8: Lord, Make Me a Babe

8: Lord, Make Me a Babe

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Lord, Make Me a Babe

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.

~Author Unknown

I recently found out that my soon-to-be-ex-husband is dating someone. He and I were sitting outside of our son’s classroom door at the middle school, waiting for our parent–teacher conference. At school events where parents are present, it’s easy to spot the divorced parents. They look kind of stiff and surly. Generally, they are not talking to each other. They can be spotted at soccer games, too. One doesn’t need a graduate degree in psychotherapy, which I happen to have, to figure out which couples are together now only by the necessity of parenthood.

Down the school hallway, a lady I did not recognize flounced by. “Hii-yii,” she sang out in a lilting, singsong voice. She was not talking to me. The soon-to-be-ex turned beet red. Like a character straight out of a time-machine movie, I instantly morphed into a high school junior.

Harry’s teacher came to the door and invited us in. Thankfully, I morphed back into my middle-aged-parent self. The focus shifted to Harry, our adolescent, soon-to-be-from-a-broken-home son. I survived the conference and walked to my car alone afterward.

As soon as I got home, I picked up the phone and called the soon-to-be-ex. “Are you dating?” I asked.

“Howdja know?” He never did know when to lie.

I don’t know why, but it hit me like a kick in the stomach. Truly, this was the end to an eighteen-year marriage, where no one on the face of the earth could have tried harder than I did to save it. Several years earlier, my girlfriends had an intervention with me. “Linda,” they said at a lunch meeting, “you’re in an emotionally abusive marriage.”

“I know,” I said, “but it’s still better than the alternative.” The alternative is what I am now facing: the Big D. I still can’t bring myself to say it.

So, there is no use crying over spilt milk or going into the maudlin details. Like the flaming co-dependent that I am, I tried to move heaven and earth to save my marriage. In fact, to borrow a phrase from a twelve-step program, I used to refer to it as rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. With icebergs rearing their ugly heads in the distance, I did everything I could and more.

And now, I am facing the D-word. He filed. Not only that, but now the other D-word is being thrown out there. He is dating someone. After eighteen years, he is not dating me.

So, if I explain that I woke up one morning several days ago with butt-kicking depression, one would understand why. This depression was like moving slowly underwater with a boulder on my back. I wanted to break into tears at the drop of a hat. I rehearsed calling a psychiatrist friend and telling her that it was time to sign me up for antidepressants. Through some serious hard times, I have resisted that option.

Friday morning, I trudged off to work. Keeping cash flow was a necessity at my stage of life. I sat down in my office. My client came in. I noticed a change from her previous appearance. She looked terrific! Her hair was natural and pulled back, instead of heavy and long. Her eyes looked wide open. This woman really knew how to put on make-up. Instead of winter brown and black, she was wearing pink and white with matching pink socks. She was getting enough sleep, and it showed in her complexion.

I marveled at the difference in her, especially the make-up. Then it hit me like a voice from God, like a bolt of lightning, like a revelation from above in a low, thunderous voice: “Linda, you can do this, too.”

“What, God?” I asked the voice in my head, meanwhile listening empathetically to my client. (Only really experienced psychotherapists can listen to God and their clients at the same time.)

“You can do this, too.” It was God’s voice again.

Finally, the revelation came through loud and clear: “You can become a babe.”

“A babe,” I gasped internally. “But, Lord, what about the flab under my arms and my thighs?” No use arguing with God. The revelation was unequivocal. The still, small voice had delivered the message loud and clear. My calling, at this juncture, was to become a babe — a fifty-six-year-old babe.

Who am I to argue with God? My course is set. Whatever it takes — a trainer-diet-make-up consultant. I know what I’ve got to do.

My final court date is several months away, and what sweeter justice than to show up in divorce court having morphed into a veritable babe. Not for him, but for me, and for my girlfriends who will be cheering me on every inch of the way.

So, I’m on my way to Babedom. And you know what else? My depression mysteriously evaporated. Poof. Like the parting of the Red Sea. I am a woman with a mission.

Whenever I begin to mourn the past or even ponder the thought of my soon-to-be-ex with someone else, I say this little prayer, “Lord, make me a babe.”

It’s working. I’m looking better already.

~Linda Hoff Irvin

More stories from our partners