Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Stigma

We all want to be the D word.
And you can always be Different. But try being Divorced!
It's better than being Different! It's bad and bad is always sexy!
My dear People of the Journal,

Let’s do this. I know the topic is going to fire me up against my best intentions so expect the unexpected haha. Honestly, I did not come up with this, as my mind is pretty much made up when it comes to the notion of “divorced woman” but there is this special man in my life who sent me a link at some point. “Meya (he’s not misspelling it, he just calls me that haha), here is a good list of reasons to like divorced women.” This came consequently to my bitching of not finding someone who can keep up, whom I don’t scare away and doesn’t think I’m so friggin’ good and great and nice but they don’t stick around because they’re not good enough.  NOTE: between us, that’s bulshit! That excuse probably worked when I was 20, not when I’m 32! If I landed a man who was so marvelous and awesome, even if in reality I realized I was probably not as beautiful and top nudge to have him, I’d still wouldn’t sell myself short that way. If he’s there and wants me, well fucking go for it! He must’ve chosen me for a reason, who am I to say no?!?! So how does that work for some men?!?!?! “I’m not good enough for you”… I would only give credit to two men in my life who ever really meant that. For the rest… if you insist, maybe I did get the wrong guy. Excuse me. Moving on.

Anyway. Back to the main point. So. The status of “Divorced”. Talking from experience, I tell you it classifies you as some sort of outcast, a special breed of human. There are online dating websites for divorced women or divorced people. Why? Are we different from the single, never married, widowed people? I think people end up putting up websites like these because they feel only other divorced people can understand the kind of pressure society submits us to and so it’s easier to connect with someone who’s been there and knows how it feels, so they don’t waste anymore time explaining that in fact they’re normal.

I mean, you all know someone who in some random conversation about someone else you both know goes likes this about single/divorced marriage porposals:
“Have you heard about George? He’s getting married.”
“Ah, that’s great news!”
“Yeah. She’s pretty. Seems nice. She’s been married once before.” Then shakes his/her head slightly and the tone in their voice drops down a bit. “I hope it’ll work out.”
“Well, that’s not important, I mean who cares. Who knows what happened. It’s important they get along now.”
And then the other one tries to make it look better. “Yes, yes of course. God bless!”

My answer to that: Fuck off! When conversations like these go down as to someone who has never been married before wanting to marry a divorced woman, they make it sound like they are sending the innocent to the slaughter house. We’re no Black Widows waiting for the next victim people, what’s wrong with you! “She’s been married once before!” So what?! You have no idea what happened in that marriage. No one will ever know except for the two people directly involved in it. Even when you think you know, you don’t, believe me. Maybe she left him because he was cheating or was abusive or simply turned out to be a different person than what she expected. Maybe they separated on mutual grounds with no foul play. The reasons are limitless and not all cases imply that someone was a cheater, an abuser or was bad or evil in some twisted way.

Being divorced doesn’t make me weird, not trust worthy, evil in some manner, avoidable, questionable, emotionally crippled and overly demanding due to my “misfortunate experience”. 

Ok, picture this. You’ve got people staying together for ten years, as a couple, living together, sharing a life together, just like a married couple (no kids - we take the simpler version). No different to married life, except for the paper making it official. Suddenly, they break up. All their friends will go on for like six months with how terribly sorry they are, they will take sides, they will try to find explanations, they will perhaps fight to get them back together. Eventually, things will quiet down and they will start saying, it’s ok, it’s good it happened now and not after you guys got married, there is plenty of fish in the sea and so on and so forth. Matter forgotten.

Now. You get a married couple for a year and a half, or three years let’s say. Make it five. No kids, same situation like the other couple living together. They divorce. TOTAL FUCKING DRAMA! Whispers, gossip, blame, thousands of unanswered questions, the world turns upside down, nothing will ever be the same, lives are scarred forever. Why? Because they signed ZA PAPER.

Well, excuse me. What changed between our lives as a couple to our lives as a married couple? We married the same people, with the same parents, same jobs, same friends. We kept everything intact only we signed a document that in the eyes of the world means more than it is actually worth. Ah yes, and we went to church. I’m sorry. I am sure God wouldn’t want us to stay together in a miserable marriage and have miserable lives and turn our kids’ life into a miserable existence just so we don’t get a divorce. I am a single parent child and I tell you a child can be hurt in many ways. Couples divorce and continue to be great parents to their children even when they have separate lives. Couples stay together when they don’t want to anymore using the children as an excuse and everyone is unhappy. Couples divorce and children get caught in the middle and suffer. It is all up to us, as parents and persons to find a way and behave humanly and respectfully enough to make it through without turning into revengeful animals. I didn’t have children nor had I anything to share in particular with my ex, and still I felt the need to crack a skull or two here and there. I never said it’s easy. But where there is a will, there is a way. I know that for sure.

