The Big D! (as in Divorce)

This post is going to get pretty personal.  I mean, if I’m talking about my divorce, how can it not be?  Let me start by saying this: I never thought I would be 32 years old and divorced.  Yes, my parents are divorced, but that doesn’t mean that I was thinking ahhh, I’ll try it out and see what happens!  I genuinely thought I’d get married, buy a house, have a kid, have another kid, and then live happily ever after.  I’m pretty sure this is the American dream. (Maybe there’s a white picket fence and a husband who makes millions of dollars, too). 

But as you know, that’s not exactly how things panned out.

Randy and I met in 2001.  He was a senior in high school, I was a freshman.  We were both on the winter track and spring track team.  That’s how we met. He was different. He was older. He wore a dumb bandana, wrist wraps, one pant leg rolled up to his knee, and a dog tag around his neck.  He was funny. He was nice. Everyone liked him. All signs pointed to Swoonsville for 15-year old Lauren.

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Randy and Me in 2002

He had a girlfriend at the time so we were just friends.  But there was obviously a spark between us. He went on to graduate from school that year and over the next 4 years we kept in touch via AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and then texting (I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 16!).  We would get together during the summers when he came back from school but we were always just friends.

And then finally, the summer in between my first and second years of college, the stars finally aligned.  Randy was back home, commuting to Brooklyn for his last year of college. I was commuting to Stony Brook. I guess things were different this time and we started dating.  I was 19. Randy was 22.  

Our relationship had its ups and downs like most people.  But we fell into the roles we’d adopt for the next 12 years pretty quickly.  And I’d be lying if I said things were always fresh and exciting. Things started getting a little stale (but NEVER bad) even before we got married (I was 25 when we walked down the aisle).  But like a lot of people, I thought about all the years we’ve put in, how much we care about one another, how we’d make a good parenting team, etc. I thought this was all kinda normal.  

But there was definitely something missing.  The love that we had for one another when we were 19 and 22 was waaaaay different than the love we had for each other at 31 and 34.  We literally morphed into friends. Which seems OK but it began to take a toll on both of us. 

And it led us to where we were in January of 2018 when we finally started talking about it…

Before I go any further, there’s one very important tidbit of information you should know about: this was a joint decision.  While it may have taken us a little while to get on the same page initially, we both agreed that this is what makes the most sense for us and our family.  One of the things that Randy and I have in common is that we are very logical. We can both get emotional at first, but we tend to look to logic in order to solve problems.  We made graphs, flow charts and the classic pros and cons list (kidding, not kidding).  

We both made lists of things we wanted in a relationship. As I read through Randy’s list there were things I really wanted too, but I couldn’t picture me being that person with him.  

We had options: ignore the problem or end things now, while we still liked each other. 

What we wanted to feel for each other just wasn’t there.  And we could’ve forced it because we get along well and we enjoy each other’s company, but we didn’t want to.  We were concerned that forcing it would lead us down a bad path.

So we decided to live our truth.  Own it. And accept all the fallout that might come from it.  And when I say fallout, I’m mostly talking about the looks of disappointment and sadness on our parents’ faces.  

I get the traditional family is still the societal norm.  And that divorce is seen as “bad.” But I think it’s because people force themselves to stay in marriages that they’re unhappy with.  We took into consideration many factors- including our children, our financial situation, and of course our own happiness.  

Even though Randy and I always supported one another, there was something about our relationship that prevented us from growing.  It was holding us back from becoming the people we are today. Remember when I told you that I wanted to start a blog years ago? Randy encouraged me to do it.  But I didn’t! He was supportive about it, but I still held back. He pushed me, yet I didn’t budge. Why? Because I wasn’t the person I was a year ago when I started this blog.  I had some growing to do. Like big time growing. I needed to go through this phase in order to really show up for my life.  

And yes, IT’S SCARY!!!  What if I never find someone else?!  What if no one is willing to put up with my weird quirks?!  What if I have to date 100 men before I find “the one”?! (Sidebar, I don’t actually believe in there being only ONE person for everyone.  I feel like when you find “the one” it’s really “the one” that suits who you are in that moment best). But still… so many WHAT IFs! Of course I ask myself these questions.  I think all single people do. There’s no guarantee that I’ll find someone and live happily ever after.  

In the meantime, Randy and I are committed to ourselves, to each other and to our children to make this the best possible divorce in the history of all divorces.  Are there times we piss each other off? Yes. Are there times when we disagree? Sure. But we both want the same things out of life: to raise happy, healthy and kind children and to be happy with our own lives.  We don’t want to wake up 10 years from now and be absolutely miserable.  

And so we’ve created our own version of the ‘modern’ family. The type that is divorced but can still go to the park together with our kids, or better yet, eat dinner together.  We can confide in each other about our dating experiences and what’s going on with work and our personal goals. It might seem weird to people, but it works for us. Our relationship might change as we begin dating other people more seriously. They might not be so understanding of how our relationship works. So we’ll probably have to make some adjustments. But sorry friends, there’s not going to be any major drama so if that’s what you’re into, find another 32 year old divorcée to follow on social media. 😉

I know there’s a saying that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side— and it’s true. But I’m not looking for greener grass, I’m just looking for the shade of grass that fits me best.  🙂 And it might take some time, but that’s OK.  Like I said, I’m confident that the chips will fall exactly as they’re supposed to. 

