Are you getting sick of me writing about divorce? Apologies. I can’t help it. It’s not like I’m a fan or anything. But never before in my life have I learned so powerful a lesson that what you most dread sometimes makes your life blossom and expand in ways you can’t even anticipate. I grew up Catholic and divorce was never an option. When it finally happened, despite all my best efforts, I felt like I was in freefall. And then I learned to fly.
Needless to say, that’s worth writing about.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have found many beautiful books about the transformation and trial-by-fire that is building a solo life when you thought you’d be building a joint one. Inspired by the list I just referenced about on making the most of later life, I figured I’d put together a short list of my favorite books (and one T.V. show) on life post-divorce.
The first isn’t a book, but a television show that just debuted. I am an incorrigible viewer of terrible reality T.V. (a shame to air out with you on a later post), so I couldn’t help but see the wall-to-wall ads on Bravo for the scripted show, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. I didn’t expect much from it – the only actor I recognized I only knew from her role as a DC hooker on The West Wing – but it came on after one of my vapid catfight-fests, so I left it on. Boy, was I delighted. Snappy writing, subtle character development and real, human reactions… it was really good. I only have the first episode to go by, so I’ll update my recommendation when I know more, but for now… episode one was promising.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. A recent divorcee hikes the Pacific Crest Trail – from Canada to Mexico – alone. The writing is sparkling and draws you in and her insights are beautiful. I found this book when I saw her an interview between her and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, right before the T.V. exploded with ads for the upcoming movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Worth a read.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This mega-super-duper successful memoir, later made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, hardly needs a plug from me, but it earns a place on this list by being a beautiful tale of seeking something while recovering from a broken marriage. Likeable, relatable and spiritual, it’s a great read. There’s one scene in which she learns not to fight the mosquitos in India which I reference all the time.
Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey by Jessica Bram. In midlife, the author found herself in a loveless marriage. She makes the difficult decision to end it. In a series of beautiful essays focusing on the positive aspects of letting go and moving on, she details her journey. I found this right when I was going through my toughest times and it really helped see me through.