A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article about the moments I knew my marriage was over. It was originally published on DivorcedMoms.com and was later featured by The Huffington Post. You can read it here.
The piece wasn’t the first of mine that’s been picked up by The Huffington Post, but judging by the response, I think it was the most popular (and perhaps that’s why it was published on the German site as well). Not only did I receive some ‘thank you’ emails from those who walked a similar path, the article garnered more than 200 comments. Unlike the emails, the comments were rather vicious (if you didn’t click above, are you going to click now?).
I didn’t read them all, but I skimmed through enough to observe a level of animosity that might have been hurtful if not so ridiculous. I didn’t know any of the people on the thread, yet they claimed to know all about me and my relationship. They insisted I was selfish and I was only using my ex. They assumed my ex was a kind and sensitive man who suffered greatly for his efforts to make me happy. Racial and cultural accusations were made. Complete strangers were embarrassed and appalled by/for me. It seems my personal lack of maturity represents everything that’s wrong with the world. And (of course!) my marriage could have been successful if only I’d tried harder.
At first, I wondered if I should’ve told a more comprehensive story. Perhaps those hatemongers would’ve been more understanding if they knew about the In-The-Future discussions that took place before the engagement. Maybe they wouldn’t have assumed everything was my fault if they knew about my ex’s affair. If only I’d described…
But I stopped that line of thinking after I recognized it to be a natural desire to shift the blame that was thrust upon me. Vilifying my ex might make me appear more favorable to the judgmental readers, but what good would that do? After all, the comments weren’t really about me. The larger issue at play was the public’s attitudes about marriage and divorce.
It was obvious when I thought about it: The stories they were telling themselves (and each other) about my character… the accusations about our dedication and preparation…the sympathy for our fictitious children who would have been devastated… the compulsion to shame me for something I’m not at all ashamed of. Those people don’t hate me at all. Instead, they hate Divorce. Their reactions to my story indicate their fear of such an atrocity.
(But, don’t they get it?)
The hate-filled comments represent the reason people choose to suffer in silence instead of walking away from abusive and otherwise unhealthy partnerships. This is why many grow up to repeat the same destructive relationships they witnessed as children. An “intact” marriage isn’t necessarily a productive one.
Furthermore, the hate-filled comments represent the reason a large number of individuals endure painful and contentious divorces. The shame/blame cycle is initially ignited by external onlookers.
Can’t we all just get along? Why do we feel personally threatened by the choices others make? Is Divorce really so scary?
I could probably write several hundred words about Buddhist philosophies relating to attachments, expectations and suffering. In short: to maximize happiness, we need to let go of expectations. Attachments to the expectation (that marriage must last forever), fear (of divorce) and hatred (for those who walk a different path) only brings suffering.
It would be nice if fairy tales represented reality and couples could simply ride off into the sunset and spend Forever being happy together. But that’s not reality. Instead, people grow. Goals shift. Dreams change. And shit happens. We’re not cartoon characters; we’re human beings. Each one of us is beautiful, unique and perfectly imperfectly designed to learn and grow appropriately on Life’s Journey. And that’s wonderful! Why is it so hard to accept?
Divorce alone is hard enough without the societal pressures that come with it. I long for the day when our communities can embrace personal growth and the evolution of families for the highest good of all individuals (without personal judgments about the chosen course of action).
Just for fun… here are some appropriate lyrics for the topic:
“I am changing my name,
I am burning my past
I am laying yesterday to rest at last
I am owning these actions
and setting them aflame
I am not sorry for who I am
or who you wanted me to be…”
“…And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off…”