Divorce makes people a little nutty. While in the throes of it, we identify so strongly with our delicate emotions that we behave in a nonsensical manner. As if even the tiniest incident deserves our full attention. As if every word needs to be met with a rebuttal. As if every minor drama is The Fight of Your Life. As if! The following example is a true story (for the most part) from my own Momentary Madness…
Before my divorce, I had a friend from His Side. I was a member of her book club and we saw each other frequently. We weren’t terribly close, but we got along well.
While I was packing my things to move out of the marital home, I paused to send an email to this woman. I kept it simple. The gist of it was: “Hey, I realize we won’t be seeing each other as much from now on. I hope to still see you at the book club meetings.”
Her response came as a surprise to me. I don’t remember it verbatim, but she used phrases like “saddened and disappointed” and “the path to personal growth is not easy.” She also said something about me taking the easy way out. It was somewhat heartbreaking, as I’d expected her to be much more open-minded about the situation.
For days, I agonized over how I might respond. I wrote several email drafts which never saw her inbox. I was hurt. I was confused. Misunderstood. Angry. I wanted to write her a whole book to defend myself. I wanted to stress the fact that he cheated. I wanted her to know that my course of action was not easy! And as far as personal growth? I would be forced to grow more by leaving than by taking the true easy road: remaining in the confines of familiarity, as I’d repeatedly been invited.
“Just let it go,” a friend encouraged me. “She made it crystal clear that she doesn’t want anything to do with you.”
But I couldn’t leave her with the last word. That would be like admitting I was wrong and scurrying away with my tail between my legs. I had my pride, and I wouldn’t allow her to regard me in such a manner! I decided to make my response brief, yet meaningful:
“[My ex] and [his mistress] were dating for a month before he told me he wanted to separate. She moved into my house the day after I moved out. You’re saddened and disappointed by my decision? I’d be disgusted with myself otherwise.”
It was a strong choice of words, and I was incredibly proud of myself. I really showed her! …Or, did I?
Looking back, it all seems quite trivial, as these things so often do from afar. I wasted many hours as I foolishly devoted my energy to the situation… and, for what?
Did it matter then? No.
Does it matter now? No.
So, why did I do it? What was it really about? It wasn’t about her understanding the truth. I’m ashamed to admit it: it was about me pretending to be a victim so I could maintain my sense of pride (and that doesn’t even make sense).
My friend was right. I should’ve let it go. I should’ve focused my energy on redefining myself and rebuilding my life. Drama like that drags us down. It gives us a false sense of accomplishment when, in fact, we’ve accomplished nothing. Beware of the beckoning Crazy Train, which incessantly baits divorcees with opportunities to prove one’s righteousness. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.