Getting divorce is a series of milestones … making the decision … telling your spouse … telling the children … going public your divorce … moving out … hiring an attorney …Each milestone is its own challenge and often requires another shot of courage especially when it involves opening up to others and being honest about what’s been going.
My current guest, Suzy had been hiding the lack of intimacy in her marriage for many years until she realized she couldn’t keep the facade up any longer. Then it was time to tell her friends and family. Here’s Suzy:
I have two best friends and I told them and one of them was like, “No, he’s not gay. That’s silly.” The other one was like, “He’s gay. Get out!” She’s my best friend. She saw the writing on the wall. She was a hundred percent on board.
It was harder for my other friend, because she was married to an alcoholic, so she was also covering up. It was very hard for her to side with me. Now, she’s gotten out of her marriage, so I’m always able to be there for her, which is great. Those are the only two people I talked to about it, because I didn’t want to waylay him. This is huge gossip for people in government, so I didn’t want to talk.
I did talk to my dad. I’m very close to my dad and I called him at one point and I said, “I want to get out of my marriage,” and I started crying. It brings up emotions talking about it even now. He said, “Suzy, I already know.” He said, “I already know. Whatever you need I’m here for you.”
Parents are amazing, because he knew I couldn’t talk about it, but he could see it. Maybe he didn’t know my ex was gay, but he knew things were really bad, even though I was pretending. That’s the great thing about parents. They see that. By the time I did come out and say, this is what’s going on, he was like, “Just come home. You’re fine. We’ll take care of you.” He was amazing.
My stepmother, who I’m very close to as well, was super supportive and they did a great job of not taking sides. They were just very supportive, but they tried to walk that middle ground, which I think is really great.
I think I probably overprotected my ex through it. My one friend still is mad with me about that. She’s like, “You let him get away with that.” And I did. I’ve got kids. I don’t want to butcher their dad. This is their dad.
I don’t want there to be blame in that, because I get it. If I got married and realized I was gay, how hard is that? That’s incredibly hard to have the courage to confront it when you have such a beautiful façade.
I understand it. I think it’s still wrong. I still think he should have come forward even though it was hard, because the damage was pretty epic.
He hasn’t come out, but I look at my daughters—my daughters are very intelligent, very intuitive kids and I feel like I don’t even have to say anything. I think in their heart of hearts they already know, but they’re not able to vocalize it and I feel like they’re going to “out” him, because both of my girls are louder kids. They’re super vocal with me and I appreciate that, because they don’t let you get away with stuff. I think I don’t even have to say a word. I think they’re going to do it.
I want our kids to learn you’re upfront and honest about this stuff. I want them to feel like they could be bi-sexual, they could be anything and it’s completely acceptable, but let’s talk about it. I don’t want any more secrets. I think that was one of my big lessons out of it was, stop hiding for people.
I think at the end of the day, I’m grateful for how I handled it, because I’m proud of myself and I think my kids will be proud of me for how I did it. But at the same time, it was tough.
The Divorce Coach Says
After you’ve gone public with your divorce you may find friends turning away from you. That’s often more about what’s going on in their lives than anything to do with you. You may be the trigger that causes them to confront their own marriage or they may want to stay away because they’re not ready to face their reality. In this sense divorce can be contagious.
It’s important to have a few close friends with whom you can talk openly and honestly about your divorce, with the utmost confidence that what you say will stay private. I call this your Personal Support Team.
Outside your Personal Support Team, what details you share and with whom should be a considered decision, which can be difficult when you’re feeling hurt, betrayed, taken advantaged of or simply angry. Experiencing any of those emotions should be a red flag for you to take a deep breath and think about what you’re doing, what you will accomplish and the potential impact of your actions on your children. Here it can be helpful to come up with a mantra such as “I want to be the woman with class and dignity” or “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.” When you’re about to start sharing, remember your mantra and ask yourself if what you’re doing embraces your mantra.
What’s your mantra?