When the impact of the demise of a long term relationship hits you in your 40s, your reaction to it is likely to be somewhat different to your experience when you last transitioned to single. Whilst the younger version of you still wailed about the loss of your three-month-strong relationship with your gothic moody boyfriend, and you felt that as a tender 20-something you life was indeed now over, you were likely to have been somewhat resilient and onto a new thing with a second year university student faster than you can say Beer Pong.
In your 40-s however, despite the significant life experience you have under your calf-skin Fendi belt, and the strength acquired from career limiting moves, fashion faux pas, credit card shocks and family meltdowns, this breakup is going to be more painful than the combined physical and financial pain of a production line of root canals.
ie – it will suck.
Thankfully, this too will pass, although you will want to give a thorough bludgeoning to every well-meaning acquaintance that tells you so (hence I’m telling you this from the safety of an anonymous blog with full moderation power over any written bludgeoning you might post in the little comments box)
In the spirit of the tremendously compassionate Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who neatly parcelled up bereavement into five stages of grief, let me offer you the four stages of recovery from the mid 40s relationship breakdown (yes, I realise I’m one short, but seriously, no one has died….)
One – it begins with a Breakup Song
Every breakup worth its salt has an accompanying anthem. It needs to have characteristics that embody anger, jealousy, bleakness and despair.
Just as every 90s wedding I attended was accompanied by Shania Twain’s ‘From this Moment On’, I’d venture an opinion that 90% of the last two years’ breakups will have aligned themselves to the musings of Adele. (who in turn picked up the mantle from the bleatings of Alanis Morissette)
At all costs however, ensure that you choose the breakup song and that it DOESN’T CHOOSE YOU. This is for the simple reason that a song, and indeed the complete works of that artist, may be ruined for you forever if associated with your breakup.
So you must venture beyond your favourite genres to something completely disposable given the risk your nasty breakup becomes associated with it for all eternity.
Even if you have a twin love for The Smiths and The Cure, a team of chaps with nary a joyful theme in their entire back catalogue, don’t go there if you would like to allow them an ongoing position in your playlist.
Instead I would personally recommend Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ as, once you have moved on, releasing this song from your life will be as insubstantial as the loss of a cluster of fairy floss after an ill-advised spinny ride at the local carnival.
Two – It progresses to Dietary Dysfunction
This can go either way.
You may well dive head-first into a bucket of Ben and Jerry’s with the enthusiasm of a kid in one of those ball-rooms at Ikea. From there you will progress to taking a large block of Lindt White Chocolate (the one with the almonds) in conjunction with your daily multivitamin in the firm view that both are equally essential to your wellbeing.
Alternatively, you will attempt to wrest control over your emotions by inflicting a vice-like hold on your eating habits to the point that you:
- Only eat foods of one particular colour (and let me tell you it won’t be white as CLEARLY all refined carbs will appear to you to represent poison)
- Juice everything within reach with the objective of being reincarnated as that relentlessly joyful Gwyneth Paltrow
- Make your way through the A-Z of diet books, from Atkins to Zone.
Either way, it can’t last, and you can expect a very Lindsay-Lohan moment as you arrive home one day to an intervention assembled in your lounge room – albeit in your case pushing a somewhat voluntary trip to a health spa rather than anything court-ordered.
Three – Alcohol becomes a food group
Its misleading to depict these as phases as this and the dietary dysfunction phase are interchangeable, and in extreme cases occur in parallel.
In discussion of this phenomenon with one of my BFFs she recognised it immediately as ‘Ohhh, the divorce diet, ie open the mini-bar – I’M COMING IN’
Another described it as ‘Its OK Mummy, we might not have milk but your vodka is in the freezer’
Thankfully, there is not a prescription drug on earth that can counter the nausea of a true divorce-hangover so you will eventually tire of losing your weekends to endless horizontal hours trying to ingest Gatorade and get upright.
You will, therefore, move on.
Four – Relentless Reinvention
Possibly more positive, but still ever-so-slightly dysfunctional, is the procession of steps you will take to try to reinvent yourself. This can include, but is not limited to:
- A fashion overhaul – in the words of Kylie Minogue
Clearin’ this house out of joy that I borrowed
From back in the day
Threw away my old clothes
Got myself a new wardrobe
I got something to say
as long as you understand that gold hotpants are NOT FOR YOU now.
- Taking on an extreme physical challenge. This might, hypothetically, entail you training for the New York Marathon, a feat so bizarre that even the universe laughs and feels compelled to intervene by sending Hurricane Sandy to save you from that fate.
- Getting new hobbies. Ballroom dancing, Cross-fit, Knitting, Volunteering, Cycling, Blogging, Macrame. Just understand that these are not an end in themselves and are only necessary so you can Facebook-check-in at all associated venues and give an air of someone having a riotously full life.
- The mid-40s makeover. In which case, I just have a few words of warning.
Don’t let it come to this