I have a little corner office in our local coffee shop where I work from most days. I'm still waiting for my apartment and need the WIFI- country living is GREAT but not conducive of writing deadlines (again fast speed WIFI is important). Normally, I have my beats in blaring music to drown out the people so I can create the space in my mind to be creative. Sadly for them and myself on this particular day they died.
A small group of well put together women came in and sat down; hair perfect, their makeup didn't appear to be put on in the car on the way here, their nails were done, you could tell they worked hard at making it appear their lives were together. Quickly, their conversation turned from normal pleasantries to a full out gossip session. At this time, I am 250 words in to a 1000 word assignment with a deadline approaching in within hours. I was stuck; listening to Karen, Becky, and Susan dissect two local women (I do not know) and their behavior proceeding their divorce.
They had a lot of opinions. They had even more judgments.
I tried to focus on the words I needed to pluck from my mind and materialize on my screen, but my attention kept returning to Karen; her opinions and all her judgment. A lot of sentences started with "Women going through a divorce..." The group agreed and added piled their judgments on.
Stereotypes are a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Although they are oversimplified, there is a reason people fall into stereotypes- we are a group of people all going through something similar. I can't begin to speak for all divorced women, I will address some stereotypes based on my experience.
"You can tell when women are going through a divorce because they lose weight." Duh. Low hanging fruit, Karen. Here is the newsflash- most women don't lose weight when they are going through a divorce because they want to be thinner, it's because they are STRESSED! Their whole life was just turned upside down and they are trying to figure out a lot of heavy shit; including life-altering decisions that should not be made under large amounts of stress. I had to figure out school for my girls, living situation, all things divorce related, finances, EVERYTHING- while doing online school with my girls. Guess what Karen, I was a mess. I didn't eat for two weeks AND it had nothing to do with trying to look cute. Don't get me wrong, after the dust settles women do start to workout but maybe to build their confidence up after going through a special kind of hell?!?
"Women who are going through a divorce seek out attention." Becky, I call BULL SHIT. Again, only speaking from my experience, but seeking out attention was not on my mind; I hid. I hid from everyone. I needed ample amounts of alone time. I needed to be quiet in order to process my thoughts, heal, and work through my next steps. Once people started to find out I was getting a divorce, the "attention" was overwhelming, unwanted, and not returned. I still don't like the attention. If men put in the same effort in maintaining connection that they do when they are pursuing a new love interest there would be a lot less divorce in general... and many more happy women.
My sweet friend (words too small to describe who she has been to me as of late) took me out to eat the night my divorce was final. I had a drink. Someone sent over another. I was getting a lot of glances... she commented that it had to boost my confidence. Maybe it does for some... that's not my experience. Connection and support are the things that really boost my confidence. The physical stuff is shallow and fleeting. I get that kind of attention all the time- it's exhausting. I'm not saying that from an egotistical place, I have a long list of flaws but men just aren't that picky. I'm fresh meat and that's not a feeling that I find desirable. Side note, if you are reading this and interested in me- you won't get my attention by "catcalling" or sending drinks my way- but I will probably take the drink.
"Women going through a divorce is selfish; look at what they are doing to their children." Excuse me, Susan, walk a mile in my shoes and then maybe we can talk. I worked hard (exhausted myself) trying to make our marriage work for my kids. Divorce was not selfish. My children needed to see their mom refuse to put up with less and put herself first. My girls needed to learn how and when to walk away from a toxic situation.
"Women who are going through a divorce act like teenagers." I think this one might be true. It least it has been for me- although not in the beginning. I've stayed up way too late, way too many nights in a row. I have laughed hysterically with my friends. I have drank way too much. I checked all the boxes. But here is the deal, I spent a lot of time denying myself of just about everything and I NEEDED to reconnect with my inner-teenager and remember what it felt like to be alive. I'm currently in process of coming out of this phase but I plan on staying connected to my inner-teenager for the rest of my days... just maybe not so many days in a row :). Karen, Becky, and Susan, I might have proved this one to be true, but who are you to judge? Women need to go a little wild so they can find themselves again.
I texted the sweet friend I mentioned above from the coffee shop venting and judging the catty group of women. She loved on me (like she always does) and apologized on their behalf. Women are so funny... we are always apologizing for things out of our control. After her sweet words I felt better and finished my assignment, made my deadline, and left Karen, Susan, and Becky with their judgments and went on my way.
Little Lessons Everywhere
The women they were maliciously talking about are real women with families going through hell. It's really easy to sit from afar and judge every action someone takes, but until you are in the same situation, maybe reserve all of those thoughts and judgement and live in a state of grace and compassion for other humans. Also, when in a local coffee shop maybe not go into a full out gossip session- while I didn't know these women they could have been my sister, friend, cousin, etc.
Divorce is hard. No one ever really knows what people are going through... we only show our best, right? Maybe try giving tremendous amounts of grace to those working through hard things; especially divorce. Even if it is right and needed, divorce is hard and all the judgment doesn't help!
For the LOVE of God and all things good, can we ALL please stop talking about people's weight?!?
It's none of your business how much I (or anyone else) weighs. Losing weight should not be a topic of conversation or compliments. Maybe, "Hey, you look really healthy and strong." but not "dang girl you lost weight." I got more compliments at my thinnest when I looked anything but healthy and strong. This is a reflection of a bigger problem in our society and it needs to stop.
My sweet friends have loved me without judgment. The world needs more people like that. They have held my hand, made me laugh, let me cry, put up with my teenage-self, and nursed me back to life. They met me where I was and loved me while they waited for me to lift myself out of the fog.
Not to be dramatic- but I am dramatic so there's that.
If your friend is going through a divorce, please call my friends for the best advice-
they know what they are doing.
Karen, Susan, and Becky I hope the universe chooses the kindest way possible to humble you and I hope you never have to be the one other women are ripping a part in the local coffee shop.
Can we all be a little kinder please?
To the ladies going through it... you're doing a good job managing some really heavy stuff.
Because I couldn't resist... Karen, when you are wearing a Jesus shirt in public maybe walk in a little more love. Where is the love?