When I went through my divorce 6 (6!) years ago, I fully dealt with it. I can say that I look back now and I just don’t know that person. I don’t know that wife, that person who signed divorce papers, the person that cried a lot of tears and went through a lot of ups and downs. Not that I am embarrassed (well, a little) but I have completely changed, as we all do in general and my life is different. I dealt with it heavily by writing about it, going to therapy, changing my life, changing my attitude, changing my perspective, learning and growing.
I’m proud of that.
However, there are times, when the past never seems far away. A co-worker of mine has found herself in the midst of her own divorce. A divorce she knew to be coming at some point as her and her husband have been living separately, two hours apart, for two years. She finds herself at my desk, almost daily, venting her frustration. I offer her words of encouragement, advice when she asks, and support. It quickly has taken a turn into the pity party zone though. The heaviness she brings in each day is suffocating. To make it worse, it is also affecting another co-worker of mine, a good friend, who still has issues she still hasn’t fully worked through from her divorce. She then starts rehashing from the beginning as well.
I remember clearly the amount of people who were there for me in my divorce days. I have always returned the favor to each person I have come across in the same situation. BUT you can’t live in pity party world. I don’t know how to support you but when you are literally doing nothing for yourself, I just can’t. Worse though, this is happening at work, not in my home with a glass of wine as friends do. No, at my desk, while I’m trying to get shit done.
Rehashing the same divorce topics over and over, daily, for me is a trigger. I suddenly remember these details like it was yesterday and it makes me sick to my stomach. I fully understand where she is coming from when she talks about the unknown future for herself. I fully hear her words and nod in agreement when she tears up. I feel the pain. But that is just it, I feel the pain come from that scar deep down in myself and I then carry it home. That weight I shed a long time ago is suddenly on my shoulders for no reason because it is hers to carry, not mine.
I went home last week and explained it to my husband. I suddenly just wanted a date night with him. I needed the safety net of him, which was stupid and I realized I had to put an end to helping a divorcee in need.
I felt horrible.
I couldn’t walk into work everyday and have two people needing to talk this all out. With a fresh week, I have ignored the co-worker when she pushes her chair to my desk. I chirp happily about other things, don’t offer advice, and don’t ask her how she is doing when she offers me the saddest face ever. Call me horrible. The other co-worker, my dear friend, we resumed that talk over normal wine drinking hours. And she also resumed that conversation with her therapist because she is doing something about it.
I’ve been there. I did my time. Suffered my pain. I have supported many friends but the line has to be drawn somewhere.