Today, brings us to the end of my Mama J series and to wrap up, Mama J shares how getting divorced made her feel.
No one in my ex’s family had ever been divorced, no one in my family had ever been divorced. My parents were married 61 years before my father died and my grandparents were married for 60 years. Even my now husband’s grandparents were married for 64 years before his grandma passed away. So in our families, the thought was you just work it out, you figure out a way to make it work.
So I was a first. However, I think because of the circumstances of my divorce, him having an affair, it made me sort of the victim and everybody really understood. They were all, “How could he have done that to you! You’re such a wonderful person.”
I think that made it easier but it didn’t make it any less traumatic in my brain. I felt like I had failed. “Why couldn’t I have worked it out?” I’ve realized since then that I couldn’t work it out because he didn’t want to be with me, he wanted to be with this other person.
Then it seemed we’d opened the door for others. Within a year of us getting divorced, his sister and his brother were both divorced and my sister, who had been married 25 years also got divorced.
I don’t think I ever felt stigmatized, although when I say “I’ve been divorced,” I feel people look at me differently. Maybe that’s just something I internalized.
I am divorced but it’s not who I am.
The Divorce Coach Says
A couple of thoughts on Mama J’s wrap up … I was the first in my immediate family to get divorced. I didn’t have any friends who’d been through divorce either. I don’t think it made it harder or more difficult to do because when it came down to it, my family and friends supported me. However, it did mean I didn’t have any role models I could look to for what life after divorce might be like. I was afraid to talk to friends about the difficulties we were having because I didn’t want them to treat my husband and I differently.
That period of trying to decide if divorce was the right step was a very isolating time and that’s why I think sharing our stories about life after divorce, helps other women who are facing divorce. Books like Candace Walsh’s Ask Me About My Divorce and Jessica Bram’s Happily Ever After Divorce are helpful resources because they feature women like me and you who we can related to, not celebrities whose lifestyles and problems are on a different plane.
Then … I like Mama J’s point that divorce doesn’t define who she is. That got me wondering why do forms that ask about martial status include a divorced option? Why isn’t it just married or single? I know which box I’ll be checking in future.
I haven’t felt stigmatized by my divorce or felt prejudiced but it does happen. Read M’s comment in Divorce taught me it’s OK to fail. It upsets me to hear that people can jump to conclusions like this and allow their unreasoned concerns to impact the children involved. Got questions? Pick up the phone and call me.
THANK YOU to Mama J for sharing her story. I am especially grateful she talked about Is your life before divorce a void. This was a major breakthrough for me personally – a true AHA moment. I’m starting a new series tomorrow with Student Mama.
Photo Credit: Flickr: arimoore