Straight Talk: When Friends Drop You After Your Divorce
Many of you already know that I tend to see things in a positive light. The title for this article may reflect otherwise. Sure, it could be that I have some leftover bitterness from my own experiences. However, I'd like to emphasize that when all is said and done, there is something great about this topic.
I knew my marriage was over. In fact, I knew it was over way before I was ready to admit to myself that it was over. I had been such a goody-goody since childhood, that I was afraid to face the truth and admit to my family and the world that I had made a decision that was absolutely not for me. I signed up for something that was not me 7 years earlier, and I spent those years losing myself to a lifestyle of barely going though the motions. I thought any chance of happiness was gone for me, as I was not the "type" to get divorced.
I'll never forget the feeling of hope. Divorce was a dirty word until that moment when I went to therapy and I had to face the reality of the option. Until then, I swept it all under the rug. Now I had someone staring at me in the face, asking the simplest questions that I had avoided for so long. From that point on, what it represented to me slowly became a gleam of hope that came with, "Hey wait a second here. I can move ON from this and maybe I can not be severely depressed forever". Gradually, getting out of bed in the mornings became easier, and I found myself crying less and less. Divorce was now a more beautiful word than I ever thought it could be.
Day by day, I felt stronger. I had no idea what I was going to do to support myself, but I felt good. I felt more myself than I had felt since I was a teenager. Interestingly, the few friends that I had locally did not understand. They thought I was unreasonable. He was not a bad guy and didn't hit me or cheat on me. He worked a good job and brought home checks and paid the bills. I only worked if I wanted to work. I got to go to Las Vegas once a year, and if I insisted enough, I could even go to visit my hometown and see my cousins and childhood friends every year or two. Sure, I was not heard out or asked my opinion and nobody believed in my dreams and such, but why would I not be happy?????
I had no answers for them. I was terrible at defending myself. But, just like I ignored people when they said "don't get married", I ignored the ones who now said "don't get divorced". I did not have one friend support me. My sister quickly understood, and her husband was probably the most supportive. My closest friends- all they had were opinions. Nobody seemed to think that maybe I knew what was best for my situation... just because they felt uncomfortable with my choice. I had been quiet about my unhappiness the entire 6 or 7 years, and for that, everybody thought I was being rash and illogical out of nowhere now.
The friends we had as couples didn't really stick around much. They were mostly related to him anyway, so I couldn't expect much support from there. Click here to see an article for an idea of what you can expect from mutual friends. Our closest friends were cordial and just cut down contact. His immediate family mostly decided to cut off contact with me from the moment they heard of the plan to separate. For years they said I was their "daughter" and all of a sudden I was not worth more than scum I suppose. All of a sudden, the peace I felt from my new hope of a new beginning was hurt. I began to feel anger and resentment. I heard rumors that were untrue and some that were exaggerated. I was so hurt and felt that I was treated so unfairly that I began to realize that all my intuition of not feeling good with certain people was right on. It was just very hard to prove. I felt like I had been a quiet daughter-in-law who didn't cause any trouble, and this is what I got for it.
Here's the point: It doesn't matter if you want to be peaceful- sometimes you will be hurt by people you don't expect to be hurt by. I was at peace with my divorce because it was old news for me by the time everyone else knew. I was at peace with myself and now I looked around me and it was my friends and his family that were having some sort of reaction. My best friends didn't show up to my birthday dinner the first year I was on my own. I would not even get a "hello" when it was pick-up or drop-off time for our daughter- I still don't unless I pull it out of them. "This is what divorce is," was their reasoning.
Divorce is not for the faint-hearted. I hope some people go through it with more finesse. I have heard of many situations that were much uglier than mine. If you have decided that divorce is your last resort option, know that you are your first support system. If you are the one initiating the process, know that it has got to be the absolute best option. After all, even if you're not being dumped by your spouse, you can just as easily be dumped by people who you never thought would dump you. Luckily, I found solace in the rebirth of myself.
A new beginning is worth all the rumors in the world. I now am even more careful to not judge others based on their life choices. I also understand better that anyone who looks at me and sees "divorce" before they see who I am as a human being, is perhaps not meant to be my friend. For a person who has always been generally liked and approved of, this is something that I found difficult at first, and I still struggle with it. Had I still been that squeaky clean girl who didn't have baggage, I would have had a lot more friends- but maybe they would have been the friends who disappeared when I needed a hug during a time they didn't understand.
Click here for another quick read on some tips regarding friendships during divorce. I wouldn't agree with the divorce lawyer part though... uncontested is highly recommended if possible. We the People makes it pretty simple that way.