The last few months have been a learning experience, to say the least. I have been given more advice than a newly pregnant mother, and offered more words of wisdom (from those that I question their perceived depth of insight) than I care to list.
It’s made me think about, really examine, a question for those of us going through divorce.
What is the “right” thing to say?
Seriously, what is it? Is there a right thing? Then again, is there truly a wrong thing, would be the bigger question I suppose.
In only the last six months or so I have had the benefit of fielding many questions, responding to many well-meaning people and being puzzled by some of the sage advice I have been offered. It’s really quite interesting what one person will offer you compared to another. You really see a person’s true personality, get a peek into their soul, when they find out that you are getting divorced.
There are approximately three camps they can come from: the “I know the struggle” attitude, the “it will all work out for the better” camp and then the “do you know what you’re doing and how this affects your kids?” counselor.
I would love to say that I believe that I’ve heard them all, but it’s still too early in the game to make that call.
I have been amazed to hear more than a few times:
“you’ll be alright, you’ll find someone else in no time” (because I cannot fathom living my life on my own, supporting myself and making a life for myself alone. I surely need someone else in my life to give it meaning and make me whole, don’t I?)
“there will be a line of guys waiting for you” (if someone can please tell me where this line is located, when it is open, and if there is a cover charge, I’d appreciate it)
“you’re strong, you’ll be fine” (yes, I know that I am strong, but maybe – just maybe – I don’t feel that strong at the moment and I just need a hug?)
“you have no idea how hard this is” (really?? What part are we talking about? the separating of our deeply intertwined lives or the uncertainty of my future and the future of my children? I guess I must be having “divorce lite”)
Then there is the advice of how to conduct myself during this challenging time:
“I hope that you can be cordial and amicable during this process, if not for yourself, for your wonderful children” (no, I have no intention of protecting my dear children from the challenges and heartbreak of our divorce! I plan to expose them to every ugly detail of our divorce proceedings, bad mouth their father excessively and cuss like a sailor)
I get it, divorce is like death. And with death, you really don’t know what to say to the mourning family, like at a funeral. At least at a funeral you know the outcome (they’re dead) but this idea of divorce is like a two-headed monster. Just when you think one head is dead, the other rears up and tries to bite you on the ass.
I wish that I could tell you the “right” thing to say, but it changes from day to day. Some days I’m feeling strong, and focused on a bright future with lots of promise. Other days, I feel like curling up into the fetal position on the floor of my bedroom and crying, wishing it would be over or never have begun. But you won’t know which day it is for me when you talk to me, I know.
If anything, always know that you can express your sorrow for the person in front of you having to endure this life-changing, gut-wrenching, humbling experience. We all appreciate someone who takes the time to actually see it for what it is – it’s ugly and soul draining.
But, if you are still unsure, and afraid of what to say or do…just hug me.