Do not tell me divorce takes two! I don’t care what the reason for the divorce – it very often only takes one. The other has no say. There are always two sides to every story, but it definitely does not take two. It takes two to get married as you have to say “yes” and “I do,” but divorce only takes one person. The judge does not ask if both parties agree as it does not matter.
As you can tell, that statement has not only been said to me, but angers me beyond belief. As my blood boils at hearing it yet again, I remember other things people, even dear friends, have said to me that have a similar effect. Sometimes we don’t think before we speak and we really should. Especially when a divorce is fresh, please stop, put yourself in my shoes and hear with your ears what you were planning to say. You just might decide you shouldn’t say it.
Do not tell me my ex is good looking. (Really, who cares, and what does that mean exactly, that I am not?)
Do not tell me to get over it or move on. (There is a process to mourning, grieving, and eventually moving on.)
Do not expect me to be happy too soon. (Give me time. It is okay to be sad for a while.)
Do not tell me you never liked my ex. (This is especially bad if there is any chance of reconciliation. If we were to get back together, how would I be expected to deal with the now-known fact that you don’t like my ex?)
Do not tell me we were the perfect couple. (Ouch, how will I ever go on not being perfect, and if I ever want to date or marry again, will I be able to find a perfect partner?)
Do not ask me if I tried hard enough to keep the marriage together. (Double ouch, really. Don’t you think I did everything I could to save my marriage? Do you not know me at all? And guess what? Back to the opening paragraph, it only takes one to get a divorce.)
Do not ask me about my ex. (I am trying to create a life without my ex, therefore think of him or the past “us” less and less and instead focus on the present me.)
Do not talk bad about my ex in front of our children. (Our children go through enough during and after a divorce. No matter how you feel about my ex, do not let my children hear it, even if it is all true. They will eventually know what they need to know of own discovery.)
Do not tell me I am better off without him. (I am mourning a huge loss, the person I loved with all my heart that I planned to spend the rest of my life with is gone. Even if in the long run I become better off, I definitely don’t feel that way right now.)
Do not tell me there are plenty of other fish in the sea. (What if I suck at fishing?)
Do not treat me like I have the plague. (I am still the same friend I have been for 5, 10, 20 years. And no, I am not going to steal your husband just because I am divorced now.)
Do not tell me you saw my ex, or talked to my ex, or about what you did with my ex. (Especially at the beginning. I want to pretend he no longer exists, and the less I know otherwise, the better.)
Do not tell me my ex seems nice when I am sharing a personal experience. (When I am sharing something that hurts me that my ex does, did, or caused I do not care how nice you think he is. Anyone can be nice when they want to be.)
Do not tell me the new stepmom is nice to my children when I am feeling left out. (The worst feeling is that you are being replaced in your children’s lives, even if it is not true. Even if the new stepmom is amazing, I don’t want to hear about it. With time it will change, I am sure. And I will always be grateful if indeed she is nice to my kids.)
Do not talk badly about me in front of my children. (My daughter actually told me to hide once at a school function, because they –as she pointed across the way– don’t like you anymore! The people across the way I actually thought were my friends when I was married.)
Please do not play both sides, meaning don’t spend a weekend with my ex and his girlfriend and then ask me to spend the next weekend with you where I have to sleep in the same bed they just got out of! Fresh wounds will never heal with friends like you.
Perhaps as many things as there are not to say, there are plenty of things we hope to hear. I don’t believe divorce is easy for anyone. And I know being a source of support to someone going through a difficult situation like a divorce is sometimes extremely hard. Sometimes all we need is to feel like we are not alone.
Do let me cry on your shoulder.
Do encourage me to find myself.
Do encourage me to find inner happiness.
Do remain my true friend.
Do check on me from time to time.
Do continue to invite me to outings, even if I decline 100 times.
Do be a good listener, sometimes we just need to vent.
Please, if you were friends with both of us, remain friends with both of us. Just keep our lives separate.
Do say “Come hang out. I’m not taking no for an answer.” I didn’t really feel like dressing up and going out. It was nice to just “be” with a friend that made time for me .