I joined a divorce group on Facebook just to have other people to talk to who are going through similar life changes. It’s been a mainly positive experience because I have it much better than most of the people who post on there. I’m past the early trauma and hopelessness, I neither hate my “stbx” (soon-to-be-ex) nor want him back, and the courts are not involved.
For good or for bad, I feel much less negatively toward my STBX than most of the other people on there. I also feel less negatively toward the “ow” (other woman).
Reading about other peoples’ divorces makes me feel better about mine, and it affirms my belief that we’re minimizing the degree to which it affects our daughter.
However, there’s some weird stuff on there. There have been a few posts involving kids that make me feel kind of sick. There’s also an annoying overuse of the word “narcissist.” It seems as if literally everyone’s ex is a narcissistic abuser. When I actually read the posts about narcissist exes, it sounds like the ex is, at worst, just a jerk. (I could be wrong, of course, but all I have to go on in terms of evidence are the examples and stories that get posted). Saying something that is untrue or that the poster doesn’t agree with is not necessarily “gaslighting.”
My ex lied majorly to cover up his affair, but that’s unlikely to fulfill the criteria for “gaslighting.” You could argue that he was doing it to keep control of the situation and keep getting away with his morally reprehensible behavior…or you could say it was just the path that made things easiest for him and avoided him having to deal with the consequences of his choices. That’s incredibly shitty and selfish—I spent the nine months before I found out the truth beating myself up and holding onto false hopes buoyed by his insistence that he was still in love with me and that there was no one else. But he’s a little bit of a weenie–not a narcissist.
I don’t bother correcting people, though. It seems very know-it-all, “actually,” and it’s probably best to judge silently since I know that my buttons are being pushed. This was the short version of my ex’s justification for going outside of the marriage, and even I have tried on some different versions of the story in order to find the one that’ll eventually allow me to make peace with it. I’m only going to find that with the most balanced (close to objective) version of the story, and that’ll include all of our flaws, mistakes, and virtues.
I don’t think that my view of love is particularly mature, but I think I’ve grown up a lot in these single, middle-aged years. I’ve let go of the oversimplification and black and white thinking I see in the divorce groups; for example, someone posted a picture that said “psychology claims that if you can be friends with your ex, you were never really in love.” That kind of thing drives me nuts….It’s as if some person named Psychology got all modalities to come to a simple opinion that covers everyone’s failed relationship.
I posted for the first time yesterday—a general “anyone else having a very friendly divorce, but still needs support?” along with a brief description about meeting my ex’s fiancee. One of the comments was “wow, he’s going to realize what a treasure he lost.”
No he’s not. I’m not a treasure, but let’s just pretend for a moment that I’m 99% delightful to to fall in love with: outside of movies and “When I Was Your Man” (Bruno Mars) , do men EVER look back and regret letting someone go?
So far, I’ve only seen that happen immediately after a breakup, but maybe limited capacity for insight is a part of my “type.”
There’s also a lot of reassurance in the group that something better is coming to everyone in the group in the future. I believe that that’s true, because divorce sucks, so life will get better. But many people in the group seem to be sure that everyone is going to find the love of his or her life and living happily ever after, and I don’t think that that’s anything close to a guarantee.
I guess my outlook is bleak for someone this far along in the process, but I’d say my level of overall happiness isn’t so bad.
The other day, a woman posted screenshots of her going on off a guy she was dating because she felt he was ignoring her. It was NASTY and personal. I assumed that she was doing it in reaction to, say, finding out he has a wife, but no. She just felt he wasn’t responding to her texts quickly enough. Most of the responses were basically “yeah, you go girl.” The takeaway for me was that I could post any kind of crazy shit and get high fives.
Obviously, I’m not going to use this group for validation beyond “yeah, divorce is hard.” And I certainly won’t go there for reality testing. I’ve been saying over and over that every divorce is different, so I can’t use anyone elses’ divorce or parenting plan as a gauge of how good yours is.
I’m also reading about some dating experiences that don’t exactly contradict my frightened view of love. I’m reading about men who are very controlling (I think I’m finally ready to share my own experience with this, although I’m still mortified that I stayed with it for five months). There was a guy whose girlfriend caught him sending nudes a year into what had appeared to be a happy and loving relationship. I guess it’s better for me to know that even a rock-solid fuckboy filter isn’t going to make me safe. It’s best for me to know the truth, especially when it’s ugly.
This reads like a list of reasons I shouldn’t be reading or posting in the divorce group, but I don’t think it’s bad for me right now. If anything, it presents contrasting experiences in a way that’s kind of reassuring that I’m doing well. I read about people in the earliest, most traumatic phases, and I feel relief that I’m well past that. I see people who have a less cooperative divorce, and I’m grateful that ours is peaceful. I see people posting on the days their divorces are finalized, and it gives me a little bit of hope that it’s something to which I can look forward.
So, I’ll keep lurking for now.