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Eat, pray, love or live alone

Posted on Monday, August 16, 2010 in Divorce, Happiness, Honesty, Relationships, Singles

We were barely past the trailhead yesterday when it started.

“OK, please tell me you’re not going to talk the whole time about ‘Eat Pray Love,’ OK?” I announced to Sara and Mia. They’d gone to late show Saturday night, and I knew they were itching to drag me into the post-divorce self-discovery drama.

“But, we still processing,” Mia said.  “Women were crying in the theater. It’s very, very cathartic.”

“Process away. Just
keep me out of it.”    

“Honesty, Kat, what’s your problem? She found happiness after an unhappy marriage, just like we did,” Sara said, a hint of snark in her voice. “What in the world is there not to
like about her story?”

“Look, anyone can find some sort of happiness traveling the world for a year
if they don’t have to worry about paying for it and finding enlightenment in India. I mean, that’s
why people go to India in the first place, for goodness sake!”
I said. “But, really — what woman eats with such abandon without freaking about getting fat?”

“So, that’s why you don’t like it?”

“No. I just think it’s self-absorbed and gives women a skewed message.”


“Look, we didn’t find ourselves while traipsing around the world. The real test of life post-divorce is being happy living your normal life. You know, the one when you wake up every day, go to work, do the laundry, figure out how to get your kid to the dentist and soccer when you’re in an office across the bridge from him, deal with the ex and make ends meet.”

Mia and Sara looked at me with scrunched up faces as if they were searching for some sort of a rebuttal. But what was there to say?

I’m all for escaping away from our regular life and finding adventure, spirituality, Javier Bardem. If I could, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

But the path to self-discovery for a woman post divorce has little to do with pasta and ashrams, and everything to do with being on her own and figuring out “Who am I now, at my age, without a husband?”

And key to that is learning how to be alone.

Most of us didn’t do that. We went from the pink-carpeted rooms of our childhood to bunking with college roomies to shacking up with a sweetie or two to the marital bed of a picket-fenced home — where so many of us lost ourselves.

I know some 8 million (mostly female) readers found Elizabeth Gilbert’s story an inspiration. She found herself! She found love! She made millions!

If she could do it, we can, too!

And maybe we could. But I wish she found herself, love and happiness from making better choices while living her normal life. Because most of us will never be able to take a year off to do what she did — and what does that mean for us when it comes to self-discovery?

  • Have you “discovered” yourself post-divorce, or are you still on that path?
  • Is it better to “find yourself” in exotic locales, or living your day-today life?

Bring on the comments

  1. T
    Twitter: tsquest

    Ahhh yes. You will love my post for today.

    Kat… I hope like hell to share a glass of vino with you soon.

  2. Erin says:

    I read Eat Pray Love and was moved by it. Yes, most people can’t take off for a year on a whirlwind adventure, I sure as hell didn’t. I had a baby to raise, responsibilities with work/school, my life to continue after my relationship with my ex ended. What touched me about her book was how she described her feelings about the situation. That is what I related to.

    I absolutely agree with you about how post divorce/breakup that the real road to healing and moving on happens living your real life. I know in my situation, through all the pain and suffering, I found myself, my true worth and strength out of my situation. Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been, in a healthy relationship and feel like I am true to myself every day, something I didn’t ever feel back in my past with my ex. I believe that even though it was horrible, it was a lesson that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

    I think traveling can help us “find” aspects of ourselves and open our eyes to experiences and ideas we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, but it’s not necessary to live a happy, fulfilled, enlightened life. I truly believe that all of these things have to happen inside of you, the location of where that happens doesn’t matter.

  3. Brian says:

    Exactly. Very rarely do we have the luxury of traveling the world to find ourselves. The reality is- you find yourself here and now. You have to strike a balance, and trade off a great many things against each other.

    Unfortunately, this movie seems to perpetuate the myth that you can have it all. You can’t. Maybe I should write a book, though, that says that you can, telling people what they want to hear, make millions from the book and movie, and then I can have it all- at the readers expense. Hmmmm….

  4. Although I enjoyed reading the book, I do agree that her being able to travel (expenses paid) like she did TO write a book while she was on her path to self-discovery is like a dream come true. As you said, MOST of us do not have once-in-a-lifetime dream offers come our way right after our lives unravel but instead are left to deal with the fallout and the reality of living our new life, especially when kids are involved.

