Post-divorce life has been quite the unexpected journey. A journey that I never imagined I’d be taking in Saudi Arabia of all places. To be completely honest with you, I never really considered what it would be like to be a divorced woman in any country because it’s not the kind of thing a girl dreams about growing up. But I thought I knew for sure that the traditional Western version of moving on after divorce…healing, dating, falling in love, and getting remarried…was all but impossible for me here. I was wrong, but I’ll get back to that later.
I met my husband just after I turned 20 years old and was determined almost immediately to marry him. That’s what you do, right? I had no idea that you can love someone and also let them go because they’re clearly not right for you. I thought love meant having to fight to keep that love. I also had no idea that there are different levels to love and that the love I experienced for my husband was the most shallow and insecure kind of love.
My young love led to young marriage and young parenthood and I never had the chance to experience what it was like to play the field, to experience different kinds of relationships or different kinds of men. So naturally once I was over my marriage I dove straight into everything I thought I missed out on.
Apparently one can have a typical Western experience of healing, dating, and falling in love (lather, rinse, repeat) after divorce. It is of course a much more discreet experience here in the land of the religious police, but an exciting experience nonetheless.
It feels so strange that I was the first among my friends to have married and had children and divorced. Now I’m here talking about dates and breakups and butterflies and feelings I’m afraid to admit to while I watch my friends navigate marital issues and have more babies all the while rolling their eyes at my seemingly childish experiences. Because women in their 30s aren’t supposed to be living the kind of life I’m living. Believe me, the dating world is not a place I want to be living in long term as a woman in her 30s. But it’s where I’m at.
As silly and regressive as my antics may seem to others, the experiences I’ve had with men in the past year have taught me so much about relationships and about myself. As a married woman who believed her fate was sealed I never imagined that I could feel GOOD with a man. I didn’t know I could be treated well, or that I even deserved to be treated well. I didn’t know I could be desired. I didn’t realize that I could be valued and respected and appreciated and protected. I didn’t know about certain things that come along with relationships…like support and encouragement and listening and that compromise can work both ways. Learning these things has been exciting and eye opening. And I really don’t care if the process of learning sometimes makes me look like a giddy doe-eyed teenager again.
I don’t want to be someone’s date or someone’s girlfriend forever. I do hope that marriage one day is in the cards for me again. But for now I’ll play the crazy fun hand I’m holding.