Daggone You, Penelope Trunk!
Penelope 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.
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?