had my first erotic dream in a long time — and it was about him. Read More →

Huffington Post just put up my latest post and so far there has been very little reaction. I think I know why.  It was written by my head. The others just poured out of me.  This one was very much about explaining, trying to recapture the initial impulse of an earlier post.  And then this morning I read this quote, from 2009, that I had posted, and it was a good reminder:

“My teacher Trungpa Rinpoche encouraged us to lead our lives as an experiment, a suggestion that has been very important to me. When we approach life as an experiment we are willing to approach it this way and that way because, either way, we have nothing to lose.

This immense flexibility is something I learned from watching Trungpa Rinpoche. His enthusiasm enabled him to accomplish an amazing amount in his life. When some things didn’t work out, Rinpoche’s attitude was ‘no big deal.’ If it’s time for something to flourish, it will; if it’s not time, it won’t.

The trick is not getting caught in hope and fear. We can put our whole heart into whatever we do; but if we freeze our attitude for or against, we’re setting ourselves up for stress. Instead, we could just go forward with curiosity, wondering where this experiment will lead.”

Here is the post:

Fire Away:  A Husband, A House, A Mortgage, the Sequel

A month ago I wrote a post called “A Husband, A House, A Mortgage, A Baby and A Lightbulb Moment” in which I talked about having had what I thought was the “American Dream” and how in the end, it didn’t feel like the “prize” I had imagined it would be.

My marriage ended in divorce. We sold our home. My ex and I are not only not in love, we don’t even communicate. Everything I had dreamt of having essentially imploded, leaving me to question most of the values I had held dear in the first half of my life.

I received over 1,000 comments and attacks on this blog and after awhile, I had to stop reading them. The blog was not meant to say my ex husband was to blame any more than I was. It was not meant to say that marriage, a home and a family are not worthy desires. It was simply to say that for so many of us, life is not one size fits all. We all have different paths. What works so well for so many families does not work for everyone. And that is not the end of the world — it is simply the beginning of a new world.

Recently I was in a workshop with several men who talked about their families, their wives and their children. They were so proud and devoted to them, and I felt a pang of envy. To anyone who thought that I was saying that I don’t believe in love — or that I was critical of men — I apologize. If I didn’t believe in love, I wouldn’t want to live. Love is, for me, the single most important part of my life. I am surrounded by love and though I do not, at this time, have a partner or a spouse in my life, that doesn’t mean that there is no love.

I love my daughter, deeply. I love my dog, Lucy, who has been with me for over 12 years. We rescued her when she was 4 and even at 16, she’s hanging in there. I lost a beloved dog, Lola, a year and a half ago when she was only 9. It still kills me to think of her. I love my friends and my family. I love writing. I love babies. I love New York City. I love this entire country and I also love many other countries. I love ice cream. I love people who can put their beliefs front and center and make a real difference in this world. I love spiritual teachers like Pema Chodron — she saved my life when everything felt like it was going wrong. I love meditation. (I even feel not completely stupid when I chant now.)

I actually love my ex husband. I just don’t want to live with him. And it’s pretty clear that he is relieved not to be living with me.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I believe that walking down the aisle was the equivalent of my “Rocky” moment, climbing up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in my wedding gown and raising my hands in triumph. I believed that my life was now complete.

And then I saw how challenging it was to keep a marriage going when two people wanted different things out of it. I wanted simply to have a partner and an ally, to know someone had my back and wanted to spend some time with me. He wanted to come together when he wanted to, and that turned out to be, in the end, not at all.

I was not right and he was not wrong. It simply was what it was.

In losing that “Rocky” triumph, I found myself. I found that all the external things I thought I wanted were less important than the internal work I had to do. I found a core of strength I didn’t know I had, to help my parents die, to be a good friend to others. To try to know God, or whatever that “higher consciousness” is.

I do believe in love. I do believe in marriage and kids and a home and all of those desires of human connection. I just believe that our lives can be complete and joyous without all the external prizes we think we must have.

Despite a difficult divorce and some very painful losses, the past three years have been some of the best years of my life. Were they better than the early years of my daughter’s life, when we were a loving family and we were all together? They were different; not better, not worse.

It’s an amazing feeling to fall in love and plan a wedding and embark on a life with the person you believe is your soul mate. But sometimes the person we chose at 24 or 29 or 37 is not the person we can live with at 40 or 50 or 60. Should we be miserable for the rest of our lives because it didn’t last? Or should we move on and accept that life has other plans for us?

A year ago, I started studying swing dancing because I hoped that dancing would lift my spirits after a horrible divorce. It did. Recently, one of my favorite dance partners told me that I had to go into more challenging classes in order to improve. I think that’s true now about love, too. I think it’s time to come out of hiding and put my heart on the line again. I’m scared to step on my partner’s feet in an advanced intermediate dance class. And I’m also scared to get my heart broken again. But I know that if I don’t take chances in life, I might as well just die right now and forget about the remaining days, months or years. Where would be the joy in that?

