The D-Word and the F-Word

I’ve been pretty quiet on here since my divorce in June. It’s certainly not because I haven’t had anything to write about; to the contrary, I could have published a litany of posts about marriage, relationships, and divorce, but I’m glad I didn’t because my thoughts and experiences were so jumbled by depression and stress and uncertainty that my thoughts not only wouldn’t have been coherent but would’ve been fairly cynical too. Now, I’m finally staring to feel better. Not better as in “Everything is fine!” but better as in “I don’t want to kill myself anymore!” I’m kinda like the dog in that GIF:

this-is-fine.0

Which is way better than I used to be, so I’ll take it!

Here is part one of my post-divorce thoughts, which I’ve entitled “The D-Word and the F-Word.”

***

Whenever I tell people I got divorced, their faces contort into sorrow and they moan, “I’m soooo soooorry!” Then I’m immediately placed in the awkward position where I either 1) have to find the energy to smile and happily reassure them that I’m fine, or 2) if I don’t have the energy to do #1, just shrug it off. By this point I’m used to the constant outpouring of sympathy, and I’ve been through enough therapy that I genuinely am feeling good about myself, so I’m a little jaded by the Pity Train that starts chugging my way every time someone notices that my ring finger is conspicuously bare.

I’ve recently been given a new position at work that I’m really excited about. I was introduced to a new colleague I’d be working with last week, and when she asked if I was married and had a family, I responded, “No, I actually got divorced this summer.” I braced myself for the oncoming onslaught of simpering platitudes. But instead, she replied,

“Congratulations!”

I literally hugged her. Finally, an appropriate response to what I had been through! “Well,” she told me, a little flustered, “Either you decided to leave him, and in that case, it was the best decision for you. Or, he left you, which in that case, it’s his loss and now you can be with someone who deserves you! In both scenarios it was for the best.”

YES!!! So much yes!

Don’t get me wrong…getting divorced is hard. It is painful. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life. However, being divorced is great! Not necessarily “wake-up-every-morning-with-a-smile-on-your-face” great, but “wake-up-every-morning-and-even-if-I’ve-been-crying-all-night-I-can-pull-myself-together-and-get-through-the-day-knowing-I-have-made-the-choices-necessary-to-eventually-obtain-happiness” great. Just as my colleague said, whenever anyone makes the decision to part ways, it is never taken lightly and is always a result of serious deliberation over what is in the couple’s best interest.

In my case, Scott and I had developed different life goals and values throughout the course of our marriage. The things we each wanted out of life in 2018 were very different than what we wanted when we got married in 2015. There was no way to reconcile or compromise on the things we differed on, and we would have resented each other had we stayed together. Whatever pain we felt immediately after the split pales in comparison to the unhappiness we would have experienced as an incompatible couple later in life.

So, it kind of annoys me that the D-word–“divorce”–is so stigmatized in today’s society. It is associated with another dirty word, the F-word: “failure.” You got divorced, so your marriage failed. You failed to be a good wife. When I tell people that I’m now single, I am haunted by those stigmas. But the thing is, I honestly don’t believe that’s true! I could’ve done a lot of things differently in my marriage, I regret the way that I handled (or didn’t handle) certain issues, and I sure as hell could’ve been a “better” wife by some definitions, but I DO NOT feel like a failure. In fact, because of what I’ve experienced this summer, I actually feel like I’m a good person for the first time in my life. Flawed, yes, but ultimately good; the kind of nuanced flux of goodness and weakness just like most other people in the world.

My close friends already know this; I genuinely thought I was a bad person all my life because I did not “measure up” in so many ways. It’s interesting that going through something that society labels as “BAD” made me see how absurd that belief was.

Divorce is rough. I’m lucky that we didn’t have kids or pets together, that our shared assets were minimal, and that Scott was cooperative throughout the process. But it was still rough. I’m not trying to minimize the pain any divorced person experiences in any way. However, I do think we as individuals and society at large can start to distance ourselves from conflating divorce with failure.

I used to believe that “Everything happens for a reason.” Now, I’m not so sure. My approach to life these days is more like “Shit happens,” and that’s been incredibly liberating. Instead of constantly searching for a cosmic reason for my suffering, I can just deal with it head on. Marriages aren’t always great. People get divorced. Shit happens. It’s your choice whether to gripe about how people don’t stay married anymore, or you can realize that the reason people stayed married in the past was because women actually had no rights, and try to understand that just because others make different decisions than you doesn’t mean they are wrong or bad. Just a thought.

Yes, I got divorced. Stop feeling sorry for me; I’m not a failure!

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