Penelope Trunk says: Divorce is immature and selfish — do you agree?

Daggone You, Penelope Trunk!

divorce is goodPenelope Trunk wrote a very controversial post entitled “Divorce is immature and selfish. Don’t do it.” Normally I love her blog, because it’s personal and weird and informative and brimming with drama and slightly reminds me of myself. Not that I want to be friends with Penelope, per se, for the same reason I would avoid being friends with my very favorite comedienne, Chelsea Handler: These are some scary bitches. Much like myself, they are straight-up and tell it like it is, but in even more brazen fashion than I. Neither is afraid to call someone out. They are my idols — but from afar. One might take this to mean that I can dish it out but don’t like it served. One might be correct. But this usually isn’t a problem for me, because anyone silly enough to call me out isn’t around long enough to feel the burn, and thus would not cause me to pee my pants in fear. Penelope and Chelsea — they make me want to run and hide.

 

All this is to say 

that I love reading Penelope’s blog and would seldom feel the urge to dissent from her opinion. However, I actually felt compelled to write a comment on her blog, stating the reasons I disagree with her stance on what she perceives as “the evils” of divorce. This should have been the end of it. But this particular piece sat on me all night, choking me with frustration. Because she is so very, very wrong!

 

Her first argument states 

that divorce is cliche, in the sense that if I feel I can’t be a good parent if I’m unhappy in my relationship, then I’m being selfish to get out of it. Poop on that! I was in a marriage for five years in which my then-husband ignored me and had no interest in working on our issues in counseling. I didn’t want to stay with someone who made it clear he had no interest in me. And I didn’t want my kids to emulate this emptiness in their adult relationships. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to teach my kids they are deserving of love and friendship. I can’t really expect them to believe me if I’m in a loveless and friendless marriage.

 

Alternatively, 

I’m now in a very happy marriage with a guy who was my best friend for several years before we ever hooked up. We listen to each other. After five years of romantic involvement, I think I’m providing an excellent example of what love is supposed to be like. I’m not saying the kids weren’t impacted by the split; they were and still are negatively affected. But they were likewise affected when our cat passed away, or any other number of sad events. Sad things happen, and families have to work through them. Life is not a static thing that will stand still. It’s an ever-evolving path down which we struggle or frolic or crawl or swim as the occasion calls. It’s up to us to teach our children to be strong in the face of adversity, and to appreciate the joys that come unexpectedly on the wind.

 

All this is very poetic, but ultimately what I’m trying to say is this — we’re all fucked up together, and happily so, which is better than being fucked up and unhappy besides.

 

Penelope’s second argument states 

that divorce is terrible for kids. Well no shit. So is dog piss on the carpet in my office, or talking in class when you weren’t supposed to, or a fire burning down the house, or a parent getting laid off. We try to shield our kids from these terrible things as best we can… and then we try to teach our kids from them as best we can… and then our kids grow up to make their own fucked up choices, and we don’t hold it against them because, hey, we had a stupid dog that pissed on the rug at one time too. And oh yeah, we also had our fair share of crappy relationships. Who needs a hug? Anyone? Anyone?

 

Her third point states

that divorce is for dumb people. Well count me among the dumb, I guess. I do have a degree, and I write better than most people I know, so obviously I’m not entirely incapacitated, but who am I to argue with Penelope? Dumb but happy in love, that’s me!

 

My husband, however, 

has never been divorced — I’m the only wife he’s ever had — so is he dumb? I could write a whole post on this topic alone, because this is a trick question — of course he’s dumb — he’s a man! But that isn’t what we’re discussing herein. No, for the purposes of this post, my husband is most decidedly not dumb. Should a never-been-married man avoid a divorcee like the plague? Or does the math somehow even out if he, too, has some college in his background? My kids love him and call him “dad” since he, not the ex, is the one raising them. They might have some ugly words for anyone calling either of us dumb. I say let them be the judge!

 

Next point: Divorce reflects mental illness. 

This one isn’t really fair, because I had mental illness way before I ever met my ex. You may not have gleaned that I am a crabby-cake suffering from depression. While it is no longer debilitating, for several years it kept me trapped. So in my case, divorce actually reflected mental health because I finally left a toxic relationship, met with a counselor, got on the correct dosage of prescription medication, and found a decent partner. I no longer need someone to “save” me, because I have learned how to save myself. My mental illness is reigned in and under control. This never, ever would have happened had I stayed in my previous marriage.

