I got a mail from the Ex a few days ago saying that he had quit smoking. I felt nothing but elation; a highly addictive habit he had fought during the whole time of our relationship (when he wasn’t fighting with me) was finally conquered. Or vanquished. Words of victory and defeat meaning the same thing.
There were no thoughts about the terrible journey we had been through, together. Just pure happiness for one human being who had done something, which he claimed was the toughest thing to do on earth.
I truly think one of things that helped me get over the divorce and move on healthily were good manners. Not the Emily Post variety but more the civil, ‘treat every human being with respect’ kind. In my life I can’t thank it enough for helping me go through one of the nastiest processes of modern life with my dignity and self pride, still intact.
I always, even at the beginning of the breaking up, instinctively knew that if I resorted to being a name calling, unreasonable, hyperventilating b@*%$ I’d be hurting myself more than him. Not that I wasn’t one. I lost my cool on three occasions and each time, the next day I woke up with something worse than a hangover—regret. Deep, aching regret that made me feel less of a human being.
Otherwise, for most parts we’d talk about things in a ‘business tone’. That helped to keep the spilling emotions at bay. Focus on who gets the washing machine and not why its ownership has to be decided upon. ‘Please, thank you, I’m sorry’—words on whose backs I hopped on while negotiating the messy business of a split and finally got to safe shores relatively less scratched. ‘I beg your pardon’ was my favourite, accompanied with an arched eyebrow, when an unreasonable request was made. It would drive him mad and I would feel so gleefully superior inside. Yes, it started off as a game, a tactic to make him feel like this horrible, mean person with poor judgement who was divorcing this well-mannered, nice girl.
Over time, however, it stopped being a tactic and actually smoothened out innumerable potentially nasty situations. When I talk about my divorce, friends who have gone through the same thing say that I had it ‘easy’. I don’t know about that, I know I had it and that always sucks.
Once, when I asked the Ex why he thought we could still communicate civilly, he had this to say. According to him, we were both warriors who had gone through a bloody battle and escaped alive. With hope. Even though we were the creators, the perpetrators of the war we were also its greatest victims. It was this acknowledgement of our individual survival that was the bond between us. And that’s why we will always be happy when the other does well, for in the war we created, neither did.
Dancing Divorcee is a weekly happy, sad, funny, obnoxious blog on the misadventure called divorce. It will appear every Thursday. Arathi Menon is a dancing divorcee who also blogs, writes, tweets and repairs brands.