We were set up by a mutual acquaintance on Facebook and after exchanging a few messages, we agreed to meet. I was excited that I might finally have found a “divorced mommy friend.”
As I pulled up to the enormous house, the snow was falling heavily. Despite the cold, she was outside without a coat smoking a cigarette. She invited me into her living room and she took a seat in a large armchair. I sat adjacent. Surrounding us were cardboard boxes that I would later learn contained all her worldly possessions. She had rented the house following her separation and had not yet unpacked.
She launched into a horrific story about her marriage and all she had endured. As she spoke she grew more agitated and I started to wonder if I had made a serious error meeting this stranger alone in her home. The few times I tried to interject she chided me and explained that nothing I had experienced compared to her story. While she did not appear to be intoxicated, something was definitely going on. Then she began to stare at the ceiling and mumble to herself. Yikes.
Eventually, she reached into a cardboard box and pulled out her bat mitzvah speech and proceeded to read it dramatically aloud. At her conclusion, I quickly made my way to the door. That was it for me. Thankfully, she did not argue as I left; she just followed me outside and lit another cigarette. We had planned to order dinner, but we didn’t make it that far.
After that encounter, I spent my free time alone when the children were with their father on his designated weekends. Although I had hoped to meet divorced women with whom I could commiserate, I was no longer eager to put myself out there.
Now, fast-forward almost four years, and I am finally finding (at every turn) strong, healthy divorced women with whom I can relate … at my kids’ school, at the gym and even in line at the store. Most recently I met a mom at the park that my children and I frequent. Though our kids interrupted constantly, our conversation flowed easily and we discovered we had a lot in common. We are both divorced, Jewish, working moms of young boys. Most importantly, we are both looking forward and focused on providing for our children as best we can.
Sometimes when I think back to that first encounter that terrible winter, I berate myself for not doing something to help her. I was scared, not just for my physical safety, but because she was the complete antithesis of the image I had of myself. Here I was juggling it all…work, kids, court, the house and everything else in between. I feared that I might stumble and end up like her.
But I haven’t.
I have learned a lot since the first debacle with the divorced woman. For one, I am certainly more cautious about meeting new friends. I recognize that I need to be around women who inspire and are supportive. I have also learned to relax and not try so hard to make friends. Everything comes in time.
Image: Zak Greant