So here’s to the next phase of my life!  

 

  

 

Part 2: Heather’s Take

Ahh, I’m so excited this day has arrived!  I finally get to feature my sister’s writing on my blog.  I’ve expressed this before but maybe not everyone caught it so let me start by saying this: even though we’ve been sisters for 28+ years, our relationship hasn’t always been like a lot of sisters we know.  We are so different, but also share some qualities (like we’re both HIIIIII-larious; or at least we both think we are 😉 ).  And we both truly want to help people become the very best versions of themselves… and I think that’s because we both recognize (in such amazingly different ways) that no matter where your life journey takes you, it’s important to love yourself and spread that love to as many people as possible.  So without any further adieu… 

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My mom, Zoey, and Heather ❤

Hey everyone! My name is Heather and I am Lauren’s younger sister. Before I jump right into it, I wanted to introduce myself a bit. I am 28 years old and I live in New Jersey with my boyfriend Jonathan, my 10 month old baby girl Zoey, and my 18 month old pup named Charlotte. I am a recovering heroin addict (more on this in my next post) and I want to make it my mission in life to help others who feel as hopeless and helpless as I felt, and guide them on a journey filled with self-love and happiness.

It’s not hard for me to remember the moment when I felt as though my life would never be normal again. I remember the exact day as if it were yesterday. I remember waking up and going downstairs to my brother telling me that my dad had taken my mom to the hospital because she had a “headache”. I didn’t understand why anyone would go to the hospital for a headache but as a (relatively) innocent 12 year old, I didn’t question it. I only sensed something was wrong when my dad sent a neighbor to pick me up and bring me back to their house. 

When we got there, they sent me down the stairs into the basement to play. It wasn’t too long until they came downstairs to get me.  My dad wanted me at the hospital. At that point I knew it was more serious than just a bad headache. The whole ride I sat anxiously in the backseat.  I had no idea what I was walking into. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

 As we pulled up to the hospital, I saw my entire family huddled outside of the entrance. They brought me into the room where my mom was. I walked into the room to find her lying what appeared to be lifeless on the hospital bed and my dad and brother crying next to her. I don’t recall what my dad said to me or how he tried to explain to me that it didn’t look like my mom was going to live.  But I do remember feeling completely helpless. And scared.   

I remember feeling like a terrible daughter for not crying right away. Now I look back and realize I was in shock and trying to process the situation. I carried around a lot of guilt for that for a long time.  I was also trying to stay strong for everyone else who seemed to be falling apart around me. Thankfully, things turned around and my mom survived the brain bleed.

But the weeks and months to follow were filled with a lot of anxiety and worry. The doctors were doing everything they could to help my mom re-learn to walk and talk. It was really hard to see my mom like this.  One time I remember walking into one of her physical therapy sessions to see her and there she was struggling, trying to hold herself up between these two bars. She looked so helpless and there was nothing I could do to help her. 

Over the next few months our lives adjusted to what would become our new routine.  Me and my sister would go to school everyday. Our brother was up at college. My mom couldn’t drive but she was alive and recovering quite well considering what happened.  And then, my dad told us he was moving out. This is another moment that I remember quite vividly. We were all at the kitchen table in our usual spots eating dinner and my dad said he had something to tell us. I knew what was coming. I remember feeling nervous and scared because I knew my life was about to change drastically.  Again.

Within a year of my dad moving out, we sold my childhood home. My mom and I moved into a condo and that’s when my behavior started to get worse. I would burst out in verbal and physical attacks on my mom. I started skipping school and dabbling in drugs.  I would steal, lie, and manipulate to get what I wanted. I was an absolute terror. I developed very little self-confidence and low self-worth. I never felt good enough at anything. Being the youngest of three, I was always compared to my siblings. “Why can’t you be like your brother and sister?” were the famous words of my high school principal. I felt like an outsider all of the time. I remember always comparing myself to other girls in my grade. I always felt like they were smarter or prettier than me. 

My parents didn’t know how to handle me. They tried sending me to therapy but I manipulated my way out of that. They sent me to a wilderness program for 7 weeks in the Adirondack mountains, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life, but within months of being home I was back at it with the atrocious behavior. Eventually, I was sent off to boarding school for 16 months until I graduated high school.

For a long time, I carried around a lot of resentment regarding those situations. I felt like if my dad never left, or my mom never got sick, I wouldn’t have felt or acted that way. And maybe I wouldn’t have. I was just so angry at everyone and everything. I was angry at God for letting this happen to me and to my family. I was angry at my mom for getting sick. I was angry at my dad for leaving. I was angry at my sister for coping with it better than me. I felt like there was this recurring theme in my life of everyone leaving me and I had no choice in the matter.

Looking back on the situation, I see it for what it really was – everyone doing their best to keep it together during a shitty situation. Unfortunately all of these events were just beginning to more troubling times. My next post is dedicated to sharing my journey about how it all started, what it was like during my addiction, and what it is like now on the other side. When I was younger, I wasn’t even able to imagine my life at 28 because I didn’t know if I was going to make it. All of those life experiences brought me to where I am today – sober, happy, and healthy.  Today, my mother and I have a relationship that I hold dear to my heart and that I love and respect. I thank God I am able to be the daughter my mother always deserved.