You Can Move Forward With Me, But You’ll Have to Travel Light.

This post is my first Guest Post, by my friend Cara.  She is a fabulous jewelry designer (you can find her website here) and recently divorced.  She is looking for advice on how to connect with other divorced moms in the most positive way, something she is finding challenging.  If you have advice, she’s all ears.

Ten months ago, when my divorce became imminent, I remember thinking, “No one I know is divorced.”  The thought was isolating, sobering. Now, due either to the laws of attraction or simple statistics, every other person I meet seems to be in some stage of divorce.  In conversation, when we establish that we’re among the ranks of the Divorced in some way, we have an obvious common ground and simple questions are asked: Who’s your lawyer? Have you filed yet? How’s *it* going? All above board and fairly impersonal.

Sometimes, though, the conversation quickly degrades into a marriage/spouse bashing session.  A hue of  “This is why I deserve my divorce” is added to the exchange.  I don’t discount the need for support and the feeling that we are not alone on this hellish journey to single status.  I do loathe the back and forth about who did what and wants what and on and on. I have had those discussions and I don’t find them to be particularly healing or even cathartic.  I have found that they can make me feel worse.

I know divorce is a gut-wrenching experience and that sometimes people need to just spew their anger and frustration about it. During the process people find out more about themselves, their to-be-ex-spouse (and friends and parents, for that matter) than they might have wanted to know.  For me,  I found out that I’m not comfortable airing my dirty laundry.  I also didn’t want to Monday Morning Quarterback my whole marriage nor did I want to relive it.  (If I’d wanted that, I could have just stayed married.)  I don’t mind sharing the facts but you aren’t going to find me bad-mouthing my spouse to everyone I know.  My goal is to leave my marriage in the past.  If I am talking about how upset my ex-husband makes me, then I can’t do that.

My problem is, then, how do I deal with other divorced moms (usually, with a dad here and there) who bash their ex-spouse?  Does it make me insensitive or unsupportive to not want to perpetuate the bashing cycle? Do I stand there, smile weakly and nod or do I find a way to force the conversation down a more positive path?  Is it even my place to dictate the flow of the conversation? What do you think?

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5 responses to “You Can Move Forward With Me, But You’ll Have to Travel Light.

  1. I’m not divorced and I don’t know if you have children but if you do, good for you. My parents divorced after 30 years when I was in my mid-twenties and even then it traumatized me. BUT I am grateful for how they handled (or tried to handle) it. You are still the same person you have always been and you can always steer a conversation in the direction you are comfortable. You may find that these women will not be attracted to you – the wounded seek out the wounded and if you are not wounded they will likely go elsewhere. You may help others be more positive if you steer the conversation more positive.
    What do I know… just my 2 cents!

  2. My ex-husband is a huge douchebag. That being said, I don’t bring that up to people I’m talking to about my divorce. I tell them that things didn’t work out, that we are civil now for our kids, that we’re both happier than we were. My close friends hear all of my grips, of course, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to jump into the laundry list of things you divorced your spouse for with someone you don’t know that well.
    I think you’re absolutely justified in feeling uncomfortable around people who do that. I would suggest politely cutting them off when they start in on an ex, saying something like, “Yeah, I’m sorry to hear that. Divorces are hard on everyone. That’s a great dress you have on!” Change the subject, distract them with a compliment, anything to get out of having to listen to them gripe but still being the “nice” guy.
    Good luck!

  3. A applaud your decision to not bash your ex or relive the trauma! I’m sure you find it very peaceful. I would encourage you to share that feeling with those who havent found it yet, share your point of view on keeping it all in the past and maybe just maybe you will help these other woman in a way you couldnt have imagined.

  4. I totally agree with your post. Except for a couple of close friends, I never speak of my ex at all and won’t bash him. It’s not that I don’t think he’s a total ass because I do, but A) I have kids and wouldn’t want them to overhear me, and B) I think women who rip on their exes look like shrews who can’t get over themselves or their marriage.

  5. I view it as I can’t change the past so why fight it? It is what it is. Deal with it or Die with it.

    I’m not ready to die yet…