July 23, 2012

Divorce is like death, and other phrases that make me punch you


I think at some point we’ve all heard the phrase, “Divorce is like death.”  I probably have stupidly even uttered this phrase, at some point in my life.  However, you may have noticed there aren’t a whole lot of bereaved people standing around at funerals going, “It’s ok, this is just like a divorce.”  I understand that there is sadness and even trauma associated with a marriage ending, a family being torn apart, etc.  Part of your life does ‘die.’  But let’s get real here, people.  Because if another one of you going through a divorce exclaims to me that you wish your spouse were dead, and insanely imply that “I’m lucky”…..I’ma knock you on your ass.  Ya hurd me?

I’ve had several people say this to me, and it happened again this morning in a group of people.  The particular mutha this morning was lamenting her divorce.  The husband is being an asshole.  I get that.  He was an asshole during the marriage though, so what exactly did you expect?  Women do this thing, constantly, where they try to control the man’s behavior.  Impossible.  Stop doing that.  No one has ever been successful in that endeavor.  You cannot get a person to do what you want by using threatening words, by manipulating finances, or by using your children as pawns.  An asshole is just going to be….an asshole.  Doesn’t matter what you say. 

During my conversation with this particular mutha today, she said a few things that resonated with me.  One was that her daughter misses her daddy, so she’s been emailing him.  Really?  Well, that is super cute and great, but you do get that dead people don’t email you back, right?  In another breath, she said the husband hadn’t bothered to respond to one of her texts when she wanted to tell him about something cute one of the kids did.  That is terrible, indeed, but you get that there is no texting dead people, right?  They never respond.  In fact, their phones are cut off.  She said the kids were upset and missed him, and he seemingly didn’t even care.  Wow.  Imagine, then, how upset they might be if he were DEAD.  She said he hadn’t seen the kids in over a week.  Again, shameful.  But if you truly wish death upon him, I hope you understand he will be seeing them NEVER.  Oh, you want him to take the kids, because you need a break?  Nada.  No dice.  Ghosts are not good babysitters.  You would probably get arrested for leaving your kids with a ghost babysitter.

I’ve even been told that I’m lucky, because at least I have some life insurance money.  Really?  What amount of money would you give to see your kids happy?  To undue a tragic event that forever changed their lives in a bad way?  If you don’t say “every dime I have,” then you’re a liar.  All of you would give all your money, and all your limbs, to undo this in your family.  I promise.  Trust me that no amount of money serves as consolation for the tragedy of suicide.

I want to be clear, I am not mad at these people (even though I still may punch them.)  I understand that these words are spoken by people who are hurting.  By people who are traumatized by divorce.  The crazy words and feelings are being expressed because going through the divorce has so negatively impacted them that they just want it to stop.  They are so hurt, that the person disappearing altogether seems like a great idea.  I get what they’re saying.  But compose yourselves, people.  Think about what you are saying.  Think about to whom you are speaking.  The pain of divorce is temporary.  Those hurt feelings, they won’t last that long.  Three years from now, you will not give a tiny fuck as to what your ex is doing.  Picking up and dropping off those kids and figuring out Christmas and summer visits is going to be mundane.  Your kids can still call the other parent, can still hug and cuddle, can still see he or she sitting in the bleachers.  My kids can’t do that.  So, no, I’m sorry to inform you all, but divorce isn’t like death.  Divorce is like divorce.  ‘Cause death means you are dead.  It doesn’t mean you’re ‘like divorced.’

41 comments:

  1. Thanks, as usual you are amazing. Had to laugh at this, mostly because I'd be erring on the side of punching myself. I hadn't heard this one but I do love the "I don't know how you do it, I'd never be able to go on/find someone new/get up every morning if I lost my husband/boyfriend". You just don't know how you'll react, I know I didn't!

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    1. raiseing hand over here. Yes, I've heard that from the divorce..when I got a career path set, parented 3 kids with a moron who didn't care to keep in touch with the kids much and kept taking me to court to lower support... and NOW I hear it from My Person's Suicide in Feb '12. Like I have a CHOICE? really? No, I don't. I have to work, bring in money to pay the bills and handle it ALL... so yeah...hits some REAL for me. thanks!

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  2. Well said, and I'm very sorry for your family's loss...

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  3. Seriously, if you punch someone it will be justified.

