The Stigmas Attached to Me as a Divorced Woman
None of them are asked for. None of them are accurate.
When I got divorced, I knew that my entire life was going to require reinvention. I had to learn to be happy again. I had to figure out who I wanted to be and who I was because somewhere on my matrimonial road, I lost sight of that.
It was hard to acclimate to my new skin. Certainly, some freedoms and opportunities excited me. Six months after my divorce I went on my first solo vacation. I have made countless new friends. I started writing again.
What I wasn’t ready for were the stigmas people would attach to me. I learned quickly the different misconceptions that go along with being a divorced woman. I had no idea these were a thing.
I also was not aware that the absence of the ring on my left hand was a call for commentary on my life.
One by one, these roles people had created for me would emerge. I never took it personally because they’re no reflection of me but rather a culmination of what we’re taught about the modern divorcee. It comes from movies and television and a myriad of other outlets selling the trope of the divorced woman who should be feared for one reason or another.
Many times, I found myself pigeon-holed into several different categories. It rarely had anything to do with me but a whole lot about other people’s insecurities.
The Evil Temptress
To some women, there is nothing more unsettling than a carefree woman roaming the earth without a wedding ring. This is especially unnerving to women when you come within five feet of their husbands.
Let’s be clear about one thing. I didn’t want my husbands. Why would I want their husbands? I have mastered the art of not wanting husbands.
I have had male friends of mine that are married tell me that their wives said they couldn’t talk to me. Wives have made snide comments about me standing too close. I don’t flirt with married men. I just stand there. It blows my mind.
The Conspirator of Fun
Women aren’t the only ones who see me as a threat. Men do, too. I have evolved over the last couple of years. I am admittedly far more badass than I ever have been.
One of the greatest benefits of my single life is being able to do what I want, when I want, with whomever I please. I have a lot of fun. A few girlfriends have told me that my carefree ways concern their husbands as though they are one argument away from joining the ranks of the divorced because it looks like I’m having a great time.
This is not my problem and I wish men realized this.
I do my best to keep the grass I’m standing on as green as possible despite the number of people who keep pissing on it. Keep your grass green and it won’t suffer from comparison.
The Cautionary Tale
There is a converse to both of the above stigmas. I have several friends that tell me their husbands should be thankful for me. I am what is keeping them married. I am the cautionary tale of how my grass is artificially green and the single life of a middle-aged divorced woman is nothing to covet.
This is especially relevant when you take a look at the dumpster fire that is my love life. Women see how hard it is for me to date and then their marriages don’t seem so bad. It’s not that they realize their husbands are great. It’s that they realize being married is suddenly…not as awful.
You’re welcome, fellas.
The Complete Failure
When I got divorced, one of my biggest fears was how people were going to perceive me, especially since I was on my second divorce. This fear was realized in one fantastically horrible and flippant comment from a friend.
When I told him that this was actually my second divorce, he casually said to me, “Oh. You must be really crazy then.” He was dead serious.
My marriage didn’t end because I was crazy. There’s nothing wrong with me. I just wasn’t happy. Happy marriages don’t end in divorce. His comment perpetuated this fear that people would see me as damaged goods.
It’s hard work to not let these things affect you. It takes a solid amount of toughening up and acquiring of a thick skin. But I didn’t get to where I am and who I am by feeling wounded by a few slings and arrows. I’ve learned to dodge them. If one hits, I just yank it out and keep on moving. I’ll heal just fine.