Divorce and friendships: How things change

Posted By on Feb 7, 2014 |

This is a guest post by Carrie Schmeck.

I have the best friends in the world. Hands down.

As my life blew apart last year, they proved themselves in ways that surprised me daily. They hid me, fed me, supported and clothed me. They warmed me and called me to ensure I was still breathing. They took long bike rides with me and listened as I hashed and rehashed every thought. They encouraged and challenged and chastened and helped me reason my way to truth when I wasn’t sure. They picked me up when I fell down, stood guard and sat with me when tears would not cease. They found ways to make me laugh when I couldn’t find my way to joy. They held me as I disappeared toward the dark edges of my soul where I feared what I would find. Most of all they reminded me there was still something of value there to love.

A girl couldn’t ask for more. I was Moses, too weary to raise my own arms. They did it for me.

Somewhere along the way though, I began to regain strength. Not a lot at first, but some. Enough to start standing on my own. And I found myself in a strange place—on the mountain top but very alone.

My friends remained but a text away but, after a season of intense care for me, they returned, one by one, to their own husbands and families. At the end of the day, they were each ensconced in their homes, in their lives, the same ones they’ve always known. Only mine was different.

Suddenly I faced a big, big world by myself. And I had no one person to care. No one devoted to be sure I made it home or ask me about my day. The absence was profound and indescribable to my friends—my married friends mostly.

Of course they all assured me they cared and I knew they did, and still do. But it’s different. I’m different. I moved from one very much like them, a married woman with married woman concerns to a single woman, wholly responsible for my career, my life, my future, and relationally thrust into a world where I’m navigating men, attraction and dating (or at least, the possibility of…). I took a left turn on this road of life and while there is empathy, it can only run so deep in understanding.

I suppose it is like the grief over losing a loved one or the pain of infertility. If you haven’t been through the experience, you can’t offer comfort in the same knowing way as someone who has. It’s an unfortunate chasm, not one that can’t be crossed but one that adds to the loneliness of this new life.

Being married so long, I cultivated few single friends but find myself seeking their company. The ones who know, know. They’ve been there. They understand the unspoken. They’ve grappled with intense heartbreak and sifted through ashes of worth and value. They’ve found courage and lived it. There’s just something comforting there.

I’ll never diminish my forever friends’ value to me nor would I say I now need only single friends. I simply need to allow and accept these natural changes and to take steps toward developing what will work in my new life. In this case, it means the balance of my relationships with friends looks different. Divorce changes everything and it seems, to move on, we must loosen our grip on even our most sacred cows to allow for movement and growth towards what is to be.

Carrie Schmeck is a marketing content and features writer from Redding, CA. Her work has appeared in USATodayCollege,  NextStepU, QSR, Clubhouse and Enjoy magazine. After being married nearly 27 years, she is rediscovering life on her own, enjoying her three (plus one and a half) kids and racking up miles with close friends on her road bike.