The Silent Suffering of Divorce
Lately, all I see is the social fabric shredding around me. It began with one of my oldest therapeutic relationships. This is a doctor I have been seeing for close to 14 years. Acupuncture, naturopathic and polarity therapy all rolled into a therapeutic hour of deep listening and honest reflecting. I always left his office feeling healed and witnessed. I walked in last week and barely recognized my doctor who is also my friend. Accustomed to his usual, “What do you want to work on?” I looked up ready to list my usual complaints and was stunned by the frail shadow of him — “what’s wrong– what has happened?” I thought someone had died.
He shook a little as he told me that his wife left him, or rather, told him to leave. It was a death — he had loved this woman for more than 30 years. He didn’t know what had happened. This is terrifyingly not uncommon, this leaving that one partner is so clear about and the other has no idea of the calamity about to befall them. Many people believe it is a reflection of gender and developmental differences. While that may be true, there is also a serious shortage of real communicating and listening going on.
In the days that followed it seemed almost everywhere I went, I ran into an old friend or someone I had know while raising my kids who was somewhere in the process of divorce. One woman had been a fellow soccer mom for years and I asked how her boys were. She said, “now, years later they’re doing OK, but then it was like the world came apart for them. It was terribly painful. We should have used more of your love juice…”
Another old acquaintance was looking at cakes when I saw her in the grocery store. Her twins were in school with my older son. She had also been with her husband for decades. Their divorce was 6 months old and her daughter was away at school and really struggling with it. What do I say? “ I am sorry,….congratulations?” I couldn’t even ask how her husband was and it seems we can never ask why. I only learned that he was alone now in the huge beautiful house they shared and raised their kids in by the park.
I hear these stories and read about the demise of men and family in a culture that accepts divorce as a matter of course. Rarely do we discuss the impact divorce has in our culture. There are few other disruptions in life that impact our ability to work, to think and even our health as deeply and as long. The impact on children is far-reaching and often debilitating in ways that sometimes are not witnessed for years. Even more invisibly, the divorces that tear apart families also shred the fabric of our communities.
Lately I feel like a stranger from a distant land. Here on my soap box, all I can see is how much love we need, how much we all need to learn how to love more.