Saturday, December 30, 2017

You Got This

Several of my friends' marriages broke up this year.

Insert charming and sensitive stock photo here.

Which made me realize...I'm a trendsetter.

I mean, when my own marriage ended a few years back, one thought kept nagging at me, daring me to keep it quiet: You are just about the only person you know who isn't in a long-term, happy, stable marriage. What's up with that?

Indeed. It's true that in my circle of friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, I know married people, and I know single people. I don't know a lot of folks who have gone through a divorce. There's my sister, there's my dear friend SuzyQ, a couple of colleagues from past places of employment, a few other friends and relatives. That's about it. Certainly not 50% of the people I know, which the prevailing statistics would have us believe is the actual divorce rate.

If this trend continues...aaayyyyyyyy.

At the time, even though I knew I was doing what was best for me and Precocious Daughter, I felt pretty alone. And pretty much like a failure.

But then something happened.

When I announced that my marriage was ending, I received an incredible outpouring of support from family, friends, even relative strangers. I was expecting, quite honestly, expressions of sadness, disappointment, even pity. And there were those, sure. But more than anything, I heard that the people who knew me and loved me really cared, and understood, and encouraged me in my new life. 

Not to get too sappy, but it was very much like the moment when the Grinch put his hand to his ear, expecting to hear "boo-hoo-hoo" but instead heard that weird "daboo-dory" song. 

Google tells me it's actually "Fa-who For-aze." Which makes
no sense whatsoever. But still happier than "boo-hoo-hoo."

Anyway, what really blew me away was that the love and encouragement came from people who were happily married, who were religious, who were single, who were dyed-in-the-wool cynics. That's when I realized that marriage is an institution, but so is prison, and in either case putting it behind you should be, more than anything else, a cause for celebration and a chance for a fresh start.

So here I am, a few years down the road, and I'm seeing and hearing that friends are moving out, setting up custody arrangements, taking back their maiden names (or not). Marriages that I assumed were well-oiled machines are shutting down.

Never assume, people. You have no idea what goes on behind the curtain. Ever.

My new favorite image ever.

So in the spirit of giving back a little of what I got when I was going through the same mess, here's my message to people who are "consciously uncoupling":

First, don't ever use the phrase "consciously uncoupling." Gwyneth Paltrow can afford to sprinkle a layer of fairy dust over reality, but normal folks like us can't. Also, don't steam your vagina - you're not a head of broccoli. But I digress.

Second, I'm sorry. Whatever the circumstances of your marriage, you didn't go into it thinking it would end like this. Before you turn your back on the past, take a moment to mourn what you had, or what you hoped to have. It's OK.

Third, you got this. I'm pretty sure you're a kick-ass human. But chances are you feel strange and scared, or you will at times. That's normal at any point in life, not just when you're getting divorced. So don't let anybody tell you that this particular circumstance will make you weaker or less capable. You got this.

Fourth, have faith. Whether you're a traditionally devout person, or a dedicated pagan, believe that you're not alone in the universe. None of us can map out exactly what will happen in our lives. Steer your ship the best you can, but remember that you don't control the wind or the waves. Save a little room in your heart for the unexpected.

Finally, breathe. I love breathing. It's a miraculous thing, and a tremendous privilege. Breathing calms us down, psychs us up, puts us to sleep, wakes us up. You've taken millions of breaths that will never be again, and - I hope - you will take millions more. Each one is unique. Just like you. So breathe.

Whether you're single, married, divorced, widowed, or standing at some waypost in between, unsure where to go and best wishes to all of you.

You got this.


  1. Happy New 2018!

    As opposed to the old 2018, which wasn't much good, seeing that it was the Bronze Age and "medicine" meant the juice of the village quack's root.

  2. I don't believe you made the decision to get married lightly. I do hope it was a happy decision at the time, but I believe you thought seriously and carefully about it and had good reason to think you knew what you were getting into.
    Things happened, though, that you didn't expect, that you didn't deserve.
    With most other situations when things don't go as planned most people are understanding. They say, "The best laid plans..." Why do we treat marriage differently?
    For the record I also don't think you made the decision to get a divorce lightly.


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