A good dose of cynical, a dash of sarcasm and a whole lotta humor is my prescription for the newly divorced. It is the time in one’s life when hurt and anger consume the day. Fear lurks beyond every corner, whether it is fear of the other partner, fear of the unknown and at some stage of divorce, fear of friends, family, and Joe Schmo from down the street who heard you were getting a divorce and wants to know, right in the middle of the produce aisle, “so what the hell happened?”
Six months after my break up and final decree I found myself screening calls and avoiding public places; simply to avoid those nasty, but ‘well-meaning’ comments. Honestly, if my sister called me one more time with her low whispered, “How are you?” emphasis on the “are,” I thought I’d reach through the cell and strangle her.
How the hell do you think I am? No matter the circumstances, divorce is never fun. It’s a gut-wrenching, emotional shake down that can make a person drop 10 pounds in 10 days and make every bone in your body ache.
Of course, my sister’s calls were well intended but after weeks of this, I simply had no more to say. What is done is done, time to move on. Assessing my misery or elation is no longer therapeutic. So please, move on with me and get off the phone call that dredges up old feelings that I’d rather forget. Let’s move on to the future and the promises that it holds.
As ungrateful as this may sound, there’s also the mother instinct that kicks in from… Mom. Somewhere during my breakup she decided I was no longer capable of general, everyday tasks of living such as my laundry. Now I know, many people would love to have their laundry done for them…even ironed…jeans, t-shirts, pillow cases…but you must understand this is a time in life when independence becomes the theme. Divorce does not delete the knowledge of how a washing machine works, how to make spaghetti or the general use of lemon Pledge. I can still do these things, and, in fact, it is good for me to continue to do these things. They keep my life normal. Thank you for the offer, but please do not break into my home again and become my maid.
And lastly, with the ever-loving family members who are overly-protective, my state-of-mind is intact; my ego may be bruised; and I may search for a higher or different spiritual connection. This does not mean I am joining a cult because I’ve joined a few women’s groups, was invited to go out with a few new friends…and accepted. So what, if this helps me, be glad I’m searching. This is a growing process.
The support of close friends during a divorce is beyond description and cannot be repaid. There simply is no way to let those people, who listen on the other end of the phone for hours (even if it’s just your weeping), know how grateful you are to them. I can only hope that one day those friends will come to me in their great hours of need, and that I can be as great a listener and support line as they were to me.
I have many friends in my life, each a different kind of friendship. I have professional friends, friends from church or school and childhood friends. As an extremely private person, I did not choose to share my marital problems with all my friends. In fact, the majority of my co-workers and friends did not know of my break up until it was inevitable and the legal wheels were turning and in some cases the divorce was final.
It is these well-meaning friends, who I do appreciate, but would really like to pass on to them some tact for us raw skinned, newly independent, single people. Marriage is between two people, not the neighborhood, therefore, it is none of your business what happened; no, I do not want to go into detail about what went wrong; yes, we had good times and obviously bad; of course I’m sad; yes, I have moved and he got the house; the settlement details are none of your business; no, I am not interested in selling my car to you; I have no idea what the future holds; no, I do not want your list of eligible bachelors, and seriously, did you really just ask me if I’d care if you called my ex?
I can overlook when it is family and friends who put their foot in their mouth about my life. These are people who care about me and their concerns are genuine. However, it’s Donna-Do-Good from the PTO who stops me outside the post office to acknowledge that she read I got a divorce. Why, thanks for telling me that today, I nearly forgot!
And then there’s that too smiley receptionist at the doctor’s office who leans toward me at the counter and loudly whispers, “Do you have a new insurance card? Is this a single or family plan now?” I know her as the wife of my ex’s friend. She knows I have a new medical card, and I was just about to hand it to her.
I am overly sensitive to the people on the street or those who you must deal with on a day-to-day basis. Those you must seek assistance from in changing your name and forwarding mail to your new address. I applaud those who eloquently fill out the change form with no questions, in a speedy manner and send you on your way. But there are those, and possibly this is due to the smaller community that I live, who find the need to know why my name has changed…duh!
A Few Tips…
For those who really don’t know what to say to someone who has recently gotten a divorce, do not feel it is your duty to acknowledge the situation. I know I am divorced, I am fully aware of the public records that acknowledge my new status. It is not necessary for you to do too.
A sincere inquiry as to how am I doing and well wishes for better days ahead is really what is needed. This is a time in one’s life when soul searching is a must and that is a one-man, one-woman job. No boost from family, friends or Joe or Donna will help.
Please say a prayer for me and send a smile my way. I would truly appreciate that!