Sometimes, it’s appropriate to throw a party for yourself

When I’m not making dramatic arm gestures and shouting Sturm und Drang! (Which is something I do much less of than this blog might have you believe), I enjoy a good party.  Any reason to have a party is a good one!  I had a Very Good Reason recently; I finally got officially divorced!  If I were getting married, or having a baby, or just a birthday (which happens to me every year weather I plan it or not) there would be vast precedent for other people to organize a party for me, particularly female relatives in those first two cases.  Divorce parties are not quite as common, but you can’t drink at your baby shower so I’d argue that the divorce party is an idea whose time has come.  I planned my own as soon as I knew I was getting the divorce.  That was on the Monday before the party.

Here’s a funny thing about getting married vs. getting divorced here in my home state in the south:  When I got married, all I had to do was show up with a man (Fun fact about my state!  The man could be my first cousin and it would be totally cool, but if I’d brought a woman with me I’d have been shown the door.  Pity all my male cousins are taken!)  show both our IDs, and pay $50 and then sign a paper.  Done!  I could grab some random dude off the street and it would be just as easy!  To get divorced, though . . . I had to live apart from him for a year (because I could totally change my mind, right?  Not that I might have done that if I’d had a year to wait before getting married . . . but I digress.) Then I had to go to the courthouse and pay some money for a packet of papers to fill out.  Then I had to turn in those papers at the courthouse and pay some more money. (More than $50.  I could have another pair of Fluevogs AND a new corset AND a decent bottle of whiskey if I hadn’t had to pay up.  Or I could have bought all my textbooks for next semester.  Not that I am bitter.)  Then I had to send him a copy of the first round of papers via certified mail (small bit of money, but let’s add it to the total and get a fancy new glass to drink the whiskey out of) since somehow things didn’t work out with the teenager he ended up with suspiciously close to my moving out and he moved back home to live with his Mum.  Then I had to wait for his signature to come back on the receipt so I could prove he’d gotten the papers (third trip to the courthouse so far – parking isn’t free either) and then once THAT was filed I had to wait 30 days (because . . . oh, why the hell not!) to call the Clerk for an actual court date.   Oh, and you have to call during a one-hour window on a weekday.  When I finally got through, everything was booked up until August – right in the middle of my vacation.  The Clerk cheerfully informed me that divorces were very popular “this time of year” so at least I could feel fashionable for once.  I asked to be put on a list to be moved up in case anyone else cancelled their appointment and then let myself feel annoyed.  Not only was he going to fuck with my vacation – which I don’t get much of to start with – but also, I had already planned my party and I wasn’t actually going to be divorced yet!

One of those weird dark goddesses I keep writing about must have intervened, since I got a call not too long after that saying I could move my court date to July 2nd, which was the Monday before the party.  Perfect!  I had an outfit and everything, since someone who will remain nameless here had liked my fitted pencil skirt/low-cut blouse/stockings/heels combination and said I should wear the same outfit to get divorced.  When I mentioned this, He had forgotten all about it, but it’s a good outfit anyway.  There were seven other women (why all women?  I wonder . . . ) at my court date, but I was up second.  It was pretty quick and easy, after all that preparation and waiting, and once the Judge said she was granting my divorce and I could wait outside for my papers I hopped up and trotted happily out of the room.  And then the woman after me came out crying and I offered her a hug (which was accepted).

