Monday, November 8, 2010

War veteran

In a divorce, there is often the issue of custody. Luckily, the Ex and I didn’t have children, so our custody battles were fought over friends. For us, even these battles were minor, as all of our friends were really his friends to start with, so it was obvious whose side each friend would choose. Team Mel consisted of the wonderful friends I had going into the marriage, a few that I made along the way, and my family. With their love and support, I prepared myself for the loss of my marriage and the friendships that would not slowly fade, but that would instantly vaporize as soon as I got my new apartment keys. I believed the loss would be a little easier to endure if I could see it coming and brace myself.

I was not prepared, however, for the change in some of my friendships. As I grew healthier and stronger, Team Mel got a little less tight, a little less like a team. My cheerleaders still cheer, but a few of them are now high up in the stands looking down instead of on the field next to me or clinking glasses with me at the victory parties.

There was a time when if your misery needed some company, I was your gal. We could commiserate together and take turns listening to each other’s war stories. We could share some tears, console one another, then tell bad jokes about our un-funny situations to try and get a laugh. We could walk through our individual hells together and find comfort that someone else was going through exactly the same thing, feeling the same way, or at least feeling just as miserable. But now that my battle with misery is finally over, some of my old war buddies don’t come around as much as they used to.

I know these friends still love me and are truly happy for me, but they’ve pulled away a little. When we talk, it’s great, like no time has passed at all. But more time has passed between calls, giggles and glasses of wine. Now, I get most of my updates through Facebook or other friends or not at all, and I miss the days when we would have conversations about everything and nothing. But I think I get it. Maybe it’s like how single women hate going to weddings, or how women who don’t have children hate going to baby showers. You love your friend and you’re not jealous, but to have her happiness shoved down your throat can be hard to swallow when you’re in such a different place. I’ve been there, too.

These friends know that if they ever need someone to talk to, I would still be there in a heartbeat. I remember my misery vividly, and I can empathize and offer a shoulder to cry on, but I know it’s not the same. We’re not going through it together anymore. I’m not fighting next to them anymore. I’m a traitor, a trader. I’ve traded in my camouflage for yoga pants, put down my weapons and gone AWOL.

I’ve been told that I was more fun before I met Matt, before I bought a house, got married, got preggers, and settled into my happy little family. Yeah, that’s probably true. Now that I am not looking to escape something and I actually want to be at home, I imagine that “fun” is no longer the first word one associates with me. One friend who finally came to see my new house only stayed for the quick tour and couldn’t get out fast enough. She said something about how this was “all too suburbia” for her, and she rushed back to her fun, drama-filled life. But that’s okay. I still care about her and the other friends who have pulled away, in the hopes that their distance is temporary. I will give them time to accept the new me, and I hope that someday we’ll have more in common again and we’ll grow back together. In the meantime, I will adjust my expectations and not feel guilty for being happy.

Luckily, most of Team Mel is still intact, and they still think I’m fun. I’m blessed to have such amazing girlfriends who are truly happy for me, friends who want to share our joy together, not just our misery.  Friends with whom laughter is more than a coping mechanism, but true, “oh-stop-my-stomach-hurts-I’m-going-to-pee-my-pants” laughter. In fact, I’m going to see one of those very friends tonight. And, if history repeats itself, at some point in the evening, our giggles will evolve into side-splitting laughter, someone will snort (not me), and we’ll call our other friends across the country to get them to join in. Laughter really is best team fight song.