I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Not to Do to Divorced People

I got divorced in 2008.   It was a quick divorce and our kids were small.  We had a lot of wonderful friends who were good to us back then.  I never realized how good they were until recently.

Over the four years we lived in Kansas, divorced and raising our kids together, our friends were good to both of us.  They had parties and still invited each of us.  They hosted Jewish holidays and invited both of us.

Most of the time my ex and I got along and we did a lot of things together with our children because, after all, we were still their parents and they still wanted to be with both of us.  We didn't want them to feel the pain of wanting to be with both Mom and Dad but not having that option.   It was not always possible, but we managed to regularly do things together with our children.

I remember once being invited to join a Passover seder my ex-husband was going to with our kids.  It was so lovely for the kids to have both parents there and it was so nice for me to be invited to join.  It is always painful to be away from my children.  Even for one day, even 7 years later.  This invitation was a kindness I'll never forget.  These people are real mensches.

And this kind of thing happened over and over again.  Our friends did not "pick sides" or make one of us feel unwelcome.

We had good friends.

Three years ago I remarried and we managed to keep our divorced family together by all moving to the same town across the country.  As much as I could I brought the kids back to visit their friends.

But recently someone I thought was my friend treated me in a way that I would never treat someone else and it made me realize how good people were to us in those years we were in Kansas.

On my Kansas trips, I barely have time to see friends because I am there visiting my family and my husband's family and that is a lot of people.  But I usually went out of my way, as did my parents to meet up with one family to make sure my son could maintain a friendship with the son of people I considered my friends.

Yet when it came time for their son's Bar Mitzvah, somehow only my ex got an invitation.

These are people I thought were my friends.  The last time they were picking up their son from a sleepover at my parents house I asked when their son's Bar Mitzvah would be so that I could buy plane tickets and plan to attend.

If only they'd had the nerve to tell me right then, as they told me the date, that I wasn't going to be invited.

It was extremely hurtful to find out it wasn't a mistake that I didn't get an invitation to the Bar Mitzvah of a child I have been bringing my son to visit over the past three years.

They said they didn't have room for me, someone they have known for many years, while my husband's girlfriend was invited.

I realize now that this is what might normally happen in divorce.  People decide they want to be friends with one person in a couple and not the other.  They don't care what impact it has on the children.  That the kids are hurt by this kind of behavior.

In 7 years, this was the first time someone I thought was my friend made me feel like they chose my ex over me by telling me I was not welcome somewhere that my kids were invited, that only their father was invited.

It's sad, and I hope those who are reading this make better choices with the divorced parents they know.

Even when people are divorced, when they share children they are often still a family of sorts.  In our case, my ex and I often attend the same events for our children.  We are friendly to each other.   I view his girlfriend as part of our family.  I have always been happy to welcome her at all of our family gatherings, even when their relationship was new.

I am still reeling from the extreme unkindness of people I thought were my friends.  Who actively doesn't invite people to their child's Bar Mitzvah?

To be clear, a Bar Mitzvah is a community event.  I'm not talking about being invited to a party - I don't care about that.  But to actively tell someone they shouldn't show up at a Shabbat service - what kind of people behave like that?


Ric Moxley said...

i think you've been fortunate to have the bulk of your friends not take sides. Sadly, side-taking seems to be the norm, enough so that James Taylor made a big hit song based on that very concept: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jamestaylor/hertowntoo.html

Anonymous said...

Don't let other's actions dictate you own.
This isn't about taking sides, this is about keeping your side of the street clean.
Invite them and welcome them.
As long as you make decisions based on purity, selflessness, honesty and love, you'll be able to hold your head up high and not be dragged down into a meaningless disagreement.
If they choose not to attend, no worries, it's not your concern. If they do, welcome them with love.
This isn't about you, don't make it so.
Be the better person, let go of this resentment, give it to God, and live life free of this burden.
Love you cuz

Gilbert said...

What an awful and heartbreaking thing to have happen to you. I cannot believe that after all of these years, they would treat you in such a fashion. This is a thing of disgrace. Your so-called friends should be absolutely ashamed of themselves to behave that way, didn't they know it would also affect the children?

Gilbert @ McCormick Divorce & Family Law