I grew up as one of those very black and white people…right and wrong, yes and no, etc. So, I have a tendency towards being judgmental (shocking, I know). Over the past few years as I begun living my own story…full of the joys of motherhood and the scars of infertility, I really began trying to look past the external facade and think about the story behind the mask. Interestingly, though, I have struggled with this when thinking about divorce.
I grew up believing in marriage – my parents have been married for 36 years and have weathered lots of ups and downs, but remain committed to one another. I believe that marriage was a lifetime commitment and that there were very few “exceptions” for leaving a marriage. I still believe in marriage, despite my experience. I believe in the beauty of two people choosing the ideals of “until death do us part”. I looked forward to growing old with my ex-husband. That being said, the longer I was married, the more I understood that marriage is hard and the black and white exceptions to divorce were maybe not as black and white as it seemed. Yes, infidelity is an “exception”, but what about emotional infidelity when one partner repeatedly goes outside the marriage for emotional intimacy? What about abuse…where is the line between physical abuse, emotional abuse and the partner who treats the other like they are “less than”. So, over the past few years, I would see someone who is divorced and appreciate that there is probably a lot to the story, but “thank goodness that isn’t me”.
And I here I sit before 7 am on a Saturday, as I was awoken at 5 unable to stop thinking about my own marriage, relationship issues, and now divorce. I tossed and turned for over an hour thinking about my ex and the pain of the past 6 months…and that dragged me into the pain of the past few years. The longer we are apart, the more I recognize how unhealthy our relationship was for years. I can’t really talk about that right now, but I can say that his infidelity was just the final nail in the coffin of a marriage where I had been considered an unequal for many years. One thing I never want to hear again was the thing my ex would always say, jokingly “oh, she is so lucky I love her because no one else would put up with her”. It is only now, months later, that I can see how much I believed that.
So, now I sit here as a divorced woman and the judgmental side of me is trying to creep out because “I am not one of those…”. There is this side of me that wants everyone to know that I am not divorced because my marriage failed, but because my ex is a liar and cheater (which is true). However, I have really had to work on not setting up some hierarchy of divorce where those of us “with good excuses” are at the top, then assorted reasons fall at various levels. I am really trying to look at women (and men) who are divorced and acknowledge that, no matter the circumstances of a divorce, no one enters a marriage with the thought that it will fail. We all walk the stories of our relationships and every marriage is full of its own unique struggles…and every divorce hurts. There is no hierarchy here. I am just one of the legions of divorced parents trying to grieve, trying to heal, and trying to love and parent through pain…and just live my own story.