A Life To Love
Ah, social media, you evil bastard. You show us the pretties. And when they’re not pretty, we hide.
Why is divorce so shameful? Why do we keep it to ourselves, watching our social media feeds of smiling date nights and expensive beach vacation photos where everyone is wearing the same white top and khaki variation, their skin sun-kissed from days playing football in the sand as dad throws yet another perfect pass to Jimmy as everyone cheers. Where are the Facebook photos of mom drunk and tired and sun burned under an umbrella because dad is in the beach house on his phone “working” for the third straight day? Well, because mom takes all of the photos and she’s too hammered to remember this time. Ah, social media, you evil bastard. You show us the pretties. And when they’re not pretty, we hide.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see your shit. I don’t want to read your 1am FB status about wishing your mother-in-law would get off your ass about the turkey platter, or how the drunken fight you got into tonight with your dear hubby is your last straw. I WANT the pretties. I WANT the smiling beach vacation photo of your awkward teenager and your five year old brat that I see at the community pool who terrorizes the other kids. But seeing those posts does lull us all into a false sense of normal vs. reality.
So as I processed the painful reality of my divorce, I knew there would be no pretty way to admit my divorce. Sure, it’s technically no one’s business. And yes, the people who should know knew because they were in the divorce trenches with me. They had to choose Team Danie or Team Ex. Or hand over tissues as I sobbed on their couch at midnight. They had to use their key to my apartment to let themselves in because I couldn’t come out from my blanket cocoon and look a human being in the eye. But the remaining 95% of my social media circle (probably more of an oval at that point, right?) didn’t know for as long as a year into the ugly depths.
Women I saw on Instagram parading their perfect lives less than a year ago were hiding difficult secrets about their own marriage.
But when I did… when I wrote about it, when I told the thing… something so beautiful happened. And I’m not talking about the obligatory “you’ve got this girl” comments. Not the “u r so pretty, u will find someone better in no time” remarks that I wish didn’t hold the weight they did. But women, TONS of women, came out with their own story of marriage loss to me after I disclosed my pain. Women I saw on Instagram parading their perfect lives less than a year ago were hiding difficult secrets about their own marriage. And as I looked back on their social media feeds now, the posts dropped off and became vague like mine. They posted Friday nights with girlfriends in bars like me. They posted hikes in the woods alone like me (#soulcleansingsunday). And their relationship status quietly disappeared. (Fun fact: Facebook is, if you didn’t know or were too scared to find out, quite sensitive to relationship changes. When I deleted my “married” status, it assured me that tidbit would not be published on my page, and even offered suggestions of people I may want to consider unfriending that had been categorized as in-law family.)
And then there were the women who reached out to me privately to tell me about their marital struggles. Their fears that they were looking down the barrel of divorce, that it’s on the table and they didn’t know how to clear it and set it for a lovely future together.
No one wants the ugly truth. I get it. But we spend so much time fluffing and glittering our social media feeds that it’s no wonder the divorce suicide rate is so high. How do you tell the world you were wrong about that person who you claimed was your Man Crush Monday? That the smiling photo from the lawn of last summer’s concert when you two seemed so deliriously happy was actually a load of shit? That the reality of that night was a huge fight after where he literally left you behind to walk home in the dark? No one wants those posts. And they don’t belong online. But there IS a place for a little reality.
So we VagueBook a little. You know, post enough to be pique the curiosity of 750 of our closest social media friends, but not truly air our shit online. We post one of those memes about being a strong ship in a dark sea and making it to shore a stronger boat because the waves softened our calluses and helped the water guide us to solid ground. And the few friends who know what you’re going through comment things like, “You’re the strongest person I know!” and “You’re beautiful inside and out.” Those just outside of that circle of knowledge spend the next twenty minutes at work perusing your feed to see if there are other clues peppered throughout your last forty five posts. Is she wearing her wedding ring in that photo? Mary’s pint of beer is hiding her ring finger so I can’t quite tell. How long has it been since she last posted a photo of her husband? Are they still Facebook friends? Oh, looks like he’s not even on Facebook. Who the hell isn’t on Facebook? That’s shady. What is he hiding? Oh, she went on a girls trip last month? Do girls with solid marriages vacation without their spouses? I wouldn’t. But my marriage is strong. Pete wouldn’t dare leave me. I’d fucking murder him first. Glad we love each other so much. Focus. Oh shit, looks like it’s been ten months since she last posted a photo of her husband. Man, he is hot though. So if he’s single now…
Why is divorce something we feel we have to admit to people, not disclose? We don’t have to admit that we went to Target for milk and spent $157. That, my friends, is something we should feel shameful about. But divorce? No, Becky. It isn’t.
I was guilty of the divorce judgment for decades. Mark and Sarah didn’t work out? Jesus. Why couldn’t they get their shit together? There was always an option to salvage your marriage as far as I was concerned. Try harder. Seek counseling. Date nights. Cooking together. Talk to each other. Take a vacation together. Start closing the bathroom door when you pee. Something.
Cute, right? I’m grateful I can’t go back and warn my 23 year old self of the rage my husband would throw at me throughout our two decades. The emptiness he left inside me after burning my insides raw with his hatefulness. I’d never go back and change a single moment of my marriage. I have no regret. Quite simply, the life I have now is a culmination of the things that have happened over the decades and the people I know, the things I do, the beautiful children we’ve raised and the career paths I’ve taken.
So I’ve taken a vow of honesty with this blog. Well, mild honesty. You don’t want to know about the bad grocery store sushi diarrhea I had a few weeks ago. But life isn’t all candy land. And I’ve learned that it’s ok to sprinkle reality in the form of tears over a painful divorce, the stories of online dating I’ve put myself through (the good, the laughable and the restraining orders) and the beautiful lessons I’ve learned on this journey as they pertain to money (we’re talking about it and taking the taboo out of it!), décor (it’s still my passion!), yoga (yes please!), and travel (oui, s'il vous plaît!). I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried over the past few years, had a hell of a time so far, and plan to suck the life out of the rest of my days. Journey with me through my next act. My 2.0 has morphed into a thing of envy. This is a life to love.