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After the head fell off the doll, and the toaster (invented in 1893 in Britain) quit popping, and the sweater shrunk, someone started (in the early 1900s) calling women who weren’t virgins “damaged goods.” More recently a male friend of mine (and yes, we still are friends) told me that divorced women are damaged goods. “Damaged how?” I asked; and the list of damage went well beyond simply having had intercourse.

And the truth is that after I got divorced I felt damaged.  I knew that I was in pieces, had forgotten that the fragments ever equaled a whole, and that somehow felt that it was my fault that the marriage had failed.  It didn’t matter that both marriage counselors had told me that I had to get divorced, saying that my ex had psychological issues that were too much to bare.  It didn’t matter that my ex threatened to divorce me unless I had sex with him on demand, giving a whole new meaning to real time, or that there was a period before he disappeared into his office and shut the door that I wanted to touch him.  It didn’t matter that our son, who had just turned five, said, “Good, now Daddy won’t be mean to you” when I told him that his father had left. No one needed to tell me that I was damaged.

I have spent the last two years digging my way down into the damage to see what I can see. Psychologists say that divorce is like death, but as a culture, we treat it like just one of those things, commonplace, ordinary, trite, humdrum. Heaped on top of my own feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy, I experienced a general aversion from people toward my new singleness, a “find your own kind” mentality, and a simple dismissal: isn’t everyone divorced these days? And all of this made me feel deeply lonely.

I didn’t grow up thinking about myself as a commodity, but as I went back online for the first time, I knew it was what I had become, GOODS: height, body type, hair color, eye color, religious affiliation, salary . . . Without thinking too much I wrote the following profile: A man I know recently called all divorced women damaged goods, and yes, we are still friends, but if you don’t know why this is offensive, please don’t get in touch with me.

Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of messages, but for a period of time, it gave me great satisfaction just to put it out there.  Show me the person who isn’t “damaged goods” who isn’t searching with the rest of us for meaning, peace, and happiness; maybe there is even someone out there hoping along with me for fewer cliches and greater understanding.

I'm focusing on a better future: reduce, reuse, recycle.

(originally posted by everhappilyafter)

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 30 September 2012 17:37 posted by Guest

    Nobody is ever damaged goods: Calling another damaged goods is like saying nobody should ever be different from one another. Your life took a certain path, you had that experience, and now you are moving on. Everyone has different experiences, and you are obviously willing to examine your life path and see what else is possible. Allowingn someone else to label you or your life is not helpful at this point. You need support, not more negativity! If you wanted that you would have stayed married.

    Why, because you were in an abusive pattern, does that reflect on you?? I think you had to go through whatever you went through to get where you are now, which is probably 99% of life! I think psychological trauma needs professional help to assist one in learning tools and ability to cope with that situation, but hopefully this situation would not happen to you again.

    My experience was that I had poor personal boundaries (since childhood) and I had to learn to be assertive - hurting someone else's feelings is better than stringing someone along, or just giving in to conflict because I didn't feel I was worth the fight. Its my life and I am now choosing to live it how I wish, and that means I did divorce my husband, which is somewhat taboo in my family, but they don't have to live my life, I do. I'm the one who has to look back and be happy with the life I lived, and I refuse to spend any more of it unhappy.

    Part of the divorce is that I would never have been happy living the life HE envisioned for us. I also realized I could have been anyone, it didn't matter that he chose me for his partner, it could have been the next girl he dated, he just wanted a partner. And he wasn't coming from a bad place, and he is not a bad buy, but that behaviour was what he had learned from his family (and his crazy church).

    My cliche is that men are like taxis; they are drive around with random strangers until they are ready, then the next girl to get in their taxi is "the one". Don't worry about what others say, and if they choose to be negative, well, are they your friends? I changed friends after the divorce because I refuse to be around negative people, and entertain negative thoughts.