‘Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost

It’s the end of the year and time for the usual year end reflection. If you’re nearing forty, it’s probably a time to be doubly reflective. Today Rachel reflects on loving, losing love and how all of it is just a part of developing…

rlw bnw My parents divorced when I was seven years old. I remember the day that my mother, brothers and I moved; it was a cold and wet winter day. I cried as I said goodbye to my swing set and my climbing tree and wondered about the new school I’d attend and whether or not there would be children on my new block. I knew the word “divorce” and I knew from adults’ reactions that it was supposed to be a negative thing, so I decided at that moment that I would never get divorced. I knew that I would one day be married, but divorce was just not option.

My grandparents, parents and just about all of my aunts, uncles and older cousins smoked. I swore I’d never do that either—and happily, I’ve kept that promise. But the divorce thing…Well, like other things, divorce happens. I used to believe that if I loved someone enough to marry him, then I could never possibly hate him enough to divorce him. The love-hate extremes in that theory expose the immaturity and simplicity of it. Hindsight is truly 20/20 vision and knowing what I know now based on my experiences, hatred is often not even part of the equation.

My parents didn’t hate one another. I know this because they were always friendly and cooperative with each other once they were separated. They seemed like friends who met every other weekend and during family functions and holidays. We sometimes enjoyed family outings together and in later years, my parents enjoyed an occasional date. Even to this day, holiday dinners are attended and enjoyed by both of them simultaneously and without drama or weird rules about Mother being in the house for an hour, then Dad and then another rotation.

Neither fortunately nor unfortunately, my experience with divorce was quite a bit different. Thankfully, there were no children involved. However, there were threats, harassment and less-than-civil behavior that made that period of my life almost unbearable. Looking back, there still wasn’t hatred (at least not on my part), but there was a distinct lack of love between us. Despite the absence of love, there was still an overwhelming sense of failure and shame for me. I had expected better of myself and my life.

At some point in the middle of depositions and hearings, I realized that I hadn’t failed myself or my soon-to-be ex-husband. I realized that I hadn’t even been in the marriage. The part of Rachel in the marriage had been played by a hollow version of me who was afraid to speak her mind, show her talents or simply be herself—my desolate, depressed and disillusioned doppelganger. That person didn’t know joy, she didn’t know confidence, nor did she know peace. She had gotten married at a time in her life when she didn’t really know herself, let alone what she wanted, needed and deserved in a husband. The marriage was destined to fail.

I now realize that my failed marriage was an important part of my development was a person, a woman and a mate for a future man. At almost forty years old, I know not only what I want, need and deserve in a mate, but what I need to offer a mate. I also know what I don’t want or need and what I am not capable of giving. There are moments when it is tough to face my own reality—my strong points and my shortcomings. However, there is a certain triumph, a feeling of victory in accepting myself and having the courage and tenacity to be that person—warts and all. As the saying goes, “You can’t love another without loving yourself.” I found out the hard way that it helps to know yourself too. Most importantly, I’m confident that I will know and love myself even more at forty.

Rachel Dachel is a freelance writer and editor, and creator and author of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents.

On Motherhood : Does the Bell Toll for Me?

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Today Rachel touches on a topic that’s on the minds of many women at forty – motherhood. If you’re forty or almost there, and you’re not a mom, then people either want to know what’s wrong with you, or they want to know what’s really wrong with you. It seems as though it’s impossible for some people to wrap their minds around women who either choose to wait for the right man with whom to have children or decide that having children isn’t for them.  Rachel helps shed some light on the thinking behind those choices…

I’m nearing forty and I am unmarried and without children. It seems that almost daily I read about a 50+ aged woman who is pregnant or recently gave birth or I see toddlers with parents who look old enough to be their grandparents—which means the parents have to be at least 70 because with Botox, Restalyne and plastic surgery being so popular, only homeless people and hippies look their age anymore, right?

I always wanted to have children. From the moment I got my “Baby Alive” doll, fed her and changed her diaper, I felt maternal pangs and knew that I wanted to be called “Mommy” when I grew up. I became the neighborhood babysitter by 10 or 11 years old. Yes, I know that is illegal today, but back then children were allowed to be mature and independent so I helped with homework, heated up dinner and put younger kids to bed while their parents were out, for about $4 per hour.

I’m a somewhat traditional person and I believe in the institution of marriage and the idea of a two-parent household. No matter how good-looking, charming or successful a suitor was, I was always more concerned with what type of husband and father he would be. While looks, common interests and shared musical tastes may have gotten us to the point where he popped the question and offered the ring, only knowing that he would be a loving and responsible parent could seal the deal. More than one engagement was called-off once I saw a fiancé interact with a child.

My biological clock was on snooze for many, many years because I simply did not feel that any man I met or dated would make a suitable father. I had an idea of how tall he should be and what sort of physique and profession he should have, etc, but most important to me was what values he would instill in our children and how he would treat us as his family. Would he put our well-being ahead of a new 60-inch television? Would he be patient and kind with a confused little person? Would he refrain from screaming and cursing at me during heated moments because he knew he was setting an example for his children?

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A fool for love: Mr. Big in the real world

carrie mr big Technical difficulties (a malfunctioning laptop adapter) forced me off the computer for much of last week. So instead of spending mindless hours on the internet, I spent mindless hours watching movies. Sex and the City was one of them. I’d like to make a confession. I wasn’t one of the thousands of women who loved Sex and the City while it was on TV. I thought it was smart, interesting and funny and I thought the portrayal of women, friendships and relationships was spot on, but it wasn’t must see TV for me. So when the movie came out, I didn’t rush out to see it that first weekend. Or the second. In fact, I just saw it for the first time earlier this year on DVD. And once again, the portrayals were great and the relationships realistic.  That is until Mr. Big and Carrie got married.

I can hear some of you booing me already. And I’m going to make you hate me even more by admitting that I was rooting for Carrie’s and Mr. Big’s relationship to end. Not by him leaving her at the altar, but by her deciding that she’d had enough of waiting for him to come around. One thing forty years, several boyfriends and watching friends with their boyfriends has taught me is that whoever that man is three months into the relationship is who he’ll be three years in. This is a generalization of course, but many male friends have confirmed this for me. Men know what they want and who they want to be with pretty early on in a relationship.  So, if he was non-committal when you met him, he’ll be non-committal 10 years later.  If he’s ghost on the weekend a month into the relationship, don’t be all “OMG” when you can’t find him on a Saturday night five years in.  And finally, if he was with someone else when he met you, he’ll be with someone else while he’s with you.

Sex and the City was just a movie, but the reality is, Continue reading A fool for love: Mr. Big in the real world