After that blog post got so many critical comments, I talked to a few successful writers I know about how they handled criticism and personal attacks. One of them, Michael Eigen, a therapist and author of at least twenty books, said to me, “If you go out into the world, you will be attacked by others. If you stay in your cave, you will be attacked by yourself.”

I’m ready. I feel that Pat Benatar has taken over my soul and is singing, “‘C’mon and hit me with your best shot… fire away.”

Which is also a good song to dance to.

This piece came to me a few weeks ago and I held off sharing it for awhile.  It’s challenging to write about divorce when I know that there was very little joy in it for my daughter – but I do think that ultimately, it’s been good for all of us.

Here is the link:


 My latest HuffPost:

I had it all. I had the American dream. I lived in a beautiful loft in the heart of SoHo (okay, I know some of you want the house and the picket fence, I wanted a loft in New York City).
And I had the baby, the most wonderful daughter. And two dogs. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of and I was deeply, deeply grateful.
I had the wedding, with a beautiful dress from Paris with lace, made in the 1920’s — very much my style. I had a honeymoon at a lovely resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
We moved to New York City a few months after we got married to pursue our dreams. I was 34, not that young, but old enough to know what I was looking for. It had taken hundreds of dates, blind dates, fix-ups — there was no internet dating in those days. I’d lived with other men. It had taken hard work, but I was determined to find the love of my life and have it all. My career was in television writing and I was about to break into films. I could hear the biological clock ticking and I desperately wanted to have a baby. I had dated men in my business and I finally found someone who was an artist — intelligent, talented, articulate — and he made a living. He was a bit lonely and depressed, but I was going to rescue him and make him happy with a family and a home and everything that would answer all of his prayers — and mine — and we would live happily ever after.
And we did, for a time. It was great.
It lasted until about a week after the wedding. And then, subtly, I sensed a shift. He had been attentive and available before, and within a few months after the wedding, I felt the door close. It wasn’t obvious, but in the first year of our marriage I wrote an essay that was never published called “The Myths of Marriage.” And the funny part was, I had taken a course years before about dating and marriage and one of the main points was that we present ourselves one way when we are trying to “get” someone and then once we “have” them; we let our guard down and we show who we really are.
I knew that and yet, I acted like I really enjoyed cooking though I hated cooking. And he acted like he really enjoyed spending weekends with me, when he really wanted to work seven days a week. But we made a commitment and we worked at it and we became a family.
There are few things in life more rewarding than finding someone you love, who loves you, who knows you and over the years, through all the difficult life experiences, is your ally and your friend and your sounding board and your lover. Those kind of relationships are hard to find.
But after 23 years of marriage, we got divorced. I deserved more and he deserved to be who he was (turns out he didn’t really want to be rescued). And my beautiful lace dress from Paris? I had rented it from a costume house in Hollywood. Maybe even then I knew that you can’t hold on to some things forever, no matter how beautiful they seem at one time in your life.
Here is my suggestion: Be you. Don’t try to be anyone else.
Also, live your life with pleasure and do what you love and what is important to you. Work hard, play hard, don’t be waiting for someone to complete you. Complete yourself.
A great marriage is really a dream for most. It takes honesty — knowing and presenting who you really are. It isn’t for everyone; it takes effort and a great deal of compromise and patience. It is not the Nobel Prize of life. It is no longer even the American dream, or any dream. Perhaps you saw Eric Klinenberg’s piece in The New York Times about living alone in which he reports, “More people live alone now than at any other time in history… In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person… In Paris, the city of lovers, more than half of all households contain single people.” Even in Paris — my beloved city of lights — even they had a light bulb moment: living alone, or at least unmarried, need not be stigmatized or pathetic or necessarily lonely.
I don’t know if I will ever get married again. Divorce was one of the worst experiences of my life, which led me to one of the best and most productive periods of my life. I am not waiting to meet the next man to love; I am busy, working hard, grateful for my life, dating, dancing, enjoying my daughter, my friends and a rent-stabilized loft in SoHo, which I share with a good friend. Not a man. With men, I dance. And right now, that’s working really well for me.
Dreams are for when you are asleep. Life is what happens when you are awake. It’s never what you expect. Enjoy it.

