Divorced women tend to find one another. The Broken Up and Broken Club. No one wants to be a member.
Infidelity and addiction caused most of the problems. Every now and then we get an amicable split or a situation where they just grew apart, but it’s usually a case of the wrong and the wronged.
Listening is the most important quality for our group. The answers vary, but the questions are always the same. We should print them out and have them laminated. For infidelity, we start with: Did he confess or did you catch him? Which leads to: Who is the woman? Is she trashy? We always hope the girlfriend is trashy. The stories that come next are better than anything found in a paperback novel.
Some women have divorces caused by addiction. They are the quiet ones in our group. We don’t have a list of questions for them. I wonder if they wish their husbands had cheated. Would that make it easier? There would be a clear villain, the trashy woman. They could be angry and move on.
No, we don’t talk about addiction often in our get-togethers. Every now and then we debate the is-it-a-disease issue. We can’t come to consensus. We want that to be the case. We want it to be a disease. There’s no stigma for a spouse who has cancer or diabetes. No, you get a casserole in those cases -- casseroles and cards and compassion. With addiction, what you usually get is lonely. Dependency comes with a big bag of awkward. Southern women know what to do in times of every crisis, except when that crisis is addiction.
Maybe some people are pre-disposed to addiction, whether it’s women in tight jeans or two fingers of scotch. Maybe we all have our demons.
Heartbreak is heartbreak, and hurt is hurt. No denying that. In the case of infidelity, there is a clear good guy and bad guy. With addiction, there is the broken one who breaks those around him. Whether he means to or not, the damage is done. It really doesn’t matter if it is a bad habit or a bad disease. You can’t have a healthy relationship with an unhealthy person.
While the women who have been cheated on can key someone’s car and feel a little better, women with spouses who chose some substance over being a person of substance have to work a little harder at finding their peace.
Maybe the reason you’re in our club doesn’t matter. What he did or didn’t do isn’t significant. It’s easy to stay on the “Why?” question, but we need to move to the “What next?” question as soon as possible.
We encourage one another to figure out what we want do next. What kind of life do we want to create for ourselves? We can only control our behavior, and we can only be responsible for our next steps. Our exes have caused some pain so it’s up to us to create some happiness. What’s next? That’s for us to decide.
(Tammy Davis lives in Columbia, SC. She reminds herself that rearview mirrors are small. She tries her best to look ahead through the big windshield of life, the one that shows the road ahead.)