In Her Words
Coping with Your Label
I’m a divorcee and still can’t believe it
– Shawn, Divine Caroline
I’m a divorcee.
Sometimes I still can’t believe it. Growing up, one of my dreams was to fall in love, get married, raise a family, and live happily ever after. Yet here I am in my late thirties, divorced, childless, and living with roommates in a rental property in the second most expensive city in the country.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. With the exception of a few details, I wouldn’t change a thing. Every once in a while though, it becomes physically impossible to block David Byrne’s voice out of my head: “How did I get here? My God! What have I done? Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down….”
I’m thankful I’m not living in Victorian times when divorce wasn’t even a real option. Or in the 1950s when divorce must have seemed like a personal affront to June Cleaver. Thank goodness times have changed. Or have they?
Our country’s political correctness has resulted in having a lot of incorrect and not-so-nice words changed on the paperwork we fill out for pretty much everything. Remember when Asian-Americans used to have to classify themselves as “Oriental”? It wasn’t that long ago. But there’s still one piece of unnecessary information that lives on in the relationship status box on our paperwork. You guessed it: “divorced.” Why can’t the marketers of the world be satisfied with knowing that I’m just single? Is there some crazy plan to niche-market certain products to divorcees? Maybe full-sized cars with larger trunks so we can secretly pack away the china and the bath towels we didn’t get when things ended?
I know what you’re thinking. I sound like one of those bitter, sad women from the divorce group in Jerry McGuire. The truth is, I’m not sad and I’m not bitter. Getting divorced was the right thing for me. Just while I was writing this I figured out what I really am. I’m ashamed. Maybe the times have changed, but it seems I haven’t changed with them. In fact, the times are kicking my ass and because I’m ashamed I didn’t stop my marriage from ending, I’m letting them deliver quite a beating.
You see, I was never going to be one of those people. I would never be the type of person who just let her marriage end. I would never give up. I most certainly would never willfully ignore my gut and other red flags and enter into a marriage with any doubts. You’d have to be pretty stupid to do that, right?
I did all of those things and more. And maybe now I just feel like a little bit of a dumbass. I have to take my frustration out on some stupid paperwork because it’s all I can do. I can’t possibly explain the circumstances of my divorce to every single person I tell who lets the slightest bit of shadow cross his or her face when I say I’m (use dramatic whisper) divorced. What I want to say is “I used to think like you! I used to think this would never happen to me, too!” But I don’t say that and I shouldn’t feel compelled to. Yet somehow I do, somehow my attitude and coping skills are still stuck in 1954.
Someday I will forgive myself for being divorced. Someday I will not treat myself like a leper, wondering how anyone would ever want to commit to a person that could toss away a vow so frivolously. Someday I will stop wondering why people are so judgmental, why they won’t go out with me again once they find out I was married before. Someday I’ll figure out if I’m mad at them or if I’m mad at me.
Perhaps someday I’ll even stop cursing the relationship box in paperwork.
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