“You’re looking so much better,” is a strange kind of compliment, but one that I happily took today. It came from a man I’ve been seeing in meetings I started attending in February, twelve days before I agreed to a divorce.
I definitely wasn’t looking so hot back then, but the comment today was not so much about my appearance as my state of being. The under-eye bags from not sleeping are gone. I catch myself smiling more often than not. But I’ve been working on my appearance too.
One of the things my mom and I have always done best at together is shop. When I was with her this summer, she bought me a divorce wardrobe. Almost everything I wanted was pink, and form-fitting. There were a lot of skirts. The saleswoman where I spent the most time and money kept telling me, “You have such a nice figure. Try this. It will look great on your body.” And it wasn’t just a sales trick.
The night before I left NM, a friend I’d seen at a party texted me, “Can I just tell you that you’re incredibly sexy—in the least threatening way possible.”
Not that my ego was so hot before, but being divorced and having to deal with the whole issue of whether or not other people will ever want me again calls the question. I texted my friend back, “Yes, you can tell me I’m sexy as often as you’d like.”
This new wardrobe consists of something beyond the cargo shorts and t-shirts I’ve worn as my stay-at-home-mom uniform, that practical bunch of clothes that can be grabbed at with hands covered in honey, or yogurt, or sand. I haven’t even worn jewelry for the last four years because my son would pull on the earrings and choke me with a necklace. I cut off my long curly hair because it was just too hard to maintain when I had to be responsible for getting someone else dressed in the morning too.
Beyond that though, there is something about the dynamic between couples. I have seen so many pictures of people who get together as thin healthy folk and gradually turn into blobs. My husband and I had done that too. We’d just stopped trying or caring, at least about how we looked to each other.
After I had my son and was losing the pregnancy weight, I actually gained 15 pounds of it back. My half-hearted attempts at spin classes or taking up running didn’t help. All of the comfort eating I was doing didn’t help either. At some point in my marriage, I just didn’t want to be attractive to my husband anymore. I couldn’t get past the disappointment and anger to any kind of intimate feeling.
Then my husband left. All the weight I’d tried to lose just melted off of me. When I got back from NM this summer, I actually fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, that wardrobe I just couldn’t bear to give up in the hope that I might be back in my real body someday.
So yesterday, when someone made a comment about getting to hang around sexy women and gestured toward me, and again today, when a friend who opened the door for me looked me up and down and said, “You look great,” it was clear: I have officially dumped the frump.
The thing that feels so great about it is that I’m not exercising, putting on make up, or dressing in flattering clothes to get anyone else’s attention. I’m doing it for myself. But, as I texted my friend this summer, you are free to tell me I’m sexy as often as you’d like.