My Silver Linings Playbook

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So it’s no secret that I’m divorced. And if you didn’t already know that, hey guess what? I’m divorced! I got married when I was 29 years old to someone I really loved, and it lasted for almost three and a half years before we split up. It was the most devastating thing I have been through in my life thus far, and I do not wish or plan to repeat it again.

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But it was also an opportunity to shed any expectations I had for the direction my life was going in as a whole, and to open myself up to all possibilities, any possibility at all. For me, the key to surviving this dark period was establishing the positive side of every situation. I had great days followed by weeks of not wanting to leave my house or speak to anyone who wasn’t delivering me pizza, wine or bacon egg and cheese sandwiches. Finding silver linings was imperative, or I would have curled up in a ball at the bottom of the shower and never gotten up again.

So here are a few of the times I found the most difficult to survive, and their extra-perky, optimistic cheerleader counterparts. Oh, but let me be annoying for a second and remind you to always have safe sex. Divorce is hard enough, so make sure you don’t serve it with a side of herpes.

Sad Thing: a big, empty bed without your former partner in it.

Silver Lining: A big ass EMPTY bed all to yourself! Roll around, spread out and, best yet, you now have the authority to invite whoever the hell you want to join you in it. Just make sure to buy new sheets first. Basic rule: If your ex’s skin touched it, replace it. Now you can get those pattern-drunk Vera Bradley towels you’ve been coveting!

Sad Thing: You have to go back to that hellish dating scene.

Silver Lining: You get a whole new stable of Sex and the City-style dating stories to horrify your friends with! One of my favorites is the guy who wore an ill-fitting Hanes tee to an upscale restaurant, peppered our appetizer without asking (DEATH TO HIM), and then insisted on taking me to a piano bar on karaoke night even though I told him I basically bathe in desperation for a living. Oh, and then there was the chef who instantly proclaimed his inability to socialize with women unless he had a drink in his hand. What a fun future that promised to be! But a few hours on some crappy dates led to some of the best bonding sessions I have had with my friends, recapping these terrible evenings over a glass of wine or frozen yogurt. And speaking of friends…

Sad Thing: You don’t want to tell the story over and over again to everyone you know.

Silver Lining: This is one of the only opportunities you will have in life to figure out who your friends really are. As we grow older, we collect friends from various jobs, schools, homes, etc. until we feel like we don’t know anything more than what they post on Facebook. But something as deep and intense as a severe breakup or a divorce will immediately establish who is in it for the long haul with you. It’s a very difficult process to completely extract yourself from a marriage or a relationship, and sometimes it feels like it will never end. So the friends who actually want to be there as you alternately obsess over the new person you’re dating and sob angry tears over your ex for hours on end are the ones you keep forever. Just make sure to keep them hydrated and well-fed.

Sad Thing: You realize that you have no idea when you’re going to have sex again. It could be never.

Silver Lining: It most likely isn’t never. You WILL have sex again, and who knows who it could be with? How exciting is that? It could be with a hot neighbor, or a longtime crush, or that really attractive person you swiped (swept?) right. In my case, it was an NFL quarterback. Yeah, that’s no joke. The Divorce Gods were seriously on my side there. I mean, if I were less mature, I would say that I’m preeeeeeeety sure I won the Rebound Competition with that one. But I’m not, so I won’t. #butidid #iwon #reboundcompetition #NFLQUARTERBACK #IWINDIVORCE

Sad Thing: He took the dog.

Silver Lining: I can’t help you here. This is the worst feeling ever. All I can say is wait until you’re ready and get a new one. But it hurts.

Sad Thing: You now live alone.

Silver Lining: Throw a party! When I decided to stay in my ex-marital home for an extra year, I threw what I called a re-housewarming party. It was an all-day affair, and I invited all of my good friends to stop by whenever they wanted. The only rule was that they had to bring me something to put in my apartment. It didn’t have to cost any money, it just had to come from their heart. So at the end of the day, I had a home full of new things that reminded me of the people who loved me most in the world. Pictures and homemade potholders from my best girl friends, a crystal passed on from a good college friend that still travels with me wherever I go, a Scandal-sized wine glass from a newer friend who just innately gets me. And the best gift of all, a set of St. Louis drink coasters from the man who is now my fiancee. That day he began as my friend and ended as the guy I drunkenly made out with. Those coasters now live on the coffee table in the apartment we share.

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See? Possibilities and adventure are everywhere. If you are brave enough to close a door and stand in a seemingly empty room for a while, your eyes eventually adjust to the dark. And then, you will finally be able to see how many things have been waiting in the shadows for you.

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