On the one hand, I’m thrilled this bit of word salad is getting the snark and derision it so rightly deserves, on the other hand the notion that divorce should be free of baser emotions like grief and anger is still a solid part of our culture.
In fact, “getting over it” has become a competitive sport. Did you have one of those ugly, sad divorces? Was it costly? Were there damaging custody disputes?
Oh not me. We mediated, because we’re adults who can talk out our differences. After all, that’s what’s best for the children! Not wasting their college funds paying those ghastly lawyers. Bob and I had many special years, but life gets complicated. People grow in different directions. We’re still just the best of friends! You’re not friends with your ex? Well you need to get over that! Forgive! Stop being bitter! Invite him over for Thanksgiving! Maybe take a cruise together or double date sometime with his girlfriend! That’s what evolved people do.
Oh goody. Where do I get one of those exes who want a fair settlement and desires my friendship? Are they all on back order? I got a disordered creep who sues me pro se.
People divorce for good reasons, like infidelity, mental illness, or addiction. Who are these people who “grew apart,” wandering off like your spouse was someone you got bored with at a cocktail party? I don’t know them. I know people who got divorced because the wife was a prescription drug addict who wouldn’t get sober or a woman who discovered her husband had a $20,000 hooker habit. Or someone comes out as gay after 25 years of marriage and she learns her husband has been having sex with guys on Craigslist for years while she was supporting his self employment. Or a guy married to a serial cheater who slept with her boss and his best friend, among others.
And these are just the people I know in real life. They aren’t the people who write to me every day at Chump Lady. (You ought to see my mail.)
So some lifestyle guru wants to tell me the evolved thing to do is “consciously uncouple”? Still consider these people family, closer than before! but just without all the real life headache of living with them? No, the healthy thing to do is get the hell away from anyone who wants to play you for a chump. Let them stay mired in their self destructiveness. You’ve got better people to bless with your friendship.
Does that make me bitter? Unevolved? Not over it? Let me ask you — are you friends with the guy who mugged you? Or the person who robbed your pension fund? Would you like to socialize with the middle school bully who shoved you in a locker? How about sit next to him at a ballgame? Attend a wedding together? Meet his girlfriend?
Look, I’m sure there are people out there who have drama-free divorces, who settle things amicably, and no one’s at fault and you wish each other well. Of course I’m wondering why if you have that kind of maturity and fondness for each other, you couldn’t just work it out. But I’m quibbling. What I want to say is — could everyone just please stop assuming that friendly divorces are common or even possible for others?
Let me speak for those of us who did not consciously uncouple. Some of us are dealing with abusive freaks. Some of are dealing with children whose parent won’t see them, let alone “friend” them on Facebook. We’ve got addicts for exes. We worry every week what we’re sending our kid into, and will it meet the court’s criteria of immediate danger to my child and if so, do I have the money to fight about it?
Some of us are just simply heartbroken. We loved with our whole hearts and got replaced in the most humiliating of ways.
The best we can do (and it’s an epic struggle some days) is to act with civility. To be the sane parent. To keep the focus on our own lives, and the welfare of our children, and move forward. We have no illusions that our exes are part of our family. Divorce is the severing of family. It’s often a painful act of self-preservation, taken after years of attempted reconciliation and accommodation.
So enough with the smug “conscious uncoupling.” You’re over it? Wonderful. We all want to be over it. And because most of us would like to stay over it, we don’t associate with our exes. Thank you for your understanding.
This column ran previously.