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Divorce & Annulments

One of the most supportive relationships I had during my divorce were my close Catholic friends. At the same time however, one of the most difficult relationships I had during my divorce were these same Catholic friends.

Truly, divorce is a difficult circumstance; one that morphs and changes as you go through the process of it. At the beginning, when I first began to tell my friends what was going on, they were tremendously supportive. I had women in the homeschool group that I had only met once or twice providing meals for me and my daughters. We were invited to numerous activities and friends called to check in.

After the initial shock of the circumstance began to wear off, people returned to their normal routines. My girls and I however, had to find new definitions of normal. In the beginning this happened monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily. These were tumultuous times for my daughters and myself. I thank God still for the support and love of my parents and two of my mother’s dearest friends—Sue and Alene. These four wonderful souls helped me to put one foot in front of the other every single moment, even on the worst of days.

It was about this time that there was a big shift in my relationships with many of my Catholic friends. Being active members of an ever-growing Catholic homeschooling community, I began to worry about how my daughters would perceive themselves—being the only divorced family in the group. I also worried how others would perceive us.

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Folks had started to whisper, just a little bit—“I wish that the girls wouldn’t be so outspoken about the situation with their father.” I was devastated. Truly. Here were a group of Catholics—people that were supposed to be my friends—asking me to ask my girls to censor what they were sharing with their friends about our difficult situation. Things change when the messy world starts seeping in through the cracks.

I had a decision to make. As a parent myself, I completely understand the desire to shield our children from some of the world’s more difficult truths. As a parent who was now living one of the world’s more difficult truths, I could never, ever ask my children not to speak about what defined their entire life. Since I had started back at school to occupy some of my time alone, I began using the “schoolwork” excuse on a more regular basis and we moved to the very periphery of our homeschool community.

During this time of separation, I tried to pray as often as I could for the families in the group that I felt were alienating us the most. Besides praying for my former husband, this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. My daughters cried often—between choosing to be less involved and the lack of ongoing invitations to events, it was a tremendously difficult time for them.

I worked hard to move outside of this group—to find new friends—friends who were still Catholic but were more open to our new circumstances. I met some pretty incredible people during this time. All of them were folks who were single or married but had no children or children who were too young to appreciate what was going on. I found many new friends, but my daughters were still struggling.

We kept a toe in the water at the homeschool community and when my youngest daughter was set to begin high school, I asked her directly how much involvement she wanted to have with the group. I explained that I was open to taking her to any of the activities she wanted to attend, but that she needed to understand that we were no longer part of the inner circle—there would be no invitations to parties and so on. She listed the activities that she was interested in and we began our journey back.

Two years have passed since we began attending the group on a regular basis again and many of the people I had counted as friends before I count as friends again. I can’t say they were with me through the whole thing, but now that all of our children have matured there is much more of a natural delicacy that exists in those relationships and I feel much less responsible for what the kids talk about.

If you are feeling alienated from the people that you thought would be the closest to you, I want to let you know that you are not alone. As charitable as we think our Catholic friends should be, they are still just people who struggle with making sense of the same situations we do. I encourage you to branch out—try a Catholic singles event in your area, attend Mass at a different parish and introduce yourself to a family with children the same age as yours, keep searching and God will lead you down the path to the people he wants you to know during this most difficult time. And eventually, you may be led right back to where you started—just like we were.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Dean-981966 November 8, 2013

    I belong to a Men’s group at our church and we all have kids at the Catholic school there and I have noticed since sharing about my divorce many of the guy’s started treating me a little differently. They observed to be somewhat uncomfortable when talking with me. The main difference is that my ex-wife is a teacher at the school. It’s difficult because when we were a couple we did everything with other couples at church events and were invited to all different kinds of get together’s for various reasons ie Christmas parties, fundraisers, so it’s hard but with time things will all be good

    • Michael-780154 November 8, 2013

      I get the feeling us divorced men must stick together, Dean. We are especially overlooked by the Church and by society. Prayers for you.

  2. Joan-529855 November 8, 2013

    What happens when your former spouse has an affair with the married mother of your son’s friend from the Catholic homeschool support group? Well I can tell you what happens; you become alienated real fast. She was an officer in the Catholic parishes women’s committee so she could do whatever she wanted, including having affairs with multiple men and sex with my former husband after mass in the church parking lot. What kind of support do you think we received from the Catholic parish or homeschool support group? That is right, NONE. In fact we received more support from the LDS church up the street than any other faith group. And I was no longer “invited” to teach religious education classes as I had done for the past ten years. We essentially were banned from our own parish and homeschool group.

    • Maude D. November 12, 2013

      Wow!! Just wow! I really hope she gets what is coming to her. Looks like power can go to ANYONE’S head, regardless of religion. I still hope this does not make you want to leave the Church, though. One bad Catholic does not all bad Catholics make. There is a good parish home for you; I know God has one in mind if you just ask, or look, or you know – however that works normally.

  3. Cristina O. November 13, 2013

    My divorce was a painful public and extremely emotional in that my two children and I were literally ripped overnight out of our community by the crime my ex committed, He was charged and did time and is now still on the registry for sex offenders. We fled for too many reasons to list to begin a new life with some geographic distance, just over the county line. How does a family heal after this? In time with Gods grace. Six and a half years later It is still something that is most often kept secret. I continue to pray and hope and believe that someday we will find someone who will accompany us in this journey we call life.

    • Elissa-829089 December 15, 2013

      So sorry to hear about this, Cristina. What a hard thing to live with!

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