The idea is, people make too much fuss and point fingers when they don’t know what they are talking about. And they manage to make you so self conscious about your status that you take it home with you. You are divorced! And you’ll stay that way for the rest of your life. Is not that I want to forget it; I just don’t want to be constantly reminded of it. It wasn’t a happy moment in my life.

You fill in a form, you get Single. Married. Divorced. Widowed. Can I check single? I am single right? Watch few of the comments I found on different forums as to this small legal issue and judge for yourselves:

E.g. 1
Of course you can call yourself single, you are. But why if you do that and meet a nice person you'll end up having to tell him/her that your divorced and that's the end of the relationship. Not because you are divorced, but because you lied. 
People feel that if one will lie about that they will lie about anything. Do you want that?

Ok, let’s take the first one. What if I met a nice person and I’ll have to end up telling him that I am divorced and that would end my relationship – because I have lied. Well, that’s not a nice a person then. The only time I’d feel the need to tell anyone that I have been married and now currently divorced is if I had children because obviously that changes the entire equation. Other than that, I don’t see why the fact that I have not mentioned I am divorced would make me a worse person and a liar. If he liked me before knowing, why would it matter? He’s not committing himself to my divorce is he? Plus, even if I didn’t tell the guy, I know the world would make sure he finds out so he can face me with this “terrible truth” because society works that way sometimes, unfortunately.

Of course, people who date you might want to know why you divorced in the first place. So they watch out - you know - for whatever! But how will you know I’m not lying about the reason? And how will I ever explain the finest nuances of a life I lived with someone else and that is incredibly difficult to pin point and dissect? I would probably make it worse in trying to explain myself than if he just took me for what I am and judged me for what I do and behave like in my relationship with him. We’re not talking here about people married 7 times and divorced just as many times. That perhaps would make me wonder too, even though I try to refrain from judgment. After all, there are people born out there who will be eternal love seekers, always ending up with the wrong partners because they are too dreamy. Who am I to judge? I obviously didn’t do that well myself.

Anyway. NO. I wouldn’t jump to say, first thing, I am divorced, whenever I like a guy. It would only deepen the sign society already labeled me with, searing it further more on my forehead. But I would at some point, if things got serious, because I am aware of the fact that for other people this counts for some reason. My ex was married before. I never questioned him of what and how. And of course some people blamed me when I got a divorce. “Maybe if you knew why he divorced in the first place, you’d have been more cautious.” I’m sorry. I don’t want to view my relationships that way. He was married to someone else entirely and I cannot judge that through my relationship with him. And I don’t want to be judged that way in turn when I meet someone new. In fact, when I met my Knight, I never mentioned this at all. When our relationship evolved and more so because he is much younger than I am and thought it would be something that could potentially scare him haha, I said “It’s perhaps time for me to tell you I was married. Obviously now divorced.” I expected his next question to be “What happened, when and for how long?”. Instead, his remark was: “ Ok. How many kids are we talking about?” Made me laugh so hard to be honest and in fact, made me like him more because that to me meant a healthy mentality, for one and second, he wasn’t scared. I said “No kids” to which he replied, “that’s good in a way because it would have complicated things a bit.” Of course it would have. But that was the only conversation we ever had on the subject. I can take that. That is normal. What’s not normal is to be questioned about it as if it was something bad. It’s not bad, it’s sad that it happened, but it’s a good thing if it was the right decision to take. “Boala lunga, moarte sigura” (“Lengthy sickness leads to certain death”). You know how it goes. And lies/excuses for pain killers won’t save a marriage nor make it better. Nor will never ending hope and expectations of a change in personality in your partner. People don’t change and then again you don’t want a changed person. You want to love them the way they are because we’re all beautiful in our own way and surely they’ll be beautiful for someone else and you’ll be beautiful for another. The tricky part is finding that one other.

E.g. 2
When you have been married, you have a history and to say that you are single is intentionally misleading. If you are divorced, be up front and honest about it because that is what you are. if you are single, that alludes to having never made that commitment.

Ok. Second one. Seems a bit more truthful. Yes, being divorced makes you have a history. And yes, it shows you have been committed. But aren’t we committed in every relationship we take, even as singles? If there is no commitment then we’re just doing it for fun and sex. Fine. I’ll take it that too haha. And the fact that I have a history makes a difference? People, as mentioned before, can have a history without being married. If they lived together for 15 years and had a child but never got married and then got separated, isn’t that a history to consider? But it doesn’t make them divorced right? What if someone goes single for like 7 years? Doesn’t that make you wonder what’s wrong with them and why their history shows so much blankness from an emotional point of view? But again, they’re not divorced, they’re just single, slightly weird right? Well, ladies and gents, I refuse to believe my prior official commitment to a man and my history therefore makes me any different than any of you out there not going through the same thing. Our history implies many things and just because society can’t properly and legally label it doesn’t classify me as different and doesn’t oblige me to “be honest” and confess to my divorce every time I sign a paper or meet someone new.

