When I first heard the news, I thought it was media gossip.
When sound bites concerning the Bethenny Frankel-Jason Hoppy separation were too glaring to ignore, I told myself they'd work it out.
When I saw that the Skinnygirl mogul and reality star had filed for divorce, I couldn't even bear to read the details.
This one feels personal. I'm trying to come to grips with why.
Let's face it. Many of us have a hard time sitting on the sidelines when we see others break up, especially if we've weathered a divorce of our own. We experience hopefulness when couples marry, and disappointment when they split -- seeking blame, wanting answers and intent on separating the Good Guys from the Bad.
As if life were so simple!
Generally I don't pay a great deal of attention to celebrity divorces. I skim and move on, no doubt because I'm a busy single mother myself and have been for years. A celebrity's life has little to do with mine; I have no mega-watt career, no doting entourage, no millions to fight over, no public persona to bolster or defend.
I am not concerned with J.Lo's comings-and-goings, and I barely noticed Heidi Klum's marital woes. I weighed in on the Kelsey-Kayte-Camille affair, which struck me as a testament to Me Generation meets Happiness Industry.
The Kardashian-Humphries marriage? Now there's one that caught our collective attention, though for some of us that short-lived union makes a mockery of marital vows. Might we mention that the divorce is enduring far longer than the marriage itself? My, how the legalities drag on, posing a bit of a glitch considering Ms. Kardashian's current relationship and pending parenting status.
Frankly, beyond momentary interest, these celebrity doings are little more than a daily distraction.
But Bethenny Frankel is another matter.
Maybe it's because she seems strong and simultaneously fragile -- the tough cookie with a soft underbelly.
Maybe it's because like millions of others who came to know her on reality TV, I was cheering her on through the "Real Housewives" days and into that most elusive and surprising win -- a deeply satisfying relationship, and the precious gift of a healthy family.
Perhaps I relate to Bethenny because her upbringing was far from ideal. How many of us can say the same, including me -- and possibly you?
I relate to her because I can't imagine she's easy to love, and I say that with no disrespect, but awareness that many of us are in the same boat. We're complicated. We're scarred. We erect defenses and are loathe to let them down, hoping someone will manage to help us do so, and our trust in that person will be well-founded.
I don't know Bethenny Frankel. I'm an outsider, a viewer, a member of the audience. Yet I see myself in her. I feel for her. I feel for her husband. I worry for their little girl.
I have no idea what caused this marriage to end, though I suppose I could speculate as millions have. And yes, I've scanned the rumors that flash across the Internet. But truth? The movable truth of any marriage?
If I've learned nothing else a decade after divorce, it is this: There is no single truth in marriage.
Like others who watched Bethenny and Jason over the past several years, I "attended" their wedding, I smiled at the birth of their daughter, and I cringed through their fights and exhaled at their making up. I viewed the televised therapy sessions with interest, trying to discern how much was scripted while sensing an essence that appeared instructive.
Surely, there are regrets over the intrusiveness of reality TV, and allowing their lives to play out so publicly.
I was rooting for this family. I was, from the cheap seats, invested in their happiness.
Sentimental to say as much?
A little sappy?
As for the future, we can well imagine that Bethenny and Jason are both resilient. Naturally, money helps, assuming they don't engage in a battle over it. But any divorce is, for most of us, a personal and intense source of sorrow. I would hope they will keep proceedings fair and civil, protecting the best interests of their daughter, Bryn.
And yet here I sit, unable to shake the sadness.
I wanted to believe -- not in happily ever after -- but in the value of commitment and doing the work. I wanted to believe in the tough cookie with the soft underbelly. I wanted to believe in Bethenny and Jason -- for all of us who aren't easy to love.
We’re basically your best friend... with better advice. Learn more