Ask Me About My Divorce

Women Open Up About Moving On


Edited by Candace Walsh

Formats and Prices




$11.99 CAD



  1. ebook $8.99 $11.99 CAD
  2. Trade Paperback $21.99 $28.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 21, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

It’s time to get past the idea that divorce equals failure. Sure, it may not be what you had in mind when you walked down the aisle, but if it’s the escape hatch into a better life, it should be filled with more promise. It can be celebrated. 

Ask Me About My Divorce is a spicy, fun, riveting collection of essays by women from all walks of life. With the unifying thread "I got divorced, and the world came into view," the words within will make readers laugh, cry, nod their heads, and feel inspired to do what they need to for themselves. These aren't stories from women tiptoeing around a difficult subject—they're about the ways divorce can be, in fact, a new lease on life.


To my Salamandre

when i first started thinking about ending my marriage, I was terrified. Divorce was up there with death and taxes, right? It was a big baddie. I felt sadness at the loss of something to which my spouse and I had both pledged our everlasting commitment, and I also felt fear and foreboding about being in the “divorced” category.
Nuptial status can define us very much—whether we’re married, never married, divorced, widowed, or remarried. We wander around with our bag of assumptions about what that means about the person who is any of those things. Especially when that person is “me.”
Dictionaries generally define divorce as a legal dissolution of marriage that releases husband and wife from their marital obligations. The term comes from the Latin, divertere, which is to divert (to turn aside or turn from a path or course; deflect). To split. It’s linked to versus, opposition, or turning and rotating (like the universe, like a ploughman turns the soil). That’s what it means, literally. What else does it mean? It’s up to you. Vertigo—dizziness. Version—your version of the story.
What’s behind the divorce is really what people should think of in terms of what they have to grieve. Let’s say that it wasn’t what you thought it would be. Big time. You changed, your partner changed, or you stopped growing. Or you found yourself in a legal union with someone who defiled it by infidelity, verbal or physical or mental abuse, or just plain stubbornness and selfishness. Or you just stopped loving the person, the person stopped loving you, or you realized that what you thought you wanted was not actually what will sustain you for the rest of your life. This isn’t what I signed on for.
You started hearing that little voice. “This isn’t the right thing for me. I am not living my truth. I should really get out of here.” And then you did the seventeen things we all do to not hear that voice of inner truth, because it would mean a great big change and many little ones.
After I moved out, I found the term to be so loaded with stuff that I didn’t want to take on that I wouldn’t even say it for a long time. I grieved the loss of the marriage, no doubt—but I didn’t feel the extra badness that I thought I would. The air seemed purer. I had more free time. I did the dishes when I felt like it and didn’t feel guilty because someone else had first. It was like moving off campus all over again, but without the long-haired roommate guy walking around in his towel. I had a fresh start.
When people asked me what was new, I said, “My ex and I are living in two houses now.” Or, “He and I split up.” Then I had to steel myself, because guess what was coming? “Oh, no! I am so sorry!” I wasn’t. I wasn’t sorry—I had just finished a big race, basically, crossed the finish line, and wanted a glass of water, a towel, a slap on the back, and to be asked, “So, how was it? How did it go? What did you learn? How do you feel? Give me a hug, girl!”
