Whose divorce is this, anyway?

It’s been an interesting week.

Knowing that our lives are public affairs, I’ve been trying to send tactful, subtle, but continual ‘signals’ via my Facebook postings that I’ve been solidly in the divorce process for months. Prior to that, friends (maybe) should have been noticing the periods of insomnia referenced, general malaise; undertones of worry and sadness. I peppered those with plenty of silly posts to invite others to laugh and comment and, in turn, brighten my own days. Maybe the Happy Sara image was the stronger of the two.

To my credit or detriment, I’ve never been the best at bucking up and showing all smiles when I’m miserable and distracted. I’ve believed it to be more honest to share, more honest to answer “How are you today?” with some level of truth…

Except, for the better part of the last couple of years, the answer to that question hasn’t been a happy one. It’s not fair to drag everyone down for such a long time, and I’ve had life to function through. I got tired of the sound of my own problems. Besides, what’s the balance between burdening people and genuinely connecting with them? What is the appropriate amount of sharing so they, too are free to share and be “real?” I don’t know the magic answer, and social media, where everything from tacky pop up ads to purchase transactions to ridiculous humor to world news cross our screens, makes it all the trickier.

A few weeks ago, I “unhid” my relationship status on Facebook. “Single” for all my friends to see, should they actually click on my profile and notice, which isn’t likely. I changed my name, dropping the last name and going with first and middle. It sparked conversation, but many still didn’t realize why, were puzzled but afraid, perhaps, to ask.

The trigger point was switching from “Single” to “In a Relationship” – to strongly signal changed circumstance and entrance into a new phase of life. I anticipated some surprised reactions. However, given the flurry of activity, most of my friends that I enjoy sharing with on Facebook have been completely oblivious to the realities of my life. It’s amazing to me primarily, I think, to realize that Facebook really isn’t much of a connector for “real” relationship-building with friends and family.

I’ve expected the court of public opinion to present many inquiries, many of the the questions are, I’m certain, too impolite to ask. Modern decorum exists, though the playing field of life has changed.

It’s not proper to spill the private details of the long, painful death of a marriage. I kind of wish it was, if it would help friends who are struggling in their marriages feel less lonely. I wish there were some broad-brush answer I could give so everyone would know how to “feel” about this, or whose side to take, or how to allay their own fears about relationships. It’s more in my small-town-girl, loving nature to pour it all out there, for friends to pick what portions are meaningful to them – but I’ve learned that’s not really how life works. Loving and/or morbid curiosity can probably never be satiated. This is not a 30-minute sitcom episode of a caricature of my life.

So, friends: feel free to reach out. I want to know you and be known; I want us to be good, old-fashioned friends. If there are others in your life signaling a rough time or facing major change – please reach out to them, too. Our great internet-connectedness tells us little about the reality of each other. Small town, big city… let’s all try to know each other a little better. Broadly disseminated social media is no substitute.

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About earthysara

Maine girl at heart, always, living in San Diego. You can take the girl out of the woods...
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11 Responses to Whose divorce is this, anyway?

  1. Nicole Boersma says:

    Sara,
    I thought something was going on, but felt it would be impolite to be so “nosey” about such a personal situation and wasnt sure if you would want to talk about it. First, I noticed you didn’t have any pics of Allen on your profile anymore and you never talked about him anymore. I did notice the “single” status, so that confirmed what I thought. I was actually a little relieved to see “single” because then I didnt have to ask and feel nosey. If you ever want to talk, please do so. When are you coming to Maine? We should get together sometime while you are up here, over here, something here… We need a little “reunion” so much has happened since high school…lol

    Nicole

    • earthysara says:

      Thanks Nicole 🙂

      It *is* awkward to wonder, not be sure – even in person – how to show people love without seeming or being nosey. I think we should all dare to be a little extra nosey sometimes, especially when we’re sure of a true connection, even if it was a long time ago. For me, as long as the messaging is loving, I really don’t mind being asked uncomfortable questions. I far prefer it to people feeling they need to be polite or tiptoe…

      xoxoxoxoxo

  2. Darcy says:

    Ahh. So very true Sara.. Many people take a quick glace and say “yup their fine” when in reality, people portray themselves as happy all the time on the face book world. Many of us are struggling but are afraid to put that struggle public. Afraid to be judged for weakness, or judge for ‘failing’ not everyone understands the others situation because they don’t connect. They feel that by looking at face book, making a few comments. HAHAHA and LOL then well, they have done their part in interacting in their lives. It is sad that this is the only form of communication for people, they don’t pick up a phone, they don’t visit, just simply click and off they go on the face book adventure. I applaud your courageous efforts to enlighten us on how things “really” are. Mater of fact, I begin marriage counseling in three weeks. After 10 years of marriage. Hummm. Funny how life just happens. Good luck to you and your new adventures, new chapters and new life. Praying that it all works out according to his plan. Hugs to you..

