Wonderful News

Almost three years ago now, I began telling friends and family that I was getting a divorce (and furthermore that I had initiated it).  There was a mixture of predictable ‘horror’ responses that fell into one of three categories: tragedy (‘oh what a terrible loss’), war (‘better prepare for a legal battle’), or judgment (‘you’re making a terrible mistake’).  Yet one response stood out for its utter singularity and unique wisdom — a friend’s father embraced me with, “What  wonderful news!  Congratulations!!!  How brave you are!  Getting divorced was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Wow.  That was different.  He understood.  Of course divorce is a painful process that affects a vast web of family and friends but believe me, nobody initiates a divorce just for fun.  It happens because one person has been deeply unhappy for awhile.  It happens because people drift apart and some marriages run their course.  Or at least that’s how it was for me.

So imagine the relief I felt on a cold spring afternoon at a school track meet when this dear man acknowledged my courage.  Learning how to trust myself and follow my heart even in the face of extreme disapproval was one of my most difficult lessons. 

Divorce can be the best thing – a ‘blessing’ after many years of a slowly dying marriage.  Divorce can be an act of liberation after much heartfelt soul searching.  The real tragedy is living a hollow life in which you are paralyzed by fear and complacency.  For myself, once I finally realized that the pain of holding on was worse than the pain of letting go, I felt a full, deep peacefulness . . .  a lightness of being.  And that was indeed wonderful news.

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3 thoughts on “Wonderful News

  1. shopper

    The most difficult thing is knowing what to say when someone you do not know well tells you he/she is either getting a divorce or is otherwise experiencing some kind of illness or death in their family or community. You don’t want discount or trivialize this situation. What are some examples of considerate comments that you can say to this person without insulting them?

  2. Ashley

    Great question! To begin with, it’s important to acknowledge the news but not assume that they’re feeling a certain way. You really don’t know what the situation means to them. Therefore, the best strategy is to offer your compassion by questioning them and listening. Some example comments are “I heard that your father died. My heart goes out to you. What kinds of feelings are you having?” or “I heard that you’re getting divorced. I’ve been sending you lots of love. I imagine you have many feelings about it. I’m here to listen.” Keep your heart and ears open and people will feel your kindness.

  3. Bill08Bill08

    I wish more people took this advice. When I was divorced it was one of the hardest times in my life. The news spread like wildfire even though I wasn’t really comfortable telling anybody. And even though everbody in my life knew, hardly anybody acknowledged it, even when they spoke to me. I think everyone was afraid. And even though what I needed most was to talk about my feelings, to feel like I wasn’t hiding, peoples fearful responses added to my own fear of fully acknowledging and accepting the divorce for myself.

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