It reminded me of when my parents split. God bless them, they hung on for ten more years than they should have. They didn’t want to traumatize me and wanted to be accepted in the eyes of their church and their families and friends. They didn’t want to be “divorced.” What did traumatize me was living in a house that was empty of a very crucial element: a healthy and mutually respectful love relationship. When they gave it up, I felt relief (because I knew it was inevitable) and space, and possibility, and peace flow in. And yet I encountered a bunch of grownups and peers pitying me, with prurient solicitousness. . . . The weight of their stuff around divorce had no place in my fragile little adolescent world, but I didn’t know how to elucidate that, except to say, “You know, it’s fine, it’s better, actually.”
Ask me about my divorce. You wanted to know about my college graduation, my first job, my new apartment, my engagement, my wedding, my honeymoon, my baby’s birth. All rites of passage, all changes, all evidence of growth. As is this. And, maybe it’s not the best moment, but, make space for the possibility that I have some cool things to share. Because it’s been a wild ride, and I am learning new things every day. A friendship is about sharing what’s going on for each of us, and if we stop here, at this point of where I am, well, then, that just leads to distance and growing apart, and now is not the time for more of that.
I learned to say, when asked what was new, “Everything’s good, my marriage has ended, but it’s a good thing; it’s the best thing for us to do.” A sandwich of good. It helped a lot. People relaxed at that point.
Of course, as you know if you are chilling with the big D, there will be people who drop off the face of the earth: the old friends you had as a couple but not as an individual. Always good to know who your friends really are, or, more charitably, which of your friends are completely triggered and weirded out by divorce. They might be back, after they stop hiding under the bed from your divorce cooties. As Marrit Ingman says in her essay, “It made me uncomfortable when . . . a couple I knew and regarded highly was calling it quits. I tried to never take it personally, but you can’t hear about someone else’s divorce without imagining it happening to you. It is proof of the mortality of marriage.”
You can’t take the deepest core of grief and loss away from something that has its unavoidable traumatic component, but divorce can lose the shame/fear/stigma frosting on its sometimes bitter cake. Because a lot of those bites are surprisingly sweet.
Marriage is a beautiful thing, when it works, and when it doesn’t. When it works, it’s made up of two people who love each other, sharing life’s best and worst moments, fostering each other’s growth, and having really great sex. When it doesn’t, it was made up of two people who loved each other, shared life’s best and worst moments, fostered each other’s growth, and most likely had really great sex. So, instead of sitting with the last incarnation of it, which led to a split, I like to appreciate and be grateful for the whole, which gave me so much. It gave me the beautiful Manhattan wedding day, the French honeymoon, the honeymoon period, a summer on a sailboat, two gorgeous children, a sounding board, a hand in mine, and a lifelong friend who knows me better than most people. When it ended, it gave the two of us the opportunity to feel most deeply who we were in that moment, and then run with it . . . to flower and spread our limbs in all sorts of directions, until we found another place to put down roots. And, we did. Our kids have two extra adults in their lives who model different ways of being in the world, which broadens their definition of what it can mean to be an adult.
What follows: a spicy, riveting selection of essays from women from all walks of life. The words within will make you laugh, cry, nod your head, and shake your fist. The unifying thread is “I got divorced, and it rocked my world.”
As Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant says in her essay, “If I’m happy, that’s the kind of fairytale everyone should dream of.”

