For some reason I thought it would be different. When I knew that I needed a divorce I genuinely thought that my first husband and I would both receive equal amounts of support from our friends. That we were different from other couples who’s friends would choose sides. Most of these friends were/are still married, almost all of them were the direct result of my kin-keeping. I was 100% wrong.
I’ll be honest with you, this is the scary part. This is the part where I get vulnerable and nervous. The main reason why I left my unhappy marriage is because I met the love of my life. Before you go down the “how could she, that’s awful, she’s a terrible person,” rabbit hole let me say this. You were not in my marriage. You don’t get to judge me. No one does. Not even God. The decision to leave my husband for another man was by far the most painful choice I have ever and will ever have to make.
Here’s where I quote Glennon Doyle on her choice to leave her dysfunctional marriage. Her newest book Untamed played a big part in me finding the courage to be honest with myself that I was in a broken relationship, and the strength to leave the wrong one for the right one. In one of her early podcast episodes she describes the process of being true to herself. Her decision to leave her first marriage for the love of her life, her wife Abbey Wambach, was also a deeply painful one. But the way she describes the journey of how she got there is one that I will carry with me for always. She relates how in her decision to be self-honoring she knew she had to break the hearts of her children and that of their father. The other choice…betray herself & maintain peace. Die inside in the process. No. Absolutely not.
If you have not yet read this book I highly recommend it. Her writing style feels like you are sitting on her couch, drinking coffee & having a conversation. In my mind this is the best kind. She is my writing hero. Were I to ever meet her in person I would probably lose all my words then fall over in horror. I digress.
What they don’t tell you about divorce, god there are so many things, is that your friendships will change. You will lose friends. You might even lose lots of friends. The people you thought would be in your boat when the shit started flowing are somewhere over on the opposite shore of “I just can’t believe it,” “it’s too much,” “how could she do this.” The loss of friendships was also compounded by the fact that my ex started rallying and monopolizing our mutual friends very quickly & very aggressively. It became clear who’s side people were choosing. In many ways it was just as painful as the divorce itself. Each new realization of a friend lost was another slow ripping off of the bandaid. I can say that I currently have 3 friends who have stuck with me thick & thin through all of this. They have been my lifeline. My bestie & sister-from-another-mister put it brilliantly when I told her what was happening. She said, “babe, you’re living in a Jane Austin novel. People are starting to show you who is an actual friend and who is an acquaintance.” She nailed it. I have come to understand that I have few friends and many more acquaintances than I thought. Divorce will shine a light on who stays in your life and who doesn’t.
I’ve been working through this grief & loss with my therapist for almost a year. I’m coming to peace with it. Today I listened to this podcast about how friendships change after divorce. My biggest takeaways are that when you get divorced it can bring up a lot of emotional baggage & triggers for your friends who are still married. This is not your problem. It’s theirs. Some people will now see you as a threat to their marriage. Either because you now have more free time to spend with one of the people still in partnership or because you’re now single & might start chasing after the other spouse in a marriage. Again, this is not your problem. It’s theirs.
Divorce has given me clarity around people’s actions versus their words. I have been completely snubbed by someone I considered a good friend in the presence of my ex. It felt like I was back in middle school having to survive the mean girls. It was awful. There are people I’ve known for 15 years in this community who won’t make eye contact with me anymore when we are shopping at the co-op or dropping our kids off at summer camp. Somehow I have become a threat to them. A pariah. Again, I’m learning that this is their problem. Not mine. Through this I have had to learn how to become more discerning about who I put my energy into and who I don’t. The biggest and most important part in this process however is to not let bitterness into my heart. And so I keep the door open for people to walk through if they’d like to. I can not judge someone because they operate from a place of fear. I can only continue to love them from afar.