I’m going to indulge myself, and hopefully drag you along with me, tied to the back of my sad, lonely pick-up truck, for a little diarrhea mouth, because I need to vent. When you are aware that a friend or loved one has left their spouse, asked them to move out, and requested a divorce or to separate indefinitely (for those domestic partnerships), here’s a little PSA: Be intentional about keeping in touch! Was I shouting? Like set a fricking reminder on your smarty phone, write yourself a post-it note, tie a string around your finger, schedule a damn Facebook post if that’s the only way you’ll attend. I say intentional because, well, I realize that we’re all leading busy lives. But get outside your bubble & exercise real time compassion & empathy! It may sound over simplified but, for real, an old school phone call or short message can mean so much. Even if your call or message go unreturned, try again in a few days, or after a week or two. Don’t give up.
Odds are that even if the recently single person made a conscious choice to end the relationship, but certainly if s/he did not, and even if s/he is happier overall, it’s likely your friend is going through serious personal turmoil, feeling a little, or very, lost, lonely, sad or outright depressed, and could use reminders of life beyond the four walls of her house, needs a glimmer of anything beyond the tears soaking her pillows, or the silence, which once she reveled in, becomes deafening and envelops her when the kids finally go the fuck to bed. Speaking of chitlens, the isolation is compounded for those with a limited budget or who have become single parents in the process, so follow up is even more important in the weeks and months after the separation, not just when it’s freshly squeezed. When the honeymoon to Splitsville has ended, the initial sense of freedom subsides, when savings squirreled away in the months beforehand are consumed and there shalt be any more impulsive rendezvous with local dive bars or Sebastian Joe’s; when the spare rainy day fare is wasted and there’s no quick escape to retail therapy; no more belt notches for emotional eating before landing on the The Biggest Loser, no hope for casual sex a la Village People reunion concert, when marathon rerun cable has run is course… that’s when the isolation becomes unbearable, and that’s precisely when old friends & family are needed most.
I joke that even though I’m happy to have reclaimed my living space, being the only adult in the house with two small children, Who. Don’t. Speak. Adult, can drive a woman to the brink of insanity. The irrationality of children is uncanny and it can be enough to make a mama lose her marbles. So this is the time to step it up, not drift off to the sidelines assuming everything is falling into place. Its time for you to pick up the 500 pound phone and call!
I experienced a similar phenomena after the birth of my first child. At first everybody pounced on the chance to come hold my perfectly beautiful, tiny new baby but I was seldom asked if I needed anything before they came over. The baby enjoyed 3 things in life, sleeping, eating and pooping, but I was a new mom coping with a myriad of emotions and physical changes never before experienced. And yet they all but completely forgot about me, save for the Facebook posts reminding them of my existence because, well, somebody must have posted that adorable picture and tailored comments. If they did visit I was only reminded by their “Like” in the weeks and months that followed. In a country that offers so little in the way maternity leave, those moms who opt to stay at home feel isolated but also more desperate than the women who return to work, which brings it’s own set of challenges, but is not the focus of this rant. So when one of your near and dear shares with you they’re leaving their spouse, consider making arrangements for a meal train, block out a date or two on your calendar each month when you can take her kids and let her go adult, run errands, simply stare out the window, or, I don’t know, pamper herself a little. Perhaps offer to take her on a date; no, don’t set her up on a date, I mean take HER out for a special meal &/or to get a mani-pedi, massage, or something, anything to make her feel alive and special. Consider, for example, that the only touch she may be receiving since her split are from little hands groping, nagging her for another snack, or vying for limited attention. And if she doesn’t have kids, and hasn’t read, Pussy: A Reclamation by Regina Thomashauer, she may not have been touched by anybody at all. Consider that unless this newly single parent is attended to she is unlikely able to genuinely attend to her children, which they so deserve and she longs to give in a strange twist of circumstances that may have been a catalyst for the separation in the first place.