Several Things I Know and a Few Things I don’t
melanie jones
i was twenty-six when my husband left on our second anniversary. It was New Year’s Eve. I weighed approximately two pounds, not including the frizzy hair piled on top of my head. The bags under my eyes were like what people might take on monthlong expeditions to Everest. (Everest people have sherpas to carry their bags. I had to carry mine by myself. On my face.)
I don’t know what the opposite of sexy is, but I think it was probably me.
But somehow, I functioned. I got up every day, put on clothing, and went to work—where the sales manager would look me up and down and say, “Best diet in the world, huh?” on her way to the coffeemaker. (She had been through three divorces. She would know.) My boss Jill’s heartfelt advice was to get smaller pants.
A lot of people had suggestions, but I didn’t really want them.
I was aware that my husband had just napalmed my life as I knew it. I was aware that I was a walking skeleton with unmanageable hair who had forgotten the many uses of eyeliner and mascara. I was also aware that I was probably facing years of therapy, lonely nights, and something called a “journey of recovery.” But, I had already cried through our entire relationship, and now that it was over, I was sick of it. All that “five stages of grieving” crap could wait.
I just wanted to laugh.
If it was silly, bizarre, weird, or funny, I did it. I took merengue lessons with the old folks by the pool at a Mexico resort—where I wasn’t sure whose butt was baggier, my butt or the butt of the old gal next to me.
I went to a sex toy party (even though sex was the last thing on my mind). The Elvira-looking hostess brought out a massive, floppy, flesh-colored “device” with a suction cup at its base. She dramatically licked the suction cup and slammed the thing against the wall where it rebounded hilariously. If it had a cartoon sound effect, it would be wanga-wanga-wanga.
I spent time with my sisters—attending a variety show where I ended up handcuffed to a magician—and savored a weekend in Huntington Beach, where the only music was James Brown, the only food was chocolate, and the only drink was champagne. I felt . . . good.
I didn’t know that I was doing things like “being in the moment” and “living each day as though it were my last.” Things that were probably in the self-help books people kept trying to give me. But, I was too busy enjoying my newfound freedom to care what it was called or what a book said about it.
In my secret thoughts, late at night in a bed that felt too big for me, this girls’ night pajama party holiday was nice and all, but I wanted my life back. It was irrational, of course, and impossible. The so-called comfort zone that I craved was a marriage that had gone from bad to worse. My ex had moved on as soon as he walked out the door, taking up with another woman named Melanie. Which is just plain weird if you ask me. You’d think that’s the last name he’d want to scream out in bed.
But, here is something I do know: a twenty-six-year-old divorcée cannot avoid dating. I was too young to give up on love, buy seventeen cats, and become a professional spinster. I was going to have to get back out there eventually. I just didn’t want to. Or know how.
Several months after the Big D, ready or not, I waded into the shallow end of the dating pool. I worked as a magazine editor, so I did what any self-respecting journalist who is far too raw and vulnerable to start dating would do: I told myself it was research. I wanted to figure out this Relationship Conspiracy and how I got so brutally burned. Perhaps my research would help others like me prevent the soul-crushing pain of premature husband evacuation.
My first research subject was the Bulldozer. He worked in my industry, and I guess he’d had a crush on me for a while because when he found out I was single, he picked me up and started running down the street. For real. At the time, I thought that was funny (if not a little bizarre).
What wasn’t so funny was when he asked my boss for permission to date me. Before he’d even asked me out. It was some weird gesture of mutant chivalry, I guess, but it felt more than a little invasive. Also invasive was his decision, on our second date, to grab a magazine, head into my bathroom, and make himself a little too at home.
There were other lab rats: Fart Boy (who let ’er rip on date number two), the Puppeteer (who lived in a puppet studio where romance meant an audience of Pinocchios hanging creepily from the ceiling) and the Swashbuckler (whom I caught kissing the coat check girl during one of our dinner dates). From a scientific perspective, I was gathering interesting data. From a romantic one, my experiments were failures.
But every week over cocktails, my group of friends would ask the token single girl (me) about her love life. And I’d tell them hilarious stories about the thirty-five-year-old whose mom still bought him all his clothes. Or the guy who waited until our fourth date to tell me about his fiancée. For some reason, at the time, it didn’t occur to me that dating someone who’s about to get married to someone else really wasn’t very funny.
It was sad. And just ever-so-slightly self-destructive.
My friends, however, thought it was hilarious. They’d tell me I should do stand-up comedy or something with all my “material.” But for some reason, dating stupid guys who did stupid things stopped being funny or fun. I was the butt of my own jokes and my life was the punch line.
These men were supposed to be my research subjects, but somehow, I got wrapped up in my own dating experiment. I was the one who felt like a lab rat, poked and prodded and zapped without warning.
I stopped frequenting nightclubs and started running. The group I joined was training for a half-marathon and I, for lack of any better ideas, joined in. As I gasped along on the weekly eight-or ten-mile runs, something started to happen. Muscles took shape under my skin and my eyes looked brighter. I felt more confident. My light-speed hyperanalytical type-A mind became peaceful and quiet. I was stronger. I was healthier. I was hooked.
On December 31, in twenty-four-below weather, one year after my husband left, I ran a five-mile race. It was a nighttime event, called the Resolution Run, and I didn’t tell anyone I had entered. I toed the line and when the gun went off, I started out into the midwinter darkness. Every step I took moved me farther away from my old life and one step closer to a new one I didn’t yet know.
