I vowed I would never become that woman. You know who she is. You may even be that woman. She is your friend. She is your boss. She is your next-door neighbor. She is your saleswoman at your favorite department store. She is the independent (bitter?) woman, the divorcée who declares ever so vehemently and convincingly (to others and to herself), that she… Does. Not. Need. A. Man. But even more so than need, she does not want a man.
She is mid-life, or beyond. She is smart. Attractive. And, of course, jaded. Right? Why wouldn’t she be? She has been burned. Severely. As in third degree, likely by a narcissistic husband who left her for what he saw as greener, and as you can well imagine, more fertile pastures.
It is funny but she never doubted before, not even for a moment, her own beauty. Intelligence. Self-worth. Or that uncanny ability of hers to captivate and mesmerize a dinner table with her sharp wit and intellect. The new model is definitely younger, that pasture girl of his, but surely not wiser. After all, she is crazy about the guy whose presence used to irk that now independent woman so thoroughly. The man SHE dreamt of putting out to pasture. Oh, his snoring, chewing, and messy ways… But he was hers, and not for the taking. Yet that pasture girl took him because, as he said, his wife left him there for the taking. It is her fault, you know.
What other explanation could there be?
And so it goes. The days, months and years go by, and the pain that increasingly independent woman once felt at her loss becomes more palatable by the minute (on good days, that is), and the heartbreak associated with each failed relationship since her separation is gradually lessened. That woman begins telling herself… She. Does. Not. Need. A. Man. Nope, she is GOOD. She is happy sleeping smack in the middle of that big ole king bed (No, not really). She relishes in no longer having to heat up that home cooked dinner when he comes home late from work (No, not really). Or wash that mountain of his dirty clothes and underwear (Well, maybe a little).
Tonight is the eve of my 42nd birthday, the third I will celebrate as a single woman, and the third I will celebrate with no significant other to love me and wish me well on, what everyone insists, is my special day. But, the truth be told, my birthday is just another day. Another day that takes me one day further from the pain of an empty marriage and its even more painful end.
One year older, and now three years removed from that last birthday, the one when my then-husband hosted a dinner in my honor and looked at me with love and adoration in his eyes (dinner yes, look no). The birthday he promised would precede the fanfare of my 40th birthday he was already envisioning ways to commemorate and celebrate. Black South Sea pearls. A party perhaps, though being the star quarterback was never much of my thing. I was a cheerleader. His. Even still, much to my chagrin, as I sometimes catch myself.
How fitting that pearls are often a symbol of a married woman’s tears.
Celebrating my birthday two nights ago with my family by my side, I noted it was the first birthday since my separation during which I shed no tears. Not a one. I was relieved. And then disturbed. Am I one year closer to becoming that woman? The one who… Does. Not. Need. A. Man? The one who does not want a man? I think so, but not because I am embittered.
After spending nearly a lifetime pinning my hopes and dreams on someone else, my 42nd birthday today marks the day when I finally feel I am in charge – of me. For months I dreaded the passage of yet another birthday spent uncoupled. But as I blew out that lone candle on my cake I realized I am not alone. I have a full life. I have family, friends, and a bright future ahead of me. So when my son asked if I wished for a man, I answered him truthfully. No.
“Tell me what you wished for,” he begged.
“No,” I said. “If I tell you then my wish will not come true. Anyway, everything is GOOD.”
And, for the first time in a long while, I meant it.