E.g. 3
You are single if you're divorced. There are two categories: 
Single, never married 
Single, divorced. 
As simple as that.

Third one. Hell to the yes! That’s what it is. Single, never married. Single, divorced. Single nonetheless. I would like to be left the choice to speak about my divorce, such a private and sometimes hurtful matter in fact, not because people must be warned about me and because I must come up front with my “history” – whatever the hell that means for some people! – but because I believe the man or person before me disserves to know I have been through something they probably haven’t and that has possibly left me with some sensitivity issues, knowledge and understanding over some things that they do not posses. Yes, this all came at the price of a painful event in my life, but it is essentially good and people should appraise it and take advantage of it not run away from it.

Now going back to those forms. I see no legal reason why I need to check Divorced. Once I have concluded my divorce all financial matters have been solved, therefore whatever I own is mine and no one else’s. Even if you have a loan or property together after the settlement things are clear. Even if you have children. Following the divorce even that is made clear. Just check Single, Two children, Other financial support: YES: Children alimony in this amount. The end. I mean what difference does it make to the state that you have children following a marriage or an unofficial relationship, or that you have children as a single parent? It’s like forcing me to say yes, I am divorced and I need to repeat myself and remember that and the shit I went through every single time I sign a paper. It gives me the exact same feeling I had when they made me put down my father’s name on each form I ever signed when he didn’t even know me and it pissed me off throughout 30 years of my life. Did the government know that my father didn’t give a crap? NO! Did they know I hated seeing his name there all the time when he had no contribution to my life whatsoever; did they know it made me hate it even more as I believed it was unjust towards my mom who made everything possible for me, that she had to share responsibilities on paper with a man who never existed in my life? When I wanted HER to get full credit for all the hard work? If my mom was divorced and I had no father, they should’ve allowed me to just put down mom and that’s it. Still, the general excuse is that official papers cannot address the multitude of situations life constructs, which is true, at least in my case.

But the divorced box issue is pretty simple. It shouldn’t exist unless legally proven it makes a difference. Maybe I don’t know and that legal or fiscal meaning actually exists, so if anyone knows of it, let me know so I make sense of this.

Well, this was pretty calm right? Haha I told you I’d fire up over it. My final words on the matter are that no, I have not become a different person after my divorce, just a more knowledgeable one. I do wear a scar on my back, that I touch every now and then as a reminder. A reminder of a great moment in my life that I cherished at the time with all my heart, faith and dedication. It stands as an invaluable source of know-how as to how much I have to offer, how much I can give and just how strong and fierce I can be to take it back. How hard it is getting back up, how truly dignifying it is to be on my knees for a while and having people's eyes in the back of my head, their endless questions, gossip, expectations and critique. Against all this it was good to discover there is more to me than I knew, sides of me that I had disconsidered and that now came out strong and surprised me pleasantly. And luckily, not all is bad in the world. My family was there, my good friends were there, I ran into people who helped me just when times grew harder, complete strangers who went through the same and knew how I felt and reached for me no questions asked. Thank you to all. If I felt marriage wasn't for me before, now I know for sure. I tried, but the truth is that I have never valued it as an institution, even though I encourage other people to go for it, because obviously, it works for so many others. I for one have valued only the family and I've always known what family means to me. So I'll continue looking for that man who can offer more than just a legal status in society. 

.But it is all done now. 

So tell me again, why am I divorced and not single?

