In the book, “Rebuilding after your relationship ends” by Dr Bruce Fisher it comments on the fact that many of your friends tend to disappear when they hear the word “divorce” because in some way it makes them consider their relationships and the faults and failures therein.
This weekend, I was speaking with my cousin and was telling her that divorce really dictates who your true friends are. At one point I thought that marriage did – but in a way marriage makes more people flock around you. People love a celebration and what is a wedding if not that? But then many of them disappear, because as much as they love a wedding, the marriage part is none of their business really…..But during said marriage, you end up with a plethora of other smug marrieds that you hang out with and make your little community with knowing looks and sympathetic nods towards the singletons around you. I should know. I was one until recently.
Then I became taboo – separated and soon to be divorced….and when certain married friends heard about that, they did the obligatory “I am so sorry to hear that” and then hightailed it as far as possible from me. And I was hurt. And upset and ready to say that they weren’t friends because they had deserted me, possibly at a time when I needed people around me the most….although at the same time the only thing I wanted to do was disappear into the floorboards and die a quick, pain free death.
But, something happened while I was telling my cousin this….and I realised a few things. First and foremost, I have been guilty of this type of unrealised desertion too.
In the past, when I was smug married (with a particular emphasis on smug), and I heard of someone getting a divorce, I was always “sorry that you have to go through this” and possibly a bit judgemental about it. Then I tended to leave them be… possibly deserting them without realising it. And then a lot of the time I would criticise certain life choices they made (to the hubby, not to the friends) …which I now realise they probably made in an attempt to deal with their pain and quest to survive.
But then I like to think that I also gave advice if I could, about how you have to be strong and these things happen for a reason and life goes on and you’ll find someone who treats you better and you deserve better. Little did I realise how empty those words come across when your heart has been ripped out slowly over the years until you can no longer take the pain and are forced to scream”Stop” and to run away.
Little did I realise that perhaps, like many of my friends have started avoiding me, I avoided them.
Yes I sound like a horrible person, and so do my friends who have suddenly gone quiet, but after reading that chapter in the “Rebuilding when your relationship ends” book, I realised that a point they made has hit home with me. People, especially those in relationships, are made uncomfortable by another relationship breaking up, partially because it makes them examine their relationship and see all the flaws within that they once were able to ignore.
They don’t ask the divorced person for details because they are terrified that they will hear the problems that their heart knows exists in their relationships but that they choose to dismiss. In other words, if they found that a problem and we have the same problem, is our relationship doomed as well?
Perhaps, but perhaps not. You see to me the problems that lead to a divorce a are not the little niggling or even the big issues themselves. The problems that lead to divorce is the inability or unwillingness of one or both partners to deal with or address those problems. And that is what kills a relationship. Stubbornness, stupidity and plain and purposeful ignorance of the facts.
Human beings in general just don’t like to deal with nasty stuff – but the longer you leave an elephant in a room, the bigger it grows until it causes the room to collapse. And that my friend is what happened to my marriage. The elephant was ignored, even when it was pointed out that there was one (by either someone in the room or someone looking in from outside), it was continually ignored and potentially encouraged to stay enclosed. The room collapsed and I was trying to duct tape it back together McGyver style and ignore the fact that it had collapsed. But even McGyver can fail miserably and disastrously.
Anyway, the point of this was that I understand why people are avoiding me. I understand why they message “I am so sorry” and then never reply to my texts or messages after. I understand why they do not want to get involved, and in a way, I think I should be complimented. Because most of the very people I thought would be there to support me the most were the ones who ran the fastest and the furthest….and I choose to understand it in the following way….
I believe I shocked the shit out of them when I told them that the hubby and I were separated and getting a divorce after our 14 year relationship.
I believe this because they thought that we were such a loving couple with such a strong and cohesive union that they would never have imagined something like this to happen to us. (Put us up on a pedestal with Nicole and Tom, Gavin and Gwen and all those other shocking celebrity divorces why don’t you?).
And I think the urge to run away, that overwhelming sense of fear that overtook them was because the first thought that hits anyone when you hear the “perfect, loving” couple has broken up is that if it can happen to them, then it can happen to just us “Joe-blow” couples.
I choose to believe that their reaction means that my marriage, at some point, was enviable. And I agree whole heartedly.
When my marriage was good, it was ridiculously amazing. As my ex-husband said once to me, “Together we are an unstoppable force…”. I really hope he meant it because at one point it was 112% true….unfortunately he said it when it was perhaps 0.5% true and not before.
So I should celebrate the fact that, although my life is in shambles and my marriage is completely broken for good…at one point, I enjoyed my marriage. I thrived in it once upon a time and I do not, for one second, regret it.
What now? Perhaps to convince my friends that divorce is not an infectious disease. Or perhaps to take a closer look and see if my marriage is not the only relationship that I need to take a step away from….
Either way, I wish th soon-to-be-ex-hubby all the best in his continual quest for excellence in his life and I am currently working on a plan to put my life back on track….and in case you are still wondering why the blog got so quiet for a while out of the blue …please re-read this blog and make some educated assumptions (which I think are pretty clear at this point).
Cheers and go hug your family.
Love always, BB.