Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Divorce Detox

I've reached a stage in life that I've been predicting for years: the domino effect of divorce. Just like when you are in your early-to-mid-twenties and you are constantly attending weddings, it's now fallen into the cycle in your early-to-mid-thirties where you are constantly attending post-divorce celebratory parties.

I've fallen nicely into a group of friends who, like me, are recent divorcees, or divorcee wannabes. It can, at times, be the most fun I've ever had in my life. It's like re-living my early 20s, without the same pressures, because when it comes to marriage and babies, I've been there, done that. When I was in my early 20s, I was on a quest to find a husband, so going out always added to that pressure: I needed to find someone. It was fun, at times, to be single and young, because I had the vitality to stay out all night and still get up and work and go to college the next day. When I was young, I had so few responsibilities that I could do what I pleased, for as long or as late as I pleased. Now--just a mere 10 years later--staying out until even midnight when I need to get up and go to work the next day leaves me feeling like I've been hit by a train. No pun intended, of course, since I do actually work for a railroad, and theoretically, I could be be hit by a train on any given day.

Now, sometimes, life can be really lonely. Sure, we are all recently divorced or trying to get there. It's a fresh start--a detox of our entire lives, if you will. Except instead of that freshness and newness and excitement that came with being single in our early 20s, we are jaded. We've come out of marriages and long-term relationships that ended up being nothing but wasted years of our lives. We've learned to stop trusting men, because our married experiences have taught us that they cheat, they don't live up to their potential, they don't do what they say they are going to do, they refuse to mature and take care of their families, which left us to do all the work. And all the while, we've grown exhausted and unhappy and unsatisfied. All men now come with a "proceed with caution" banner, because we are scared and apprehensive, because the fear of being hurt again is so great.

Western medicine lumps us young divorcees into a category that strongly suggests "medicate until the feelings disappear". We all have our "anti-anxiety meds" in hand, some of us with a "sleep aid" booster. What used to be so hush-hush and kept secret no longer is, because that is what the medical field and society drill into us: take this pill, and it will calm you through your situation. It seems to be the answer prescribed to each and every one of us.

But with our "fresh starts" come a lot of new expectations.

Last night I was out with my divorcee friends, as a final dinner for our friend H, who is having a tummy tuck this morning. It's something that she has wanted for five years, and now the day is finally here. Ten years ago, I would've never understood. Now, being single again, I totally understand. The strain of having a child took a toll on my tummy, and now that I've lost weight, it is even more noticeable. It makes me cringe. It's like your feet: you can diet and exercise as much as you want, and you will never change your shoe size. With your tummy, you can diet and exercise as much as you want, but you are still stuck with that dead, stretchy skin that exists as a result of baby-making days. I dread the day that I am naked with a man again, and I hope to hell that he's mature enough to have been with women who have had babies before, whether he's been married or not, because unlike H, my C-section scarred tummy ain't going no where.

It scares me that, just like when we were young, the pressure to look good has re-surfaced, only now it's harder than ever. We've had babies. We've endured hard, unhappy marriages that led to hard, unhappy divorces. We're scared of being alone for the rest of our lives. We're expected to hold the universe up, but all around us, the planets collide. Society tells us that we should fall into the category of "MILF", but we also have to take care of our children, take care of the homes that we won in our divorces, work full-time to provide for our children, maintain somewhat of a social life, be active at our kids' schools, be out and active to "find" a new man...and the list goes on and on...

I don't own a scale, so the only time I get weighed is when I go to the doctor. Last time I went, I weighed about 15 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm guessing I've lost more since then, but sadly, the difference is most profound in my boobs. I'm pretty sure that of the 25 pounds I've lost, 10 has come from each boob, and five from other various bodily parts. That is unfair.

Alas, that is never good enough. Even when I was young and I was skinny and fit (because I had the time to be!), I never felt good enough, never felt thin enough. Now I don't think I ever will either. Divorce and the stress that it has caused has led my appetite to shrink, which is what caused my weight loss to begin with. But now it's like a potato chip: bet you can't stop at just one.

My latest tactic is the detox. I tried a detox once, when I was young and skinny. It was intended to last 14 days, and involved a complicated regimen of pills, and a lemon juice, maple syrup and water diet. I made it all of three days, before I broke down, due to weakness and a virtual collapse during a work-out.

The newest detoxes, it would seem, are largely pill-based. So I picked up the Jillian Michaels 14-day detox, and so far, I've seen nothing. No results, no side effects.

I brought this up in conversation last night, and as it would turn out, all of my friends also "detox". Like, big time, serious detoxing. In fact, H had an auto-ship plan on her detox, so she had bottles and bottles left, because now that she's lost so much weight, she doesn't need to detox nearly as much. After a quick stop at her house--where baby daddy drama ensued--I am now the proud owner of multiple bottles of her detox pills, which she assured me caused her to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. Sadly, I can't wait to start. I feel obligated to finish out my Jillian Michaels plan, and then I'll kick right into the acai detox.

In some ways, the very assumption of the detox makes me want to crumble: we were expected to detox our lives. We had to eliminate our husbands or significant others, who were our partners for years. For some, we had to eliminate our homes. We have to eliminate some of our recreational spending, because divorce is hard on the pocketbook. We had to detox our personal lives and pursuits, because we are now single parents. And we are expected to do so with a vivacious smile on our faces.

And now, because society tells us we have to look a certain way, we have to detox our bodies, too, which is so deeply sad because we detoxed our lives to bring us happiness and serenity and a deepened sense of mental health. Unfortunately, the pressure to detox our bodies is too strong, and if we get all of the good stuff we so wanted from our divorce detox, we also get the risk of detoxing our good health--in a negative way, at least on the inside. The high, high cost of beauty in our society...

1 comment:

  1. I hear ya loud and clear my friend! But remember, you've done the BEST and the BIGGEST detox of all ..... got rid of a toxic husband, just as I have a toxic "partner" (I use the term lightly! lol) ... onwards and upwards ...mwah! xx