Growing Pains: What My Divorce Taught Me About Friendship

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April 20, 2015

I think my divorce was almost as hard on my best friend as it was on me.

Seriously.

It took me a very long time to tell her what was going on in my marriage, once I started to find out what was going on in my marriage. Close to eight months. And she is my PERSON. Like, my- I am in the greenbelt with a body and a shovel- how quick can you be here? person.

For the record, she'd likely answer, Gimme 5, and then show up with a tarp.

We lived next door to one another, my daughter and her son are good friends- we talked every day. About everything. Except, y'know, the fact that my marriage was a lie and was coming apart at the seams. Because I did not want to accept what was happening, and I kept thinking I could white knuckle my way through it, and that we would come out the other side. And I didn't want her to hate him when we did, and I didn't want her to judge me for staying- even though she never would have.

But I was judging me for staying. Which is, of course, how judgment works.

I was humiliated, and I wanted to be alone in that. I wanted to hold my head up, and go to PTA meetings (as much as anyone, like, EVER really wants to go to PTA meetings) and hang on to my tidy little life. There are tipping points- and her knowing the truth was one of them.

Once it became clear that things were going from bad to worse, I told her.

She loves me fiercely. And she wanted to FIX THINGS. She was terrified for me, and worried that I was in no condition to make the decisions I needed to make for myself. She saw me drinking too much, not eating, not sleeping. She saw me on the floor, undone. She was watching her best friend disappear before her eyes.

She is smart, and tough, and wanted to protect me- and was sure she knew what the best way to do that was. She was concerned that I wasn't angry enough. She and her husband found me a lawyer, she dragged me to church, she and my pastor's wife sat with me after Sunday service one day holding my hands while I wept, because I didn't know how to stop loving my husband. And I needed to.

She took such good care of me, in the best way she knew how.

Our relationship became imbalanced. Too much about me, not enough about her. Sometimes that's necessary. Triage. But I was not a good friend to her during that time. I was too busy not dying from the pain. It was a full time job.

But she was in pain, too.

I remember feeling that way, when my younger sister was going through her divorce. I was enraged on her behalf. I was sure I knew what she should do. I knew what I would do.

I was full of shit, by the way. I knew what I would do until I was actually IN IT. We, NONE OF US, know what we would do, until we are neck deep in it. We should probably stop pretending otherwise.

I think my best friend and I learned a lot during that terrible time. We learned to ask, What do you need? instead of assuming we already knew the answer. We learned how to be better friends in general. Sometimes, it is not enough to love someone a lot, we need to learn how to love one another WELL.

I will never be able to repay her for what she did for me. She is a grace filled, loving, warrior of a friend- and I am not sure I'd have survived my divorce without her. What, on earth, would we do without our girlfriends?

Let's never find out.

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