Our Expert's followup on the fallout of one of her more successful articles.
In December I wrote an article for YourTango that I entitled “Why I’m Finally Divorcing My Ex-Husband – 5 Years Later”. The Huffington Post picked it up, changing the title to "Why I'm Giving Up My 'Amicable' Divorce", and it was read by far more people than I ever expected.
Including my ex-husband.
Anne Lamott wonderfully wrote in Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I believe in that premise, but what’s far more important to me is that what I do for a living calls upon me to tell my story and to own my truth. My job as a coach for Single Moms propels me to tell my story fearlessly, in order to give hundreds, even thousands, of women permission to do the same. If my words can give even 10 women permission to come out of the darkness and stand as the powerful beings they were truly meant to be, then my calling has been fulfilled. And so I tell my story, fearlessly and without apology.
Since the article came out, I have had numerous women thank me for my bravery and honesty and say that I have given them the strength to bring out the same in them. I have had countless women come to me for coaching seeking the same truth for themselves, asking me to help them uncover their darkness and bring their power into the light. They see themselves reflected in me. They know me and they know that I will know them.
Since the article came out, I have also lost the very fraught and complicated friendship of my ex-husband and his fiancée. I have also lost my beloved in-laws.
So, do I regret it? After all, wasn’t the premise of the article that I never wanted to have anything to do with him ever again, given that five years into divorce he was still abusing me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (and I was still playing my victime role)? Wasn’t the whole point of writing that article that I was done with him and our dynamic and that I was drawing a clear boundary, a line in the sand, that he would never cross again?
Yes. That was exactly the point. And…the article was written in anger after a particularly inflammatory argument three days before Christmas when emotions were higher than usual. Our marriage had crumbled on Christmas Eve five years earlier and since then the holidays have been particularly hard for us both. Additionally, his parents were in town (with whom I am (was) extremely close) and we were trying to navigate how to still do “family” stuff while simultaneously trying to have it all be more separate, given that my ex and his girlfriend were attempting to forge their own holiday traditions (and I really didn’t want to third-wheel it, yet again). To top it all off, our son was really resisting the change and the stress was getting to everyone. All in all, an inflammatory argument was pretty much pre-destined.
Now, given all those shades of grey, do I regret writing the article? Do I regret the fallout, which has included my ex-husband getting engaged and me finding out about it through the grapevine over a month after the fact? I actually don’t (except that last part; that kind of sucked). The truth is, there is a difference between an “inflammatory argument” and hurls of nasty abuses and the event that spawned my writing was squarely in the latter’s camp. Additionally, my life has actually been better, as I’d predicted, having complete separation from him. We communicate daily about our child, and not much else, and I have been relieved of the burden of the victim dance. My life has been drama-free for longer than…ever…and I truly do feel lighter and freer. My own relationship is less fraught and the inner peace that’s begun to flow through me is having some profound and staggering effects that are manifesting themselves in physical as well as emotional ways. (When you rid yourself of outer toxins, apparently your body stops wanting to consume them too. Totally bizarre.)
However, while I stand by each and every word of the article as my truth, what I do regret is not having informed my ex-husband that I was about to start airing some of our dirty laundry. He never should have found out about it by having someone forward it to him on a Thursday morning as he’s going about his day. I am not talking about asking permission – I am talking about common courtesy. Were I able to do it all over again, I would sit him down and say, “Here’s what I’m going to do and here’s why it is important – to me, and to others. I’m not asking, I’m just telling.” The separation would have been guaranteed regardless, but at least I would have kept my side of the street a lot cleaner.
Kate Anthony works with Single Moms to weed through all the craziness of what this new life has to offer, and find within themselves the amazing, powerful and relentless love-goddesses that they truly are. For more information about how to work with her, visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up here for instant access to The Three Unconscious Mistakes You Might Be Making That Are Killing Your Chances At Happiness.