My friend got divorced recently and we celebrated. Virtual hugs and kisses and praying hands too, were the best we could do amid the lockdown. I felt so happy for her; the special type of happiness that you feel for those close to your heart.

I asked her how she felt. She replied..
“I feel light. Like a dark cloud has been lifted.”

And my eyes could no longer contain the tears of joy. Crying is cathartic, and the aftermath helps you place matters into perspective. I knew then that I had to write this post. I knew that I would be judged for it too…

The intention of my post is not to glorify divorce. But I also do not want to vilify it. Divorce is an option for marriages that are not working out. Let us not repeat the narrative of till death do us apart while some partners are planning to murder each other. That is the reality of what is happening in South Africa. My friend was not one of those couples, fortunately. But that does not make what she had to endure any less difficult.

Her personal and professional growth was stunted in her marriage. She was lied to. She was taunted. She was made to feel inadequate. It did not break her. He did not break her. She found the strength in her to continue supporting her children, physically and emotionally.

She would wear her pain with a smile and persevere. Despite all his mistakes and mess-ups, she did not speak about him disrespectfully to me or others. She carried herself with such grace and dignity that I was in awe. She held her head high – and why not? She was not at fault.

She tried her utmost best to make her marriage work with many second chances, despite knowing at the back of her head that the situation would not change. Divorce is not an easy route; it never is. It’s a legal process that can become very technical, making it emotionally draining.

Now, my friend is a divorcee. She will probably be labelled and maybe even spoken about in hushed tones. She does not deserve it; no divorcee does. But society has not evolved to that extent. They don’t see a happier and healthier woman – they see a failed marriage. I hate that term because it doesn’t acknowledge the long-term impact of staying in an unhappy marriage on the individual psyche. Moreover, children should not have to grow up with parents who do not respect and love each other. Pushing the narrative of “for the sake of the children” creates unhealthy role modelling and could scar children for life. My friend was brave enough to foresee this and took charge of her life.

You know that saying… don’t judge a woman until you have walked a day in her shoes? Well, insert that saying here… in bold.

I have no doubt that my friend will navigate the responsibilities of co-parenting post-divorce with same grace and dignity she has handled everything life has thrown at her. She is a stronger woman today, so strong that she had no qualms about me sharing her story.

She said to me… I want other women to know that if I can do it, so can they.

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