Series: Divorcing a Real Witch

updates and insights into handparting customs and the realities of divorce among Wiccans, witches and other neopagans.

The 21 Year Old Divorcee

This entry is part 21 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

She was 21 when I met her. She spoke loudly about her name change to our newspaper advisor with no regard for the others in the room. When I asked why, she fed me a line about adoption. That she was divorced came to me through rumors from other people, an explanation for why she got that extra large dorm room all to herself, why she lived on campus year round.

The idea of it – a divorcee close to my age – seemed strange and out of place at  the small college.

Over the next two years, I heard bits and pieces of the story. Most of it came from her. Some of it was gossip about her – how she cheated on him, how he was part of the mob, how wealthy he was.

I was inclined to believe the bad stuff based on how she treated me. She made three threatening phone calls to me in the course of my time there. Disks for the newspaper got “lost.” My name ended up on some appalling things, and at one point I think she started a rumor I was having an affair with a married staff member. When she got in disagreements with that staff member, she would actually scream at me if I didn’t take her side. I recognize now the hallmarks of a narcissistic personality. I never connected her to divorce to her behavior.

My roommate did. “You can’t trust a 21 year old divorcee,” she said after a 4 am phone call from her ended in a broken, collector’s item Mickey Mouse bank.

I didn’t agree that a person’s marital status indicated trustworthiness. But there was definitely something wrong with that particular 21 year old divorcee.

The Affair

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch
Un divorce, roman de Paul Bourget
Un divorce, roman de Paul Bourget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She expected judgment. Now I know it wasn’t just low self-worth – she judged everyone else.

I was struggling with graduate school, isolation, a marriage that disappointed rather than enriched. I failed to notice how little I heard from her. She often skipped communication for months, even years at a time, saying that she did not have time to write, that she didn’t like to, and since we both worked for less than living wage, phone calls did not happen often if at all. She did struggle to verbalize, and I did not think about it. When I did work in a call, she told me of circumstances stark, but common to our age: a boyfriend become roommate, dropping out of college because of a family illness, and the frustrations and loneliness that come from living in an area of the country with little opportunity.

After my divorce I emailed her my new address. She called me within a day: she had a new boyfriend she wanted me to meet. When I called her back, she said “He knows about my past, and he doesn’t care.”

That was strange. “What past?”

“Oh… I had an affair.”

I wasn’t shocked she had one. I was shocked she didn’t tell me. I said so.

“Well, you were married at the time, and I figured you would be mad.”

She thought I would judge her because she would judge herself. She didn’t understand that I cared about her first.

The man had kids. The wife knew. As usually happens in these situations, my former friend wound up the final sacrifice on that couple’s altar to whatever meanings they attached to marriage. The man, having explored what he needed, went back to his wife and kids. The wife used her for a free babysitter for a little while, then dropped her.

When she learned of my divorce she judged me like she would judge herself. It had to be my fault somehow. We were “only divorced on paper.” I had to be taking advantage of him.

Clearly, something was wrong with me. I couldn’t make a marriage work.

She couldn’t break one up.

 

Divorce at School

This entry is part 23 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch
Grounds for Divorce (song)
Grounds for Divorce (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divorce at home: it just wasn’t done, not in a good family. School sent me a completely different message about divorce from the one I got at home. Literally half the kids in the second grade had divorced parents.

At age 8, we were all too busy being 8 year olds to be concerned about the whole “broken home” aspect, and when our 2nd grade teacher tried to teach about divorce, she got a crash course in how generations don’t experience even traumatic events the same way. Careful inquiries were made as to what a child’s last name and what his/her parents’ last names were. On the first day of role call, each of us were asked whether to call mommy or daddy when we got sick. Looking back, that had to be the direct result of some teacher’s in-service.

I do think the kids of divorced parents were treated differently. By the time we all graduated, our class valedictorians and salutatorians all seemed to come from nuclear homes that either had money or kids from “good” homes that had strong connections to higher-ups in the school system. The one exception, KS, had phenomenal test scores and parents that held her captive in the name of God.

The teachers assumed an attitude towards children of divorced parents – unless divorced themselves.

But the kids themselves didn’t repeat those behaviors, at least not at the elementary school I went to. Notably, along with the divorce rate it also collected the lowest income students in the township.