I knew that laughing was part of healing, but that hard work was going to be part of it, too. I knew that friends can sometimes help you, but sometimes they keep you stuck in patterns that no longer serve. And I knew that running had made me stronger, emotionally and physically, than I’d been before.
The next morning, I registered for my first marathon. Running 26.2 miles scared me. I’d heard all the marathon horror stories of people puking or bleeding or soiling their shorts. A marathon was bigger than me. And at the time, it was more than I was capable of. I was going to have to dig deep and find resources I didn’t yet know I had: to get stronger, to rise to the challenge.
I loved every minute of it. Running with nothing but the sun on my face and the sound of my own breath was true love for me—something more pure and clean than I’d ever shared with another person. I called my first marathon my 26.2-mile victory lap, and it absolutely was. I crossed the finish line and kissed my ex-husband goodbye.
Around the same time, the magazine where I worked was featured on the local TV station’s morning show. As the editor, I answered questions about our annual dining awards while a local chef prepared his prizewinning dish. Standing there, bathed in light, with a microphone clipped to my shirt, I had an idea.
Running put me in touch with a sense of purpose that filled me with hope and possibility. I respected myself and I respected the people I ran with, knowing that they were on missions of their own. But in the dating world, it was every single woman for herself. On the surface, dating was about connecting, but everyone I met seemed just as lonely as I was.
There had to be another way. One where everyone chased their dreams, reached for their highest potential, and connected with others doing the same. Dating, but with a higher consciousness. I wondered if I could use what I knew to make a difference. And I wondered if I could make them laugh while I did it.
I pitched my idea to the TV station later that week. “We’ll try it,” came the reply to the email I sent the producer. Not a week later, I was back on the breakfast show, holding up a toilet roll with a single square of paper clinging pathetically to the cardboard tube. “This,” I said, after a dramatic pause, “will not get you a second date.” The entire studio howled with laughter and the cameraman could barely hold the camera straight.
They asked me back a few weeks later. Then they asked me back again and again until I was a regular Friday fixture, prepping singles on their way to the weekend with Lust vs. Love, or Commitmentphobia and You, or How to Make the Friend-to-Lover Switcheroo. I’d crack jokes and make faces but underneath all my funny one-liners about men who modeled in high school (lost cause), I was telling people to respect themselves, respect each other, and go after what they want in life.
Soon, I was asked to write a dating column in a local magazine. Then the TV station invited me to do a second segment for the evening show. I was the Dating Dame and people loved it. They’d stop me in the mall to chat. They’d offer suggestions. They’d ask for advice. Sometimes they’d scream, “The Dating Dame!” from across the street.
I had tapped into something, I could feel it. But I wasn’t doing it justice. I had two minutes of television to sum up a giant aspect of human relationships, packaged and glossed up for the folks at home. A topic as complicated as Trust was reduced to three bullet points and a punch line. How was I going to make meaningful change with that? How was I going to help people find and follow their true purpose and attract like-minded people into their lives to create meaningful, evolved partnerships when all the producer wanted was stupid innuendoes and street interviews?
Another thing that bothered me was my image. People seemed to think I was some vixen, draping my fishnet-clad legs over bar stools and barflies five nights a week, when that wasn’t me at all. My uniform in real life was more like running tights and sneakers. I didn’t have time to drink cocktails all night—I was training for a triathlon and working on a book!
And no matter how many times I wove in messages about respect and friendship and common interests, people still thought their one-night stands were going to lead them to true love.
My mission to elevate the dating world wasn’t working.
I took the message off the air and onto the stage, where I could say exactly what I thought and what I felt. Where trust wasn’t a bullet point. Where it was real and raw and live. And where I would have to rely on myself more than I ever had before.
I wrote a one-woman show to be performed in a local theater the week of Valentine’s Day. I would be up there alone, without a television screen to shield me. With no one to yell “Cut!” and give me another shot. It was a confession. It was a baptism. It scared the hell out of me.
The protagonist, Dating Girl, was a version of me at the beginning of my single life, (and probably a lot of single people in the world): hurting, clueless, and full of Sex and the City clichés about being single and fabulous.
Dating Girl put her faith in an online love calculator, hoping it would tell her how her relationship would work out. She offered “advice” that only revealed how afraid she was to be alone. She teetered around in heels and tight jeans, praying she was as put together inside as she was outside.
Along the way, fumbling through as best we could, Dating Girl and I figured out that happiness couldn’t be found Out There until we discovered it In Here. That somewhere along the line, both of us had stopped running from How Things Should Be and started standing in How They Are. That when our dreams of a perfect marriage and a Hollywood ending faded, something else came into focus.
Standing there, alone, in the middle of a spotlight—my spotlight—I saw how far I’d come to get right here. I went through love and loss, laughter and tears, weakness and strength. I saw all of those things in this person I’d become. And though I didn’t know what my next play would be about, I knew it was time to take a bow.

