Stigma is a word we don’t talk about much these days when it comes to divorce. It’s completely glossed over on TV or movies. Divorced women are always portrayed by a middle aged lady who was the perfect wife crying in a bathrobe over her husband who left her for his secretary but then wins a five star vacation on a radio contest and transforms into an empowered, red lipstick-clad world traveler. OR it’s an empowered, red lipstick-clad business woman who was the perfect wife but her husband never appreciated her dedication to her career and also he cheated on her with his secretary because he’s intimidated by her wild success and she reclaims herself with a five star vacation.
But hear me out…
Some of us are regular moms. We don’t get to embark on three month long jungle trips to find ourselves. We are struggling to find socks before school in the morning (don’t even think about asking for matching) and we are making pasta for dinner (again) before soccer practice. And we don’t all have sassy gay friends to give us makeovers. And we don’t have a crew of girlfriends to take us out dancing every weekend and do yoga in the park. Because our crew of girlfriends are still regular moms too and sitters are hard to come by.
I CHIME IN with a haven’t you people ever heard of…a normal suburban divorced lady with two kids just doing her goddamned best? (Did you sing it?)
There were things I had to deal with in the wake of our divorce that I didn’t expect.
For example, if you’re not dating, you’re constantly encouraged to get on a dating app (I didn’t.) If you are dating, you’re questioned about whether it’s going too fast.
Other moms that you thought were your friends “report” back to your ex-husband when you’re in the late line for school pick up, which is a lot because guess what, you have to work now. (Also, joke’s on you because I was frequently in the late line when I was still married, thank you very much.)
Some people just stop talking to you all together. And to them I politely say, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. (I believe that is Psalms.)
Perhaps my favorite anecdote of all happened a couple of weeks ago when I was at a Women’s dinner at my church. A mom friend of mine gave me a big hug and said to me in front of a group of people, “Hey! I’ve been following your Instagram and you seem happy, but are you really?”
Excuse me, Brenda?
Is my non-shared life just cocktail party fodder now because I’m single? Do I ask you if you and your husband are as happy as you seem on Instagram? Honestly. The audacity. “Hey, I saw that you guys went to Disney, but between you, me, and these other dressed up ladies sipping white wine at this church dinner, how is Bud’s porn addiction, did you guys get a handle on that yet?”
My point is this…whether you’ve been through the process of coming out of hibernation after a divorce and all the social awkwardness that comes with it or not, remember how it feels when you’re vulnerable. Remember how it feels when you’re fragile. Remember how it feels when someone has embarrassed you and you have no idea what to say. Remember how it feels to have something in your life implode publicly. Remember how it feels when people you thought were your best friends don’t call you for months. Remember how it feels to be humbled, to look back and realize you weren’t perfect and you’re not a victim and you’re just a normal person like everyone else.
And use those memories to recognize and help other people get through those times.
And no matter what -if you possibly can -take a five star vacation. And post all that ish up on Instagram.