Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To share, or not to share?

Photo attribution here.

So, the other day this thing happened. I started attending Institute here, which I've really been enjoying. The first time I walked through the doors (thank goodness I was early and the class was pretty empty) this senior couple who had served in my singles ward here three years ago was setting up the class and they totally remembered me. They walked up with slightly puzzled looks on their faces and said, "Wait, didn't you get married?"

When I was in phase one I was very, very open about my matrimonial history. One, I'm an almost absurdly open person to begin with and two, the beast that is divorce had overtaken my body, mind and soul to such an extent that it really felt like I didn't have a choice. It was the only thing in my head to talk about. No matter how uncomfortable it got I just kept opening my mouth and out would topple comments like, "Oh yeah, my husband did that too," or "Yeah, well the first time I got married I wore a vintage dress, but I don't know what I'll do for wedding number two," or, "Oh my gosh, I know. Making out is my favorite. I love it, even more than sex!" As you might imagine, this lead to many uncomfortable moments in my small, young singles ward.

During my epic road trip down here which transitioned me from phase one to two in my Get On With Life plan, I pondered extensively the pros and cons of going public with the fact that I was once married. When an LDS person finds out another LDS person has been married and divorced, it changes the way the once married person is viewed; there is no way around this. Eternal marriage is such a deeply integral aspect of our faith that, especially while one is single, everything seems to be viewed through this three part lens of married, single or divorced. Once divorce is admitted everything in the life of that person assumes a new hue.

We divorcees can feel this shift, which is why so very many of us remain silent. The righteously indignatious part of me wants to buck this system, which is another reason I was so loud mouthed about my divorce in my last ward. It's kind of a shock when people first hear it, the "D" word, but my theory was that the more people I could expose to a real live divorced Mormon, especially a devout one, the more stigma would dissipate.

However, in  order to achieve this noble aspiration, one would need to take upon herself every awkward moment she could in order to break the ice, again and again and again. In truth, I'm just not strong enough for that. Also, through my deliberation on the drive I decided such an "in your face" approach is probably not the most effective anyway to change perspectives or break the stereotype of the bitter divorced lady. Better to let a person discover the elements of me as they come and allow my divorce to be just one more layer of my fairly complex life story. In the early moments it was impossible to believe, but the truth is, I'm a lot more than my two year relationship to a man with whom I no longer speak.

Having settled on a "need to know"policy for when to speak about myself,  I have also settled on the decision to anonymize the blog. You may have noticed. Many of you know who I am and mostly I advertise this blog through facebook, but we're at about 5,500 hits now and coming up as #3 in Google search for "divorced mormon blog". I'd love to see us continue to grow. I'd also love it if we could just go with my nom de plum Imogen Frowfrow (there's a funny story here, as you can imagine) as my name. Sometimes it's hard to have strangers know your story.

As for your decisions, because you will have many to make about how much to say about what and when, here's my advice (since you so clearly asked for it). When the moment is right, do not be ashamed to admit your experience. Shame and guilt are tools of the devil if they are not motivating us to change. We cannot change what has happened, and we should not allow ourselves to be shamed because of it. Hold your head high when you speak about your divorce. It (hopefully) has changed you, ultimately for the better and brought you closer to Christ. It's an experience many of us share in silence. Sometimes breaking that silence can be a powerful and right thing to do. Also, you have every right to protect yourself, to establish boundaries, to decide how much of yourself to share and how much to keep. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a clean slate, and in moments it will be right to stay quiet, omit, or even mislead. Your experience as a married person does not have to define you. There is more to you than this. God will let you know which moment is which.


  1. My husband is really good at being vague, which can drive me crazy at times, but in some instances is brilliant. I tend to error a bit more on the 'spill my guts' side. People do not need to know the details of our lives, just to satisfy their curiosity. My life is not for their entertainment.

    A good friend of mine (who is older and has endured two nasty divorces) gave another friend of mine (recently divorce), what I thought was good advice about divorce: Don't regret the good times you had together, hold on to that. Be grateful for the good things that have come from the relationship. One reason why divorce is so hard is you never imagined your future with out this person, and now they are gone. You fell lost being faced in front of a future where your plans no longer make sense. This necessitates you making a new plan for the future, and that can be scary.

    1. Excellent observations and advice, Lindsay. Thanks for passing it along!