It seems like every day I speak to a friend who is either racing off to the hospital to see a parent who’s ill, or a spouse, a friend, or dealing with their own illness, or divorce, or job loss. It’s not that I don’t know people whose lives are great – but the reality is that millions of us are dealing with difficult challenges. 
As Pema Chodron, the Buddhist writer says in When Things Fall Apart:
“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
In 2009, I had my own personal “tsunami.” My 23 year marriage ended, I had no job, my mother died, my daughter moved 3,000 miles away, and I had to move, with two dogs. Life dealt me a hand that left me broken.  I felt like I was under water and couldn’t breathe.
A dear friend pointed me in the direction of Eckhart Tolle’s book, The New Earth and I read this:
“Whenever tragic loss occurs you either resist, or you yield.  Some people become bitter or deeply resentful; others become compassionate, wise and loving. Yielding means inner acceptance of what is. You are open to life. Resistance is an inner contraction, a hardening of the shell of the ego.  You are closed.  Whatever action you take in a state of resistance (which we could also call negativity) will create outer resistance and the universe will not be on your side: life will not be helpful. If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in.  When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up. If action is possible or necessary your action will be aligned with the whole and supported by creative intelligence, the unconditioned consciousness, which in a state of inner openness you become one with. Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative. Coincidences happen.  If no action is possible, you rest in the inner piece that comes with surrender.  You rest in God.”
This became like a mantra to me. (A long one, I know.)  I typed it up and carried it with me.  And honestly, circumstances and people didbecome helpful. 
One night at Friends In Deed in New York City, a “pragmatic, spiritual crisis center,” I attended a workshop on grief. I told myself I was willing to go anywhere for help, but it didn’t hurt that Friends In Deed was just up the block.
Here is what I learned:

Grief is the natural response to loss. Loss is a perceived change in circumstances plus a perceived change in personal identity. Grief now becomes a lifelong companion, never leaving you in the beginning, softened over time, but never leaving completely. If the person meant anything to you, the loss of them will visit you, sometimes when you least expect it.
The five stages of grief Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—are helpful, but perhaps the stages are not linear and maybe there are better models.  And what about relief?  What about guilt?  
Another model for grief is shock, disorganization, reorganization.  
There are three levels to grief – the first level is the loss of the person, the life.  The second level is the practical issues, the loss of income, a home, structure.  The third level, the constant reminders: you pick up the phone to call the person, you cook for two instead of one, you look at the chair he or she sat in.
First comes disintegration, then eventually reintegration…”the new normal.”  The spaciousness and the possibilities begin to return.  Grief is natural, like breathing.  Try to let it happen, let it run its own course.  One day you’re on the floor and then surprising yourself, you find you’re going out on a date, something unimaginable just a short time before. 
Here are some myths:  you’ll get over it.  You’ll transcend it.  There is a right way to grieve.
Truth:  Your loss will transform you.  This is the experience, and it is what it is.  Tell your friends what you need.  Let them know you can use their help.  If they ask, and you don’t know what you need, thank them for asking and ask them to maybe ask again.  Soon.
The transformation is often for the better.  Not always, but usually—especially if we find ways to get out of our own way. I gave myself to the process, and it is a process, and now I’ll avoid the word journey, but it was and continues to be.
The tried and true methods of dealing with grief and anger, though they can be effective in the short term:  drugs, drinking, eating too much, are distractions from the process. 
The good news: human beings are resilient.  We are amazingly strong.
What helps with grief?

Talking helps
Not talking helps
Being silent
Writing (in your own handwriting)

Hitting a punching bag
Sad movies
Maybe you were grieved last week when NBC cut into Olympic coverage to give a sneak peak of the new show starring Matthew Perry called “Go On.” In it, they find the humor and pathos inherent in a grief counseling group. I was lucky enough to find Friends In Deed, but there are many kinds of groups out there, one that will suit you. You may even feel most comfortable in an online community. The main thing is to take your grief seriously, as loss is a necessary part of living. It needs to be respected and not ignored (as Perry’s character finds out in the first episode) – and you need to feel that you are not alone.
The tsunami that hit me ultimately has been the greatest gift of my life.  It added depth and understanding to my life and what else would I have to share?  Tips on how to deal with curly hair?  (Not that that isn’t very important information.) 
But I am now a far more empathetic person than I was when frizzy hair was my biggest problem. 
Friends In Deed is located at 594 Broadway, Suite 706, New York City, friendsindeed.org
I decided that I wanted to change the focus of this blog to something a bit more joyous…dancing.  I remain committed to meditation, but in the past six months I’ve found so much pleasure in dancing and I want to share that. 
We are having a wedding shower for a friend of ours tomorrow night and we’re supposed to share something positive about love and marriage and quite honestly, at this point in my life, I couldn’t think of a thing.  The one quote about the institution that came to my mind was Woody Allen’s:  “Marriage is the death of hope.”
Then I started to think about dancing and how it played a part in my relationship with my ex-husband.  When we first got together, we spent many happy evenings dancing in his living room in Venice, California.  I think if we had kept that up, even in the midst of all the dramas we were living through over the next 24 years, our lives might have been different. But unfortunately, we didn’t… and now I am dancing with other partners and hopefully someday with a steady partner.  (Although I’ll never give up dancing with other men too, it’s fun!
I think dancing is one of the true pleasures of life.  It’s something we do when we’re really young (I’m stealing that idea from Nigel, one of the judges of my guilty pleasure, “So You Think You Can Dance.”) 
Dancing in the light…that’s the message I feel like sharing. Dancing for the pleasure of being in the body and feeling the music. 

