How do I handle the reaction of my family and (people I thought of as) close friends to the news of my divorce? Lots of special snowflakes ahead.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is a follow-up from an anonymous askme a few weeks ago (end of November) about Jodie, my (soon-to-be) ex-husband, and the way in which he has systematically abused me and emotionally manipulated me for the several years we've been together. You can find it by searching the archives for "anger soul-killing." I'm not putting the whole link because some people have seen it and this is about them, so I didn't want it directly connected.
If you read the final update, you'll see that I got out of that situation and have now filed for divorce. I left on a Thursday, filed for divorce on Tuesday, and he left on Saturday to go back to his home country. It seems, for the time being, that he has accepted that I'm serious, and he knows I'm not wearing my wedding ring and (obviously) that I've filed papers.
From what I understand, he doesn't even seem that upset over it. It certainly did not change his behaviour towards me in the slightest. He did send me a LONG email today, which Grant parsed into this: everything in his language suggests that it's my fault, but that he loves me and that should be enough. So more of the same really. He did promise to get help to treat his depression/whatever, get a job, and go to counselling.
However, this is more about the other people in my life right now, and their less-than-helpful responses to the situation.
He called my parents the night I left and told them I had left him and (most likely) told them how confusing it was and how he didn't know "what he did," etc. I sent them a text telling them I was okay but not much else until I saw them on Sunday. I did send them a link to the askme thread on Sunday, and they finally read it yesterday (but haven't commented on it at all).
Even after reading that, my parents think I need to talk to him and explain things clearly and rationally. They also think that this happening is their "karma" for the time that my mom left/divorced my dad (before they got back together and remarried a few years later). They think I'm making a mistake and that I should try counselling before I take any radical steps, like divorce. They told me that I don't seem to want to be around them lately (last year or so). I did explain that Jodie hated spending time with them, and we would fight on the way there and on the way home about every freaking little thing that irritated Jodie (which was my fault, obviously), so it was just easier not to see them. The same thing with other friends - it was painful, so I withdrew.
My sister is also freaking out and is making demands to speak with me on the phone. I sent her an email explaining what had really been going on and how difficult I was finding it right now. She said that she "would not subscribe to the new terms of our relationship" and told me to "call her when I wanted to talk."
One of my closest friends, and a bridesmaid in our wedding sent me an email (in response to my email to her a few days ago giving her a quick run-down of the situation) where she essentially said that her life was too difficult to deal with anything I was going through, but she was "sending healing thoughts" my way.
I don't mean to make it sound like all my friends are not supportive. My work colleagues have been amazing, and Grant is still amazing. He's been with me every step of the way, and our friendship has strengthened and deepened, and he's given me SO much strength when I had none. We've talked about this, and his advice has basically been to ignore anyone who is not supportive. He told me last night that, no matter how much I wanted it to be true, there is no magical combination of words that would make them truly understand and accept my point of view. He told me to stop engaging in these conversations, at least until they were ready to listen (i.e. probably never).
Something I've seen pretty clearly since I left is that my family, several close friends and Jodie are making this all about them, and how hurt THEY are about this situation. None of them seem at all interested in how I'm feeling or helping me at all. I can see that Jodie's self-absorbed behaviour is fairly similar to many other formative people in my life, and it helps explain a lot, actually. I'm not sure how I came to be surrounded by people who don't really seem interested or invested in me or my life.
Then there's Christmas. I have an invitation to go to a holiday party with an acquaintance, and I've got another close friend who just got divorced, so we'll spend some time together. But this is the first time I've ever really been alone for the holidays. It's scary. My parents said I could come there and spend Christmas with them (they live 3 hours away from me). That seems like a really bad idea to me.
What's frustrating is that I'm struggling more with the reaction of my family/friends than with the actual divorce. I still feel like leaving and filing for divorce was the right thing to do, and I haven't had ANY second thoughts. The thought of going back makes me want to scream, actually. I've never been so convinced that I'm doing the right thing, but it kills me that the people who (apparently) know me so well can't accept that I have lived through something awful and can not go back, as much as I hate how I have to go about it. I haven't spoken to Jodie at all, and both Grant and I feel like it would be a bad idea to try. Is that horrible of me?
I guess I imagined that my family would be a lot more helpful, and I definitely expected my friends to step up. I can't imagine hearing any of my friends tell me how they had been abused for years and refuse to even talk to them. My entire life has changed and they're acting like it's a personal attack on them.
How do I come to terms with this? Should I really just ignore them and hope that someday, they'll understand? Is there a "magical combination of words" that will work, or is Grant right - I should just stop trying because it's too hurtful?
How do you continue to believe that what you're doing is right when a lot of the people around you think you're wrong? Is it wrong of me to not agree to trying counselling or to continue not to talk to him?
Hive Mind, hope me, please.