this post contains some language
When we get divorced we initially have no idea of the realities of a whole new world we are entering… as we find our way step by step… (sometimes crawling) through the yucky phase of the initial filing, divorce process and just post finalization, we learn so much. We learn that even though we may have thought life would never be good again we were wrong… and yet in that we also learn that it's OUR life… and the choices we make our ours to make, we affirm they are the right ones for our life and to not subscribe to what other's think of those choices. Stand tall knowing you are making important decisions and making them well… you may have been make to second guess yourself but this is your chance to take life by the reins and decide the direction you wish to go… however much outcry from the pip squeak section.
1. Being divorced brings all sorts of judgment. Sometimes when people find out I had zero conversation with my ex about splitting up and instead merely went and filed for divorce without so much as a word and had him served upon finding evidence of his infidelity people stare with their mouths gaping open. They are shocked and sometimes look at me like: "Who ARE you? Who DOES that?" But at the end of the day you make the decisions that are best for you. Sometimes people cheat on you never believing that you will truly leave. They feel as though they are in the driver's seat and have all decision making when it comes to the outcome of the relationship. When I was married I had already told my ex that if he ever cheated I would divorce him. For some reason people sometimes think you're merely blowing hot air. The day we were sitting in BoomerJacks and having a lunch of burgers and fries the big screen tv flashed to a news segment of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria getting divorced due to Tony cheating. In that moment I verbalized I'd do the same thing; divorce him. He chose not to believe it and that he wouldn't get caught. Fast forward three years to now after filing, if I had it to do over again I would make the same decision. And in light of what happened the day he was served I would have had his belongings removed from the home, had the locks changed and an officer present. Hindsight is 20/20.
2. People think you're not happy because you're single. As soon as you verbalize you're divorced usually two questions are asked. One, they want to know why or how your marriage ended. Two, they want to know if you're dating anyone. If you're not dating they look at you like you must be some kind of weirdo. If you are, they look like Christmas was just delivered and get starry eyed and smile like "Awwww… that's good. Just want you to be happy." Umm… okay? I never said I was unhappy? While you're sharing a bed with someone I have mine to myself. While you're having to ask your spouse permission to go on a girl's trip I'm just going. While you're playing the age old question game of "What do you want for dinner?" I'm eating out of a carton of Ben n Jerry's at 9p.m. at night after just waking up from a nap. I don't know about you… but that all makes me pretty freaking happy.
3. You get accused of being a man-hater. Ah, fun times. People are funny about divorce… they can decide that you hate men because you divorced yours and "couldn't work through it" when they cheated. Or they see you enjoying being single maybe a little too much in their opinion and decide that you must have an issue. Or like me you write a blog about your experiences and they find out about it (google) and decide or at least question if you are a man hater. I've had this happen with a few guys now. In everyday social interactions men are great… as I've found… a little conversation with them can be enjoyable. That also doesn't automatically equate that they are marriage material or healthy (same goes for women). Like I told one guy months back when he said my blog seemed a little man-hating:
"I don't have a problem with men. Just assholes."
4. They question why you changed your name back to your maiden one or why you didn't. I kept my married name because quite frankly despite him being a cheater the mere thought of going back to my maiden name was even worse due to my dad and I would have applied for a whole new last name (can you do that?!) before resorting to that. Some people like their maiden name and go back to it; for some it's a name that they are happy with. Others decide to keep their married name so their name is the same as their kids. Each person has to make the decision that is best for them and at the end of the day it's really not anyone's business.
5. People may automatically think you must be a selfish, uncompromising, unloving person. They may believe that there is something "wrong" with you because it didn't last or because YOU couldn't "make it work." Nothing could be further from the truth though. The thing is… it takes TWO people who WANT to be married to make it work, who are fully invested in the relationship and are both givers. They have to want to make it succeed by their actions on a daily basis. If they are absent, working, traveling and have their face stuck to a phone and are not engaged they are married to their job. There is simply no way a marriage can be successful if one person is doing all the work and trying to keep it afloat on their own. Ultimately, each person must choose to die to self each and everyday to nurture their marriage.
6. They think you're after their spouse. The give you the eagle eye at events, parties, yes even at the school Meet the Teacher when they realize you are sans a ring on your left hand. They guard their other half like you're a vulture after prey… prey you don't even want. You look at them like they must be delusional because you have been married… and you know reality as it is… he (or she) likely has a host of icky habits you wouldn't want to touch with a ten foot pole and you're not attracted to their spouse to begin with. You silently chuckle with amusement to yourself as they whisk their spouse away and give you a glare.
7. People believe you must not have given your spouse sex. The judgment of: "Well clearly he wasn't getting it from you so that's why he went elsewhere" I think this happens a lot for women specifically who have been cheated on by their husbands. Oftentimes people may think if we were cheated on we must not have been taking care of our spouse in the bedroom. (Granted, that may happen but it's never an excuse to cheat; try counseling and if all else fails divorce first). But that blanket assumption couldn't be further from the truth… maybe they were fully invested in the relationship physically but their spouse was selfish from day one and cheated. Regardless, at the end of the day we can't control our spouse. That's a lesson in divorce we learn. We believe we know someone and if they choose to behave differently once we say "I do" they certainly have that power however devastating and unfortunate.
8. People question why you don't have custody of your child. There is probably nothing more that I hate than having to have the conversation of why I don't have custody or even see my son. That conversation is painful and another stark reminder when I have to verbalize it. Yet it's a necessary conversation to have. People need to know the situation they may be choosing to enter into and the background behind it. Usually the conversation goes well… people hear of the manipulation that occurred and the defining turning point in our mother son relationship that eventually led to the estrangement between us. Most people are sympathetic and realize that we only have so much control… we can only do so much to positively influence our children by setting rules, boundaries, etc and if the other parent isn't supportive and instead is actually undermining our authority there is almost little to nothing we can do. They realize we must be patient and hope for eventual change, for the child's eyes to be opened to the truth further down the road and the other parent's behavior to be exposed… hoping that reconciliation of some sort can take place. If you've endured the struggles of co-parenting, child custody woes and even alienation/dv by proxy etc… I know having to explain it to someone you just met can be daunting. It's not the most pleasant of conversations to have… I usually end up getting visibly shaky because it's upsetting to discuss… but at the end of the day you are strong, you are enduring something that will hopefully change for the better one day. You are not less than or an awful parent because you could't turn a train wreck situation around… only God can do that… keeping praying, keep hoping, keep your faith.
In the end you know all the in's and out's of your marriage, your ex and your situation… you know that you went in it with the intention of it being forever. Don't beat yourself up, don't listen to the ones who let judgments spew from their lips or give you withering glances. Don't subscribe to the nonsensical belief that life can't and isn't so much better… you have come out the other side, happier, healthier and rebuilding the life YOU WANT. People come and go, things change and yet you have to be content with who you are and the reflection staring back at you in the mirror. So cling to the truth… if the marriage was great you'd still be in it… if it was love you wouldn't have been called ugly names and been hit, if it was healthy for your kids they wouldn't be going back and forth from one house to the other. You are stronger for what you've been through… never forget for a moment that you are not defined by the fact you are divorced. You are someone worthy of a life filled with support and love not condemnation and shame.