Last night I heard the news: after a twenty-three year relationship, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are separating.  At least they don’t have to get divorced, since they never got married.
Yesterday, someone told me that in a recent NY Times op-ed there was a statistic that something like eighty percent of people in their “middle ages,” whatever that is, are married.  But in New York City that number is dramatically lower.
I have heard of more couples separating in the last year than I can ever recall.  I also know of many people who are not happy in their relationships, but aren’t going to leave.  The reason I know this, is that when you announce you are getting divorced, suddenly everyone confides in you.  I also heard from a friend yesterday, that out of her four grown kids, two are now getting divorced.  
Another friend recently told his wife if their relationship didn’t improve he wouldn’t stay.  Another couple hasn’t really spoken to each other in about a month. 

I think that the myth we are sold on marriage is distorted and also that people show one face when they are dating, and after they get married, they very quickly become who they really are.  I do know couples who deeply love each other, and think about how they can show that love, and are supportive and genuinely enjoy each others company.  What a gift. 

I don’t know if I’ll find someone to share my life with again.  I know that my living arrangement with my friend has taken the edge off and I feel more relaxed about the future.  I wonder what Susan and Tim would say about their separation – did they grow apart, as so many of us do?  Even with the perfect life, the great careers, the multiple homes, the money, all the kids, and the fame?  Did one of them find someone else?  The message is we’re all basically the same…humans struggling, trying to find connections and good lives.  No one is immune from loss, sadness, illness, death.  Even Tiger Woods has to do some major re-evaluating of his life choices. 

As difficult as life can get, it’s also fun too, and the difficult times pass.  It’s been about a year since I first mentioned the idea of separation and each day gets better.  I keep going where it’s “warm”, even when the wind chill is fifteen degrees.  Going where it’s warm is about turning to friends who are supportive and really care about you.  I am grateful for the friends I have, every one of them. 

I’ll be away between Christmas and New Years, up in the country, enjoying nature.  This has been a very difficult and extremely good year for me.  I hope that Susan, Tim and everyone else who is going through these major life changes can find peace even in the painful times. 
Do you think Tim Robbins will post his profile on Match.com? 

 Sometimes when I leave the loft, I grab a book that I own, but perhaps have never read, or read years ago, or read only a few chapters of.  Today I picked up Joseph Campbell’s book “The Way of Myth” to read on the subway on my way uptown.  The first chapter of the book talks about how many people come to the later years of their lives and wonder what it was all about?  Was it worth the effort to acquire things, or power, or whatever, what was the point of all those years of being driven?  His description:  “You’ve got to the top of the ladder and found it’s against the wrong wall.” 

And then he goes on to talk about marriage and that really hit home for me:

“We see it in marriage, for instance.  There are two stages.  First is what I call the biological stage, which has to do with producing and raising children, and the other is what I would call the alchemical marriage – realizing the spiritual identity that the two are somehow one person.  There comes a moment in marriage, if you live long enough and stay with the game long enough, when you realize that a spiritual marriage has happened, that the two individuals are two aspects of one identity.  It is the image of the androdyne, the male/female being.  That is the image of what is realized through a marriage.  In that mythological reference the two are one. But how many people do you know who, after the children have left the nest, get divorced because they haven’t engaged in the second, spiritual marriage.  We’re not given those lessons now in our educational systems, and we don’t know how to handle these situations when they arise.  It’s a shame.”  

This seemed like the perfect message for me to read today.  Not that so many couples don’t get divorced long before the kids leave home (we all know many who have), but that I see couples who have a really deep connection and their love and support for each other is so evident, but not in the public display of affection way – just that they are – a couple.  They’ve grown together, and It’s not about sex, or attaining any kind of lifestyle, or any of those things. I find it inspiring when I am with those couples. 

But I love that in these very dark days of this past year, despite the sadness, and the losses. and the tears, I have managed to make my way through without antidepressants, without drinking, without spending unnecessary money, without abusing myself in any way.  And that is very simply because of my incredible support system of the greatest friends and old boyfriends who ever lived, my (imperfect) meditation, and the spiritual practice I work on daily. 

And the good news is that now Steve and I are both off the ladder and moving on to other buildings. 

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