It was a friend’s birthday party, and she was one of the few who continued to extend branches of human kindness to me throughout the devastation of my divorce. And so, alone, I went to the party. A year and a half prior I was at another party with all the same people. But I had been married then. This time, I was not.
Her greeting to me when I sheepishly (in retrospect COURAGEOUSLY) walked into the party alone was, “Oh my gosh!! I’m so glad you decided to come!!! This must be SO WEIRD for you to be the ONLY single person at this party!!!! I invited a super hot single guy, he wears glasses and he’s so, so hot! But he couldn’t make it! This just must be so WEIRD for you but I’m SO glad you came. I’m gonna CALL him and see if he changes his mind and decides he can come!!!”
I can’t describe the humiliation of that moment. How lower than dirt it made me feel.
But nonetheless I persisted. I tend to do that.
I entered that party and made friends with strangers. Couples who were simply kind. Old friends who were happy to talk to me. And then, she again approached me at the bar.
“So, tell me about the divorce!”
“No,” I said, “It’s your birthday. I am not gonna talk to you about my divorce at your birthday party.”
“No, I really wanna hear! I wanna know how it’s going I am so WORRIED about you!!”
“No, I really don’t wanna talk about it, the truth is that it’s ugly and I’m not doing well, and I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“But I’m here for you, and it’s important to me.”
And so I relented because, see, I didn’t wanna be rude. I permitted someone to pressure me into speaking about private matters. And I started telling her a little. Not two moments later, another friend came up to us. And my worried friend turned to the third party and said, “See? See how I’m talking about my friend’s divorce at my birthday party? See what a good friend I am?”
I can’t describe the sorrow of that night, the pit in my stomach, how I left crying, and went home to bed alone. I would like to say that what happened to me is unusual for recently separated or divorced women, but it simply isn’t.
Tonight a friend texted me and told me that none of her friends will talk to her since her recent divorce. Knowing she was going into this, I prayed, quite literally, that she wouldn’t suffer the losses I did. I prayed that her friends would be different, that they would stand by her and help her to feel less alone.
Through no fault of our own, divorced and separated women can become—pariahs. We are feared. Disrespected–publicly and privately. Thrown under the bus, insulted, evaluated, gossiped about, while we grope with a level of devastation that is pretty hard to articulate. While some of us become so depressed we literally don’t know if we will survive it, our friends pull away because they don’t know how to be there. Or they feel they gave too much time to us and now they resent us. Or we drag them down. Or we want their men. Or life is no longer in couples for us, and it is for them, and they don’t know what to do. Or, they just….fade away, as friends do.
But. Some people stand by us. And those precious and beloved folks that remain at the end–I’m smiling as I think of them– they are the gold. They don’t see what we are, but WHO we are. And we see who THEY are. More than they can know.
In all this loss, I have narrowed my focus to all the people and things that bring me joy– and as a result I am finding joy in the littlest of places, in the smallest of things. Every day I am surprised to find myself smiling at how much I am smiling. Loss illuminates our gifts–so starkly and profoundly. I don’t deny the loss, the sorrow, the desperation, it was always there. But walking through all of that darkness, you sure notice when the sun rises. And I find myself, despite it all, in a state of gratitude.
Friends who leave us, treat us badly, push us away and hurt us, actually help us. They sever unhealthy and toxic ties, they show themselves as they truly are, and give us room to bring that which delights. It’s a slow painful road but it’s such a gift. We all fear such losses–of spouses, friends, family, but sometimes you have to let them go, and accept the gift that is handed to you. What is left standing in the wake is simply beautiful.
Maybe, deep down, the FACT that I’m still standing is what is beautiful, and therefore everything I see has become so wonderful. I’m still HERE.
Of course, my friend already possesses a wisdom that I had to learn the hard way.
“I’m viewing this as a second chance that most people don’t get.”
That was her last sentence to me tonight. What a badass.
Funny how many people are infinitely more wise than I. But I sure am glad to know them.
❤ ❤ ❤