My cousin got divorced recently and I noticed on her Facebook page that she wrote a very kind thank you to her friends and family who helped her through this difficult "journey."
She didn't mention what that journey was -- divorce.
Several people wrote "You're in my prayers," and "hugs" and other supportive kind things, a few of them having no idea what they were supporting her about.
I wrote: "Congratulations on your new beginning." Which is what I say to most people who've gotten divorced.
It's a start. A new slate. It's a gulp of fresh air after you've been sinking in the quicksand of dysfunction. And it's a cause for pride because you endured a battle. However amiably you worked things out in your settlement, you just had to do legal warfare with someone you'd once promised to love forever. The disconnect of that is heartrending. In my opinion, a newly minted divorcee doesn't just need hugs and prayers, he/she needs a slap on the back and a cold beer. "You survived! Hurrah!"
I have a tendency to overshare and I realize some people are more circumspect and private. Not everyone wants to spill their bucket of emotional slop onto others, thank goodness. I'm an admirer of tact and reserve, even though I possess none of those qualities. So, if you don't announce to the world, HEY, I GOT DIVORCED TODAY! that's your right and due.
I just hope you're not keeping your mouth zipped because you're ashamed.
If you got played? If you loved with your whole heart and tried your damnedest? If your partner drove their life into a ditch and you had to jump away and save yourself? And you survived that? There is nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing, people!
If you got divorced because you're a cheating douchebag, this isn't for you, because you probably feel no shame. Most likely, you're already remarried to your Schmoopie or you're out partying in a nightclub somewhere, or trolling Craigslist... or all of the above.
I'm talking to those of you who stuck out terrible marriages of disrespect and dysfunction because you were afraid to be alone, to figure out your own life, to be One Of Those Pathetic Divorced People. If you feel responsible for other people's crimes. If you internalize the shame of being abandoned. I'm talking to you -- drop it. Let it go!
Yes, divorce is a loss. It's painful as hell and financially calamitous. But it can also be noble and brave. If you left a cheater, you've demonstrated "I will not take this crap anymore." You've fomented revolution. You've stood up for your self-worth. If you were left by a cheater, and you had to file the goddamn papers yourself, you've survived injury and insult. Hold your head up. If a cheater divorced you for some new piece of ass, well good riddance to bad rubbish.
I'm writing for myself as well. I left two marriages. I'm a double loser at this Pick a Life Partner thing. I hung on to a second marriage to a serial cheater so hard because failure was not an option. No sir! I was not going to be a two-time divorcee.
I had some wonderful sister friends come visit me from New York City when I was in the throes of discovering my (now) ex-husband's infidelity. I told them I was worried about being divorced twice. How weird and freakish that would be. One of them, Sara, said to me, "I dated a guy who told me he was a vampire. Now that's weird. Divorce? Not so much." Her sister Dana said, "You should move to New York."
And that exchange gave me hope that, hey, there's a metropolis somewhere of cool sophistication where no one will look askance that I've been divorced twice. Maybe I can do this...
Meanwhile, Mr. Cheaterpants was still screwing the other woman, getting stumbling drunk, and threatening me, and my biggest worry was -- I will be the freak?
In the end, I didn't move to New York. I eventually got happily remarried and wound up in Texas, a place known for its tolerance and liberal outlook on life. (Not.) I don't go telling everyone I've been divorced twice, but it does come up if I have to explain both my son (from marriage #1) and being a chump (marriage #2), which means I have to know you pretty well.
It's just part of my story now. Some days it's even a joke. I'll ask my husband, "Hey, am I your favorite wife?" and he'll say, "Am I your favorite husband?" and we'll laugh because the other ones were such horrors.
If you're feeling any twinge of divorce shame, consider that you're divorced exactly because you do value marriage. You do believe in commitment. You do believe in love throughout sickness and health. You do believe in family. And you're divorced because your partner did not share those values and you refused to live a sham marriage.
Not one damn thing shameful about that.
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