September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I am choosing to write this letter anonymously so that you might contemplate if it is your neighbor who is writing it. Is it your friend? Your sister? Cousin? Is this letter about you? If so, let this be your call to action.

I am a single parent. Before I found myself in this position, I didn’t have much experience with divorce. On the rare occasion I heard that someone got divorced, I considered it an “event”—oh, that happened—and didn’t consider the process that led up to it. I didn’t consider how their life must have been turned upside down for a substantial amount of time leading up to that “event.” And in kind, I didn’t consider the time that followed either. It was a standalone fact. I didn’t consider that “so-and-so getting a divorce” meant that he/she is alone every single Shabbat—either literally alone or alone with children. Even had I considered that, I would not have understood what it meant. Because I never considered it prior to my experience, I’d like to believe that you are naive as well. And that’s why you haven’t considered me. Why you haven’t invited me.

Allow me to provide some perspective, now that I have the inside track. In my experience, there are three stages of divorce:

Stage 1: The silent struggle. You know that life as you know it is over (yes, a new one will be built but more on that at a different time). Inside your home and your heart is darkness and sadness. But when you step outside, you slap on a smile. No one is the wiser that you are dying inside.

Stage 2: The word is out. You’ve told your children (which is possibly the absolute worst moment you will ever experience). And now that they know, word spreads like wildfire. You become aware, slowly but surely, that everyone knows. But it isn’t because they are reaching out to you personally. Most of the awareness is through the grapevine. There are a few courageous people who reach out to you directly—who teach you the great lesson of “see something, say something”—but for the most part, you are in a weird twilight zone of being both the center of attention and yet utterly invisible. People reassure you that the news cycle will move on soon to someone else. They’re right. The novelty wears off. But wait, does that mean you’ve forgotten about my news or about me?

Stage 3: The new normal. Your homes are separated. Your lives are separated. It’s time to land from the storm you have been in. It’s time to create your new normal. There might be relief. There might be light for the first time in a while. You are no longer entangled in a toxic situation. And so you may feel empowered. For the first time in a long time. You can do this!

I feel compelled to state for the record: We aren’t victims. We aren’t to be pitied. But just because we are strong, or appear to be so, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to be considered.

When’s the last time you’ve reached out to me? When’s the last time you’ve invited me for a meal? Sure, you may have told me that I have an open invitation but I really don’t want to have to ask. Do you have any idea what my holiday plans are? Do my kids have a parent to sit with in shul on Rosh Hashanah? Do I have a sukkah to eat in? Do you have any idea?

I get it. Life is busy. You are wrapped up in your own universe. If anyone gets that, it’s me. I invite you to stop for a moment. Are you having company? Is there one extra seat at your table? Consider me. If I say no, mark your calendar to ask me again. I promise, I appreciate it. I appreciate knowing that I haven’t been forgotten. I appreciate being considered.

Sure, I’m not your responsibility. I’m a grownup. I’ve got this. I can handle this on my own. But that’s what it is. On my own. Are you comfortable with that? This isn’t a cry for help. It’s a reminder. Don’t pity me. Consider me. Please.

Name Withheld Upon Request

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