My stomach lurched and I stopped stirring the olives in my sweating martini.
She looked straight into my eyes. “I did. I decided I needed to figure out whether or not to leave him. What it would look like. What might happen with the kids. You’re handling things so well. It made me feel like maybe I could too.”
My mind reeled as guilt sucker punched me right in the solar plexus. I was afraid to ask, but what kind of friend responds to such a confession with “And how’re your parents? Did they enjoy Cancun?”
“So what happened?”
“It was a great wake-up call. Bill and I had some serious heart-to-heart talks.” She smiled and her blue eyes sparkled. “I think we’re OK. At least for now.”
The conversation continued for a while as my smart, lovely friend talked about what she loved and hated about her marriage, parenting, living in the suburbs and not backpacking through Europe or spending half of Sunday in bed with a good book or a bad man.
I listened and nodded, commiserated and joked, and ordered another drink.
At bedtime, Good Girl showed up right on cue. “I hope you’re proud of yourself. If you had to go and bust up your family you could at least keep your big trap shut about it. What are you, some kind of divorce pusher? If you have to be divorced, at least have the decency to be miserable about it.”
It’s hardest to summon Ungood Girl at night, when I’m tired and tigers are on the prowl. Gratefully, she showed up.
“Firstly, you are always honest, which means you talk about the good and the bad.”
OK. Fair enough. I do often say “Divorce sucks, especially for the kids. And it’s really hard not seeing them all the time. I’d never recommend it except as a last resort. Try everything else first.” Passes the manipulation/denial test, no?
But what about the “You look so happy!” observations? Isn’t it irresponsible to make divorce look good?
“Oh, my misguided Good Girl. You’re not making divorce look good. You’re showing strength and resilience as you go through some really tough times. Besides, who wants to be around a mopey, martyred mess?
And think about this: If you want confident, clear-sighted, content friends you need to project that yourself. So get off the guilt wagon, sister. People deserve honesty. Give your friends some credit. Are you hanging around with people who are so easily influenced that seeing you smile once in a while is going to convince them to leave their husbands? Absurd!
Now shut the hell up and go to sleep.
Photo credit: Wickenden via Flickr