  5. Steve says:

    “Look, we didn’t find ourselves while traipsing around the world. The real test of life post-divorce is being happy living your normal life.”

    “Wherever you go, there you are”
    – Buckaroo Bonzai, 1984

  6. brian says:

    Hey Cat
    Checkout the article about Gilbert in the IJ on line
    Its a reprint of an article from 1/10 and gives somewhat a balance or response to the book that was the basis for the film
    I her own words

    “I’m getting rid of the philosophy, the sense that we should get and get and get without sacrificing anything,” she said.

  7. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf

    As Mindy said, most of us don’t have options post-divorce, as did this character. Especially if there are children involved.

    Add in being a little older, exes who don’t pay the support they’re supposed to, and the day-in-day-out fatigue of raising kids, and this sort of post-divorce discovery has little to do with reality. Generally, for women.

    As to whether or not it’s possible, in an exotic local or “normal” life, I’d say that depends upon what one considers a post-divorce “self,” or successful life for that matter.

    My sons, solid and launched – for me – that will be an extraordinary accomplishment given circumstances that have mitigated against it for nearly a decade. And ironically, I have liked my post-divorce self far better than my pre-marital self. But as for a life, normal or otherwise, that comes down to survival. And it’s a very different matter altogether.

    Pursuing dreams is a luxury when you’re worried about food and shelter.

  8. Steve says:

    I decided to lookup this title to see what it was about. I found a lot of angry reactions to it.

    Who wouldn’t want to take a trip around the world with no responsibilities and people trying to help you with your life?

    I’m jealous.

  9. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    Kat, you rock. You’re the first woman I’ve met who “gets it” regarding Eay Pray Love. I’m giddy that I know you. 🙂

  10. Lifebeginsat30ty says:

    My response to the movie was: I wish James franco and Javier bardem showed up after my divorce! I actually think the traveling was a part of her journey bc that was her vision of an ideal life. I agree with the other commenter that it was her emotions I identified with rather than the travel. I had a hard time with the book though bc she had such issues with guilt. I never had that. But I think her message is to be true to te person that you are and be able to forgive yourself and others when a divorce happens.

  11. Kat Wilder says:

    Sorry, but learning how to be happy alone is a better path to self-discovery than #eatpraylove

  12. Kat Wilder says:

    So, the key to happiness and self-discovery is to bed James Franco AND Javier Bardem? I'm in! #eatpraylove

  13. Becky M
    Twitter: Becko7

    Not to throw anyone for a loop, but I found that I had lost myself, just as Kat says – going from home, to roommate, to shacking up, to husband… and now, WITH him still around, I’m working on figuring out who I am, in my every day life. 🙂 Everyone needs to do it, I think. Kudos for those who can choose where.

  14. Kat Wilder says:

    T — I did like your post. Wine? You name the day and place …

    Erin — Yep. See what Steve says — wherever you are, there you go. So, start with yourself.

    Brian — You mean you can’t have it all? Maybe we can, over the course of a lifetime that is. Or, we can remove expectations and accept gracefully what we have and work for more/different if we want. And yeah, there’s always some sort of “sacrifice,” bu it doesn’t feel like that when it’s given in love…

    Mindy — I’m just waiting for someone to offer a blogger such a deal — any takers?

    Steve — Have you ever read anything online in which people didn’t get their panties all bunched up? As much as these discussions can open up interesting opinions, they can also bring out the worst in people. Hey, y’all lighten up, OK?

    Dads — I’m giddy right backatcha 😉

    Lifebeginsat30ty — Yes! Javier! James! Where are they?

    Becky — I’m happy you’re figuring it out without having to throw him out. We all change, we all lose ourselves along the way; it’s nice to be flexible and rediscover ourselves and each other together.

  15. Jim Everson says:

    Best Kat post ever.

  16. Kat Wilder says:

    Jim — That’s just ’cause you think I’ve discovered myself in that not-quite Jewish neurotic bookish way 😉

  17. enigma says:

    Hi Kat, just poppig in to say hello:)

  18. Anonymous says:

    How can you compare yourself (a divorced MOM) to a divorced woman without kids?

  19. Good points – at least I think so because I had the same ones! Perhaps the story / movie was as popular as it was because for two hours in a movie theatre each woman in the audience could escape the everyday.

  20. Kat Wilder says:

    @ Tracey — escape is a lovely thing, as long as it isn’t how we live our life!