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  4. Someone offered to murder my ex, and they really would have. I must admit, I entertained it for about .05 seconds. All those things you mentioned flashed through my mind. I was hurt, not just emotionally, but after 12 years of physical abuse, my body was broken as well. If anyone was justified in the thought, it was me. But like you said, I would give ANYTHING for my kids' happiness, and they are happier with their dad in their life.

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  5. Well said and I'm sorry for your family's loss..... <3

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  6. After I told my now ex-husband to move out a couple of years ago, he spent the following 6 months in and out of psych wards and went 10 weeks without speaking to our children (who were 6 & 7 at the time). The heartbreak in their eyes was killing me and every time they asked me if I had heard from him or if I knew why he wasn't calling. For a few seconds I thought, "At least if he was dead, I'd know how to answer them." As soon as I thought it, I took it back. I didn't want him dead. I just wanted him to be well.

    I cannot imagine the pain you and your kids have gone through. I can, however, relate to wanting to punch people for the things they say. My miscarriages were met with, "It just wasn't meant to be" and "God must have needed the baby more" or "It was probably just too sick and it's better this way." I thought people couldn't have been any crueler if they tried. And then I had twins that died w/in an hour of being born. "At least they died before you had a chance to get too attached." One woman actually said that. To me. If I wasn't in utter shock, I WOULD have punched her!

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    1. So sorry for all your hurt. People can say such stupid things trying to be consoling. Hugs work so much better.

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  7. When I was 16 I had a baby who passed away at just 5 months old. People have said some incredibly hurtful things to me over the years because they don't know what else to say, and they don't realize how their words may hurt you - simply because they have not walked in your shoes and likely never will. Try not to let it get you down. People are sometimes stupid but they really mean well more often than not. Unfortunately going through incredible heartbreak and pain does not give us a free pass to be assholes to stupid unthinking people. Unfortunate indeed...

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  8. I don't wish death on my worst enemies. I wish for the evil to disappear. No matter how many times I been hit by a man I never hit back. I did hit a girl once. But I have been through the manipulation, threatening, & attacking relationship . If this moms doing this he will avoid her.I'm sure he misses his kids but he is probably tired of being damaged . Its mentally draining. And it was hard to release my children in the arms of the ones who beat my soul to the ground. But once dad showed interest there was no way I'd say no. I have a box of pictures with my worst enemies in it. I loved to burn it but those people are my babies family. And I know that they will thank me for those pictures. God forbids anything happen to them but even tho I don't care much for them my kids did. I am guilty of telling my kids of what people they love did to me and I feel horrible about it but I felt they needed a heads up. Not everyone we love is trust worthy. But I still pray for enemies.and through all the pain they can see my kids just not me.

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  9. My step-brother died suddenly in a four-wheeler accident six years ago. A few weeks ago, when my mom and step-dad's dog died, someone commented on FB that it was 'like losing a child.' Talk about wanting to punch someone in the neck! The guy was trying to be sympathetic, but GEEZ, people. THINK about shit before you let it come spewing out!

    Stay strong, woman. <3

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  10. I lost my Daddy when I was young. It was sudden and unexpected. My Mom was a very young widow with three kids. Thankfully he planned for our future in case the "unthinkable" happened...and it did. I heard a few times "My Dad's an asshole, you're lucky you don't have to deal with that" or "some of us have to work for our money", in college, when I received my modest trust. I wish I had told them that I would give back every penny to have just one more day with my Dad. My poor Mom heard the same ignorant crap you're hearing. Sometimes people just don't have any damn sense. Hang in there lady.

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  11. I can see both sides of this situation. You do feel a loss of your family and the life you and your children USED to have. I mourned the loss. I'm not saying by any means that divorce is like a death. But it in someway it is. You never have that one person to tell that you had a fuck of a day to. Or honey can you just give me five to regroup. What I'm saying it is not the same but you could connect on a certain level. Just a tiny level.
    I know the feeling of loss and what mental illness can do to a family. God bless you.

