People have a natural curiosity about other people’s lives. Over the last 2 years or so, I’ve learned that that curiosity can be fueled by a number of different motives.
There are those with bad motives, the life suckers, the gossip girls, the people who want to make themselves feel better by hearing about other people’s misery…
A few months ago I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in 2 decades. One of the first things she said to me was, “Wow, I can’t believe you’ve been divorced twice now and you’re only in your 30’s! What happened? OH MY GOD, DID HE CHEAT ON YOU?” And the answer is no, no he didn’t. There was no cheating involved but thanks for asking, you dipshit.
There are those whose intentions are personal, they want to know how bright the light is at the end of the tunnel because they are in a similar situation to where I was a few years ago…
I have had, I kid you not, 4 people tell me that they are jealous of me because I got divorced, that they just can’t seem to “take the leap”, that they are jealous of all my free time and that I can go out bar hopping and drinking again….and it makes me cringe every time. I want to shake them and tell them that yes, my life is peaceful now, but it took digging through endless piles of soul sucking, heart wrenching shit to find that peace. If your life is that bad, change it. But don’t look to me as a role model, my God.
Then there are those with good motives, the people who genuinely care about me, those who have an emotional investment in my well-being, or those who want to learn from me…
Earlier this week, I had a developer fly here into Chicago for a few days to put a project into place for work. He was in his late 20’s, started his own business last year that is just now starting to do very well, smart guy. In between tasks, we started talking about life and family. He mentioned his wife, and I naturally asked if they had any kids. And he told me a story that I’m all too familiar with as I watched it through the eyes of my sisters – his wife has been struggling with fertility issues and they were looking into in-vitro. We talked about insurance and time frames and how he’s thought about this baby that hasn’t come to be yet, though he said he feels like at this point he should have a 2 year old since he’s been talking about his future child for that long.
Later we went out for lunch and I guess he felt comfortable enough to confide in me; he told me he was scared. He said his wife wants a baby so badly yet deep down he is terrified that a baby is going to change his relationship with his wife and completely ruin things. He said he remembers his now-divorced father once making the comment, “Your mother would have stepped over my dead body to get to you,” and it scared the shit out of him thinking about that from his own perspective.
He then asked me straight out, “do you think that having a baby had anything to do with why you got divorced?”
It was a very personal question coming from a practical stranger.
But I know he was asking because he was terrified for his future, not because he was an insensitive dipshit whore digging for gossip.
And my answer to his question – a full on, 100%, no-hesitation no.
The circumstances behind every divorce are unique. Somewhere between standing at city hall applying for your marriage license full of hope and then standing in a court room with tears in your eyes watching a judge stamp your divorce decree, a whole lot of hell has to happen.
Obviously life changed when Summer was born, there’s no way it couldn’t have. But change isn’t always bad. My baby’s birthday was the number one greatest moment of my life; it was when I was given the ultimate gift of becoming this amazing little person’s mommy. That statement right there would be the first thing written on the inside book flap of my life story in hardcover. And life also changed when we got married, when we became proud homeowners, when we moved out of the city, when I got a new job and started working from home, when his unemployment hit and losing the house became a real possibility, when schedules changed, when my sister couldn’t nanny for us anymore, when we chose surgery for our sick baby, when when when… behind every big life change, priorities also changed, responsibilities changed, roles changed. But those changes were not the cause of the breakdown, it was how we mishandled them and each other.
So no, having a baby did not cause my divorce. If anything, she is the reason Scott and I get along so well now. We were horrible at “married couple” but we are fantastic at “co-parents”, the best case scenario to come out of a divorce I suppose.
I think developer guy was a bit relieved.
So yes, I’ve found that people’s motives for asking about my divorce vary significantly, and those with good intentions tend to get much more detail out of me. But if anything I will say that the greatest realization to have come out of all of this for me without giving the dirty details behind the life lesson is: it’s not the changes themselves that matter, because change is inevitable. It’s how you handle them together that matters most.
Good luck, developer guy…make me proud. I want a baby picture 🙂