Divorced Women: Do You Have a Role Model From A Different Generation?

Posted by Delaine - September 25, 2011 - Midlife Divorce, Social Barriers & Change, Support & Girlfriends - 3 Comments

mother-daughter-divorcedAt 66 years old, my mom is a real firecracker. This woman has so much energy, she makes 20 year olds look like slugs.  But much more than that, mom is confident.  She’s generous beyond belief.  She’s sexy.  Has taken great care of herself.  And she spends her days either working 10 hour shifts in the hospital or taking care of somebody, some animal or some thing.

Why am I telling you this?

Because my mom is also divorced.  Ten years ago, after 35 years of marriage, my dad left her for another woman.  And not only am I so proud of how she has pulled herself and life together, I am so very grateful – for she has served as an important role model to me during my divorce, in ways that differ from my divorced girlfriends.

My divorced girlfriends have helped me immensely with the nitty gritty of the day-in, day-out baby steps of adjusting to divorce.  We’ve cried, belly-laughed, and shared everything and anything which each other over countless cups of tea (and wine:).  But in witnessing my mom’s divorce, which happened from afar as we live in two different cities, I was given hope.  Her personal tranformations in the aftermath were truly remarkable.  And some part of me thought, ” Hey, if she can go through this in her late fifties and turn it into a positive life experience instead of drowning in it, then why should I do any differently?”

That’s not to say I didn’t see my mom’s pain.  It was excruciating at the beginning.  I remember going grocery shopping with her one day and how she pushed the cart around with this glazed look on her face – it was a look I didn’t understand.  And when she later collapsed on the floor in tears while bringing the grocery bags in, I wept and held her, though I STILL didn’t understand the enormity of her pain….though I did a few years later when it happened to me.

I remember my mom expressing some of her fears to me back then – how she assumed friends would reject her cause she’d be the ‘third wheel.’  How she felt old.  Alone.  The mere  thought of moving out of our large family home was too much for her.  As for dating or a potential relationship with someone new – they weren’t even on her radar.

But with time – oh yes, this blessed healing thing called Time -  she slowly started putting the pieces of her Self and her life together again.  Anew.  It was like watching a grown woman give birth to herself.  She became much more open-minded about so many topics and life issues.  She joined cooking clubs and went out with all the ‘young people’ at work for dinners and drinks.  She started dating – and yes, she even then took a new lover.   And next thing you know, she was talking excitedly about the new home she was having built just for her….

My mom is so abundantly full of life and happiness now.  Her social calendar, between family and friends, is constantly full (so much for being the ‘third wheel’!).  And she is so grateful for what she DOES have - ie: health, money, friends, children and grandbabies – even though that long list doesn’t include a husband at this point in time. 

So I – her daughter – have sat back and watched this Woman – my mom - rise above her former life and become the libertine she is now.  And I think Wow.  Isn’t she something?  And though I wouldn’t wish divorce on any woman in the world, I see how good GREAT things can happen to women after divorce.  The personal growth that can ensue, the new sense of purpose and freedom, the new sense of Self – they really are all ours for the creating. 

But of course we all need the help of a wonderful friend or two along the way.  And as I look back on my journey, I can’t help but feel so grateful – not just for all the support of my amazing girlfriends, but for that which came from my ultimate role model: my mom.

What about YOU?  Did your mom or someone close to you go through a divorce and serve in a positive way as a role model?  Do you think you’d have made different choices, or handled yourself differently, with/without her support?