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Monday, July 4, 2011

Divorce Journal Entry #3: a Lesson in Humility

A cousin of mine who is in the restaurant business just opened another branch at one of the big malls in the city.  Her mother invited my mother, me, my husband, and my daughter to come and try the new restaurant.  She of course didn't know of the impending divorce yet.  My mother, who is still fuming in the tradition of "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" didn't want to see my husband, so I came alone to accompany her.

Clearly my aunt was proud of her daughter's accomplishment.  The restaurant was full even though it has only opened for a few days.  Other than me and my mother, she also invited several other relatives.  Many of them were my cousins from my other aunts or uncles, who came with their families.  Family *being*: wife, husband, and child/children.  One cousin was pregnant with her second child, and we were talking about how time flies because it seemed only a while ago that I visited her in the hospital for the birth of her first child.

It all hit me at once without warning.  The fact that soon news of my divorce would be known by all these people.  Concern over my mom and of having disappointed her with my failed marriage.  Fear of my daughter being perceived differently, either pitied or ostracized because she comes from a "broken home."  The loss of control over my present situation and the uncertainties looming in my near future.  Anger at my husband for "taking" all of my life and dreams away.  Feeling guilty over things I could no longer change.  Jealous at how unaffectedly life passes by, at the unfairness of it all, at my cousins and random strangers I didn't know for having their families intact.   And to top it all, I was hormonal, irritable, and in the middle of my period. Could things be any worse???

But, this is the new reality for me.  One I must face whether I want it or not.  I learned one thing sitting there, amidst my relatives and all those thoughts bombarding me. I learned a lesson in humility.

It wasn't that I had anything against people who experienced divorce.  My parents were divorced when I was three years-old.  A lot of my aunts and uncles got divorced.  I have friends who've had divorce.  I thought it was sad, and I felt bad that they had to go through such an experience, and I would never wish it on anybody.

Now that I'm facing the dissolution of my own marriage, I realized that even though I had always exhibited appropriate responses when it came to the topic of divorce, I had never felt real compassion on the subject.  Pity yes, judgment yes, but real honest compassion?  Maybe not.

Looking back, many of my fears now (a few of which I mentioned above) must be based on my own prejudice and preconception, many of them unconscious until now, about those who were divorced.  It's a modern world, divorce is no longer news, and yet there is still a certain stigma attached to those who has been touched by it.  I'm not sure if this applies equally everywhere, but in the society I grew up and now live in, there's an invisible line that separates those who are divorced from those who are married.  It's all hush-hush, but it's there.  The details don't matter--you could be the victim of a very unfortunate circumstances, or on the flip side, you could be the one having mini affairs in an open-marriage.  But those belonging to the divorce community would always be "second-class citizens" to those who are married. 

Predictably, the rule applies twice as hard for divorced women than men. 

Now that I'm on the other side of the invisible fence, my eyes are truly open.  For the first time, I really understand why my mother chose to leave me under the care of my dad for the first three years of their divorce to pursue her studies 9000 miles away.  I understand why some of my divorced friends slowly "disappeared" from social gatherings and events.  Those who didn't were often gossiped about, their every moves judged and condemned.  We the (un)happily married people didn't mind being friends with those who were divorced, but um, it's probably better to keep them away from occasions where our spouses were around, shall we?  We wouldn't want them to (whisper) steal (God forbids!) our spouses, would we now?  Besides, it's not constructive to socialize too often with those who are divorced... different values and morales and all that...

What a bunch of bulls*t and bollocks! 

Still, it's a reality that I must face.  A reality that those before me had to and are facing every single day of their divorced life.  I know of those who have come out a winner and become the better because of their experience because they didn't give a damn about what other people think and fought to pursue their dreams.  But that's not what I'm talking about here.  I'm talking about embracing this ugly reality and being at peace with that.  To be a humbler person, one who has learned to have compassion, to have a heart big enough to accept all the ugly and negative realities surrounding divorce, and still come out a winner.

A lesson in humility.  That was what I learned as I was sitting there, surrounded by my relatives not yet aware that my marriage was over.  To have a big enough heart to take it all in, the good and the bad that comes with my imminent divorce, and still move forward. 


  1. God bless you and your family. All of you. Even the soon to be ex. May you all find peace as you renegotiate the future.

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