Twitter is all atwitter yet again about the hot topic of divorce and the New York Times, only this time, it’s not the affront to the “Vows” section embodied by my second favorite dastardly duo, Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla.
Nope, this time it’s this article:
Front page, salty Style section sappiness for those of us with cavernous, Grand Canyonesque wounds — and apparently, not yet enough searing pain resulting from the constant opening and closing of them. Seriously, this story was enough to make me want to punch the newspaper in the face. Repeatedly. Or whatever you do to humiliate a pompous newspaper like the New York Times (pteradactyl origami? leave it on top of a trash can at my neighborhood WalMart? visit a garage sale, purchase a Big Mouth Billy Bass and use the paper to wrap it up and store it? Just a few ideas…)
Now, I’m no journalist (well, actually, the master’s degree on my wall may indicate otherwise…what with the word “Journalism” highlighted and all) but to be honest, this article was all over the fucking place. First, it seemed like it was going to be an “oh poor me, my friends think I have cooties” rant from us Divorceds toward the Marrieds.
That’s how it began: Divorced suburban mommies feel shunned by their friends when they announce their marital failure.
But then it drifted into an analysis of quantitative data showing how college-educated Americans have lower divorce rates.
Then it concluded with this little tidbit of crazy: Divorced women find themselves to be the envy of married friends because of our ability to go to yoga five times per week.
Anyone here remember how Scooby Doo sounded when he alarmingly uttered, “Huh?” Because that was me, goofy look and all.
Throughout the story, there was an undercurrent of ick that I just couldn’t shake. Of course, this is the New York Times, so the readership is “influential and highly engaged,” according to the publication’s media kit (read: “highfalutin, snooty and obsessed with vicariously experiencing others’ pain”).
But after failing to comprehend the article — and really, to even understand how Divorce had a “groove” in the first place — I began reading other blogs about the story. And comments on those blogs. And responses to the comments on those blogs. And when it was all said and done, here are my four take-aways from this brilliant piece of Pulitzer prize-worthy puffery:
- Divorce may just be catching.
- When I divorced, I selfishly placed my needs as a woman above my kids’ needs.
- Because I don’t have a peaceful divorce, I = failure.
- But I = groovy because I’m divorced and you suck because you aren’t.
I told you: All over the fucking place.
So let’s examine these. I’m totally interested to hear your take, so please be prepared to comment on anything that strikes your fancy.
1.Divorce is catching.
Scabies. Swine flu. Crabs. Lice. Divorce.
Nope, you’re not reading a question from a “which one doesn’t belong” SAT test, because according to this article, they all belong. That’s right, divorce may just be contagious. To wit:
“Several divorced women suggested that the news of their marital unraveling seemed to unnerve other couples in their social circles, prompting unease about their own marriages. (That anxiety may not be entirely unfounded. One study out of Harvard, Brown and the University of California, San Diego, last year found that divorce actually is contagious: when close friends break up, the odds of a marital split among their friends increase by 75 percent.)”
Thanks New York Times, thanks a lot: Not only are you reporting the news, but you’re changing lives. Do you hear that sound? It’s the “thud” of friends everywhere jumping off the support bandwagon in hoardes, the “splash” of friends abandoning ship for fear of being touched, bitten or otherwise infected by disgusting divorce spunk. (Watch out: It’s even oozing through your computer screen as you read these words…DUCK!)
Granted, I’m not part of the smarmy suburbia set like these hip chicks. Seriously, a woman in this story was quoted as saying, “I was like, just give me the hemlock.” I’d like to know: Who talks like this, anyhow? Oh, I know: the Real Divorceds of Park Slope.
But in my reality, I found quite the opposite to be true: My friends were by my side the entire time. And guess what? Not one of them contracted the disease. Yet. Though perhaps it’s slow to manifest…
Sorry, New York Times, but I will not accept that divorce is akin to lice. I don’t need to shave my head or use a tiny-tined metal comb or special soap to prevent creepy little divorce buggers from jumping from me to you.
Although, come to think of it, de-lousing was certainly a part of my personal post-divorce regimen…
2. When I divorced, I selfishly placed my needs as a woman above my kids’ needs.
Wow. There’s just so much wrong with this suggestion, I don’t even know where to begin.
So apparently, if I’m reading this article correctly, divorce got its groove in the 1970s, when the philosophy was “Screw the kids, it’s all about me-me-ME!” Women found themselves shedding their oppressive June Cleaver pearl chokers in favor of a life free of matrimonial shackles. They felt empowered (and practically entitled) to divorce. Now, however, we’re seeing the dawn of a new, helicopter-parent inspired philosophy: “My children are the center of the universe, and I will never hurt them. Therefore, I will never divorce.”