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  12. I have recently just had to explain this to someone. It makes me so sad, I will be the first to say that when my ex husband and I got divorced I was extremely hurt and said lots of horrible things. I will say in all honesty I never wished for my ex to be dead. He took his life almost 6 months ago. I had to explain to this person even though her daughter doesn't to get to see her dad on a regular base due to living 3 states away at least her daughter can pick up a phone and call him and she will see him again. My daughter doesn't have that. I would everything you said and more for my daughter to have her dad here and for her to be able to pick up a phone and call him and or for her to see him one last time. I am so grateful though for the time she did have with him, it wasn't long enough but at least it was something. You are awesome!!

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  13. There are so many ignorant people in this world... It definitely upsets me that people have actually said that death is like divorce. Death is so final, and I can't imagine the pain and suffering that comes along with the death of your husband and the father of your children, to a suicide nonetheless. You have done an amazing job of surviving. I admire your strength, despite the hand you've been dealt! :)

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  14. I just wanted to say I love reading your blog. You have reminded me to truly appreciate my man and my son. Thank you.

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  15. Don't let the ignoramuses in this world bring you down. A friend of ours committed suicide 12 years ago. His wife, to this day, curses him for leaving and then cries that he's not there to hear her. She's raised 3 wonderful kids ON HER OWN, and like you, has a way with words. She should have written a book about all that she's gone through and the crazy, STUPID shit people have said to her....would have been therapeutic for her and probably a best-seller. Keep on writing, you have a gift, you're helping yourself AND you're helping others!

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  16. I can't believe people would compare death to someone losing a loved one. You have got to be kidding me.

    (from a reader who has stalked you a long time and is just now posting my first comment (aka Tiffany))

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  17. I can not believe a person would compare a divorce to losing a loved one that is crazy talk.

    (from a long time stalker of your blog and first time commenter)

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  18. I really like this post - One of my closest friends,who in the last five years, has gone through a divorce and the loss of her fiance and his son in a tragic accident. I've supported her through both, and one is so incredibly different than the other. Thank you for this post - I may share it with her, although over a year later she is still raw from losing both her "boys." She puts on foot in front of the other, but it isn't easy when her feet are in quicksand.

    didmybrainfallout.blogspot.com

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  19. Hi Mad Woman. As the oldest of 3 sisters we had an awesome dad, then a walk away dad, then a suicide dad.
    If you ever get the chance here is my story.

    http://updownallaroundamommystale.blogspot.com/2012/07/i-remember.html

    I also lost a child, my only son.
    I'm no stranger to loss.
    I love your blogs just thought i would tell you!
    :0)

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  20. I think you should walk around with a shoe... and when people spew nonsense...shove it in their mouth! Love, light and strength to ya darlin'...

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  21. It has been almost 20 years since my husband left me and our two sons for another woman. It is still as hurtful today as it was then. I died a little inside everytime he would pick up the children for their time with him and I was left behind watching my family drive away. I was the unchosen one. I struggled financially to keep them in their home and provide for them on only my income when there had been two. All the while watching the ex lavish gifts on the other woman and her children. I was helpless to help my oldest son deal with his depression and eventually become an alcoholic. I personally feel his dealth would have been easier to deal with than the betrayal and unkindness of his actions we have endured for twenty years and counting. Still to come awkward graduations and marriage ceremonies, future shared grandchildren that will be ignored as he ignored his owen sons. At least we would not known how little he loved us if he had died. Sometimes there are worse things than death.

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    1. I knew when I wrote this that people would comment to let me know that their painful divorces were worse than death. I still have a hard time believing that there is any betrayal or unkindness worse than suicide...but pain is all relative to the person living through it, right? When my friend was bitching the other dayd about her ex, I will tell you exactly what I told her. That is, if you truly believe death would be a better outcome, then pretend he is dead. Stop all contact. Irradicate him from your life. Make him dead to you. Because you are still negatively affected by him 20 years later, it seems your wound is still fresh. I don't know your situation completely, of course, but that can only happen if you allow it to happen. I probably shouldn't be saying this at all to you...but please know I state it with only good intentions. Peace and love to you and your kids...

