When you share the details of your divorce will it be the truth or will it be trash?
The thing about divorce is that everyone wants to know what happened. Some will come right out and ask what went wrong, while others try to be polite by not asking us directly and seeking to satisfy their curiosity through others. Our parents and siblings will want the scoop (unless they were privy to the inside happenings of your marriage and already knew). Our co-workers and other associates will catch wind of big changes in our life and pry for details. Even our children will eventually want to know the story.
In each of these discussions that will take place, there is one direction or another we can choose when we share the events of our divorce.
Truth or trashing.
There is a difference!
To tell the truth is to simply lay out the facts, pretty or not. Of course, there are always two sides to every story, so my version of the truth is how the events occurred from my perspective and how they affected me. It’s my truth. My reality. But, if you really wanted to know, and I decide to share with you, this is it!
Trashing goes an extra step beyond truth. Trashing can be entirely truthful, but it includes all the colorful emotion, opinion, and probably quite a bit of oversharing to relate the events. Trashing comes from a place of disgust and hurt and is often motivated by a need to even the score, discredit our ex, and release frustrations. Trashing, however, can include exaggeration and manipulation of the truth; so, the audience may have to listen with a grain of salt.
Truth and trashing both have a place in the fabric of a divorce. We hope for only the truth to come out in the court or when the facts will have a bearing on important decisions. Trashing is something we probably all engage in, at least to an extent, because, let’s be honest, it feels good to release our frustrations!
Be careful, though, because there’s a time and a place for trashing, and it can definitely come back to bite you!
Do get everything off your chest to your best girlfriends, your mom, or only those you can trust to share a good laugh with you, but otherwise keep their lips sealed.
Don’t put all your garbage on display on social media. What you say may be used against you in court, and tacky TMI is probably something you’ll come to regret later!
Do share every relevant detail with your counselor, lawyer, or anyone helping you through the divorce so that they have the information they need to assist you and understand the full scope of your pain and emotions (don’t waste your lawyer’s time or your money, however, with anything fabricated or needlessly petty).
Don’t trash your ex to or in front of your children- ever! Although children may eventually want to know why their mom and dad are no longer together, they do not need to hear every gritty detail of what your ex did wrong, how much you hate him, or how much of a loser you think he is! Not only could all of your words go right back to your ex, but these words are very hurtful to children!
What’s the difference?
To make it all more clear let’s review a hypothetical divorce situation and how the story could be shared through either truth or trashing:
Jill and Adam were married for 14 years and had four children. During their marriage, Adam was physically, verbally, and financially abusive. Adam regularly hit Jill, threw items at her, belittled her in front of the children (who were mostly too young to remember the events clearly), and he spent the couple’s money going out drinking with his friends. Several times the family’s utilities were disconnected and cars were even repossessed as a result of his spending. Almost ten years later, the kids are teenagers, and they have started to ask questions about what happened in the marriage.
The trashing version might include: Adam was a crazy, violent, drunk, irresponsible, asshole who caused us to go broke, terrorized us, and made our life a living hell!
There’s probably nothing untruthful about this version. Trashing could have even gone on to speculate that he was picking up women in bars and sharing plenty of colorful examples of events from their marriage that drove Jill to divorce him. Her lawyer, friends, family, and others around her probably need to hear the blunt truth about what was going on so that they can wrap her up in their support.
Now, considering the audience, her children (and others who don’t need the colorful version) should hear something more like; Adam and I had many problems during our marriage. We didn’t agree on how to manage our money and had a lot of financial problems, and we had a lot of conflict and arguments. The environment in our home was not safe or peaceful for you or me, and I decided it would be better for all of us if your dad and I no longer lived in the same home.
As the kids grow up and depending on how much they have figured out for themselves, it may be shared that there was abuse. It is important for kids to understand that abusive behavior of any kind is not acceptable. Not only should they not act in an abusive manner, but they should not accept abusive treatment from a partner. We just have to be very careful about using words like psychotic, crazy, control freak, deadbeat, and so on when it comes to describing a child’s parent.
As we all know, truth and trashing can go both ways; so, most likely we have all experienced being the subject of an ex’s stories about the end of our marriage.
It used to really bother me to think of what kind of crazy lies my ex came up with to justify his stance in our divorce, but I finally accepted that it’s an inevitable and ugly part of divorce, and anyone gullible enough to accept his trashy account of our divorce was welcome to him!
Now, I almost chuckle at what one girlfriend after another has probably been told about me! I’m sure they’re all sold a tragic tale of how I abandoned him…never mind all the reasons he gave me to leave him! I take solace in knowing that relationship-after-relationship, they all eventually figure out what he’s all about and dump him!
My kids are old enough that they’re started to figure things out for themselves. They know each of our personalities and how we manage our lives well, and it’s obvious to them that we are not compatible. They may tell me about an event and I might respond with something like “I understand and I’m sorry. I experienced the same when we were married.” There are some things, however, that I doubt I will ever share with my kids about their father. I think it would hurt and embarrass them to know all of the truth about him, and I don’t think it’s necessary for them to know everything!
So, truth or trashing- what will it be? We can probably expect to be the subject of both at one time or another and to be in the position to share the events of our divorce through one form or the other. I always recommend sticking to the truth even if it’s a lot of the truth or the edited down version appropriate for a particular audience. Never forget that we are always the hero in our own story, just as we are probably the villain in someone else’s!