I didn’t talk a lot about my divorce. I felt like I did – but really I didn’t. I’ve always sorta of been someone who preferred to do things on my own, but mostly, I didn’t want to be THAT FRIEND who only talked about her divorce. So I just basically* didn’t say anything unless someone asked how I was doing – and meant HOW I was doing. This had varying degrees of success.
I discovered this had a few…drawbacks, I guess? First, people sort of just filled in their own blanks. My favorite, I think, was hearing that people determined I was “stuck” with my married name – probably the easiest part of the process to deal with, especially since many people never called me by it in the first place. Thankfully, though – as far as I know people have understood the lack of drama behind the circumstances.
Second, the poor folks who did ask suddenly got more than they bargained for, I’m sure. I’m not talking a waterfall of tears, or a whinefest or anything (who knows? maybe they thought it was), but they got an answer.
– Some days were great.
– Some days I wanted to snap at people for no apparent reason.
– Some days I wanted to not talk to any one.
– Some days (most days) I was so thankful to be working with the kids.
– Some days (most days) I was so thankful for my understanding family.
– Some days I wanted to wring his neck.
– Some days I wanted him home.
– Some days I wanted to yell.
– Some days I just wanted to cry.
– Because it was just sad. Nothing else but sad.
This didn’t come out it every answer. It depended on the day and who was asking. I obviously didn’t expect them to fix anything. What could they possibly do? Nothing. I just needed to talk. I needed them to listen. I needed to say out loud what was on my brain – and not to someone who was getting paid to hear it. I wasn’t a problem that needed to be solved, I was going through a process – a mourning. A healing.
And try as I might, I couldn’t do that on my own. But I was also terribly aware of what people don’t want to hear about in everyday conversation.
– They don’t want to hear how deafening the silence is when you used to come home and share the events of your day.
– They don’t want to hear about every time you found another memento of your married life. And then putting it away somewhere. Be it a box or the garbage.
– They don’t want to hear about relearning how to sleep on both sides of the bed.
– They don’t want to hear how “I hope your meeting goes well,” and “thanks” were the last words we said to each other as husband and wife.
– They don’t want to hear about sitting in a board room with only a lawyer, your sister, and a box of kleenex; Saying “I Do” to undo what you said “I Do” to in front of so many family and loved ones.
– They don’t want to hear about how most of the paperwork was mailed off like a rebate, and how I could find out if I was married or not, simply by signing on to a website.
I knew people didn’t want to hear about that stuff. Not then. Not while it was going on. So I just didn’t say it. I doubt many care to hear about it now. Maybe not talking about made people think I skated through just fine. Truly, most of the time, it’s not on my mind. But if it didn’t cross my brain or my heart every now and again, I’d start to wonder if I actually had a heart to begin with.
It is part of my life. All of it. The being married. The breaking apart. And the being a divorced person. Those are experiences I have. Do they define me? No. But I’m always hyper-aware of how often I used terms like “my ex” or “married” (you know – past tense), so as not to offend or irritate anyone – or come off as the Debbie Downer. Most things I’m speaking of don’t actually have to do with the divorce itself – they just happen to have occurred at a time when I was married to someone I’m not married to anymore.
We all have “THAT friend” who seems to come to with their problems more often than you’d like. You hear the same things time and again, and you continue to spout off the same advice, hoping that, just once, it wouldn’t fall on deaf ears. Maybe you’ve been through something similar and came out great on the other side. You wish they’d take their problems and “Talk to Someone.” Maybe the professional can help them figure things out. I admit, I’ve been guilty of the same thing – with people I love a great deal. And Yes. There are many people and issues that do require a professional third party to wade through. But I’m learning that sometimes people don’t need to be fixed, they just need to be heard. More than once, and by a compassionate ear. Someone they know. Someone they can have a beer or ice cream or chips and salsa with. Someone they can watch cheesy movies with. Someone who will hug them while they cry, not just watch them do it.
We all do things differently and in our own time. It’s enough to go through our own problems without having to worry about what other people think about the process through which we go. If you don’t know what else to do, just be there and listen. We’ll probably figure things out on our own.
Oh, and pizza. Pizza is good too.
*As with every rule, there are exceptions. I am so very grateful for those exceptions.