And this, my friends, is why the divorce rates are falling for the college educated. Because we’re too smart to divorce. And we wouldn’t behave that selfishly in a million, quadrillion, bazillion years…
So the lesson for me: Because I granted my Ex a divorce, I’ve irreparably hurt my children. And behaved selfishly. And forfeit my mommy card.
I’m such a dick.
3. Because I don’t have a peaceful divorce, I = failure.
OK, so let’s get something out of the way from the outset. I may be just a bit of an overachiever. I’ve already documented that I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” But what you may not know is that I was also a 4.0 student in high school. I’m a blood donor. To this day, I take EVERY birth control pill in the package — even the placebos — because I’m TOLD to do so. Hell, I was even a Homecoming Queen candidate.
So you can imagine my disdain for the “F” I received for my marriage.
Now, I’ve actually earned a double F. I’m a Fucking Failure. First I failed my marriage, now I’m failing my divorce. According to the article:
“Since the 1990s, we’ve been trying to come up with a process that is more emotionally humane and accounts for the interests of children,” said Joanna Roth, a Harvard-educated lawyer in Seattle who entered divorce law after she and her husband split up. “The parents I see through this process have their children foremost in mind.”
Dr. Monet, of Mount Holyoke, and her ex-husband eat dinner together on Fridays with their 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Birthdays and holidays are spent in each other’s company.
“Once I realized that we could raise the kids together and still be a family,” said Dr. Monet, who started a blog called Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce last year, “I realized it wasn’t divorce that’s devastating, it’s the way divorce is handled.”
When Nina Collins, 41, a former literary agent, divorced her husband, she said both her lawyer and therapist emphasized: “Divorce is completely different from when your parents split up. If your kids feel loved and they don’t see hideous behavior, they’ll be fine.”
Crappity-crap-crap-CRAP. My kids are so screwed. Make that a Triple F: Marriage. Divorce. Parenting. Just give me the hemlock, indeed…
I was already feeling depressed about the insidious germies and my self-serving, egocentric actions of actually granting my already-gone husband a divorce. Now, because I haven’t managed to be the picture of post-divorce perfection, I’m a horrible parent.
A little insight: I’d love nothing more than to have a peaceful divorce. But sadly, it takes two to tango to that tune…and I’m all alone on this divorce dance floor. Not a cooperative, peaceful partner in sight…
4. But I = groovy because I’m divorced and you suck because you aren’t.
I think this was supposed to be the silver lining of the piece, the Dr. Phil-esque “But wait, don’t go swallowing those razors quite yet, because there’s hope!” epiphany. I should embrace my divorce…because it has given me a new lease, new opportunities to become sleek and drink carrot juice and practice tantric sex with hot young male yogis.
Wow. Thank you, Divorce! I couldn’t have done it without you…
Wait a sec, though: It occurs to me that I haven’t done it. Not a drop of carrot juice, not a single yogi tantric sexcapade. In fact, not even a single yoga session, to be perfectly honest. Nope, I’ve been too busy with work, and children, and healing, and trying to blaze a brand new, post-brick trail. I realize that some women find themselves totally dedicated to themselves in this new world order, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with haircuts and pecker tiaras and court cases and poop dreams and blog stalkers.
So forgive me if I don’t feel grateful for the ability to do yoga five days a week.
And ironicaly, as it turns out, I had more time for tantric yoga when I was in my (delusional) marriage, a hallmark of which was cooperative co-parenting. Dammit…shoulda grabbed that dangling carrot when I coulda…
Anyhow, I’m perplexed by the piece. AND I’m kinda pissed, because in order to understand the nuance of this story, I actually bought How Stella Got Her Groove Back, watched it…and hated it. Hated Angela and her stupid biceps. Hated Taye and his glowing teeth. Hated the happily-ever-after message and the predictable airport proposal.
But more than anything else, I hate that this New York Times piece serves to undermine what little confidence us “Divorceds” may still have.
So now, I turn my attention to you my amazing readers and away from the New York Times and Bassett’s biceps: In your experience (or, for those of you inexperienced in the art of divorce-war, your observations of the experiences of your cooty-infested divorced friends), do you believe that we should believe the aforementioned take-aways? I’d love to hear of your experiences with friends, selfish pangs, feelings of FFFailure and/or how LUCKY you feel to be divorced and carelessly gyming it five days a week.
And in the meantime, if Divorce wants her groove back, she can go fuck herself. Because I’m keeping it, dammit.