You aren’t the first to divorce, you won’t be the last. Believe me, everyone is not talking about your divorce.
People want to be remembered. Publicly recognized. Adored. But when you go through a divorce, this desire for recognition is reversed. If it were an option, you would elect to quietly fade into the background. Just pretend like you don’t exist, please.
When I was checking out in the grocery store aisle, I was browsing the magazine rack and read the titles in bold “Angelina ended up the villain in her divorce.” At first, I felt bad for her, like I did when people were saying that about me. But maybe celebrities don’t mind the attention and speculation because like Trump says, it’s all “fake news.” Insert eye roll here!
But, for a normal person going through a divorce, public talk of your divorce is a totally mortifying thought. I remember being furious and humiliated when I heard my name come up in the morning coffee club that the seniors in town go to. They drank coffee, rolled dice to see who would pick up the tab, and they gossiped about why I was getting a divorce and speculated who should get what.
I call this hypersensitive divorce mode.
It’s when you take things too personally, blow things out of proportion, and even make wrong assumptions about what other people are thinking. In hypersensitive divorce mode, I thought I was the topic of coffee talk across the county. How can I show my face in town after this public humiliation of failure? I didn’t want to go to the local grocery store, or even walk my dog in the neighborhood.
I believed that my ex husband was an evil troll who ruined my life. And if I sensed that you didn’t share this sentiment, then you were on the enemy’s side. If you silently questioned my innocence in the matter, you became a minion of the evil troll in my mind. He was a narcissist, so it was easy for him to get people to rally around him. I didn’t even try. I just rolled over and gave up. I thought, why bother trying to defend myself, when I know he would fight tooth and nail to make sure that my reputation was demolished.
I was so hurt and emotionally confused that I defaulted to believing the world was against me.
Everybody was out to take advantage of me or would eventually betray me. I didn’t trust my neighbor that I’d run into when I was walking the dog, any information I gave them I knew would end up in his hands. I felt betrayed by my aunt who wouldn’t give a character witness testimony for me in court because she was “too busy”. The betrayal and mistrust saturated all my relationships because I thought they had all turned against me.
This is simply wasn’t true.
And it isn’t true for you, either. While you shouldn’t be naive and assume people will watch out for your best interest, nor are they out to betray you and steal your favorite color. They are too busy to care about you. Yes, you will be an easy target for coffee gossip, because divorce is always a juicy bit of news, but it is temporary.
In the grand scheme of coffee talk, your divorce story will only be a blip on the radar.
I remember a blip on my radar in high school. I fell out with my group of girlfriends and had to show up to school events alone. At the time, I thought that was the most humiliating thing I could ever experience. They pointed at me and whispered to each other. Like an alien walking into a prom dance. Embarrassed and out of place. But now, I see that as a blip on the radar. Insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Plus, weeks later, nobody noticed anymore. There was a new normal. People forgot about my drama and moved on to someone else’s drama. A new source of gossip. I wouldn’t be surprised if Angelina Jolie and her lot actually cause the drama on purpose because if the grocery store aisle tabloids don’t have a new story to gossip about, she will be forgotten.
Just like a child grows out of a temporary problem like thumb sucking, the sensational story of your divorce is a temporary piece of gossip. Soon enough, another neighbor will cheat on his wife and the next gossip story will be born.