“Yeah, my parents are divorced. They have been since I was 2. It’s really no big deal.” More than one kid said this about themselves. Not one mentioned any desire for Mommy and Daddy to get back together, although a few wished Mommy or Daddy would ditch the annoying boyfriend or girlfriend. I didn’t even hear someone make that wish until a friend’s parents divorced when we were 16.

The used in parental battles understood their parents machinations. Dad thought his life sucked because Mom took everything, and Mom still didn’t have enough money to raise the kids. The children of divorce knew neither parent benefited financially or socially from the divorce.

It seemed to me that children who saw their parents split up after they hit their teens took the split harder than the younger children. The Catholic-versus-Baptist influence tended to direct its claws most directly at teens; the prevalence of both judgmental religious views probably made the trauma worse.

The irony of this is that parents likely waited until their children were teens, assuming they could handle the divorce at that time with more ease. Perhaps some chose to wait until they no longer needed a partner for childcare. Some knew of their parents conflict – those who saw the fighting expressed relief when the divorce happened.

8 year olds didn’t take their parents’ divorce personally but teens did. I wasn’t privy to what other children hears in their own houses about divorce. All I saw was what they brought to school with them. Some, I knew, assumed I lived better because my parents did not divorce – and they couldn’t know what I went through any better than I knew what they went through.

Gay marriage, gay divorce

This entry is part 24 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch
Wedding-chantelois-gomez
Wedding-chantelois-gomez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are two admonishments that have accompanied the creation of Divorcing a Real Witch:

1)Don’t forget the children

2)Don’t forget same sex couples.

Same sex marriages can also end in divorce. Straight or gay, we have the same somatic cues built into us, have the same ability to love or hurt our partners and have the same issues going in and out of marriages.

The added complication to this is that while more states legalize same sex marriage, those same states are not legalizing same sex divorce.

As gay marriage becomes increasingly legalized, I do think what will happen is this: 50% of the marriages will fail.

Why?

Because 50% of all marriages fail – and marital failure does not always mean divorce.  This marital failure rate is used by some parties as an excuse to harken back to “good old days” that were really quite dreadful. This failure rate continued even in places like Alabama that attempted to make divorce illegal. Along with hideous messes involving inheritance, bastards, and mistresses, the murder rates skyrocketed. Once Alabama allowed divorce again, its overall mortality rate improved.

Divorce, whether for couples gay or straight, is a necessary safety valve on society.

I would hate to see someone exploiting the circumstances created by denying same sex couples the right to divorce to “demonstrate” through false circumstances that same sex relationships are more violent than heterosexual relationships. The statistics – including the probability of violence and the factors that contribute to violent behavior – remain the same. Sexual orientation does not factor into that.

So as we draft these laws allowing full human rights, let’s be thorough. Remember the children. Remember the gays, and their right to marry and divorce. Remember what’s needed to keep mortality rates low.

 

 

 

Irrationality and Divorce

This entry is part 25 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

How’s this for a redundant statement? Divorce is a divisive topic.
Gates_of_Divorce

I feel like I should pay the Muppet Studio to have Fozzy read this blog post – anything that obvious deserves a good “wakka wakka” at the end of every line.

I of course have a strong point of view on divorce and marriage – and I am open about my very uncomfortable place within the construct of marriage and divorce as its establishment has evolved since 1929. I am no fan of the institution nor of the practice. I am, however, a big fan of my partner and she is a big fan of marriage. Blame Iowa.

I say I blame Iowa because I can, not because of any historic reason. I blame Iowa because Iowa is there to blame. Marriage and divorce is, in nearly all situations, irrational. It is irrational to believe marriage strengthens society (good marriages, maybe.) It is irrational to believe divorce is a social ill. (Shouldn’t bad/abusive marriages be viewed as the social ill?) It is irrational to think that divorce is still “merely” a women’s and children’s issue.

It’s very easy to assume that divorced people are exploitative and jerky. After all, there seems a collective belief that only selfish people file for divorce. Even in the face of overt violence and battery, the person that files may still get blamed and shamed – even as welts blossom befoer the witness’s eyes. It’s irrational, a projection, a dredging up of associations for our unique pasts that we try to apply to absolutely everyone – an inversion of special snow flakism. Sweeping statements are made. Politics are enacted. None of it makes a damn bit of difference because none of it can cover every situation.

There is no single character flaw all divorced people share. But consistent personality disorders appear among those who have opinions about divorce in relationships they have never experienced.

You just don’t know the whole story. I can say this much:

plenty of people get married for stupid and shallow reasons. No one gets divorced for a shallow reason.