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    2. You can't eradicate him completely...divorce means giving over control to the courts...if there are children, it means constant contact, Even after the children are grown, contact still. Further, divorce can permanently destroy your financial security.
      My husband walked out...no warning...nothing. Unilateral, forced divorce (also known as no-fault or is it no-choice) Then he petitioned for custody after I had been at home fulltime for more than a decade. One income household to no income household.
      How things end: Funerals may not be much but it's something. Some wounds never fully heal...especially when things are constantly poking at it. I also think it's much easier to say 'aren't you over it yet?!" for a divorce...20 years from now, will you be able to reflect on your time with your life partner as mostly good with a nightmarish end or as an ongoing nightmare?
      Marriages have a natural end: 'til death do you part...Divorces go on after death...if He dies, I won't be a widow ...I'll still be wearing a big ole scarlet D
      But to your observation divorce is like death Death is death divorce is divorce-both suck in very different ways
      ...I spoke to a friend whose husband died of cancer. She said 'at least I know that Jim would have done anything to stay with us...' Another whose 34 year old husband just died in his sleep who said at least every decision she made regarding the kids wasn't a battle...like with me.

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    3. I have been both widowed and divorced. Loved both men deeply. There is great grief but eventual closure with death. You know that your love was returned with equal measure by someone who understood what true love, honor, commitment and integrity are. You can put that person to rest with good memories to help ease the great sadness. There is deep grief but never really any closure from an unwanted divorce, especially when adultery and financial swindling are involved. You are left with a disrespect for the "departed" and the feeling that you wasted years of a perfectly good life with an ungrateful liar who lived a lie. My child whose father died can remember him as a loyal, loving, responsible man who would have stayed with her if he could have. The two whose father deserted them and me for a married office slut, don't have the opportunity to respect their father in such a manner. When children are born to a couple it is no longer just a marriage; it is now a family. And from the family perspective, divorce is worse than death.

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  22. I was sent the link to your blog today. I spent more time reading your blog than working! I just finished the last entry and I would like to say I am proud of you for sharing so openly. Honestly expressing feelings and deep down hurts aren't always the easiest of chores. I look forward to reading your blog (next reading a book) for years.

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  23. Writing can be great therapy, can't it? And people sometimes have no filter and deserve punching. I am not a fan of "Well, at least he's in a better place now," which you may have heard about your husband. When your dog dies and someone asks, "When are you going to get another dog?" One I hear constantly (because I have 4 sons) is, "Are you so upset you don't have a daughter?" Divorce is more the death of an idea, of a hope, of a joint living situation. And, yes, a part of the heart may very well die after going through it. But it's certainly not death.

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  24. I want you to know that, even through all of this, God is with you. He will never leave you, and He truly and completely LOVES you! He is the light in darkness, the hope to the hopeless, and the comfort to the pained. He loves you and your children! He will hold you through all of this if you just put all of your trust in Him!

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  25. Anonymous posted a comment above about going through 20 years of pain after divorce and being the unchosen one and also watching the effects on her kids. I probably identify with her the most. I was left behind almost 5 years ago and I am still broken from it. When he first left, I idealized him and what we had and I missed him terribly. Slowly, I see him as the addict and abuser that he is. Worse yet, I see my children going through it. They were young when his addictions took over, so they don't remember the great guy that I once knew. They only see him like the monster that he is now. We can't focus on the positive memories because of the constant drama we face. I don't wish him dead because I don't want to give up hope that he will find his way, but there are days that I certainly wish for distance. Every situation is different, I guess. Losing someone with merit, someone untarnished, is a terrible tragedy. Dealing with someone that destroys you and your children has its own tragic woes as well. I am so sorry for your loss, however.

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    1. You know, when I wrote this I actually considered a paragraph at the end to explain that the kind of divorce I was speaking of was the 'normal' type...where the other spouse is 'well' and still involved in the children's lives. I certainly do understand that not all divorces are like that, and some certainly do carry quite traumatic and tragic outcomes, even if the end result is not death.

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  26. If you have a kindle there is a free book today called It Rains In February. A memoir about a woman who loses her husband to suicide. I haven't read it yet but I will and thought of you. Hopefully it's comforting.

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  27. and good blog is like good blog.
    thank you for sharing. i'm sorry for your loss.

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  28. I am new to your blog and this post really resonated with me. Beautifully written, great tone. Thank you for sharing such a personal and tragic experience.

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  29. it does take an extraordinary person to accept the (stupid) "advice" that people give in really hard times with a grain of salt, and not actually punch them in the face to boot. i recently learned that saying, "he/she is in a better place now" is the stupidest thing you can say at a funeral. people do have good intentions and it takes an extraordinary person to calmly and passionately explain that their "advice" is crap and that it's ok because they will someday learn themselves what to say and what not to say in hard times, and then they can pass that on to someone else, too.

    excellent post and you write it so well!

