LOVE VS NOSTALGIA

When my marriage was falling apart I had a friend who was 18 months ahead of me on the divorce curve. Our kids were the same ages and in the same preschool classes. We talked a lot about the dissolution of our relationships. She offered me glimpses into my future. One, in particular, stands out. She said "Sophia, you don't care about sex now, but when you become single, you'll meet some hot guy who will totally turn you around." And she was right, but it wasn't just one.

A while after my ex and I had split up, I had an epiphany: I didn't love him anymore. And it wasn't a frightening realization, rather a liberating one. When I next had lunch with my friend she complained about her ex, as we all do, and said "but I still love him." And I challenged her: "are you sure it's love you feel and not nostalgia?" She fell silent and looked as if she'd been struck by lightning. "Oh my god, Sophia, you're right, it's nostalgia."

She understood that after a long marriage, especially one involving children, you've had great times as well as bad ones, which create enduring memories that will be both cherished and loathed. We are creatures of habit and when the relationship is disrupted, everything, including our bodies, is signaling that we should return to that familiar, if unhappy, place.

It was incredibly helpful for me to admit that I no longer loved my ex. He remains the single most extraordinary person I've ever met, but our time together had come to a close. During that time we traveled the world, changed the lives of thousands, and, most importantly, created two exceptional children. And what I cherish to this day are the happy memories, for which I am eternally grateful. But love? No. Trying to hold onto a love spent is like trying to hug a ghost.

BRUISED BUT NOT BROKEN

This was my theme song as I was coming out of my post-marriage funk. It was produced by my boy Raphael Saadiq and written by Diane Warren. I traveled to Europe in the fall of '07 with the wonderful Sam Martin and I listened to this non-stop. When my marriage was ending, several friends said "You're the strongest person I know." That's a profound compliment but I never said to myself "Be strong, Sophia! You'll get through this!" I always knew everything would be fine. I've never lost sleep over a break up or cried myself to sleep or couldn't get out of bed. Life is too short and once I've made a decision to leave, I'm out and never look back.

When it first became clear that my ex and I were not going to be together, I was afraid: of failure, of humiliation, of what to tell my parents. But--after four years of trying and sitting on my shrink's couch--it was an easy decision. I remember telling my mentor Michael Ostin that things were bad and he said "Is that the model of love you want for your kids, Soph?" That resonated deeply with me, particularly as I've learned so much about parenting and family from him.

And so, there I was: single, post 40, two kids, and everyone is communicating via text, sexting, sending dirty pictures. I was like Austin Powers who had just come out of his cryogenic coma. But, like everything else, I figured it out with the help of my friends. I remember the first time I had sex post-marriage Joan said "Just put on some sexy underwear and go for it." Then she remembered that all my panties looked like they were bought in bulk at Costco, and they were all large. She said "Soph, in what fucking world are you a large?!" But I did have one pink thong and got it together, got it on, and the rest is history which I'll discuss more in future posts.

HOW DID I GET HERE?

Throughout my adult life I've had what I consider to be different theme songs. This is the first significant one that I recall. The Talking Heads' masterpiece "Once In A Lifetime" spoke to my sense of futility in a relationship that was clearly dissolving. The lines "This is not my beautiful house...this is not my beautiful life" and the scene where David Byrne mimics the gesture of chopping down his forearm with the opposite hand perfectly captured my feeling of repetition and resignation. I remember talking to my shrink the first session of the new year in 2008 and telling her "I am saying to you the exact same thing I did a year ago. I am officially the hamster on the wheel. It's time to get out." It was heartbreaking but I knew it was over. It was actually a prior extremely brief conversation with Joan Morgan that was the lightbulb moment. "Same as it ever was..."