    • earthysara says:

      Darcy,

      Thank you for reading and for your loving, open response. You’re so right… and you’re so brave to move forward with counseling! I hope and pray that it will enrich you personally and in the context of your marriage and family. There is no reason to keep trying the same things that don’t work or that just “keep you going” when you can learn new tools and love each other better.

      Keep your chin up, and please let me know when you post new blogs 🙂

  3. Cat Welch Ludeman says:

    Yup, I’m guilty. I noticed the not so happy comments, then name change. And what I could have done was send you a private message seeing how you’re doing. Instead I thought, well, she may not want to discuss this via comments, and I haven’t even seen her in like 14 years, I’m probably not somebody she wants to talk to. I’ll just keep an eye on her and see how she does. By that I mean I’ll check your postings periodically. Some ‘connectivity’ huh? This social network isn’t very meaningful is it? So much chit chat and so little dialogue. On the other hand, anything you post is fair game for commentary, agreeable and otherwise. I’ve seen friends post something personal, much like printing a bumper sticker or putting up a billboard, and then be upset by commentary made on the post. You can’t print your mood on your sleeve and get upset when people notice it, right? And if you don’t want to discuss it, don’t broadcast it, right? I agree with you. If we’re friends, and I post something you can see, it’s the same as if I told you verbally. S0, we should expect the involvement of our friends in our online life. I’m hereby formally inviting you to participate in my life. Sunny days, sad days, angry days, warts, and all. And I love it when I see you’ve noticed my posts.

    P.S.
    I still love you. Even though I haven’t seen your face in over a decade.

    • earthysara says:

      Oh Cat,

      You’re wonderful. I still love you, too, after all these years! And definitely love the little life updates and shared thoughts.

      I think I’ve been more taken aback by the utter shock-reactions of some, not necessarily that more people didn’t know. Also kind of intrigued by what this whole process has shown me about the nature of our relationship in modern society.

      I’ve knowingly held back some – not wanting the unpredictable negative reactions, not wanting people to worry, not wanting to disrespect anyone… but holding back is a mixed bag, too.

      I’m very pleased at the greater depth of connections, especially this week generally and today specifically. I really appreciate the meaningful comments and general loving sentiments, even the “like” clicks 🙂 I feel loved, I feel like I’m freeing others, and it feels honest. There is always some level of risk in personal sharing, whether in person or via electronic means, but with the risk comes greater opportunities for love and meaning in our connections.

      Thank you for sharing yourself, friend.

      xoxo

  4. Rachael says:

    I’m not too good at hints! I prefer the hit-me-over-the-head-with-a-blunt-object approach. Saw your name change and wondered, but as we haven’t seen each other in 3 years (I think) and before that it had been probably a decade (maybe??), I didn’t say anything. I’m sorry – I should have checked in on you. But I don’t feel like FB is the best place for that kind of conversation – I’m a smallish town girl myself and love a good phone call or coffee talk!

    I wish we lived closer! You were such a great friend to live with – we were a couple of fish out of water at THAT particular institution of higher learning, weren’t we? 🙂

    Mean people still suck!

    • earthysara says:

      My favorite and best (and only) freshmen year roomie… I love you! I love our connection after all these years! I love hearing your “voice” in your FB updates, full of humor, integrity and kindness.

      I suppose I should have messaged people as individuals, or something… I’ve been overwhelmed through the beginning of this month, deciding where to move, whether to share a new home with my Mom or struggle along on my own, packing, moving. I’m feeling much more settled now, with more emotional energy to spare in reaching out and communicating. Weird how when I probably needed the encouragement the most, I didn’t have the time or energy to ask for it…

      I guess we all primarily operate on the notion that our friends know we care, and especially those we physically see and spend time with assume we are all adult enough to reach out. I’ve had no doubt as to the general level of genuine care, but haven’t done the best job of communication. I enjoy the social experiment side from an out-of-body, objective perspective. 🙂

      We get our annual Maine trip in a couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to drink some Moxie, just for you. I think of you every time!

