I do. A new vow.
I have yet to find a guidebook for a woman like me — in peri-menopause (which is a sanitized way to say things are about to really suck, from all accounts told), divorced (twice), raising a six-year-old daughter. The daughter part is the highlight, I just hadn’t pictured doing it in my mid-forties, single, and under-employed. But here I am, reminding myself over and over that life is not about the story that’s been told but about the story I write. And rewrite, and rewrite.
When people I meet hear about the single-mom scaffolding which my life is built around they often give me puppy dog eyes brimming with pity. Sometimes I also see judgment, more rarely I glimpse admiration. More than two years have passed since the divorce, and I still feel compelled to rescue people with a rushed response of, “But it’s ok, really. We’re very amicable and work together for Nina’s best interest. Really. It’s all good.” I might even throw in there that we sit side-by-side at school events. Then I wish I would shut up and not act as if I’m talking someone into backing away from the cliff of assumptions.
It just comes down to this — to revel in hurt and anger would be a drain of my time and energy. To wallow in being wronged would continue to give him power over how I feel. But above all else, Nina is the treasure that came from the wreckage of us. There’s no place for regret there.
So when I stood before a judge — this time a plaintiff rather than a bride — and he asked, “Do you wish to be divorced?” I said, “I do.”
I do. It’s a new vow — this time to choose myself, to excavate my voice, to be the strong woman who raises a strong daughter. I vow to teach my daughter — and myself — to shrug off the shroud of shoulds that has cloaked generations of people-pleasing, self-sacrificing women. Now I just have to figure out how to do that. Guidebook, anyone?