Divorce is more than just the loss of a spouse.
At our final court date my ex husband brought his new girlfriend, his sister and his niece. I have known his niece her whole life. I actually talked to her when her mom was pregnant. I held her as a baby. I’ve watched her grow. And for whatever it’s worth it broke my heart to see her stand before me in the courthouse and not run over and hug her. She was more mature than her 9 years of age and she stayed by her mom and her uncle knowing that it wasn’t ok to reach out to me anymore. But she also showed her age when smiled at me and waved when no one else was looking. That’s when my heart broke.
When my husband and I met we worked together. Many of his friends from work I already knew and many of my friends he already knew. When we divorced those were some of the hardest people for me to tell. They knew us when we started dating and then got married. They knew us when things seemed to be at their best. We moved to another state a few years after we married and so we didn’t see our friends from our old job all that often. So for me it was tough to tell them how bad things had gotten and that we were getting a divorce. I felt like a failure. I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me. My ex actually reached out to one of my good friends from when we worked together to ask her to help us reconcile. She didn’t want to get in the middle of it but by knowing both of us they were all in the middle. It was difficult and awkward for me. I think now I’ve gotten to a place with the people we knew together where I can just be me and not put them in the middle. I know which friends are his who I no longer contact. And I know which friends are mine and I know they love me for who I am.
His other friends that knew him first and only knew me through him have gone back to being his friends. I don’t know what he’s told them and can only imagine it isn’t good based in the looks they give me when they see me. But I have to remember that my friends are not calling him up and hanging out with him either. There is a separation of friendships.
As hard as it is to split friends, family is harder. Not in the sense of who supports whom but in the sense of loss. There are nieces and nephews each of us won’t see grow up. There are brother- and sister- in- laws neither of us can connect with any more. There are parent in-laws each of us has to pretend we don’t care about. For me, there is a whole network of people who used to be interwoven in my life who have been removed and now leave holes.
They always say that when you marry someone you marry their whole family. What they forget to mention is when you divorce someone you lose that family too.