After the big break-up, my first instinct was to run, very fast, very far. I actually interviewed for a number of jobs out of state. I just couldn’t bear the thought of running into the “happy couple” at the grocery store; moving back to a place that is over a hundred miles from that possibility, as well as populated by a strong personal support system was exceptionally appealing. It still is.
Unfortunately, my lawyer put a kibosh on that plan for the short-term. She advised that remaining local during the proceedings was vastly preferable to dealing with interstate legalities. So I moved into a cheap rental and signed a 6 month lease. The reality is that I’m about 25 miles from where The Douche and Strumpet have taken up cohabitation, so it’s unlikely we’ll frequent the same Wal*Mart. However, I hadn’t realized that a person needs a mariner’s license to navigate a circle of shared friends, post-separation.
Every relationship that falls apart has to deal with his, hers, & ours, friend-dynamics. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s further complicated by the fact The Strumpet was part of our circle of friends, and quite a few people had seen the writing on the wall, so to speak. (But that’s a whole other story.)
The first prickly decision is – to go or not. As uncomfortable as bumping into them at the store could be, I always have the option of absconding to the shelter of housewares until they pass by. Running into them socially is somewhat on the more thorny side. I have not been subjected to The Strumpet’s presence since pre-break-up. One of the last times I saw her I may have succumbed to mind-numbing wrath and thrown her coat and purse out into the driveway in the pouring rain. Perhaps considering the circumstances a marginally defensible lapse in self-restraint, but not a moment I’m particularly proud of. Needless to say, should she and I be forced into the pressures of a more intimate social setting, I’m afraid I still have the emotional potential for triggering an embarrassing scene. Neither I nor the hostess needs that kind of drama. So I have gotten into the habit of making discreet inquiries before accepting any social invitation. It’s served me well, and most of our friends are very conscious, understanding and respectful of my desire not to mingle with the two of them.
Once the landmine of invitations and attendees is traversed, there’s the actual socializing to deal with. Let me be honest, it’s awkward. First, I have no control over what The Douche has shared with our mutual friends. He’s been justifying his behaviors for so long he actually believes his own lies. He’s also charming, dynamic and very believable. I have to simply trust that the people who are my friends know me and will recognize that there’s a fair measure of subjectivity in everyone’s version of events. It’s not easy to do.
Secondly, it’s hard to share, in context, my experiences without feeling like I’m asking people to take sides. I actually spent an evening with someone that I consider a close friend and gracelessly avoided the topic, despite the fact that it was a giant elephant in the room. It’s nearly impossible to express your personal grief, anger and sense of betrayal without sounding accusatory. Heck, I cannot state simple facts or outline actual events without feeling like there is implied blame. In most situations I’ve avoided the details when someone asks “What happened?” The reality is that most intelligent people are able to observe actions and behaviors to make their own conclusions. For the most part, they’re pretty spot on.
The final piece is that people who haven’t gone through divorce say some pretty strange things. Sometimes it’s born of that uneasy sense of not knowing what to say. Sometimes it’s intended to be comforting or kind, but misses the mark. Sometimes it’s simply rude. The first thing most people ask is rarely – how are you – but what’s going to happen to your farm/house/business. (Thanks for your concern for my personal wellbeing.) I also get a lot of “he was never good enough for you” or “you can do better.” While I know that is well meaning, remember I loved this man enough for a ‘til-death-do-us-part kind of vow (for all that got me.) Just when exactly did you decide he wasn’t good enough for me? You previously felt I was making an unwise choice or it is lip service now. Either way, it comes off as a back-handed comment that indirectly makes me feel badly about myself.
Everyone has an opinion on how I should be feeling or what I should be doing to help me “get over it.” There are a few select individuals that have already tried to set me up with a friend or cousin or coworker. In my opinion, they should be lined up and shot, repeatedly, with their own particular brand of insensitivity. (Geeze, I’m not even officially divorced yet!) A very kind woman reminded me, that no one has a say in how I experience my own grief. Bright lady, that one…
And yes, I think I have lost a few friends, despite the fact that I feel I was the clear and indisputable “victim” in this scenario. (I am perfectly aware that this blog could alienate even more.) Not that I’m keeping score, but I know there are fewer punches on his dance card as well. For the most part I’m muddling through, learning how to deal with the new dynamics, awkward and weird as they are. The only other choice is to become socially feral… and adopt a bunch of cats…