In an effort to avoid repeating the divorce mistakes made by so many, I'm looking for role models.
One of the first books I found on the subject of divorce was The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. It was an auspicious start to my divorce research. In the book, Ahrons outlines an ideology for approaching divorce in a child-centric manner. I read it twice before I asked for a divorce, hiding it in my bedroom (we were already sleeping in different rooms a lot of the time, his choice not mine) until I was ready to commit to divorce. If I was to sum up the whole book, it would be, "Take the high road." The high road means being compassionate, it means controlling one's temper, it means placing the child's needs first and foremost. This seems like a sound strategy for me, and reading the book actually solidified my decision to divorce; it was the first strategy I'd seen that looked like something I could live with. (Make no mistake, the book doesn't advocate divorce, and it doesn't paint a rosy picture, but it doesn't paint a picture of parents screaming at each other through a car window, either.)
With the book under my belt, I thought that it would be relatively easy to find lots of people just like me, lots of blogs about women (or men) going through divorce just the way the book had defined.
I have taken to scouring the web to find just about every divorce blog there is. This is such strange territory for me: none of my close friends are divorced, my parents and my grandparents aren't divorced, and I don't have many footsteps to follow in. Surely there are people out there doing it the way I hope to?
There are plenty of angry, vitriolic blogs about divorce. Some of them are funny and entertaining, but when I read them I get a little chill to think of living in that kind of bitterness. I don't want to live like that, and I really don't want my daughter to live surrounded by that.
I keep remembering, "Anger is a poison you drink to kill your enemy." I don't want to die like that. Sure, I'm mad - don't get me started - but I want to be HAPPY.
So far, I have found only a few blogs where the parents are both able to put their kids front and center, and have reached a place where they are living lives that aren't a testimony to anger and pain. Here's my list, in case there are others out there, like myself, who are looking for a little inspiration in the divorce department.
The first one, which is also the first one I found, is Molly Monet's Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce. Molly and her ex meet for dinners with their kids, she speaks kindly of him, she reflects on the marriage positively even though she is glad she is no longer in that marriage. I have grown very fond of Molly - a woman I've never met, or conversed with, and who likely has no clue who I am - and I've been rather in awe of her. Hers is the standard to which I have held myself, and mostly, I have felt like a miserable failure as a result. Overall, she comes across as a hip, happy, successful, well rounded woman who not only raises her kids with love and patience and joy, but manages to have a successful career, a commitment to yoga (and all of its health and social benefits), AND a dating life. I have spent hours trying to figure out how to be more like Molly, and how to achieve her brand of divorce. I hate to admit it, but recently when she admitted to some struggles that she's been going through, I felt a tiny bit of relief, because she's actually human, and her revealed humanity helped me to be gentler with myself. (And I hate that I would revel even a tiny bit in someone else's suffering - really, am I that small?! But I am incredibly grateful to Molly for putting it all out there, for me to look up to, and I'm also grateful to her for revealing that everything isn't perfect, because that gives me permission to be imperfect as well.)
Another blog, which I discovered more recently, is Cuckoo Mama's This Cuckoo's Nest. (Like me, Cuckoo Mama is blogging anonymously.) Cuckoo Mama isn't all Zen like Molly: actually, she gets pretty pissed off and blows off steam on her blog about her "beer monkey" ex and his shenanigans. But still, she puts her kids' needs front and center, even where the ex is involved. The kids stay in the house, and she and the ex take turns "birdnesting" in that house, so that the parents have to move in and out, but the kids stay there. This is an act of selfless love that only someone who has resorted to divorce could possibly understand: deciding that the marriage is too broken to continue, but sharing a physical space with that person, takes the patience of Job. Cuckoo Mama writes funny rants about dirty dishes left in the sink, and she threatens with her purse brick, but she puts it front and center that she's glad to do this for her kids, and that it works because her ex is a decent guy. I may aspire to be just like Molly, all peaceful compassion, but I relate to Cuckoo Mama, because she is angry but she does the right thing for her kids anyway.
Big Little Wolf's Daily Plate of Crazy is a blog about many things, including divorce. Big Little Wolf is wise, compassionate, and contemplative, and whatever she's writing about, I tend to love it. (Although I don't share her passion for Mad Men, but don't tell her, because she's a cool kid and I want her to like me, and she's crazy for Mad Men.) Recently I commented on a post of hers about where truth lies in divorce, and she gently told me that it is much easier to see truth a few years out from divorce, rather than right in the middle, as I am. Maybe this is why she seems to be so at ease with her divorce: she's no longer living it, she's moved past it, and it no longer defines her. I need to go back and read her archives (they go back to 2009), because I'd like to get to where she is now, but she's right, that's going to take me a few years. In the meantime, maybe I can read about how she got there....
An unusual - and therefore refreshing - blog is When The Flames Go Up, by ex-spouses LOD and AskMoxie. They take turns blogging their perspectives on divorce, and they are thoughtful and considerate of one another. This proves that it CAN be done, and I cling to their blog for that particular piece of hope. They don't want to be married any more, but they are still kind to one another, and that makes them great co-parents. Beautiful, don't you think?
There are lots of angry divorcee' blogs, to go along with the ones I've listed here. In William Quincy Belle's post The War of the Divorcees, he mentions the possibility that maybe, as a man, he should wear a cup when he reads some women's divorce blogs. I don't deny that there are reasons to be angry: when I read The Bitter Divorcee's description of how her son needed stitches after her son's drunken father hurt him, and how he doesn't even pay pittance child support, I don't blame her for being bitter (and I admire the grace with which she handles herself, given the circumstances; I enjoy her blog, too, even though it's not the model of divorce I'm hoping for, because she's wise and thoughtful even in her circumstances.)
But what I've learned in searching out blogs about "good divorces" is that really, decent divorces are few and far between. When I read The Huffington Post's Divorce section, it seems that the world has gone mad, and it's mostly about adults behaving like over-tired toddlers, screaming for the sake of screaming. The type of divorce I'm still envisioning isn't easy to come by, and most of the time, when I tell people my vision, they look at me as if I'm deluded.
It has been lonely, it has been isolating, it has been frustrating, it has been exhausting....but it's been a year. The high road is lonely, but I'm glad that I've got a few havens on the internet to show me that I'm not truly alone in my approach, and that maybe, just maybe, I can make this work for everyone.
Do you read other divorce blogs? Which ones? What inspires you? What makes you laugh? Where do you find intelligent discussions about divorce? Do you have a divorce blog? Please, let me know....especially if you've found others who are taking the high road. I look forward to hearing from you.