It’s pretty common for a recently separated woman to drop at least 10 pounds pretty quickly. Think about it. She gets upset and is unable to eat frequently, she’s stressed about the unknown, the attorney fees, and how her children are doing. She might be thinking she has to go back to work. She doesn’t know if she can stay in the home or if she’s going to have to sell it. She’s sad at times, cries a lot, and worries a lot. And lastly, the recently separated woman is dating again. Who has time for food?!
So, how do you feel when you drop 10 pounds? Some people would say they feel confident, sexy, that they love the feeling of their clothes fitting so much better. Some might say they see themselves as being more attractive, right? You would think.
But, let me take you into the mind of the recently separated 40 something woman. Being someone who lost about 10 pounds right off the bat, I felt anything but pretty and sexy and confident. The weight loss didn’t mean anything. But weight is just the tip of the iceberg.
When I got separated, I temporarily became a person who doesn’t define who I really am. I was beyond insecure. I had thoughts like, ‘I’m 41. Who is going to want me?’ I looked in the mirror one day and I felt really, really old and tired. I felt like a failure. I didn’t feel like I was attractive on the inside or outside. I had also gone out on one date with a guy who basically never called me back after. That was like a punch in the stomach.
Here are some other reasons why I had zero self-esteem at the time:
1. I was a stay at home mom:
I hadn’t worked in 6 years. I had no self-esteem when it came to my professional ability, and figured the only skills I had now were diaper changing, bottle feeding and house cleaning. I was very stressed because I now had to think about what I was going to do for work, with no current computer skills and no belief in myself.
2. I was coming out of a toxic situation:
I think when two people are in an unhappy, unhealthy marriage, (which could be for years) both are losing self-worth every minute they stay together. Why? Because you are around this person constantly who you think can’t stand you, or who is belittling you, who doesn’t respect you, who isn’t kind to you, or who you know doesn’t want to be with you anymore, or who is condescending, or mean and angry.
Or, maybe you are the one who wants out of the marriage. Maybe you feel guilty (which you should absolutely not) and therefore lack self-love because of that. Being in such a volatile and unhealthy relationship had really taken a toll on how I felt about myself.
3. Hello 40’s:
This might apply to any woman, married or divorced, but it’s hard to ignore the number 40. It didn’t matter how skinny I was, I was the big 4-1. I was officially “middle aged” and in need of Botox and eye glass “readers.” Why would someone want me when they could have one of the million 30 year olds living in the city?
4. I felt like a failure:
I managed to screw up the most serious relationship I ever had. That made me feel like a failure. I couldn’t even manage to save my marriage for the sake of my two very young children. I also felt selfish. There’s a lot of guilt and self-hatred that goes with getting divorced, and I wish I could tell people feeling that way how unproductive and unjustified those emotions are.
When I was recently separated, I was sitting around one night and I got a call from a friend of mine, asking me to meet her, her husband and “some of his work buddies” at a local bar. My kids were on vacation with my ex, so I had no child care issues. Something made me accept.
Upstairs I went, searching for a cute outfit. I walked out the door in a pair of jeans that I probably couldn’t get one leg into today, and a sleeveless top that showed off my slim (at the time) arms.
When I walked into the bar, my friend came rushing over to me. I realized that we were the only two girls at the place. One of her husband’s co-workers came up and started talking to me. He was not attractive, and I felt like he approached me because he was curious to talk to “the divorced woman.”
A few minutes later, another man approached me. My heart stopped when I saw him because he was seriously drop dead gorgeous. He was at least 10 years younger than me. He introduced himself with a huge grin that almost gave me a heart attack.
The two of us ended up talking for the next two hours. What was funny about the whole night was, it never occurred to me that he was interested in me. My low self-esteem had caused me to give up any possible notion that he or anyone else would find me attractive. I seriously just thought he thought I was interesting and nice. He was having a good time talking to the “divorced lady.”
He walked me to my car and then asked if he could get in.
“Uh…sure…” I said, seriously still not getting the fact that he liked me.
Then, he leaned over and kissed me. We kissed for a few minutes and then he asked me for my phone number.
I think my drive home that night was the turning point in my newly separated life. In a few short hours, I’d gone from thinking my romantic opportunities were over to realizing that a new part of my life was just beginning.
Because of the first guy I dated, I was really scared this guy wouldn’t call. But he did. We ended up dating for a few months. I was a newly separated divorced woman who had gone from hopeless, insecure and timid to confident, poised and ready to face the world as an older version of my best self.
I’m not saying that meeting a man will be the catalyst in going from an insecure newly separated woman to a confident, self-assured, happy one. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Rather, there will be something or someone who will jolt you out of your fragile state and make you realize the new life you have ahead of you.
That could be a job offer, a new platonic friend, a new passion–volunteer work or your job or a hobby, and you can’t sit around waiting for them. My advice is, just start doing things, trying new things, NOT saying no to plans, and things will begin to change. You will have moments of empowerment you didn’t think were in you, and you just begin to get stronger and have more belief in yourself. It’s actually a very wonderful experience.
I know it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to happen, and I know the tears will continue to come, but that’s all part of the journey. Eventually, the tears will be less and less and these moments of joy and empowerment will come more and more. I’ve seen enough newly separated women to know how this works, and I wish that for you, as well. Believe in God, believe in yourself, no matter what.