What All Divorced Women Have in Common
Years ago, when I was still shell-shocked from learning of my husband’s infidelity and angry that I had become a divorced woman, I went out to dinner with two friends. Both were divorced women, so we had that in common. But one was talking easily about co-hosting her son’s graduation party with her Ex and his new wife—the woman he’d left her for.
She barely even rolled her eyes when she said his name!
I couldn’t believe it. “How can you stand to be in the same room with him?” I asked, thinking of my own Ex-husband and the knot of dread and anxiety I felt just seeing his name pop up on my phone.
“It’s been five years,” she said. “After a while, I stopped caring about the past. You’ll get there too.”
She said this casually, with so much assurance, that I felt I had to believe her. But how could I?
I couldn’t imagine a day when I could be civil to my Ex
And I considered this pretty normal. Certainly, my other girlfriends who were newly divorced weren’t planning parties with their Ex-husbands. Like me, their scars were too fresh. They were still reeling from divorce fallout that seemed unending: Sandy was constantly facing her Ex in court, while Roxanne’s Ex refused to see or speak to her for more than a year. Linda was grieving not just the loss of her husband but the loss of her best friend, with whom he had an affair. Katie, in her sixties, had given up her retirement plans and savings for her second husband only to be abandoned and forced to navigate the harsh realities of a “grey divorce.”
What I knew for sure was that my friends and I, and many women like us, had been thrust into situations we never asked for.
As divorced women, how could we stop caring about the past when the past wouldn’t leave us alone?
I gave this a lot of thought. And I kept hearing my friend’s confident voice saying, “You’ll get there too.”
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Then a funny thing happened. The more I thought about the past, the more I began seeing it through a different lens. In the same way that I had never imagined getting a divorce, I’d never imagined doing other challenging things, like not getting permission from the judge before moving my children to a safer, less expensive apartment. Or buying my own car without consulting with my Ex. Or enrolling in a course to become an energy medicine practitioner. Or learning to say no (full stop!) when my Ex tried to control my life.
When I focused on all the strong, independent moves I made throughout my divorce, the past didn’t seem so suffocating. In fact, I saw that I actually came through my divorce with the best gift imaginable: I met the best version of myself.
And this has been true for my friends too. We have something wonderful in common.
Divorced women have a secret superpower; it’s the strength to rise again
Not all of us look wildly successful on the outside. All of us still face challenges and struggles, but we share an inner strength that we never knew existed.
Here’s what that strength looks like:
Sandy spent so much time in court that she connected with someone who offered her a job as the office manager of an all-female law firm.
The extended cold shoulder Roxanne got from her Ex gave her the space to meet an amazing new partner.
Linda kept loneliness at bay by focusing on her education and career. She earned a doctorate degree and became a department head at a Big Ten university.
Katie, like me, wrote an award-winning memoir about surviving divorce.
Now, when I meet someone going through a divorce, I want to be the one offering assurances. I want to share what my friends and I have learned. I want to take that baffled, disbelieving woman gently by the shoulders, look her in the eyes, and tell her to have faith.
Divorced women are the strongest women you’ll ever meet
A divorced woman knows that the best version of her has gone ahead and is pulling her forward.
A divorced woman has earned a seat at a table loaded with resilience, clarity, wisdom, and freedom. And yes, it’s the very same table where she may, one day, have dinner with her Ex and her Ex’s new wife.
And it will be no big deal. I promise.
Tammy Letherer is an author and writing coach. Her most recent book, The Buddha at My Table: How I Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, is a Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards and in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2018 Best Book Awards and National Indie Excellence Awards.
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“We choose not to do it alone.” ~ SAS for Women
* At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.
This was a beautifully written article, and so full of growth and awesome insight. I hope to reach this point someday as well.
On the editing side of things for this website, however, I am frankly extremely disappointed that somehow the editor felt that using the wrong term for the spouse was “simpler”. There is literally nothing more simple, in fact, the asterisk was distracting and I wondered what that was all about…. and when I saw, I was really disappointed in this entire website. I don’t think it’s confusing to anyone’s intellectual understanding. No, you don’t respect same-sex relationships, that much is clear. You decided it needs to be sanitized for your audience – actions vs words.
Thank you for writing and expressing your opinion. Please share specifically what you mean. “The wrong term for the spouse?” We are eager to hear your opinion but we do not follow you and would like to understand where we err.
“At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.” It could have remained female.
Hi,Tina. We’re very sorry if you think our efforts to acknowledge same-sex marriages sanitizes a conversation. We invite you to connect with us directly and explain what your correction and concern is in detail so we can improve our website. Visit here to schedule a brief chat: https://sasforwomen.as.me/?appointmentType=3699969
We think a constructive, civil-tone of conversing and not a lashing will do so much in easing conflict and misunderstanding in this world.
My issue is that it does not recognize same-sex relationships if the editor has chosen to change the spouse’s sex. If the article is written about a same-sex couple, it should remain this way. I am not lashing out, simply stating that there was no need to randomly turn this into a heterosexual couple and that doing so is not supportive of same-sex relationships. I fail to see the logic in changing the sex of the spouse or how that makes it simpler.
Sounds like Tina got the impression that author’s spouse was actually a woman and the editors changed the sex of the spouse from female to male “for simplicity.”
My understanding is that the spouse was actually male and the editor’s asterisked comment was meant to be inclusive: i.e. “This article may be about a heterosexual couple, but we happily work with women in same-sex marriages/relationships, too.”
Perhaps it might have been clearer to phrase it like so. With gratitude and appreciation,