A year has passed now since becoming a divorced mom. I still have a hard time saying that. I strongly dislike the word divorce, and I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. If the topic ever comes up, I usually say things like, “I”m no longer married”. Instead of saying “ex-husband”, I refer to my former spouse as “my kid’s dad”. I can’t bring myself to change my status on social media to “divorced”, so I put “single” instead. It’s weird how much a word can make me feel like my identity has completely changed, even though it hasn’t. I’ve easily typed out quick descriptions about me in the past: runner, mom, artist, writer, wife. Nothing has really changed, except for that last part.
So why am I still so hung up on this? Maybe I’m still learning to accept it. Or maybe I’m still afraid of the judgments and questions and opinions that sometimes come up with saying that word: divorce.
Why did they get divorced? What happened? Whose fault was it? Why didn’t they try harder, especially for the kids? What ever happened to keeping a commitment? People just give up too easily these days.
There seems to be a lot of curiosity from outsiders trying to look in. I am just as guilty of it, like when a celebrity couple announces their own split. Even when they ask for privacy during the difficult time, I find myself reading gossip sites trying to figure out what happened. Why? Why am I so invested? Why am I searching for answers about something that’s none of my business?
Maybe it’s human behavior–similar to when there’s a car crash, and you just can’t look away. Curiosity takes over. You want to know what’s going on, even though the people involved in the crash are severely hurt and maybe don’t want an audience. Maybe it’s a similar curiosity with divorce. Or maybe it’s just such a sad and painful thing to go through, that placing blame on someone or something helps ease the discomfort of it all.
The more I work through my own divorce, the more I have realized that a lot of the judgments and questions I’ve worried about coming from other people are just as much my own bias against divorce.
It’s something that I never, ever wanted for my kid – divorced parents. But maybe my own bias got in the way of fully seeing that having two parents fight a lot is probably just as, if not more, traumatizing than having happier parents living in different places.
My own bias got in the way of seeing that two people can try hard – like really, really hard for a long time – counseling, date nights, love languages, marriage advice, all of it – and it still doesn’t get better. Meanwhile, the resentment gets worse. Even unspoken tension creates an unhealthy atmosphere that I also never, ever want for my kid.
My bias clouded my acceptance that two people ultimately waiting for each other to change is never going to work. It’s a simple way to explain it, and maybe the hardest thing to understand.
Some of my bias may partly be due to my Catholic upbringing, where I learned growing up that divorce was frowned upon. Both sets of my grandparents were together 60+ years. My parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this fall. I grew up surrounded by couples growing old together, and I guess maybe I wanted that, too.
Understanding my own opinions and being able to let them go feels like an invisible burden has been lifted. It has created a lot more space for forgiveness, for others and for myself. No longer having to hold onto something that keeps me stuck, I’ve found more courage to reach out, find support, and ask for help from both family and friends I’ve known, as well as form new connections with people I’ve just recently met.
A year later, there’s still pain and sadness at times. This new world still has some communication issues and conflicts that come with co-parenting. Single mom life is exhausting. But, there’s also more happiness and peace.
I’m not sure it really matters who initiated a divorce, if both people agreed on it, or why it even happened. Divorce just sucks. If you’re going through or have been through divorce, I get it now. No judgments here. No more bias. Not anymore.