Divorce and the Draw of Wild Oats Island
“Wild Oats Island is not hard to find. It always seems to be there, glowing like a neon sign on the horizon. During hurricanes and calm waters, always there, a tempting island full of mystery and the excitement of the unknown. It draws travelers from near and far with promises of passion and the numbing of pain from lost love. Its beaches are beautiful, and its entertainment world class. Why not stay forever? Because it’s a short term distraction from reality. A place that some never leave but also never move on to find new growth and real life adventure. At some point, the sun tan lotion wears off, and you start to burn. The numbness clears to reveal a very lonely hangover. Beware of Wild Oats Island.”
One of the weirder post-divorce experiences was the number of “congratulations” I received from male friends and work colleagues. It was weird and also depressing. I know they were trying to bring excitement and cheer to my new found singledom, but the majority were still married and could only see the “divorce” as a freedom to return to some kind of 80’s fraternity party full of one night stands and wild parties. For a long time I questioned their motive to see me on the wild side. Were they so unhappy or bored in their own relationships that they wanted to live vicariously through my exploits? Or was that the “guy” thing to say and they just thought I needed to move on to another relationship and marriage and get back in their couples fold? Either way, I found the best was to “Walk the Line” and learn from both sides of the fence.
A Walk on the Wild Side
Like a race horse chomping at the bit, I found a number of friends–both male and female–at the finalization or even as the key changed on the door were they off to the one-night races. Like a starving person suddenly being introduced to a buffet, many found singleness to the dating world. I can only explain the appeal of one night stands as validation to the world that they are still attractive and desirable. That somehow, in many cases, that even though their life partner cheated, they were idiots for leaving such a sexually attractive “young” machine. As with travels to Numb Island, sex is a great way not to think about what happened and where you want to go past “the Now”.
Now I’m not here to bullshit you on this journey. I am no saint. The following years from my divorce I have made many mistakes, but many also were not. New relationships post divorce are full of pitfalls from your past and are part of growing on your journey. I moved on from feeling like I was cheating on my ex on a first date, to comparing, competing with others, to real relationships that frankly were deeper than my 17 years of marriage. That was not anyone’s fault other than I am learning to love myself and others differently.
“And you will also meet the crazies that expect you to meet them at their car on the first date, get on a knee and put their shoes on, kinda sexy, kinda embarrassing, but funny in hindsight, that don’t want eat but order a $100 dinner, and talk about themselves for three hours, too the ones with deathly fear of fruits and their shapes cannot be in the same room as them”, the ones that you have to squint hard to make them look like their profile, and the other dog lady, cat lady, the one that sent me a picture of her blow-drying her wet hair because she was late? and all the blind date dog masseuse that used to be a stripper… All an adventure and all not coming back for a cup of tea.”
My message from my journey is not to hide from Wild Oats Island, but watch your time there. When you go and your understanding of what it means.
Sex, Drugs, Rock, and Regret
“If you’re going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet.” -Keith Richards
A hangover can take a couple of days to recover, some things, a tad bit longer…
If your last dating pictures came from a Polaroid, it’s important to know about this little thing called social media, that even your mum, and maybe especially your mum as well as all your work colleges like to investigate and print the evidence on t-shirts. If you have kids, you have been preaching about keeping things off the web that would make your grandparents or priest blush for years. But the rule of thumb, unless you’re Keith Richards, keep the memories to yourself and try not to share with the world. Note to guys, no one wants to really see “special” picture.
And the gift that keeps on giving, not STD’s… but STB’s. I have a divorced acquaintance who was gifted a baby from his one night stand as he finished out his forties without the mother. His free singledom came to a swift end. (It’s a beautiful baby, and they are very happy, just maybe breathing for a while may have been less stressful and with more hair in his kids’ graduation pictures.)
Also look at why you went and what you were looking for. It’s usually something more to do with yourself than another person. Learn to ask the why and move on as a “whole” person and not one looking for someone to plug your hole and stop you from sinking.
Time Served Lessons Learned
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” -Charles Dickens
Pretty much sums it up. But if there are pearls I learned from my visits and also from those of my friends, it is to never squander time. Use every moment, experience, and tear to help move towards your goal. If it is to find your soul partner… well then plan for it. Learn from what you liked and what you didn’t and create a plan to find our perfect mate. Know that you might not find your rock star in a choral choir or your violinist in a mosh pit.
Write a letter to your future self and partner
- Describe yourself
- Your passions
- Things that make you different
- List your life goals
- Your loves and hates, hard yes’s and no’s, and deal killers (I’m a no Disney Character tattoo guy…)
- Describe what you are looking for in a partner in detail using the above as well as how they look, what they value, how they will treat you and what you see your future together looking like.
Print it. Keep it. Feel free to update it. But what you might settle on stature, don’t settle on character.
With love from Ibiza,
P.S. Watch out for the Sirens calling you towards the rocks!
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