“In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs than the rest of human kind.”
-The Scarlet Letter
When I was a Junior in high school we had to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic- The Scarlet Letter, for AP English class. I don’t remember much about it except that I hated it with a passion. It was a tedious, painful reading experience and the only book to date that I have had to buy a Spark-notes guide just so I could muddle my way through it. However, the one detail that has stuck with me after all these years is the fact that the main character, Hester Prynne, had to wear the scarlet “A” to mark her as an adulterer, to make her stand out so people could essentially avoid her at all costs (snooty Puritans). While I am not, nor have I ever been an adulterer, I can relate to poor Hester and the alienation she felt. However, unlike like Hester’s “A”, my scarlet letter would have to be a “D” for “divorcee.”
I knew ahead of time that ending my marriage would change the relationships I had with mutual friends and family, but I had no idea people would flip on me the way some of them have. People who I have considered friends and have spent a lot of time with over the past few years have suddenly dropped off the map and I haven’t heard from them in months. Worse still, are the people I have seen in person since announcing my divorce who proceeded to treat me like a pariah. One person even went so far as to leave the room whenever I entered to avoid having to talk to or even be in the same vicinity as me.
That hurt. A LOT. I was pretty depressed and extremely angry about it for awhile, but in time and after a couple of really pissed off journal entries I came to the following conclusions…
Cliched as it might sound, people really do come in and out of our lives all the time. Some stick around longer than others, but every single person is a teacher with something important to contribute to our journey. As much as I wish I did, I have no control over the way other people treat me, only how I respond to their words and actions however hateful they may be sometimes. So here is my response…
To all of you who will probably no longer associate with me (and you know who you are), I just want you to know- that I understand. It’s hard being put in the middle and made to feel like you have to choose. My husband and I have tried really hard to avoid making people pick sides, but ultimately it just happens. No matter what you may think of me or the choices I have made, in my heart I will always remember you as my friends and I will cherish all the wonderful memories we have made over the years. I wish you lots of love and happiness in your lives and I am extremely thankful for the time we did share together. Thank you for having been a part of my life and may God bless you all.
With that being said (and now that the tears are falling freely on my laptop), it’s time to let it go and move on.
As baffling as it has been to watch people turn away from me, the complete opposite end of the spectrum has also been equally as amazing. Some of my friends, many of whom I haven’t spent a lot of time with over the years, have not only welcomed me back with open arms but have quite literally become my knights in shining armor come to save the day. Considering this month’s theme is gratitude I feel it’s only appropriate to let these people know how much I love and appreciate them.
In the days after I told my husband I wanted to leave I started scraping together, the best that I could, a support system to lean on as I was nothing short of a hot mess. What I have found since is a family. From college friends, to coworkers, to members of the Grove, I have been showered with love and offers of support, places to crash and used furniture. I have had weekly, if not daily check-ins just to say “hi” and see how I am doing. I am getting phone calls and business cards for health insurance and legal aid because “so and so” knew a guy and had them call me. Rarely do more than a few days go by that I am not invited to do something just to get me out of the house, and I know when I move in a couple of days friends and family will descend in droves upon my home to help me start a new life in my own place. In just a few short months I have already begun making new friends who have embraced me as one of their own and my circle continues to expand. Now when people ask me how I am doing I can honestly say (to quote the Fab Four) “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
It makes me wonder if The Scarlet Letter would have ended differently if Hester had had one good friend to turn to in her struggles. Sure, the hurtful people would have still been there, would always be there, but I believe you can endure anything with a good friend by your side. I still have my moments and situations when I get down on myself and feel like that big “D” is emblazoned across my chest, but when I am with my friends I am not a “divorcee” anymore, just me- Mary Anne, and that is one of the most freeing feelings in the world. Thank you guys, (and again you know who you are!) I love you more than you will ever know.
Special thanks to Jordan, John, Maggie, Steph and Amber who were there with me at ground zero and have been there every step of the way since. You guys rock!