English: Wall of Ice taken in an ice bar in St...

English: Wall of Ice taken in an ice bar in Stockholm, Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have said many times on this blog, when a person is over 35 and still single they tend to fall into certain general categories

  • Those who never want to settle down – some people really are more content being alone
  • Those who are too immature to have a decent relationship
  • Those who are career driven and do not make dating a priority
  • Those who are broken from a divorce, or major break up – I would put myself in this category.

Of course not everyone fits so nicely into one of those four groups, and some people really just haven’t met the right person and are over 35.

I probably shouldn’t write about this.  This blog is making my dating life hard enough, although I think I have given up on online dating completely now.  Too many men will ask me out only to not follow through, and the dates I have gone on have mostly been miserable.  I have met some nice men, who weren’t exactly compatible with me, but nice men nonetheless.  Overall I have found the process very demoralizing.  I feel reduced to a commodity.  Everything about me placed on a mental check list, and since I have some fairly odd things in my background they all amount to deal breakers.  Which is fine since I haven’t met anyone online yet that has really felt like a good fit.

I joked last night that I have no “game” when it comes to dating, and it’s true I have absolutely no game.  I’ve lost the ability to flirt successfully, volley back and forth, seal the deal, manage advances, let a guy know I am interested….etc. When I was in my twenties I could make every mistake and still find guys who were interested in me.  For most young women, the game of dating is all too easy.  But something else has changed fairly fundamentally since my divorce and subsequent rebound implosions.  My apologizes to any of the men I may have dated since my divorce who might read this, but pretty much all of my relationships have been disasters.   I don’t think any of my former lovers would read this blog, in fact I am pretty sure they don’t.  If any of them are reading this, I blame myself more than anything for those failed attempts.  I was a mess, a complete and utter disaster, and I shouldn’t have dated anyone.

The newest change I have noticed now is I am just so guarded.  I am almost like a horse who has been overworked, it takes very little to spook me and make me bolt.  A misplaced phrase, the hint of a red flag, too many comparisons to an ex, a man mentioning wanting to get re-married, it doesn’t take much…and I kick my legs up and run.  It is as if a numbness has taken over me.  A profound deadness that I can’t seem to shake.  I often feel reduced to the  sum of my many faults: gay ex-husband, clown ex-husband, weird job, low-income, crappy neighborhood, uncertain future,  losing the ability to reproduce, and general emotional damage.  When I go on dates with strangers I can see the troubled look in their eyes as hints of my past invade their own neuroses.  The minute I notice it, I just want to go home.  Thanks to google I can’t hide anything, so I figure it is best to come clean least they discover the skeletons in my closet online.

When I meet someone I actually like I self-sabotage, I make excuses, I avoid actually going out with them, I create obstacles that don’t exist.  Although I am not really happy being alone, it is at least something I can manage and control.  I can also focus on work, which is extremely necessary now as I don’t have a ton of income.   I live with an imaginary 12 foot wall of ice around me.  It really feels like that sometimes, I have had a few glimmers of hope that it might melt but then something happens and it freezes up again.

When I first left my husband it was like stumbling out of a cocoon, I had absolutely no defenses.  Every slight, every injustice, every cruel action was massively compounded in my head.  It all just cut right through me until I was a pile of ribbons on the floor.  So the ice went up, formed slowly over time.  I had no choice but to protect myself.  But ice is transparent, and I can see right through it.  There is hope on the other side, I just have no idea when I’ll be able to cut through it.  I am not kidding myself that a unique person will simply show up with a blow-torch and my life will go back to normal.  I think instead I am going to have to change myself, or at least my outlook.  And as I mend those broken pieces I also have to try to protect what is left of me.  All the while opening enough for someone new to get close to me.  It is not at all easy.

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5 comments on “Life After Divorce: The 12 Foot wall of Ice

  1. tom dolak

    my specialty in mental health is addiction. that means i also know a bit about trauma and a helluva lot about shame. shame can potentially creep into every aspect of our lives and sully everything we do and think and feel.

    shame is a potent negative construct which, luckily, can be deconstructed and replaced with other things.

    that takes work though.


  2. louise annarino

    Honestly and publicly challenging yourself to thaw is courageous and shows the fire inside is you is already melting the walls. Keep writing. Your words warm others as you warm yourself.

  3. scubalass

    I’m a faithful reader of your blog and admire your courage. I, too, have built a wall around myself. Partly it has been to protect myself from myself, as I’m a single mother in recovery and my teenage son doesn’t need a string of men coming in and out of his life. I’ve avoided dating, wanting to make my son and my emotional stability the highest priority. It has paid off, and I’m proud of my life and my son is a great kid. On the other hand, I’ve become so independent and so afraid of falling for an abusive man and/or a user in “sheep’s clothing” that I see red flags from so far away I can’t get close enough to even know if those red flags are real. Thanks for writing.

  4. Blaria

    I liked this a lot, Juliet. So honest and real. It’s so refreshing to read someone who is so self-aware. Most people are not. Love reading your stuff! xoxo

  5. Pingback: Life After Divorce – Do you feel Worthy of Love? | julietjeske

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