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Why Are We Afraid to Talk About Divorce?

Despite us living in a modern age, it's still socially verboten to talk about divorce. Conversations shut down. People look away. We're left feeling like Bridget Jones when she showed up as the only one dressed up at a Tarts and Vicars party.

In other words...we feel utterly alone. And judged.

Even for me, seven years after the most gut-wrenching experience I've ever been through, I find myself worrying about what the Italian community (and my Italian boyfriend) think when I put myself out there on the subject here and on social media.

Why do we care what people think? Why are we so quick to sweep our divorces under the rug?

When Fear Leads the Conversation

I think a lot of the reason why people are afraid to talk about their divorces is that they don't want to make other people uncomfortable. Certainly, divorce is full of a lot of emotions, many of them unpleasant. And there will be people who will close off when you start crying about having to split up your record collection.

But those weren't your people anyway if they run when you need them most.

I remember feeling like a pariah as I scheduled coffee date after coffee date with my still-happily-married friends to break the news to them. I felt like they thought it was contagious. Like, if someone like me could see her marriage end, it could happen to them.

Years later, many of them are divorced. But not because they caught it from me! When you enter your 40s, you realize you're not the girl/guy you were in your 20s when you fell in love with the person you married. You begin questioning how you could be happy with the same person when you're not the same, and that often leads to divorce.

Societal & Cultural Norms Still Have Their Hold

Another reason many of us feel ashamed of being divorced are cultural and societal norms. Like in the Catholic faith. Years ago, divorce was illegal. Now, however, the numbers are rising, with about 19% of American Catholics divorced.

My parents were married until my father passed away. When I divorced, despite not having been a practicing Catholic for decades, I felt a little of that residual shame...until I remembered how many of my family members have been divorced!

When Shame Takes Control

Then we have that old stand-by, shame. We often feel like failures because we couldn't stick it out for better or worse. We worry about how people will see us now that we are partnerless, alone, and struggling.

Our marriages often had their own negative stories that we will be burdened with for years to come, so we may already feel not good enough for many reasons. The dissolution of a marriage may be just another albatross we wear.

It's time to shift the dynamic.

What Divorce Really Says About You

Certainly, there are people who got married too quickly (shotgun wedding in Vegas, anyone?) and realized their folly weeks later, ending the marriage. But more than likely, if you are divorced, it's because things just didn't work out. Couldn't.

You are divorced because you were brave enough to say you wouldn't stay in a loveless, dishonest, or even abusive relationship. Because you wanted something more for your life. Because you've changed, and that relationship no longer fits who you are. Who you are becoming.

There need be no shame here.

Your marriage served its purpose in your life. You walked away with valuable lessons, if nothing more than who not to fall in love with. You are now learning about yourself in marvelous ways.

You're learning what you will not tolerate.

What you desire.

What you deserve.

Who you want to be.

How you want to live.

I don't believe in having regrets. I believe that every experience we have, for better or worse, leads us down the path we are on.

You have been hurt in unbelievable ways. It taught you what you are capable of surviving.

You felt rejected. You are learning who appreciates your value and who does not.

You felt alone. You have learned that you are the first person who deserves your love and who will love you unconditionally. You also have learned the power of true friendship, because I'm certain that you, like me, had a few tried and true friends get you through the dark days.

You didn't think you would survive the grief, the trauma, and the lawyer's bills. But you did. And you stand taller because of these experiences.

So let's not put our divorces in the back of the closet with that tennis racket we're never going to use, m'kay? Let's take it out, hold it to the light, and let it shine so that women who are just embarking down this path can see that there is something better waiting, as my friend Patti says, on the other side of the mountain. A fabulous life that is so much better than the old one.

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