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Divorce Does Not Define Me…. Does It?

Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me…. Does it? 

That’s one of my unpolished mantras.

If I say it over and over again maybe it’ll sink in and register as matter of fact as opposed to mattering at all.

Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. 

For those not divorced, it’s easy to say divorce doesn’t define a person. Kinda like if you’ve always been rail thin and you tell someone who’s fat that losing weight isn’t hard. How do you know Karen? You wear toddler size 18 months. Or maybe like someone who’s inherited a bottomless pit of money telling someone else who can barely make ends meet how effortless it is to find a fulfilling career. How do you know Carl? You’ve never worked a day in your life.

Intellectually, divorce doesn’t and shouldn’t define anyone. And I know this, intellectually. My therapist once told me every time I use the word ‘intellectually’ before I make a statement I’m avoiding the emotion behind it. She said I’m using it as a mask to hide my real feelings. Intellectually, I wanted to tell her to go to Hell! How’s that for real feelings?

Intellectually, I know divorce doesn’t define who I am as a whole entity. Obviously. Intellectually, I know I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, a Mom, a working woman who does a job with honesty and integrity in the hopes of making a difference and impacting others for the better. But regardless of what anyone says, therapist or other, being divorced is a piece of who I am. And even after several years, I still struggle with the connotation.

Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me…. Does it? 

*I think I’m fine until I go to the doctor and the nurse hands me a form to update my information. Check box for marital status. Single ___ Married ____ Divorced X  Widowed ___.

*I thinkI’m fine until I read the next question: Person To Call In Case Of Emergency ____________________.  I seem to leave it blank and move on. I’ll go back later and fill it out if I remember. I always hope I won’t remember to review the sheet.  And then I hope I don’t have any serious emergencies.

*I’m think I’m fine until the kids bring home a form from school that says: Who do you live with? Mother ___  Father ___ Both Parents ___ Other ____.

*I’m fine until I find out we missed the deadline for the school trip because the permission slip fell through the cracks.

*I’m fine until I hear my younger son ask shyly, “Where are we tomorrow night? With you or at Dad’s?” 

When my boys seem to be in a groove with our new normal I’m elated. When it seems as if they’ve smoothly adapted to having divorced parents I’m proud. I’m relieved; and in those moments I do feel fine. I feel better than fine. We’ve adjusted and life is good. I’m grateful to be able to reflect back and recognize how far we’ve all come. Because we have all come tremendously far.

Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me.

And then it creeps back in and I’m not fine again.

I’ll be waiting in the car to drive them to school and I’ll wonder what’s taking so long for them to come outside. My phone will ring. It’s one of my kids inside the house from thirty feet away. “Mom,” sounding alarmed. “Where is my uniform? I can’t find it. I need it for today’s game.” That’s the moment I know exactly why he can’t find it and it’s not because he didn’t look for it hard enough. I’m not fine because I know it’s not here. The uniform is at his Dad’s house and I know he’s pissed. I’m not fine because today it’s the uniform but it very well could be the favorite pair of sneakers or the book needed for the project that’s due by 2nd period. It could be the laptop or the study guide for the test. It could be the extra contact lenses needed because he has none left at the other house. Collectively, in that moment it’s none of those things but all of those things and I’m not fine. “Mom, this is what sucks about having divorced parents. I can’t stand when my stuff isn’t where I am. I hate having two homes.” In that moment I’m not fine because he’s right and there’s nothing I can say. It does suck and it’s a pain in the ass and I’m sorry. In that moment, I’m not fine because as parents we are only as happy as our unhappiest child(ren) and in that moment he’s hurting and it’s not his fault. Intellectually, I know the moment will pass and we’ll all be fine but though I’m always his Mom, in that very instant I’m his Mom who’s divorced from his Dad and that’s the defining moment of the moment.

Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me. Divorce does not define me…. Does it?

*When I’m invited to a social gathering and I’m assigned a seat at a random table of strangers instead of at the table with friends/couples I used to sit with when I wore a wedding ring, I will myself to remember divorce does not define me. Conversely, when I’ve been intentionally left off a guest list to an event I otherwise would have been invited to had I still been married, I will myself to remember divorce does not define me. Instead I work on practicing acceptance. Acceptance for the consequences that are merely a byproduct of the choices I’ve made. Merging together the intellectual knowledge that the choice to divorce was right for me with the emotional feelings that [still] boil over as a result are all part of the growth process; as is recognizing it’s okay to take a few steps back in an effort to ultimately propel forward.

While I intellectually, emotionally and without a doubt unpolishedly own my choices with clarity and certainty so as to not second guess the decisions I’ve made, I humbly continue to search for productive ways to heal the dark thoughts that loom from time to time. It should always be fine to be fine with the occasional albeit unpolished moments of not being fine.

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW….Divorce does not define me [or you.] Divorce does not define me [or you.] Divorce does not define me [or you.] Does it? No. it doesn’t. 




Just to let you know..this is where you leave a comment.

8 responses to “Divorce Does Not Define Me…. Does It?

  1. That was so well conveyed. You are so insightful and a true warrior. Your children are so lucky to have you.

    1. Such a true statement, “ divorce does not define me.” However, it sure defines how others perceive.
      Rachel, thank you for putting real feeling to paper. ❤️

  2. My children we “emancipated” no longer living at home but life changes.
    I envy people who can say they are together for the long haul because they truly love being together. It takes courage to walk away

  3. LOVED this and have had every single one of those thoughts through the years .. divorce has its challenges but I believe in the end we are all better for it . Xo

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