Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Labels From the “Divorce File:” 9 Years Later

So . . . . . just how long are you “divorced?”
Let me explain.  Recently, talking with a male friend who has been divorced about as long as I’ve been, he confessed that, when confronted with a form asking whether he was “single,” “married” or “divorced;” he puts himself in the “single” column.
I thought, but perhaps didn’t say, “But that’s a lie and probably violates the entire reason the form had for asking the question in the first place.”  Statistically once you’ve been divorced, forever you’ve been divorced; unless of course, you remarry.  Some people should just count their blessings forms don’t ask for a “number of times” in addition to the “divorce” column.  
But seriously.  No one can take away the achievements you’ve had in life.  You were the prom queen, the valedictorian, the top salesman for the third quarter, an executive at a Fortune 500 company, given “The World’s Best Dad” mug from your daughter.  Those things are all yours whether you lose your figure, can’t work a computer, can’t make a sale during the fourth quarter, get downsized out onto the street or find out your daughter “hates” you.  At the same time, if you declared bankruptcy, burnt a house down, wrecked an oil tanker causing a big oil spill or got divorced; you can’t just magically erase those things either.  
Put it this way:  if you encounter a form that asks whether you ever burnt a house down and you once did?  You can’t say “no” simply because you don’t have a match in your hand right now.
Of course that’s just the forms  . . . . the facts.  Anyone the south side of 40 has learned not to let “the facts” get in the way of “the truth.”  My driver’s license may tell you my chronological age, but it doesn’t exactly say how old I am . . . . .    Scratch an adult the right way and you’ll discover huge chunks of kid just underneath.  
After all the forms are filled out, it’s not the facts that are important; it’s how we frame and label ourselves “based” on the facts.  
How long are you “divorced?” 
I know a man locally who has been divorced as long as I’ve known him, about 15 years.  I’ve never even seen his wife.  Yet, let the conversation stray just the wrong way and he’s good for at least a half hour of “my ex-wife” tirade conveyed with vehemence that would make you think it all happened yesterday.  “Divorced” is a suit he wears and it is one he finds so comfortable he will wear it forever.    Of course, it is just one suit in an entire line of clothing I think we could call the “things that have been done to me” collection.  It’s not a new collection, but he’s added to it over the years and the clothes now fit so well, he forgets where the fabric ends and he begins.  It has become his identity and he’d feel naked . . . . .  exposed . .  without it.  Perhaps it began an elaborate “misery loves company” “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine” game or maybe he just developed a strong “sympathy” tooth and like a rat trapped in a maze that once magically produced cheese, he just keeps pushing the button.   
At the same time there’s a woman I know locally whose personal info on Facebook depicts the pain, heartache and “life lessons” her divorce gave her listed side by side with her hobbies and occupation.  Right underneath that?  In the looking to meet and why?  
Men and to be in a relationship.
I’m not sure she has set out the right bait . . ... .

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