I am surrounded by well meaning family & friends, all of whom want the best for me. I am also part of a yoga community, which wants the best for everyone, and I belong to cancer and divorce support groups on FB. All of these sources together have thrust me into a world of delusion, a make-believe place that I’d love to live in, if only it was real.
I’d like to take a few moments to debunk what I think are some of the most ridiculous attempts at shutting me up.
You will be better off without him. In a sense, this is true. My health is better, I have much less laundry and cleaning to do, and I no longer have to parent with him, making that job much easier. However, it is a Fact that women do not end up “better off” after divorce.
Financially, women with children are very likely to end up living below the poverty line. According to George Mason University Sociology and law professor Lenore Weitzman, in her book “The Divorce Revolution, a typical woman endures a 73 percent reduction in her standard of living after a divorce, while her ex enjoys a 42 percent increased standard of living. Is it just me or is the word endures not as enticing as enjoys?
Women do recover emotionally better than men. This is because often women are willing to process their emotions, while men are not. I am grateful for the increase in my emotional health, but I feel certain it will not buy my son new shoes when his feet grow.
You have to get over this or you’ll become bitter. I’m guessing there are a lot of “bitter” women out there, because this is a big one. People do not like others to be “bitter”. Within the definition of bitter are the words hurt and angry. I am both. I’m also scared. No, scratch that. I’m terrified. It’s possible I’ll become bitter. Especially when I’m told by loving, intact couples “don’t be bitter”.
You have the chance to reinvent yourself. How I hate this one. Women are constantly reinventing themselves. First we become a “career woman”. Then we get married and become a “wife”, changing our name and assuming duties we used to hire out. Next comes the children, and we change into the “you can have it all” woman. When we can’t do it all anymore, we turn into the “stay at home mom”. I’m tired of reinventing myself. And, even if I was looking forward to reinventing myself, what does that mean? How does a 54 year old woman, who has been home with her children and occasionally helping with the family business, reinvent herself? What do I turn into now? I’m starting to suspect that reinvent yourself is code for “get over it”. .
You’ll find someone better. Let’s break this one down.
Who is this someone better I’m going to find? The last I checked, single women ages 50 and up far outnumber single men of the same age. Furthermore, most single men of that age are not interested in a 54 year old woman.
Where do I find this person? Yes, I know the women who use dating services and they aren’t having much luck. If they meet someone they like, he inevitably turns out to be little of what he claimed in his profile and emails. That leaves me with the old standbys: bars, the gym, work, friends, the grocery store. Even the 20 somethings aren’t meeting people this way. If the beautiful 25 year old in my yoga class can’t meet someone, I’m not feeling very confident that I’ll meet someone.
If I met someone, how could I ever trust them? After being blatantly lied to, repeatedly, how on earth am I ever supposed to trust a man, or myself, again. 25 years of lies does a number on one’s intuition, or “gut instincts”. I think it’s fair to say that my judgement meter is broken, perhaps beyond repair.
Share a bed? This is out of the question. I share my bed with my dog and my cat, both of whom forgive me when I wake up in the middle of the night with a hot flash or a nightmare, rip off the blankets and turn on the TV. This is just a guess on my part, but I think that might not be very sexy.
You will have fun buying a new place. Once is all said and done, once I’ve figured out what I’ll have to live on financially, I’ve reinvented myself, and I’ve found a new man, I get to pack up 25 years of life, downsize it, and move away. It’s not the moving away part that bothers me, it’s the leading up to it. What is fun about preparing a house to be listed, downsizing and moving? I’ve yet to hear someone say “yippee!! I get to throw away lots of stuff, pack up other stuff and move it. What fun!”
He’ll get his. Karma. No, he won’t. He’ll move on to another woman if the one he’s with now doesn’t work out. There is no Karma, life will not take revenge on him, and his world won’t fall apart. If any of that were going to happen, he’d be the kind of man who works on a marriage!
It’s all about your attitude. In fact, it is not. It’s actually about rampant cells that have turned cancerous and are rapidly replicating themselves in your body. The most optimistic woman I know died last week. And, she went out with an awesome attitude!
You can’t live in fear. Actually, you can. The women I know with ovarian cancer do live in fear. Why? Because there is no reliable test for it, the symptoms are vague, and it can kill you in a week. One day you are fine, the next day you have a perforated bowel and are on life support. Sounds glamorous, eh? So yes, we can, and do, live in fear.
Statistics are just numbers. Stage 3 & 4 ovarian cancer has a 5 year survival rate of 47%, a ten year of 27%. Yes, these are just numbers. The odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million, but I’m guessing this is little consolation to those who died that way. Yes, these are just numbers, which may or may not apply to me, but I think about them every day.
Well I could die tomorrow but I’m not walking around worried about it. Kudos to you! I often do think that any one of us could go at any minute, and that is certainly tragic. But guess when I started thinking about that? After I got Cancer! Before cancer, death rarely crossed my mind. After cancer, it is my constant companion. If death is rarely crossing your mind my guess is you haven’t battled cancer.
Everything happens for a reason. This is the biggest cop out ever told. What easier way to shut down discussion than to utter “everything happens for a reason”. Can you think of a quicker way to restore comfort to the speaker than this phrase? I can’t. This sentence says 1) I don’t know what to say, 2) I don’t care enough to stay in this uncomfortable moment with you and 3) This won’t happen to me, because there is no reason for it.
Cancer has made you stronger. Yes, it has. Weight lifting could have made me stronger too. Seems like a dramatic way to gain strength!
Lastly, my newly estranged son, who I recently kicked out.
You had no choice. Actually, I did have a choice. I made the choice to kick him out. I know plenty of other mothers who made a different choice.
It is best for him. Is it? Is it better for him to live with his dad and his dad’s new GF than his own mother? It might be, because he might be less inclined to engage in the self destruction he was engaging in while with me. It might be worse. It might be exponentially worse because his father won’t parent, and how is the new girl supposed to do so?
He’ll come back to you. He has blocked me from all contact, so I have a hard time envisioning him coming back to me. Yes, he’s young, he has issues to work out, things have been crappy for him. None of this proves that he’ll come back to me. In fact, he’s a pretty tenacious guy, and I suspect that he’s gone from my life if for no other reason than he said he was, and he carries through on what he’s committed to.
Love cures all. This may be true, but love is an unpredictable bedfellow. My love has not rid any of my children of their personal demons. My families love for me has not washed away my fear. The vast resources of love in the world have not prevented terrible things from happening on a daily basis.
I know some people who have made it their life mission to bring Love into the world. They do so by writing inspiring messages on FB and Instagram, leaving anonymous messages of love for strangers, advising all who are in pain to embrace Love, the cure for all that ails you. I am not anti-love. I think love is great. I wouldn’t bother getting out of bed every day if I had no love in my life. But the people who purport it to be the cure-all post their messages right next to the bottle of wine and container of Ben & Jerry’s they plan to consume that night. Love has it’s limits.
If my ex were to read this he’d say “there she goes again, Debbie Downer”. I’ve decided that my nickname should be Reality Rita. I live in the real world. In my world unicorns and Hogwarts are fantasies, happy endings exist mostly in Disney & Pixar movies, and there is no such thing as Karma.
Although………I am still holding out hope for Bigfoot.