I have been separated from my ex-husband for 11 months now, and we are just getting around to finalizing the divorce. In the beginning, when I would tell people I was getting a divorce, I felt embarrassed. Eventually though, those four little words -- I'm getting a divorce -- started to roll off my tongue more easily, until suddenly, it wasn't a big deal at all.
At least not for me.
The other day, I met one of my daughter's classmate's fathers for the first time. We were bantering about our kids and such, when the subject of where we all live came up. This is when I told him that my ex-husband and I are separated.
"Oh... I'm sorry," his voice hushed as his face twitched.
He looked as if I had just told him I like to have sex with dead bodies. It was the most mortifying three minutes of my life. I promptly moved on to another parent.
This past week, I started chatting with a man in Starbucks who had a son near my daughter's age. We were talking about his wife and his other child when he asked me, suddenly, where my daughter was.
"Oh, she's with her father today. It's his weekend. We're divorced."
And there it was again: that face.
"I'm so sorry," he told me, looking almost shocked that such a chipper and upbeat woman could be, gasp, divorced! Weren't we divorced ladies supposed to look miserable?
Instead of running away like I did with the other man, I stood up tall, faced him, and said: "It's okay. He's a great father who loves his daughter and wants to spend time with her. It could be so much worse. I am grateful."
And then I said goodbye to him and wished him a nice day.
To all the strangers out there who truly mean well when they tell me they're sorry I'm divorced, here's a news flash:
I'm healthy, employed and doing my best to co-parent a lovely child who is also healthy. Don't be sorry for me. I'm not sick. I'm busted broke, but I'm educated and able to eventually get on my own two feet, unlike some other single parents. I have a co-parent who loves his daughter even if we butt heads. I have a roof over my head today -- maybe not tomorrow, but for today, I'm okay.
Be sorry for my daughter -- but only for a few minutes -- who desperately wants her family back together. But don't be sorry long. Her dad isn't a deadbeat. Her mom isn't a deadbeat. She has two loving parents. She could be worse off.
Don't be sorry, I'm in my late 30s and single. Be happy I am moving on with my life and searching for someone who will accept me for me without trying to change me into someone else. Be happy I was strong enough to say: "I'm done." It takes more strength to let go than it does to hold on sometimes. Be filled with joy that I wake up each day with a positive outlook instead of the emptiness and heartache I felt in the last two years of my marriage.
Don't be sorry I am getting a divorce. If you've noticed, the world is still turning, and life is still going on as planned. All I had to do was pick myself up and keep going again, and I am. Some days I feel like Wonder Woman -- divorce can't hold me down! And then other days, I feel as if divorce is a flash flood: out of nowhere, grief, stress and sadness hits me with an overpowering shudder.
But when it all boils down to it, I'm still standing. Choosing to divorce proved to me that I was capable, brave and strong again. That the old me before marriage hadn't left -- she had simply just taken a brief sabbatical. But now, I'm back and getting stronger. Watch out world. This thirty-something divorcee is about to take you for a spin.
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