I don’t have to tell you that considering, going through and surviving a divorce is not easy. Kids, finances, emotional baggage, crazy exes—some days, you feel like it’s all on your back and you crumple.
Other days, you take your sweet warrior self to the mall or to your mom’s or your best friend’s, the bakery, the spa, the gym—whatever does it for you—and you realize you’ve got this.
And then some chucklehead comes along—almost always an undivorced chucklehead—and decides it’s time to give you advice so your poor pitiful self can stop screwing up your family’s life.
For me, these people usually come in the form of religious zealots who see my divorce as an attack of the fabric of America, or people who have decided to comment on my blog to give themselves an audience of a few thousand people they otherwise would not have.
I used to get so steamed by it. At some point, my inner zen kicked in. I think when I realized what idiots people could be. See? Don’t I sound zen-like?
Seriously, I think I’ve heard it all. From the woman who commented on my very heartfelt piece about my first weekends alone after the divorce was final (“Well, children should always come first. So, you’re just going to have to deal with what you’ve done.”) to the man who sounded quite young as he waxed eloquent about “a promise is a promise and the person you marry should be your sun and moon.”
I now know what I wish I would have thought to say then. You want to learn on me? Borrow my phraseology? Go right ahead, girlfriend. Sock it to ‘em. But with a smile on your face. Kill them with wisdom and kindness. But know, that after you do this—if you decide they’re worth the time you take to do this—you’ll have to be willing to let them go. Post-divorce pruning is just a given.
Here you go, an example “pruning” letter:
“I am divorced. The who, what, where, when and why of that is none of your business unless you also want to share with me the details emerging from your bedroom and most private spousal conversations. Oh, really? You don’t? Shocking. Guess what? I don’t either.
The fact that I am divorced and you are not in no way, shape or form gives you the moral superiority card. That grimace, the tight lips, the furrow between your brows? All tell me you put up with a lot. That martyr complex is not welcome here. Your misery does not demand that my misery remain. A healthy choice for me is not a judgment against you.
A marriage that remains legally intact is not always a successful marriage. Some of the most successful marriages I’ve seen do not span multiple decades. A successful marriage is one in which partners love, support each other and grow. When one or more parties stops supporting that foundation, and no amount of earth shaking changes that fact, the marriage is over. Even if not on paper.
When you gossip, you don’t really hurt me. Honey, if you knew what I’ve been through over the past couple of years, you’d realize your power to hurt me is negligible. But, it does hurt my children. Are you in the business of hurting young children? If so, keep talking. Keep speculating about the cause of the demise of my marriage. Keep wondering if I’ll clear enough this year to keep the house. But know that it trickles down. Your attitude, that is. To school and our children. And that is hurtful. That’s where you’ll do something I not only won’t forgive, I won’t forget.
And last, you’re really not qualified to give the advice you’re throwing out there. Unless you’ve taken some sort of correspondence course in marital counseling of which I’m unaware. Every marriage is unique. Some people scream at each other but love till death do them part. And are perfectly happy that way. Others love quietly, in the most bland way. But it suits them. Others stay together for the kids and in the process, make the kids freaking miserable.
So, save your advice for your gardening club, your knitting buddies, your mousy sister-in-law who doesn’t know how to tell you to shut up.
Fortunately, I do.
And that’s when you smile, turn your sweet self on your heels and slowly—oh so slowly—walk away. Never to look back.
You’re on your way, sweetie. To an all-around better place. And the people who frequent that place? They don’t know this woman. And probably never will have an interest in doing so.
Your peeps await.