 

Divorce is a career issue? Not applicable in my case, so I cannot comment to this.

 

The person is bored? 

Well, if wanting to kill yourself (literally) qualifies as boredom, then yes, this was a contributing factor in my divorce. For all the reasons stated above, I stand by my choice.

 

Victim of violence — 

I have so much to say about this that I will have to take it up another day. For now let it be enough for me to say that if you’re getting smacked around, receiving bruises and broken bones, you’re an ass if you choose to stick it out. The cancer-brained cretin committing the violence is likely uninterested in seeking help, and you can’t fix that alone. Draw all the boundaries you want, but an abusive spouse isn’t going to be told what to do by the spouse he’s busy punching. Meanwhile, your kids are watching this unfold and learning that it’s okay for bullies to take advantage of the weak, and that the weak deserve their sorry lot in life.

 

Fuck that, Penelope. 

Maybe you like getting beat up, but most of the rest of us prefer our bones to remain unbroken. Maybe you like the lessons your kids are learning, but I like that my 18-year-old, state-qualified wrestler of a son protects those less strong than he. And I like that my 7-year-old daughter knows that nobody has the right to touch her inappropriately.

 

I do not wish in any way to glorify divorce. 

It certainly is never a decision to be made lightly. Sometimes it really is better to stick it out, if there is something to be salvaged and both parties are in it to win it. I take umbrage to the blanket statement that divorce is immature and selfish. Like many things in life, it certainly can be both of those things. But it doesn’t have to be, and in many cases — mine, just to name one — it isn’t.

 

Divorce can be the best thing that ever happened. 

 

Are you divorced? Why?

How did it impact your children? Your life?

11 comments
Mary Wallace
Mary Wallace

I just read this post. I have never heard of or read Penelope Trunk before tonight, but after reading Andi's post and reading all the responses, I don't think I shall be reading her posts, at least, any time soon. I'm really not the stiff-necked type, but I hear a lot of pain in the previous comments and justifiably so. Life is tough and we get fucked up enough without having someone judging us based on whether or not we stayed in a relationship or chose to end it. The decision to end a years'-long relationship is often after many years of negotiating, compromising, crises, separations and reunions. It doesn't take, or we try again, but it's not for anyone other than the two parties involved. The only caveat I would ever consider engaging and that would be foremost would be, "what is best for the children." Everything else is bullshit. Penelope is wrong. And all you dear, dear people, so sorry for your pain.  I never had children and I was an only child. Both my parents are deceased and as I grow older, I see this as the blessing I once thought was denied. I'm not sad. I feel lucky and grateful for my life. I am also profoundly fucked up, but kind of in a fun way, and am feeling better about myself. You all help make it so. I am here for you all, as Andi is here for me and you, too. Thanks. <3

Amberr Meadows
Amberr Meadows

Sorry, sometimes divorce is the only way to do things. I'm on husband #3, and I don't regret my choices at all. 

ZeffMA
ZeffMA

Yes, you make some good points. The trouble is, no one who is not in a relationship between two people is in a good position to comment on that relationship. I too have a divorce under my belt, suffered depression as a result, have a huge scar caused by loss of time with my lovely little girl from that relationship, but I am infinitely happier and I know my daughter will be too. I received a lot of stick for my decision to leave, but nobody was me and my ex-wife, so they didn't know. I agree that divorce should never be done lightly, but it is not selfish and unfortunately it can be all too necessary. Good post. Thank you.

savvyworkinggal
savvyworkinggal

I read Penelope Trunk's blog on a regular basis.  Many of her posts have inspired and assisted me with my career, but after reading her post about divorce and staying with her husband despite spousal abuse I thought seriously about hitting the unsubscribe button. I grew up in a abusive household where my mom was physically and emotionally abused on a daily basis. I used to hate coming home from school and lived in constant fear that my mom would leave for good; which she threatened to do regularly.  I did leave a comment on one of Penelope's posts about the scars of growing up in an abusive household are worse than the scars of divorce. I have five siblings and most of us have relationship and self esteem issues as adults.  One of my sisters is married to a business owner whose temper is worse than my dad's, but she too refuses to leave.  Fortunately she doesn't have kids.  My mom did eventually leave my dad for good after my youngest sibling had graduated from college.  I am sure it would have been very hard to raise six kids as a single mom, but I still think it would have been better than watching her being berated every day and being berated ourselves.  It is very hard for an abused women to find the courage and resources to leave.  The last thing they need to read is post from Penelope saying divorce is bad for your career and the children.  I was going to write a post about this myself, but the pain is still to close to me.  I'm not ready, so I am so glad you did.