SO, then there was this party.  About twenty people showed up, from various parts of my life, and I was enjoying watching them all mingle.  Even though I felt silly doing it, I decided I wanted to have toasts and then dancing.  No one seemed to mind, since it was my party and as far as I know I’ll never have another one like it.  I kind of wish someone had been taping that part, since now I don’t remember everything as well as I wish.  I started off by saying I was happy to have everyone there, and that my life and body were now mine alone to enjoy.  Or something to that effect.  Hopefully it was more clever and eloquent than I suspect it was.  Even if it wasn’t, I’m sure the point was made.  Then other people added some thoughts.  One of my newer friends who I love more every time I see her, the person there who had known me the longest (since I was about five years old), my sister, my brother, Sir, all of them had things to say that made me feel all warm and happy.  I almost cried a couple of times.  More than that, though, was the feeling I got looking around at everyone during the talking bits.  I had this group of people all gathered up in my little apartment, and as I was looking around while I was talking to them and listening to them, I knew that they were all just plain Really Great People, and that all of them were people I chose to have in my life.  Well, I didn’t choose my siblings, but the fact that as adults we’re all friends does have more to it than just shared genes.  I’ve had so many toxic friendships, of the kind where just hanging out for an afternoon can make you feel crummy, and now I’m weeding them out.  I just don’t want to spend any time with people who need to make me feel bad so they can feel better (or at least have another person be as down as they are).  So, even if I didn’t have some amazingly clever speech to offer that evening, the really important thing was taking a moment to look around and see that there are lots of brilliant, kind people in my life because that’s the sort of person that SHOULD be around.  I think everyone got along well because of this – I just have a great group of friends.  Realizing that was one of the best things about having the party.

Once everyone was done talking, I said that it was dancing time.  My brother had put the playlist on random, so when he switched over to the dance music no one knew what would be first, myself included.  It turned out to be Janelle Monae’s “Many Moons” which is not only catchy, but fit in well.  It includes the word “Freedom” quite a bit.  After that there was silliness and sexiness and all the things that should go on during dancing time.  I finally got to dance with Sir, which might not sound exciting and unusual but is because 1) I am a large person, and 2) I never actually learned how to dance.  This is a particularly dangerous combination that has led to me either knocking people over or being dropped on the floor more times than I care to think about.  Luckily, He is 1) Bigger than me, and 2) Does know how to dance, so no one got hurt and I had more of a lead to follow.  I’m sure it’s hard to lead when you’re afraid your partner will roll over you like a juggernaut.  (Sorry, guys I have frightened during dancing time in the past.  Unless you dropped me.  Then I’m less sorry, because I’m honest about my weight and you should have known it was over your limit.  /end digression.)  I also got to break out the scary Nick Cave songs and at one point danced with a very new friend who had come by even though she’d met me exactly once before.  Add that to the great joy of seeing everyone else have fun, and it was all I had hoped for.

Gradually, people started heading out, and my sister and I started drifting into maudlin family story time, and it just generally got to be apparent that I should have turned in an hour or two earlier.  I had stayed up too late, and probably had too much wine, and the night ended on a low note.  That doesn’t matter now, though.

The thing is, this is the sort of occasion where people are supposed to be sad and regretful.  I do regret having to go through this in the first place, and am sad that a couple of years of my life were taken up by someone who ended up being such a liar and a nasty person, but it felt so much better to look forward to the future and take time to appreciate all the good parts of my life than to dwell on whatever bad shit had gone on.  It was important to me to celebrate this instead of moping, and to let everyone that’s close to me because I want them to be know that they are appreciated.

My divorce party ended up being more fun and having a better turnout than my wedding had.  That makes sense to me, too, since when I get married lots of people could see that I hadn’t chosen a good partner.  This time, I was having a party to mark my commitment to myself and my own life, so anyone who has any kind of fondness for me couldn’t possibly object to that commitment.  Maybe this isn’t a popular party idea because it sounds so selfish to say you’re celebrating yourself, but it’s no more selfish than getting married and expecting everyone to show up and celebrate you as a couple.  For the record, I love big fun weddings that are between two people who really are a good match.  I’m not against celebrating couplehood in the least.  But to be part of a really good couple, you have to be happy and secure with your own self first.  My being able to say that I’m marking the official, on paper, legal end of my marriage happily is also marking my being able to be good enough and true enough to myself that when I am ready to get into another serious relationship I’ll be able to do so happily, since I have taken a vow, so to speak, never to do that with anyone whose motivation is anything other than truly appreciating and loving me as I am.


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