I walked into Starbucks this morning to grab breakfast before heading to a therapy appointment and ran into a friend of mine from the homeschool co-op I used to belong to. I was happy to see her, and she offered a hug, which I gladly accepted.
She then looked meaningfully at me and said, “So how are you? Are you and ex still separated?”
I felt a knot begin to form in the pit of my stomach. Here I was again, in the familiar situation where I’m being asked directly about my personal life from someone who hasn’t walked the journey through separation, the custody trial, and my moving out of the house. I hate this feeling.
I replied that we were still separated. I stopped being able to look in her eyes, so I looked anywhere but directly at her and stumbled over my words as I talked about how the kids were doing and what schools they were attending now.
She replied that she had seen my ex and our daughters at an American Heritage Girls club sign-up meeting and then she pressed further, “No hope for reconciliation, huh?”
Now the knot was becoming queasiness. Her pressing for information was uncomfortable, and I answered, “You cannot imagine how far from possible reconciliation is at this point. No. There’s no hope of that.”
“No? Well that stinks honey. I’m sorry to hear that. You’ve been on my mind lately and I’m glad we ran into each other,” she finishes as she gathers her two children and her coffee and walks outside.
Image: abbilder via Flickr
I immediately felt judged, whether she meant to come across that way or not. I felt uncomfortably pushed, ashamed, and made to squirm like a bug under a microscope. I know my reasons for wanting to end my marriage; I’ve felt peace about separating and divorcing for the last 18 months and I long for the day when all of the legal issues are finally put to rest.
I ordered my coffee, the nausea subsiding into a knot again, and as I waited in line at the counter, I send off a quick, vague tweet:
“I hate having to put my facade up and speak well of my separation before I’ve even had coffee. Now there’s a knot in my stomach #boundaries”
It was not to invite my entire follow list into my business. I sent it because I needed words, someone’s, anyone’s words, to counteract the feelings of being less-than in my head. I sent a text and a Facebook message to other friends, needing them, specifically, to know how my day was starting out. I got some sweet words, and they helped calm my heart.
I wonder how long it’ll take before I start feeling any degree of comfortable with safe, wise boundaries. I’ve never really had them before. I’ve run into probably a dozen people from my “old life” and this scenario plays out each time. They ask how I’m doing, I’m put in a place where I reply with variations of “Okay” and offer nothing further, and then they start digging. I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and I’m very aware of the need to protect my heart and my life from people who are toxic and would be judgmental and negative and downright ugly with their opinions about my decision. But answering “Okay” and “Fine” when I’m not really bothers me. I just need to remember that I’m not being inauthentic when I don’t answer all the way honestly, and that people need to earn the right to hear my story and be trusted with my truth.