I could have predicted every comment in my sleep. I think I could have written them underwater with my eyes closed and with my hands tied behind my back. I’ll save you the leg work of reading them yourself and just tell you the main themes: you are a quitter, you are selfish, you are young, stupid, and naïve, you will never know real love, every future relationship you have will fail, and my personal favorite: you didn’t try hard enough.
I have heard pretty much all these comments about me, and let me just say: it is very easy to forgive the ignorance and meanness of other people when you yourself are happy. When I posted my article, The Gift of Divorce, I braced myself for criticism. It remains one of my most read pieces, with people coming back each week to read it again. And most people who read it when I initially posted it knew me, so they either knew that the divorce was “right” for me or they didn’t feel the need to openly criticize me via Facebook or my blog. This piece did get shared though, and some who didn’t know me did comment on it and say, in a nutshell, all of the above. And guess what? I shrugged my shoulders and said, “that’s ok” and then moved on with my life. Because not everyone has to like that I’m happy. I don’t care if everyone thinks my current marriage will fall apart because my first one did. I just don’t. Call me a quitter, call me selfish, call me young, stupid, and naïve. If I had to do it all over again to get where I am today, I would do it in a heartbeat, no questions asked.
I thought about doing a snarky bulleted “Top 10 Things I Have Learned About Other People’s Insecurities From Reading Comments on Blogs” article or doing a solid logical refuting of each claim that the commenters make on this piece. But instead, I will boil it down to one sentence. You may think you know what is happening inside a relationship, but you probably have no idea. And one more sentence: If you think a stranger’s divorce has any bearing on YOUR personal relationships, we need to have a conversation on boundaries. Probably with a therapist. And one more: Be very careful with your “I would never!” judgments.
We really have no idea what goes on in the heart of many relationships. It may be the marriage of a complete stranger, or your own parents, or your best friend. You don’t know everything. Trust me, you don’t. It takes two people to get married, but it only takes ONE person to get divorced. Yes, I may be committed to marriage until the day I die, come hell or high water, but if my husband changes his mind one day – guess what? That divorce is still happening, like it or not.
We don’t know if inside that “perfect” couple there is an addict. Or domestic abuse. Or infidelity. Or mental illness. Or infertility. Or massive amounts of lying. Or illegal activity. Or child abuse. Or secrets so dark you don’t even want to know. We. Don’t. Know.
We don’t know if the woman who wrote this article tried EVERYTHING under the sun. From therapy to church to retreats to workshops to self-help books to begging and pleading and giving up her own dreams and compromising and forgiving again and again and again and showing only love. We don’t know if her husband did the same things. If they did all these things TOGETHER. We. Don’t. Know.
And does it matter if we do know? Does it matter if she was just really young and in love and took a chance and it was wrong and they tried and then finally made the decision to choose divorce? Is that any of our business? Does the way she handled her personal relationship have any bearing on our own relationships? Does it matter if she thinks her next marriage will be different and then it isn’t? If she chooses to have a thousand marriages that last for 15 days each, is that ruining your life? If so, I strongly suggest some counseling. Contrary to popular belief, most people do not choose divorce just to piss off strangers of the internet.
I have spent years working on becoming a much more open-minded person. I have learned time and time again that when you judge someone or start a sentence to your best friend with “I would NEVER _____” (fill in the blank with something you were judging another person for doing), you are probably definitely going to be doing that thing somewhere down the road. The universe is cute like that.
We are given ONE short life here on this planet. One beautiful, painful, scary, exciting, wild life. It is far, far too short to spend judging and far, far too short to spend miserable. Far too short to spend in fear. Let’s stop pretending we know all the answers. Let’s stop trying to convince others that we know all the answers. That’s exactly what makes life beautiful, the things that surprise us and cause us to re-think everything that came before it.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something. Unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling