This guest post comes from Jackie Pilossoph. I “met” Jackie last week (in the Twitterverse) and quickly fell in love with her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. I knew immediately that hers was the kind of post-divorce story I want others to know about (and be inspired by). Enjoy!
Everyone copes with divorce in a different way. When people first get separated, some turn to alcohol, some turn to religion, some turn to massive dating, some turn to exercise, anything to try to soothe the pain, anxiety, shame, anger, sadness and fear of the unknown. The day my ex-husband moved out, which was about seven years ago, I turned to my computer.
Let me back up and explain the circumstances. I have two children, who at that time were just three and five, and I have no family near where I live. I was also a stay at home mom who hadn’t had a job in five years. To say I was beyond scared is putting it mildly. Looking back, I realize I had zero self-esteem, a combination of my crumbling marriage, and my own stupidity of letting my professional career go so easily when I had kids.
For years, I had been writing romantic comedy screenplays, and I had begun writing a chicklit novel, just as a hobby. I would write when my kids were asleep. Writing about love and sex and relationships was a temporary escape from diapers and sippy cups and temper tantrums.
Shortly after my ex-husband moved out (which was in the fall), my little writing hobby turned into a huge part of my life. It all started when I was fixed up on a blind date with a man who I would become obsessed with, thinking in my own warped mind that this wealthy single dad was going to rescue me, marry me and solve all of my problems.
After our first date, where we kissed for about an hour, he never called me. I was devastated. If this was a sample of how post divorce dating was going to be, I was in big trouble.
I began running into him in the neighborhood, at different bars, restaurants and stores, and he would always flirt with me, and sometimes we would kiss, but he would never ask me out. It was strange. And frustrating. And infuriating!
I became so fixated and so obsessed with this guy, that it completely overshadowed all the issues of my divorce. I would learn much later in therapy that I was using this guy for that purpose exactly: to replace my real issues with a superficial problem.
“Isn’t it easier to focus on a guy who isn’t calling you than your financial problems, your custody battles, and the loss of your most serious relationship?” my therapist asked me.
She was right. But, at the time, I didn’t realize that, and I didn’t know how to deal with my complete and utter obsession.
One night, I found a way. I decided to write about it. I began writing a novel about a women with two young kids who gets separated, and meets a man she can’t have. It was very truth based (obviously) but I also added tons of drama, humor and romance.
I worked on it every second I didn’t have my kids. Writing was the only thing that made me feel good. Months went by, and I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Whenever I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry, I would write. Whenever I would run into the guy and he’d give me a smile that melted me, I’d write. When I’d get my lawyer bills and want to cry, I’d write. And mostly, when my kids were at “dad’s house” and I felt lonely, I’d write.
What began to happen (in the spring of that year) was healing. I actually felt myself healing, and it was amazing. Yes, the writing was helping immensely, but it was more than that. It was time that had helped.
I was now making good decisions. I was trying to have a relationship with my ex for the benefit of my kids, I was very focused on my kids and their needs. I was also dating a younger man, as well as the other guy, who ironically finally came around a little bit, just as he did in my book. Life had imitated art in this way.
When I finished the book, which is titled, “I’ve Got Issues,” I showed it to my therapist , who read it and said to me, “I’ve always wondered if you get it, and after reading this, I now know that you do.” She told me I was crazy if I didn’t publish it, but I never have. It’s just too personal. Publishing it would be like putting my diary out on a table for the world to see. Writing “I’ve Got Issues” served the purpose of helping me heal, and that’s worth everything.
Writing that book led to me writing another novel about divorce, “Free Gift With Purchase,” which I did publish and which did very well in both reviews and in sales. That led to my blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, which is a lighthearted, funny, but informational blog dedicated to helping men and women who are facing divorce. Also along the way, I managed to land several freelance newspaper writing jobs, including monthly columns in two local papers.
I feel like it has taken a long time, and I’m not even there yet, but I significantly moved from Miss Low Self-Esteem to someone who is a loving, caring mother, a hard working, passionate writer, and still, a true romantic who believes in fairytale endings.
I bet you’re wondering what happened with that guy. Well, he and I went on a few more dates, and then we became friends. And, although he drove me nuts, I am truly grateful for knowing him, because without him, I wouldn’t have had the material to write what I needed to write, to help myself get better. He was the catalyst who helped me create the false drama I needed, and the material to kick start my writing career. I have also found true love with a man who doesn’t ever send mixed signals, and who was in almost right from the start.
I always tell people who are getting divorced to find something in your life to help you cope with this extremely difficult time. For me it was writing. For you…I wish you something that’s healthy and productive, and that will help you become a better person, so that you may grab the post marital life you want, and the life you deserve.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE, and the blog, DIVORCED GIRL SMILING. She is also a newspaper reporter and columnist for the Pioneer Press and 22nd Century Media. Pilossoph holds a masters degree in journalism. She’s currently getting her next novel ready for release in the summer of 2013.