Having to witness a friend deal with marital issues is hard. Maybe because I am an Alumni to the School of Divorce. Maybe because I love her so much and hate to see her life disrupted and trampled on. Maybe it is a bit of both.
Trying to manage other’s decisions is easier when they have no impact on you and your life. We tend to give our opinions and force those opinions into an already rocky situation. This is neither healthy nor wise for a friendship.
I made the decision to stand back and stay silent. Offering support, yet allowing her room to contemplate her decision.
Going through marriage is difficult. Period. You have bought a ticket, expecting a glorious love story. Instead you are faced with drama, heartache, and suspense. Of course, there is love and sex tangled in there somewhere……but sometimes that is not enough to get you through to the end.
From my vantage point, I feel I have a clearer perspective. Unfortunately, I can’t share this with her. She is up in the front row. Blinded by the brightness. Unable to hear due to life’s constant noise. I can see her shoulders slouch from back here. The emotional special effects, pushing her down.
I don’t dare join them. The seats next to her, blocked off by caution tape, are not safe for anyone. I can’t point out the obvious or interrupt their moments with judgment. I just sit. Invited to their private viewing, due to friendship, does not give me the right to judge.
I was there, in the front row, during the demise of my first marriage.
I was up close and personal with the well-worn seat cushions that my friends are now seated in. These seats were already thread bear and worn when I had my turn. And sadly…… I know my friends will not be the last to occupy them.
I taste the bile that rises from my stomach from being back in the same theater. It physically makes me ill as flashbacks assault me. I am reminded that no one is immune to this reality.
Many years ago, I was seated in the front row. Beside someone who vowed to honor, love and protect me. The close proximity of that one person, was enough to make my heart flutter…… or my skin crawl, depending on the moment. When I felt brave enough, I would grab his hand and test the waters. Yearning to feel something to prove that our marriage was worth saving,
I could rarely, stand the previews of the coming attraction, knowing that the feature movie would turn my world upside down. Hearing the whispers of friends, colleagues, and family behind me…I wanted to hide from embarrassment. I hated that my life was bared for the world to scrutinize.
In the end, as the final credit rolled, I realized what I had had been refusing to acknowledge. I would never get my happily ever after. At least, not with him.
These were my moments of despair. When the room was too dark to see who was there around me. Who would still be there to love me through this?
Then the lights brightened and I turned around. Defeated. Hollow.
My life’s drama had weeded out the drama seekers and negative so-called supporters. I looked upon those still sitting and realized that I was not alone.
This was my redefining moment……the moment I met my support team.
Now, at 38, I think I’d handle everything differently than I did back then.
That I would be more poised and sophisticated. More confident when faced with divorce.
Another side of me wonders if I’d be hiding in the closet. Surrounded by empty wine bottles, used Kleenex and cookie crumbs.
Fortunately, I am not faced with this harsh, life-altering reality. My friend is. And I feel helpless.
I never told her I’d agree with her decision. We are not the same people. It is not my life.
BUT, I did say that I would respect it.
That is what friends do. With that being said, I am stocking up on Kleenex, Raisinettes (her favorite!) and wine. Knowing we both may need them soon. I also have my flashlight handy, just in case the lights aren’t bright enough. Because when she turns around to check who’s still left on her backup team……..
I want to make sure she knows I’m there.