Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Friends, Past and Present by Suz deMello

One of the most hurtful aspects of getting divorced is losing friends. I don’t know the reason, but people seem compelled to choose sides. Because I left the country for six months following our separation, I wasn’t around when my ex spewed his vitriol about the breakdown of our marriage. Strange how an apparently intelligent man had selected three wives in a row who all cheated on him, but few in my former circle managed to connect the dots and draw the obvious conclusion.

What’s even weirder is the phenomenon of the coupled often being friends only with other couples. When I divorced, one woman I'd known since my feshman year in college dropped me like the proverbial hot potato. Looking back, I realize that she'd gotten quite remote after she married while I was still single. I also noticed that when I married, I lost a lot of my single friends. Maybe they didn’t care for my ex, but it’s also possible that singles prefer to hang out with other singletons.

I can readily understand that, as it’s difficult to get together with coupled friends. They’re rarely available in the evenings, especially if they’re married or cohabitating. They're busy with jobs or kids during the day.

Many people hitch up during their early twenties, but I was pretty short-sighted during my school years. Others were smart enough to realize that the friendships and romantic relationships made would be profoundly significant. 

Later, after I had started my law practice and gotten my life relatively squared away, I then wanted to find and establish a relationship with a man—until then, I had really been into messing around, nothing serious. It proved to be very difficult to meet men. As a trial attorney in the areas of family law and criminal defense, my choices were severely limited. Divorcing men and career felons weren’t exactly the kind of guys I was looking for.  Other attorneys—both prosecution and defense—saw me as a rival, not a partner. Same with cops.

A happy discovery of my maturity is the rediscovery of my old friends. High school and law school reunions have led to the rebirth of wonderful friendships.
But I don’t look at reunions as the opportunity to rekindle doused flames, but I do find friends.


Here are a few:
A few members of Chatsworth High School class of '72



Me and Mary,
Hastings class of '81



Friends can be made and lost. But, happily, they can be reclaimed.

6 comments:

  1. What a hopeful post, Suz!

    You're right of course. Sometimes our paths diverge from our friends, but draw closer together later in life.

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  2. Ane often people we know as a couple aren't the same people when not in each others' company. For better or for worse.

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  3. Being self-employed, in my experience, reduces the pool of possible friendships. I'm lucky to be friends with a few of my former employees, even though the relationship is more like an older aunt or mentor (me) than as peers. Some of my former customers are nice as acquaintances who chat when we meet each other in grocery stores, but not close friends. I would imagine that being a lawyer with your own practice would be somewhat similar--but of course with more complexity when it comes to former clients.

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    1. When I was in the antique business, my mailing list topped 700 entries. They only represented customers who had bought from me and had agreed to receiving my mailers. Of them, perhaps six, became steady clients. One became a friend. Several other specialized dealers also became friends, but the vast majority of them were simply colleagues.

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  4. Suz, I love this post! I, too, went through a lot of awkwardness with friendships during my divorce. For a while, I was tense everywhere I went. I never knew how people would react the first time I saw them. In some cases, it was clear that people had "chosen the other side" (though I also did not wish for them to have to do so). It was scary and painful to discover that. On the other hand, the people who were there for me during that time have my eternal gratitude now (whether or not they thought of themselves as choosing sides). I was the "leaver," and I think some people assume that means you're okay, or that you're the villain. In truth, I needed friends more than ever.

    Your observations about couples vs singletons and how that affects friendships are interesting, too, and there's certainly truth to it. I try not to let that happen, but I think it happens naturally and I have to sort of push against it.

    One last thing that made me laugh with irony. You comment on being short-sighted during your school years for not finding marriage then. However, when I was getting divorced from the college boyfriend I had married, everyone was telling me I'd been short-sighted to marry so young. I think this is a place where a person can't win, so don't feel bad!

    Anyway, gorgeous pictures! Like Lisabet, I enjoyed the hopeful tone you've struck.

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  5. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments.

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