Who Keeps the Friends?

During my divorce, I was so angry and scared that the idea of anyone I trusted talking to my ex, much less socializing with him or caring about him in any way, made me hyperventilate.
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When Larry David portrayed his divorce on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Cheryl got all the friends, I was so relieved. You mean, that really happens? I'm not the only asshole who made each and every one of my friends choose a side?

During my divorce, almost four years ago, I was so angry and scared and entirely off-kilter that the idea of anyone I trusted, or cared about, talking to my ex, much less socializing with him or caring about him in any way, made me hyperventilate with feelings of betrayal and abandonment. I literally said to friends, "you're very welcome to remain friends with Michael, but if you make that choice I will never see or talk to you again."

One woman, a neighbor in the country who was barely more than an acquaintance, called to invite me and my new boyfriend to dinner one weekend. I had just heard, through my children, that she'd had my ex and his new girlfriend to dinner the previous week. In response to her invitation, I said, "Honestly Amanda, I have plenty of friends; why don't you just stick with Michael and let's call it a day?" I look back on that phone call with a modicum of shame -- the poor woman was trying to do the right thing I suppose -- but frankly, I think she was also trying to get a front row seat to my train wreck, and I wasn't having any of that. My life was messy enough.

Just as in Curb Your Enthusiasm, most of the friends chose me, the wife. Not because I was the better person, clearly, but in large part because I had always been the social one in the partnership, the one who made plans and kept up relationships, the one who organized things around the kids. So from that perspective, things followed a natural course and I kept the friends. The one or two who chose him I let go of without looking back.

No one would ever call my ex-husband particularly gregarious, and like most men he didn't have a wide social net anyway, but he definitely felt the loss. He made a few comments, and the kids certainly noticed the teaming up, but in my defense he also didn't chase anyone down. He let the chips fall where they did; I cocooned myself in the illusion of social protection, and he, true to his nature in many ways anyway, wandered off in isolation.

Now, four years later, we're all pretty happy. Michael and I talk almost daily, and the kids are settled in an easy back and forth routine; the trauma is over. And I care about him and want him to be happy and to have a good life full of love and support. But we have still have separate friends, and I think it's better this way. I like that he and I have found an easy peace between us, but I don't want other people in the mix. Divorce is private that way. So although I hate that I handled it like a childish bully, and wish I could have been a bigger, better person, as I'm sure some divorcing people are, this is something for which I've forgiven myself.