Open Road
jessica cerretani
“well, that’s too bad,” says my boyfriend, lifting a forkful of meat loaf to his mouth. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Sorry?” asks Laura, our dinner companion. They’re talking about an old college friend. “Did you ever meet her husband?”
“No,” says Devin. “It’s just, you know, she’s divorced.”
“Hell,” Laura laughs. “I congratulate people when they tell me they’re divorced.” She should know. She used my divorce lawyer.
And Devin should know, too. After all, to the casual observer, he’s the reason I’m divorced. He can see I’ve never been happier. But, on the surface, the dissolution of a marriage never seems like cause for celebration.
If you had asked me ten, or even five, years ago, if I thought my marriage would be one of the half that end in divorce, I’d have disagreed, then lectured you on the laziness of such couples, the ease with which they threw in the towel.
Like most children of divorce, I had vowed never to do the same. My own parents’ split, when I was five, was a blur of unpleasant memories: unpaid bills, months of subsisting on canned food donations from our local church, two half-hearted suicide attempts by my mother, and long afternoons spent playing board games with a child therapist when I’d rather be home playing Barbies. For years I couldn’t stand the mention of the word “divorce,” couldn’t bear to watch One Day at a Time, let alone Kramer vs. Kramer.
Yet twenty-five years later, I was reviewing legal papers in a tiny mouse-infested apartment, in contrast to the half-million-dollar home I shared with my husband. I was eating ramen noodles with a plastic fork as my friends suggested I throw a “divorce shower” to recoup the kitchen necessities I’d left behind. I was thirty-one, freshly separated—and actually enjoying myself. Clearly, this was not my parents’ divorce.
As a child, not only did I know that I didn’t want to be divorced, I also knew what I did want to be when I grew up: single, a successful writer, living in Boston or New York. But what I became was far from my dreams. I married Adam at twenty-five, after dating him for five years. We did live in Boston, but in a home he’d bought and paid for. Adam was good with money, so I let him handle our finances and mortgage. I worked as a ghostwriter for a famous doctor, but I didn’t get a byline and the job didn’t pay well. Still, I’d been with the company since right after college, and change seemed scary. I was stuck—and not just at work.
“God is in the details,” Adam liked to say. He had trained as an architect; it was a Mies van der Rohe quote. This was a philosophy he carried with him when we renovated our house, as he carefully redid the trim around the doors and windows, which he thought I’d painted too sloppily. But when it came to our marriage, neither one of us had much of an eye for detail. We loved each other but weren’t in love. We coexisted rather peacefully, like longtime roommates or brother and sister. He spent most of his time in his garage woodshop, fixing his sailboat. I spent most of my time on the couch. Despite all our talk, we had gotten lazy.
Still, I had always been someone who played by the rules. I liked safety and comfort. I lived in fear of failure and regret. I was afraid to take risks. I was that child who stood at the top of the high dive at the town lake and turned and climbed back down the ladder, refusing to jump.
Looking back at my own parents’ divorce, the worst part wasn’t the stigma attached to it or the sudden absence of my beloved father. The worst part, to me, was that everything now seemed so hard. My mother fought for custody of my sister and me, fought for ownership of our house—but it was the maintenance of all this that was difficult. They’d split in the midst of a major home renovation, and the outside of the house, a large, rambling thing, still needed to be painted. As an adult, I marveled at my mother’s ability to balance on a ladder, three stories up, scraping and painting each summer. I knew before Adam and I had even filed separation papers that I didn’t want the same fate.
“He can have the house,” I told my lawyer, who had suggested we sell it and split the proceeds. It was his baby; he’d put the most work and money into it. I didn’t want to be saddled with that responsibility and I was, remember, nothing if not lazy.
But it was more than that. I was happy with my little “Jess Cave,” a cramped apartment that, if not exactly aesthetically pleasing, was all mine. I, who had once been terrified of being alone, now lived by myself—and, to my surprise, loved it.
Then there was the driving. “You can store some of your stuff at our house,” my mother offered after I told her my new apartment had no storage. There was just one problem: My mother lives some two hundred miles away and neither one of us could drive long distances. Correction: We could, we just didn’t. She hadn’t driven much during her marriage decades earlier, and she didn’t drive much now. I tooled around our neighborhood in Adam’s Jetta, but I was terrified of taking the car on any major highway. I was, I realized, not unlike my late grandmother, who rarely got behind the wheel and whose husband drove her the few miles to her hair salon every week. I had envisioned myself a city girl, cosmopolitan, self-sufficient. The truth was painful: I was a passenger, not just in our car, but in my own life.


On Sale
Jan 21, 2009
Page Count
288 pages
Seal Press