You cannot possibly know

Unfortunately I have several friends going through divorce right now. It’s heartbreaking, whatever the circumstances, even when it is for the best. My divorce was a few years ago. It was rough and tough, and there were times that I wondered if I would survive the whole process. It’s mentally and physically and emotionally draining. My family and friends and my kids pulled me through. A minute at a time, a day at a time. Hell doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So when I was called recently for the phone number of my awesome divorce lawyer (something that happens all too often) I was surprised by the person on the other end. They were calling for a friend. She wanted to sound me out on what I thought might happen in this person’s divorce, like going through one divorce makes me an expert?! And then she says “well, not everyone can have as smooth a divorce as you and your ex had.” Say what?

Apparently, if you manage to put your issues with your ex behind you, and move on like grown ups and put the kids first, and be civil and cordial with each other, it means your divorce was less contentious, and easy and smooth. Ha! “Obviously you didn’t have any major issues to deal with otherwise you guys wouldn’t be talking to each other today”. Hmm, the fact that we have four kids together has nothing to do with it? The fact that these four kids need to know they have two parents who both love them to distraction – and are prepared to bury the hatchet for their sake – means that the hell we went through was nothing?

How dare she judge? Because I didn’t blab about the details to all and sundry that minimizes my experience? Because we were both able to get remarried – it means we didn’t suffer? We both did, believe me.

I ended up challenging her. I said “you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, until you have been in my shoes you cannot possibly know what I went through. How dare you minimize my experience?” – She tried to explain herself. “You made barmitzvahs together, you had him over to your house for birthday parties, you speak to each other when you bump into each other in public……everyone knows you guys are friends. How can you be friends if you went through hell? Besides, he IS letting you take the kids to NY…..” (yeah, she went there)

I explained that we are not friends, we just make an effort to get along for the sake of the children. And we have moved on. Neither of us wants to live in the past. We have new spouses, and new lives. We have acted like mature adults. Apparently that means I cannot really understand someone who is going through a difficult divorce. I cannot empathize. I cannot advise. Because me and my ex are civil to each other.

I have hakoras hatov (appreciation, gratitude) toward my ex. I do. It took effort from both of us to let go of the pain and anger etc. We would not have a civil relationship if either of us was not willing to make it happen. It requires work on both sides. But instead of getting applauded for that by this woman, I was judged and it bothers me. It shouldn’t.

Why can’t people just keep their opinions to themselves?

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  1. shorty says:

    Everyone has the need to “pee on the pole”.

    I think its great that out of your difficult experience what is left is gratitude – not bitter anger. THAT is a challenge. Having a bitter battle divorce is easy. Coming out the other end, stronger, better and with gratitude is awesome.
    Too bad she doesn’t see that.

  2. Thanks for sharing. As usual your honesty and transparency are very moving. Kol HaKavod for your efforts. Your caring for your kids and what is best for them is evident throughout your posts and also apparently was a motivator for how you (and your ex) carried out your divorce. That must have taken an extraordinary amount of self-control, discipline and love.

  3. Duvii says:

    “Easy” is in the eye of the beholder.

    Measuring one divorce against another, perhaps you do have it “easy” as you put children first. We all know plenty of those who won’t or can’t.

    No divorce is easy, every one of them is different and painful in its own special way :-(.

    The only people that can truly understand it are those who have been there.

    Let this person off the hook, they don’t really understand.


  4. a.k. says:

    I think what you disclosed to her there was a precious piece of advice for the upcoming divorce of her friends.

    Once she understands that it was not smooth but you made it look smooth, this will perhaps give the person who divorces the force to do the same…

  5. Jack says:

    Some people can’t be happy unless they make others unhappy.

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