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  30. I'm a father of boy/girl twins that will turn 8 in September. I'm divorced....well, the papers have finally been signed, so the divorce may be final this week. I just found your blog and it tore at my heart. I thought I had it bad, having committed my life to a woman who turned out to be a force of destruction. Your tragedy is much worse. I wish I could help you...that was my first impulse. Empathy? Not exactly, although at 48 I have lost far too many friends already. I wish you peace, and contentment...

    mh

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  31. Yeah, I'm a little late to this post, but that's the story of my life at this point.

    I've been through 2 divorces - and Ex2 passed away very unexpectedly 20 days after our divorce was final. I can definitely say that for me, divorce and death were totally different experiences. Both divorces were ugly and hateful and horrible. Ex1 and I tolerate each other for the sake of the kids. I know that if he is needed, he is there. But Ex2 is gone. Forever. It really hit me when I was filling out paperwork for my son for school and it asked for an emergency contact - and I had no one to put down for it. Ex2 was an alcoholic, which directly contributed to his death - but I still wonder to this day what would have happened "if only". Our son will never know his father, and that just sucks. There is no second chance. Even with deadbeat parents who disappear and might as well be dead for years still have the option of resurfacing and being involved with their kids - and the kids can hold out hope for that. My son has no hope of that ever happening.

    Two totally different things.

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  32. Its just different points of view...watching a train wreck happen is horrifying, being on the clean up crew is quite nightmarish

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  33. honestly? for me? and this is how I feel and not how I think what anyone else feels.... in one year I lost 2 people that I loved very much to suicide and my husband, who I also loved very much, divorced me in an ugly divorce.....some days I feel the divorce was worse, other days I feel the suicides were worst....and yet other days they were both as bad as each other....and yet other days it differs to which suicide was the worse...in the suicides it was the loss of hope that got me...I would never have what we had again and in the divorce the hope that we would have what we had again got me.....the only conclusion I have come to myself is the total loss of any one you love hurts and the way you lose them just brings out a different and personal hurt that is only relevant to ones self.....grief is grief, it always hurts but every one who is living with the pain of grief has their own story and can't be compared...I hope I haven't offended any one with this...this only reflects how only I feel and react to my grief from different ways of losing my loved ones

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  34. I'm new to your blog so I'm poking around and reading and loving it. I realize I am late on this one but still I have to say you really hit the nail on the head with this one. People need to be more aware of what they are saying and to whom they are saying it. I have not been through either a divorce or a death but we had a big scare with my seemingly in shape healthy husband a couple of years back which lead to emergency open heart surgery at the age of 36. I can't imagine how hard it must be to lose someone you love. Thank you for sharing your story. My favorite line from this is your last one "Divorce is like divorce. ‘Cause death means you are dead. It doesn’t mean you’re ‘like divorced.’

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  35. I sympathize with the author's loss of a loved husband, and I applaud her spirit of resiliency; but the title of the article is offensive to me. I have been widowed. I have been the recipient of an unexpected and unwanted divorce. The divorce was harder because there is never any true closure when children are involved. http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/08/whats-the-single-strongest-predictor-you-will-38240/ This is a very interesting article which contains a link to the Terman Longevity Studies (8 decades long) which isolates divorce as the single strongest predictor of a shorter life span for children of divorce (five years on average). Loss of parent(s) to death does not have this same effect. As one who has worked professionally with children for 30+ years, I can personally attest to the lifelong personality problems rooted in attachment/abandonment issues emerging from childhood. Unless there is abuse which must be escaped, an intact family unit is still the best thing going for children to have a fighting chance at being more psychologically healthy adults. But the culture of divorce, rationalizes all this away with the pathetic excuse of "the children will be better off not living with parents who don't love or get along with each other." NO!! the answer is for adults to take responsibility as adults, and to learn how to love and respect each other and to work to have a healthy marriage to which they committed and which became a FAMILY once children were born. As Frank Pittman, MD said, "Marriage is not supposed to make you happy; it is supposed to make you married." (Inherent in this is the idea that adults are responsible for their own personal happiness and that happiness cannot come at the expense of a spouse or children without considerable collateral damage.) I have an aversion to divorce being trivialized...it does far too much long-term damage.

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