I have a question for everyone out there. How would you tell your parents that you're now separated from the man they adore (possibly even more than they like you)? Tears + guilt are guaranteed. I live about as far away from my folks as geographically possible, so in-person is not an option. I really want to to wimp out and email, but I won't, because that's wrong... maybe...
Dreading the Conversation
Dear Dreading the Conversation,
Oh friend, when I say that I completely understand your situation, I mean it. I didn't leave my marriage for three years precisely because I feared my parents' (and family's) reaction. When I finally did grow the lady balls to leave, the way my parents found out was a total and complete fucking disaster.
I initially called my brother to ask for advice. Little did I know that as soon as I hung up the phone, he'd call my parents and tell them himself.
Awesome. I guess I didn't realize that we were 14 and 8 again, and I had just stolen something out of the cookie jar.
But I can forgive that...it just set a bad tone for the next conversation, which was my parents sitting across from me in shock and anger, asking questions about my spirituality, my fidelity (which was fun, because I couldn't possibly want to get divorced without OF COURSE banging some other dude, right!?), and what I could possibly be thinking...all while I sobbed.
No one touched me. No one offered me a hug or a pat on the shoulder to say, "We're here for you and everything will be okay." And no one was supportive...at least within the parental unit. (My mom didn't speak to me for eight months after that.)
But as fucked up as that whole situation was, and as much as I am still trying to work through the way that shattered me on the inside, there were some really awesome things that came out of my situation:
1. I became my own person.
Maybe I didn't realize it right in that moment, but I learned from that point on that I make my own decisions, and I live with my own decisions. My parents--or whomever--can approve or disapprove, but if it's a mistake, then it's my mistake to make and I am happy to own that.
Because that's the beauty of being your own person. While you can consider other people's advice, and hope for the support of the people closest to you, the reality is, you may not get it. So are you--and just YOU--at peace with the decision you've made? Then get it, girl.
2. I embraced a new definition of family.
That time of my life sucked the big one. I was homeless for a month while I stayed on friend's couch. I had to beg an old boss for a job. I drove around for weeks with just about all I owned in the back of my car. But you know? I had people who picked me up, and people who said, "I don't care about the craziness you're going through, I love you anyway."
I will never forget one time when a friend turned to me, looked me in the eye and said, "Sarah, you're a good person. You know that, right?" Of course, I started bawling (I think I used my entire lifetime supply of tears in those months), but those simple words from someone who had only known me for a few months were just what I needed.
3. I was surprised by my own bravery.
God, when you can pick up and function after the people in your life who are supposed to be most supportive of you are not? Awesome. Because that's when you realize that--as cheesy as this sounds--your biggest support system must be you.
I just had a friend ask me last night, "How do you keep putting yourself out there on your blog when you know there will always be someone who hates it or disagrees with you?" I told her that those are the times I decide that what I'm doing here, and the way I'm living my life, is much more important to me than succumbing to roadblocks. Go ahead and challenge me, tell me I can't do it, or be disappointed in the way you think I've handled it. Again, if I've done wrong, I will own that...but if you just can't find it in yourself to be supportive? Too bad. I'll do it myself.
And every time I find that feisty girl inside me (I used to think it was a dude inside me, but I got tested. It's not) and she comes out fighting? That. Is. Awesome. Because I know that with or without the support of my parents (two people who actually did a good job instilling independence in me in the first place), I can do it.
You can, too. I know this isn't the happy, "Oh, it'll go great!" advice maybe you were hoping for. I'm here to say that I've been in your situation (the whole adore the ex thing? Yeah, my parents even reached out to him try to convince him to get back together with me), and sometimes it doesn't end so pretty.
At the end of the day, though, you gotta tell yourself that regardless of the outcome, you'll do right BY YOU. That can mean a phone call or email to your parents...whatever you feel most comfortable with. The point is, you know what you have to do (tell them), hope for the best, and move on with your life.
And who knows, they may surprise you.
Have a question and want an honest, real answer? Ask me here!