  5. psalm27sjb says:

    Thank you for sharing from your heart, sweet Sara Sue…and you’re right–there really doesn’t seem to be a polite, tactful, “socially acceptable” way to say, “Excuse me, but are you going through a divorce”…especially as it pertains to the social networking arena.
    I’d noticed some posts & changes along the way…some caused me to wonder…some–like the insomnia–I chalked off to being in your 30s (that’s when I started battling with it)…others (like changing your name to Sara Sue) I sort saw as reflective of your creative & individualistic personality…somehow missed the switch to “single”…=s I guess in a round-about way, I sorta rationalized things by thinking, “Well, maybe I’m reading too much into things…I mean, after all…she’s still got her wedding photos on here. Stop being suspicious!”…like you have some obligation to remove them? That’s when I realized, hey, it’s not my place to ask one way or the other…if you want to share, you will…when you’re ready in YOUR timing…truth is, I even felt nosey when I messaged you via your inbox…but you are a sweet & special college friend, & I was (& am) interested in you & your life, and what happens to you–good, bad & ugly–so I finally had to check on you. I hope you didn’t feel I was intruding…you can always tell me to take a hike if so desired—I could use the exercise 😉 ….
    I’m currently facing the same challenge with knowing exactly how to interact with my friend who lost her husband or 15+ years to a sudden heart attack 4 months ago. I want to be there for her, but also want her to feel free to have space if she needs it. I suppose the same is true for you as well. I know I’m far away, but I believe God allows people to cross our paths for a reason, so I count it an honor to know you & to be able to stand with you in prayer, offering support, encouragement, laughs, music, and if needed, a shoulder that has been proven to be fabulous at absorbing tears–even if it is a “cyber-shoulder” ;).

    Bless you, my friend, as you bravely step out into this newest chapter of your life, and know that regardless of how you might feel at any given moment, you are surrounded by friends near & far who recognize & truly appreciate the uniquely dynamic, thoughtful & precious treasure you are. Hugs! ♥ sj

    • earthysara says:

      Thank you, Dear SaraJane!

      1) Wow, thank you. And thanks Facebook… I had made the wedding photos (I thought) visible only to me a long time ago… Talk about confusing.
      2) I think I might reach out to your friend – just to say you love her, continue to pray for her, and indicate that you remain available if she needs you or if she wants to go to a movie or something. I think we all mistakenly assume our friends need space – we all often do, but not all the time. And sometimes we don’t know that time one-on-one time together is more important than space until we make it happen. Just my two cents 🙂
      3) I love you!! You are a regular source of joy for me, even when I don’t always comment or “like” your posts. I am so glad I always tried to sit near you in choir. Not just to lean on your excellent music reading and beautiful, accurate tone!

      Let’s keep being friends. I like you a lot.

  6. Nick Connell says:

    And this is the first I’ve learned of your divorce. I readily admit often that I am not a good Facebooker, which means I don’t really read thoroughly the gazillions of friends I am connected to (not “have”). I just began pruning today so that I could be more focused with those I want to stay in closer contact. I thought about creating a new profile instead, to make it easier. Silliness.

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me, and for writing this post.

    My heart is with you, always, even though my presence and words may not be so close and consistent. I wish for your girls to experience much love and joy and peace and as they process this new life experience.

    Relationships are incredibly difficult, starting especially with my relationship to myself. I was quite depressed this weekend, and was sedentary for the whole of it. Yes, I’m separated (by distance) from my wife and kids until I can find a job in Evanston/Chicago, but the extra “space” and unstructured time illuminated the lack of personal infrastructure or rhythms for keeping my soul healthy. Relief came when I finally meditated, read about the Desert monastics from the first few centuries, read The Sun magazine (Sep issue), and journaled, which I hadn’t done in years. I felt human again, and better able to face the disjointed moment I’m in, living in one place when I want to be 1100 miles away, employed and with my family.

    However, I’ve also realized after years of marriage that I’m grumpy all too often, too easily dissatisfied, lacking patience, lacking energy to be my best, and without answers to the riddle of how to do life together when there are 4 of us with each our own idea for what we want: whether it be food, noise level, activity, attitude, etc. I feel quite out of control and depleted and tired of feeling like I’m failing more often than not.

    I’m praying and hoping for a new start in Evanston, where I can work 1 job rather than 3, and have more energy and time to be a better husband and father. And I couldn’t be more proud of my wife for her ambition and successes, and for how my children are growing up.

    Boy do I need some rest for this weary soul.

    Much love to you,
    Nick C

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