P.S.. Here is the list of reasons I mentioned in the beginning of the blog. They are pretty common sensed I’d say. I should mention the article was written by a guy.
A female friend of mine got divorced recently, and confessed to me how much she dreaded now having the “divorced” label hanging over her head as she re-entered the dating pool, like some modern day version of the scarlet letter. That she, too, had failed to make it work, and men would recoil from her in disgust, running for the nearest 20-something as soon as possible.
But I for one, think being divorced can actually be a stamp of awesomeness to we men willing to look past the stigma. I think this experience actually means you’re a cut above your never-been-married friends.
And here’s why:
1. You’ve experienced loss, and rebounded from it. You have courage, resilience, strength. That’s an attractive trait to men looking for a worthy partner.
2. Hey at least you dared to get married! You took a swing at love, rather than just playing it safe on the sidelines. You placed a bet in the lottery of life, and while it didn’t work out, you can dust yourself up and try again. Hell, even George Clooney couldn’t make his first marriage work.
3. You know it’s better to be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong. And are maybe more willing to wait for the right guy than jump into something just to have a body next to you. You don’t feel “incomplete” if you’re not in a relationship, and are maybe becoming a better person each day that you’re on your own.
4. You now know (if you didn’t before) that love takes work. That it doesn’t just magically take care of itself, and float along in a some happy, pink cloud surrounded by unicorns and cotton candy. You know that both parties have to commit to supporting each other and making compromises on a daily basis. This, too, means you’ll have a more realistic and mature approach to your future relationships.
5. You had the balls (irony intended) to walk away from something that wasn’t working. You stood up and said, “No, I won’t stay in something that’s a lie.” And that means you have standards. Principles. And me, I like a woman who takes a stand. And isn’t afraid to face some public scorn in the process. Where others see “scandal,” I see strength.
6. Maybe you’ve recognized that you’ve made a mistake–either in your own actions, or simply by marrying someone else who was making a lot of mistakes. And that’s incredibly valuable for your future partners in life, because you’re clearly humble enough to accept criticism and question yourself.
7. You probably now have a deep knowledge of what sexually satisfies you (and what doesn’t). And that’s rare for women and men. And your future relationships will benefit significantly from that.
8. Maybe you were the one who walked away, and now know what “Mr. Wrong” looks like, so you’ll better able to spot “Mr. Right.” Your bullshit detector is now iron-clad, and you realize you don’t always have to “stand by your man.” Because a lot of guys don’t deserve to be stood by. You’ll be less likely to fall for bullshit more able to identify a true heart.
9. Or maybe you yourself realize you weren’t such a peach, yourself. That you have things to work on in your character, personality or attitude. But that willingness to accept fault is also incredibly attractive to the right guy. You’ve recognized you’re not perfect? Congrats, most of us never get there. We’ve got shit to work on, too. It’s nice to have some company.
10. You know what it’s like to watch love slip away, and you’re more able to keep it from happening again, to have the tough conversations that need to happen. Hell, maybe you can help us prevent us from losing our way, too, if we drift.
11. Because you look wonderful when you walk down the street alone, unafraid, cool and confident. When you sit at the bar with no one next to you, it doesn’t bother you a bit. You kind of even seem to be enjoying it. Which makes us want to be next to you all the more.
12. So you’ve got a few scars. They make you more interesting. You’ve suffered pain and loss, so you value joy and happiness more than those who’ve never lost it. You’ve experienced a wider range of emotion in life, and have a deeper appreciation for the highs & lows.

P.S.S.. I have to add this too haha. From my research it looks like divorced women in India as well as in the Muslim world have to endure more than those in the West, due most likely to religion and so on. So here is this small comment a Muslim man made as to divorced women in his country. Just to show that I’m not the only considering divorced people in general, men and women, are somehow differentiated by the “perfect” society around us. The society made of single people who might turn out to be divorced someday. Oops! I’ll pre-welcome you to the club on this occasion, ladies and gentlemen, only to earn my evil status!
We use words like "Na Baba Na Wo To Talakn Ha". The most dismal thing is that usually one woman, in any relation, use this sentence. It is shame for a society like us, who claim to be a Muslim Society. In simple words she has committed such an offensive crime that is not forgivable.
I just close it with an instance. One of my Auntie expressed her deep sorrow with one divorced woman (relative) in front of me. At a later time, she was offered to marry her son with that deprived woman.
Ordinary, she repeated the same line; "Na Baba Na Wo To Talakn Ha". How much selfish and hypocrite are we. I make a self-promise commitment that I will marry a divorced lady. We need to treat them like a human, not like an isolated part of society. I humbly request all male readers to make active part to change this sick minded custom. My purpose is not to write an article, but to bring a dynamic stance against this social evil.

P.S.S.S. (if that even exists! Haha). Let’s conclude this on a funny note and this is what this one other divorced woman says about her experience with forms (well done missy! Big like!):
I am divorced, but I am also single. Which one do I select? The form-reading computer brains would probably explode if I checked both, or at least shoot ugly exclamation marks and refuse to let me continue until I decide what I am.
Who really needs to know I’m divorced? I’m single, and I intend to remain single until struck by a lightning bolt and turned into a phenomenon. Plus, the IRS doesn’t have a divorced category for filing: you are single, married, or widowed. They seem to be the end-all be-all of Who Not to Lie To, and if I’m single to them…ok, I’m stretching.
Everyone gives a shit whether I’ve succeeded at the social institution, failed at the social institution, or haven’t yet attempted the social institution. Who fucking cares? I probably care because I’m divorced and that sucks elephant penis no matter how much I wanted it.
Who should know I’m divorced?
         The US Census Bureau should know. This is important information for an accurate study.
         My doctor should know. It’s why I have a bottle of alprazolam on my dresser at home.
         My ex-husband should know. Duh.

         Anyone else?

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