After my divorce I walked around like a Zombie.
That is what grief will do to you.
Hell, the last 2 weeks when my kids were in England
I walked around like a Zombie.
There are parts of my week with Al that I hardly remember.
I was that traumatized for my kids to be away for so long.
I do know that grief does crazy things to people.
I worked as a grief therapist for 14 years in pediatric oncology.
Our brains have a means to protect us from things that are too traumatic, thank God. We go on autopilot, become blunted and may have little memory of the days surrounding the traumatic event. I used to tell parents of our patients that they might not even remember the first few days at the hospital and so we were going to follow them around and help them get from one place to another and give them binders full of information so that they didn’t have to try to recall what was said to them.
I think divorce is no different for many of us.
The grief can be like a death, especially if we weren’t expecting it.
We walk around blunted and zombielike until
we can reinvent ourselves and make peace with our new single self.
Nevertheless, during that time we try to date.
My personal (and professional) opinion is that most of us date way to soon.
We can’t help it. We need the validation that we are still attractive.
We need to see that we can make a connection again.
We need sex.
I hadn’t had sex for a year before my separation.
My separation lasted a full year before my divorce was final.
I felt ready to date on the day the judge signed the paper.
But no. I was ready for validation that I was attractive.
I was ready for sex.
But truthfully, I was still a Zombie.
Stumbling around all of the landmines created by my marriage.
My landmines are triggered by:
lack of communication
feeling like my needs don’t matter
(there are others of course)
Then we date other recently divorced zombies
with landmines of their own.
We walk around grunting at each other and make zombie love (which can be kind of great) and pretend that our blunted brains can make good decisions about relationships. But we really can’t because we are all blunted and traumatized from our past relationship and are stuck in old relationship dynamics. Then we step on a landmine and our barely attached zombie leg falls off.
Hopefully we didn’t marry someone during the Zombie Apocalypse.
But many of us did because we needed the validation so badly
and weren’t used to being alone.
* *Disclaimer: I didn’t get married again but Al and I have talked about it frequently.
If he lived near me we would have had a zombie wedding already I’m sure.
The last 2 weeks without my kids makes me
Exhibit A Zombie Girl.
I hate being alone.
I’m not used to it.
I am barely put together, I have holes already
and landmines are everywhere.
We hit a landmine, our zombie parts scatter, then we bail on that relationship because that’s what we’ve learned from our divorce, that bailing works. It is easy to bail. It is much easier to bail than it is to learn ways to cope with the other person and recognize that our landmines are our scars created by others.
No wonder the divorce rate for 2nd marriages is so high.
60 – 67%
I believe that those 2nd marriages fail because they were formed by zombies.
So, how do we avoid it?
I have no idea.
I see that Al and I are still zombies
although he, a wonderful optimist
would deny it.
There are still times he drags his feet and has a pale complexion.
(Hard I admit for an Italian).
But I see our fragile zombie state
and our landmines.
So, what then is the answer?
Give up on dating until you can recognize
the zombie state is gone?
That is hard to recognize in yourself.
Is it when you realize you are okay being alone
and don’t need validation from anyone?
Because then you might move from zombie to cat lady
in the blink of an eye.
I think our only hope is to recognize that we still might be zombies,
confront our landmines head on,
try not to make any quick relationship decisions,
call it what it is and turn it into a dance.
Then maybe at some point between zombie and cat lady
we can make a healthy connection and avoid being in the
That’s my goal anyway.
Wish me luck.