Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Shame of Divorce and Childlessness

It's a rainy, miserable, cold day in the Big soggy Apple. I'm catching up on my volunteer stuff (which is always the first thing to go to the bottom of the todo pile) and sorting through papers. I'm always drowning in papers. There will be an inbox on my grave. And it will be full.

I have recently had a major influx of Friend requests on Facebook from old high school and college buddies. It goes like that...someone spots you on a new Friend's list and the requests just avalanche through their network(s). I like it. I like re-forming old acquaintances. It makes me feel connected and nostalgic. But this doesn't mean that I want to rekindle any old friendships. The hardest thing for me is when an old friend messages me on Facebook and says "Hey what's up with you? Are you back in NY? Write me and fill me in on your life." This has been happening pretty frequently. and I just pretend not to get the messages.

I have to think that most if not all of these messages are just innocent requests to reconnect. Everyone knows I got married and moved to Out-of-Town and they now see me on Facebook with my maiden name, living in NY, with a single status. Duh. I'm sure they can figure out that I got divorced. But you know what? I don't want to talk about it. They are all still married. Their kids are in high school or even college. They are posting bar mitzvah pictures, family vacation pictures, joining Facebook Groups like "Yeshiva tuition costs too much." I wish I was struggling to pay Yeshiva tuition.

There is tremendous shame associated with being divorced. There is also shame associated with being childless. I know, this shouldn't be so, I shouldn't feel this way. Neither condition is irreversible. Neither condition was really "my fault," sort of. But I am ashamed. I don't want to hide, but I don't want to share either. I'm fine about getting in touch again, but don't ask me questions. I have such a sense of failure about my sad, barren marriage. I feel like no matter what I do with my life, no matter how much I might ever contribute to my community, my family, my friends, the world, klal Yisroel, etc., I have failed. I have failed at being me.

1 comment:

ES said...

I understand the feeling and weight of the shame associated with divorce. As I am currently going through my own, the anxiety of shame, and how others will think of me permeate frequently on my mind.

I guess one's process to better cope with shame, is to understand its underlying content. You mentioned that you "have failed at being me". I wonder if you considered your decision to divorce the right one for you? If it was the appropriate step to take, and it was for the benefit of your emotional well being, then I would not think of it as a failure.

But each of our stories are unique to ourselves. Which makes me wonder about my own feelings of shame. What am I really ashamed of? Are these thoughts rational? The dust hasn't settled yet.....