Monday, March 5, 2012

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Did Divorce Hurt?

It looks like I'm back in the swing of finally answering so many questions that people have asked. This one was asked in late December. If you have something to ask -- no holds barred (although, really, it doesn't mean I'm going to answer it if I find it inappropriate) -- just click here.
I know this questions thing is a bit old -- but I hope you can still answer. I know your divorce was amicable, but does it hurt you at all that your ex-husband has moved on so quickly? I'm thinking such a short time for a person to move on is a bit strange.
My opinion? It is strange. My ex met his now wife about two weeks after our get (religious divorce) was finalized, and they were engaged a few months later. They recently got married, and I wish them all the mazal and happiness in the world. But yes, I find it quite bizarre. To get married five months after a religious divorce and two weeks after a civil divorce seems, well, fast. Really fast.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to how we choose to cope with major events in our lives. Having lived in Teaneck in the community that we lived in, I know that there is a pressure to fit the mold of being married, considering kids, toying with buying a house and so on. If I had stayed in the area, I probably would have done the same thing.

But I coped by getting out, starting fresh, and figuring out what kind of life I wanted for myself, outside the mold of the expected. A lot of people think I've gone off the deep end by not officially affiliating as "Orthodox" per se (although, let's be honest, it's the closest thing denominationally to what I am, but my dating a non-Jew more or less shoves me out of that camp even though we all know a million people on the Upper West Side have done it, are doing it, or are not concerned with shomer negiah). Would they think the same if I was a divorced born-Jew? Who knows.

Does it hurt? Of course it hurts. When we divorced, I lost the only Jewish family I had ever known -- and let me tell you, that family was the most amazing family a girl could ask for. I lost two bubbes, in-laws who had a pride in me that shone so brightly, tons of cousins (who, thankfully, still talk to me), and so much more. That was the big hurt, losing family. I was so entrenched in their lives, their histories, their genealogies. Hearing my former father-in-law tell me he was proud of me was something that I cannot even put into words. Losing that destroyed me. And when I think about the divorce now, it's the thing that hurts the most.

Wait, I'm lying. Well, half-lying. The thing that ultimately hurt the most was feeling replaceable. My ex found his new wife within a few weeks of our get, within a few weeks of me asking for the darn thing. After all, I asked for the divorce and a week later we were at the beth din making it happen. Knowing that the empty space of "wife" could be filled so quickly is something that continues to damage me. Rejection is hard, and between September and November of 2011, I was rejected by several people who I had given so much to. That rejection tore a piece of the fabric of me, and it has yet to be restitched.

More of an answer than you bargained for? It's been hard to not write about the divorce. I've gone through all the stages of grief and then back again. Knowing what I suffered while in the relationship -- mentally and emotionally -- and then knowing that everything started over so quickly for my ex-husband made me wonder if I was living in some imaginary dream world for the 16 months we were married. It's a fog to me now, and I'm lifting the fog slowly but surely. Thankfully, I have amazing friends here in Denver like @melschol and back East like @heysuburban and, of course, Taylor, to remind me that I'm not replaceable.

The upside is that I've never felt like a failure in marriage. I just made a few stupid mistakes of trusting, revealing, and believing that I won't make again unless it's with the right person at the right time.