When you decide to open up about your divorce online, be prepared for what you may learn about yourself and others.
It’s amazing to receive Facebook messages from people who never have any contact with you outside of Facebook, but who suddenly know how to fix your marriage. The internet has been a blessing for our family while living overseas, allowing us to keep close relationships with people even though we live on the other side of the world. But, the internet has also become a place where people feel emboldened to pass judgement without any fear of having to look someone in the eye while doing it.
People don’t just want to know you’re getting a divorce. They want to know why, and whose fault it was. I know I did. And for me, it boiled down to a fear of it happening in my own marriage. If I could diagnose what went wrong with someone else’s relationship, I could make sure it didn’t happen to mine.
2) You lose some friends.
When people decide that the fault in the divorce lies squarely on your shoulders, some of them will decide that they can’t be friends with you anymore. Mutual friends are put in a particularly rough spot. They may try to be supportive to both of you, but in hearing each of your stories, they inevitably feel compelled to take a side. You’ll start to feel the cold shoulder. You’ll get messages of support, while your spouse gets messages of pity. And underlying those messages is the opinion that your spouse is the victim and you are the perpetrator.
“I think our first response to pain - our or someone else’s - is to self-protect. We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something blame. Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgement or by immediately going into fix-it mode.” - Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection”
Some of your friends won’t be able to understand your reasons. They’ll want justification for what you’re doing. And because you won’t be able to satisfy their questions, you’ll feel the friendship starting to wither. It will be disheartening. You’ll feel shamed, and lonely, and abandoned. In simple terms, it will suck.
3) You find out that some friends were even better friends than you first realized.
Here’s the silver lining in regards to friendships: even as you feel some friends turning away, you’ll feel some of your friends pull even closer. I have friends who I felt I was close to, but who, since reading my blog, have gone above and beyond in offering their love and support. The good friends haven’t judged and haven’t offered advice. They aren’t there to fix, or to help, the situation. What they are is present.
The good friends practice compassion. They suffer with me, holding my hand as I wade through something difficult. They don’t make me feel as though I’m somehow less than them, or that my situation reflects an inherent fault in who I am. They continue to make me feel as though we are equals. They recognize our shared humanity, and by doing so, remind me that I’m not really on my own.
4) You regret putting the blog post out there.
In some ways, my life would have been a lot easier had I never written about my divorce on my blog. I would have shed far fewer tears over the course of the last week, and I would have preserved my “good standing” with many friends and acquaintances. I would have kept some blog readers, too, one of which informed me that she no longer admired the life I was creating and would be unsubscribing from the blog. By writing that post, I made myself vulnerable. I laid myself out there, and thus, welcomed both support and criticism. And believe me, I received a fair amount of both.
5) But then you remember that some woman out there needs to know she’s not alone.
If laying my struggles out for all the world to see makes someone else feel less alone, or helps them along in their own journey, the blog post is worth it.