Lottie Nevin
Lottie Nevin

Andi-Roo - I second everything that IK says. I'm on my 3rd marriage now, so if my maths is right, that's 2 divorces under my belt - I wonder what Miss Penelope Pittstop or whatever she's called would make of that? I think she's talking out of her arse. She plainly has never been in a relationship where she's been dragged down 3 flights of stairs by her hair, been strangled countless times, been married to a porn addict, - the list is rather long, shall I go on?? No, I dont need to, I'm sure you get the picture. If getting divorced, makes me dumb and selfish, then what I pray, would she call me if I had stayed in that particular marriage? My only sadness is the impact that my first divorce had on my children - that is a guilt I shall take to my grave with me.  I loved this post Andi-Roo and I love how you've argued the case for all of us divorcees. I've shared it on my facebook page :)

Intricate Knot
Intricate Knot

Pardon me, but who the f**k is Penelope Trunk? Is she one of those "experts"?? You know a doctor, lawyer, or candlestick maker. Personally, I don't believe in "experts" nor those who pretend to be “experts” and who are merely judging others. I do believe in people living their lives the best they can.  Love this post, Andi-Roo, as I love all your posts! Most especially, your poetic beauty under "Alternatively" and then your addition of "All this is very poetic, but ultimately what I’m trying to say is this — we’re all fucked up together, and happily so, which is better than being fucked up and unhappy besides." Amen, Sister! I think Ms. Trunk could have saved a lot of grief (because I’m certain you were not the only offended, hell I’m offended and I didn’t even read her post!), if she had just written a brief disclaimer above her post (or even after) indicating that this was just her opinion. Or better still, indicated such throughout her post, as you have done. And don't you just hate crashes!! Really hope your "Bloggy-Blog" gets better soon! :)

Andi-Roo
Andi-Roo

Agreed, Amberr. I'm a multiple divorcee myself. I know I have learned from my past mistakes (goodness knows there were enough of them that I BETTER have learned SOMETHING!) that I'm confident in my current choices. The hubz & I just shared our 4th anniversary, & are still obscenely in love. We wake up laughing at each other, & always kiss goodnight with a nice snuggle at the very least. Our days are filled with the moments my kids --- now OUR kids --- give to us. We are happy, & grateful, & enjoying every day that goes by. So screw Penelope on this one. She is smart, but she doesn't know everything. Have your hubby hug you for me, Darlin'! xoxo

Andi-Roo
Andi-Roo

I can empathize with your plight, as I took a lot of mental hits when I left my ex as well. You are so right --- no any one person can KNOW what is happening in another's mind. We should all learn to be more loving & supportive of one another. I'm glad you enjoyed my post! Thanks so much for taking the time to say so!

Andi-Roo
Andi-Roo

I'm glad to have been able to provide some source of salve for your aching heart. Would that I could take the past away & wipe it clean! Alas, all we can do from here is each make the best decisions we can, with the limited knowledge we carry, & support each other in this new era. I've found much solace in my online friendships. I'm "here" if you want to talk. And if not, that's okay too. I'm still "here", reading your blog & cheering you on. xoxo

Andi-Roo
Andi-Roo

Oh Lottie! I'm so sorry you had it that rough in your early relationship(s). I have some ugly history too. I so appreciate you sharing as a way of validating my perspective, but I feel terribly you had to endure such ugliness in order to know what I mean. (((HUGS))) I'm glad things are better now --- it's easy to judge yourself from a stable position. Don't do it. You're a lovely, strong woman who writes a gorgeous blog & snaps beautiful photos. I am glad we're tribemates & friends. Thank you so much for your generous comments, & you have my gratitude for sharing my post! :)

Andi-Roo
Andi-Roo

Don't get me wrong, I usually LOVE Penelope Trunk's blog! This particular post just hit too close to home, I guess. I really appreciate your kind comments regarding my writing --- glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me so. ***And sorry this response comes so late in the game! Bad Andi-Roo!!! ***