In the last two blog posts, I unpacked the first 4 of 5 hurtful responses that those going through the trauma of a divorce do NOT need from us. These are based on the writings from those who shared their very personal stories with me in response to my January 17, 2020 blog post “Are Divorcees Disqualified from Ministry?”
Today, I continue the conversation with one more hurtful response we want to avoid, and next time in Part 4 we’ll unpack several HELPFUL responses we can rely on to help ease their pain…
5. “Why didn’t you tell me!?!?”
I know this is a natural, knee-jerk response, but now you’ve just made it all about YOU, and they don’t need ADDED anxiety about potential isolation from YOU after what they’ve just experienced with their spouse.
Some might think, “You didn’t tell me before it was too late, so you deceived me!” But there’s a huge difference between deceit and delay. A divorcee isn’t deceiving their loved ones by trying to mask their pain. They’re simply trying to do what society trains us to do – buck up and survive without bringing everyone else down. They don’t even realize they’re wearing a mask until it falls off.
Translation: I didn’t know I was wearing a mask until mine fell off in 2016, and there was never any intent to deceive anyone. My publisher, podcasting partner, board of directors, staff, etc. were all aware of our situation and incredibly supportive in light of the circumstances. Less than one month after the final hearing, I let followers know about my divorce on the Sexy Marriage Radio podcast which was posted on my blog. I had no control over who listened to the podcast or not, but this is all that I felt the freedom to do in the way of “announcement.” I didn’t send out press releases, or saturate Facebook or other social media outlets with sensational headlines, because it just seemed too personal to advertise in such an impersonal and insensitive way. Some followers felt they were “entitled” to more information, but my confidentiality commitment to the father of my children was far more important to me than my commitment to the general public.
No one intends to hide a divorce forever. But they may need to hold it closely until they get enough air back in their lungs to include others, especially if they are a part of a larger community than normal. If they seemed late in telling you, it’s not because you weren’t important to them. It was simply because their energies were most likely focused on mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial survival. Just be glad they are telling you now, and hopefully on the road to recovery.
In addition, “Janet” shared this incredibly insightful nugget that’s worth repeating:
“Satan often says to us, ‘I want you to tell everything to everyone!’”
Can you imagine how exhausting that would be? How impossible? How defeating it would be to even try? We relive the trauma every time we retell the stories! Who wants to relive the nightmare over and over and over again, like a scene out of the movie Groundhog Day? My doctor told me at one point, “I’m forbidding you to talk about your divorce to anyone else for at least 6 weeks! You’re body HAS to have a chance to heal from all the stress you’ve been under, and talking about it all the time isn’t helping!” It was hard, but he was right. My anxious mind was making my body very sick.
Also keep in mind that there’s ONE divorcee, and a multitude of acquaintances in their life. There’s NO WAY they can have quality private conversations with each of those individuals. How you find out about their divorce (such as through the grapevine) may not be ideal in your mind, but give the divorcee the benefit of the doubt and trust that they’re doing the best they can. Don’t take it personally and make it about you. It’s not.