‘fame is no talisman against human pain ..adultery is still adultery’ wrote Julia Cameron in her book The Right to Write.
It was in reference to her very public divorce from Martin Scorsese in the 1970s and his very public affair with Liza Minnelli.
She goes on to describe the feeding frenzy on her grief. There was the gossip that exploded everywhere. Friends thought she should see everything written in the tabloids. All of it caused Cameron enormous pain and yet the gossip continued.
Unfortunately, divorce breeds gossip in our society. It happens whether your breakup was tabloid-worthy or just the talk of your hometown.
Although I am not a public figure, our family was reasonably well known in my hometown at the time of my divorce.
It was a traumatic divorce based on his secret life, deception and abuse. It didn’t fit with his public persona, so I made the choice to tell people the truth. I hoped it might head off gossip. It didn’t. The gossip trickled into my life through every crevice in my battered psyche.
When I read Cameron’s account and recalled my own experience it made me wonder- why do people gossip over someone’s divorce misery?
My closest friends were a circle of love and support. But people I didn’t know or knew very casually had a different reaction.
Does emotional distance affect the need for gossip-something like reading a tabloid? What happens to our compassion I wonder? Perhaps the person is thinking -phew I am glad that is not me -or naively-my spouse would never do that. No doubt, there are many reasons. As Cameron observed – we are all real people in the divorce gossip story, with real feelings.
You can’t stop people gossiping. But what can you do about the gossip that inevitably finds you after your divorce?
Prove to the people and the community that you are more than your divorce. How do you do that? Be big and bold in your post-divorce life. Cameron says “use your negative feelings as positive fuel’. You do it in whatever way works for you. Julia Cameron got to work on a new script and the day after it was done she sold it to Paramount Studios.
I got to work on a project to work abroad for a year. It was a dream I’d had for some time. I had no idea how I was going to pull this project together but I went at it with the philosophy -You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
First and foremost, I wanted to make sure my sons supported the idea. They were young adults at the time. They were extremely supportive and excited about this opportunity.
There were many mountains to climb. After twenty-five years of marriage and being a couple, I was alone. This was my sole responsibility to make happen.
I wrestled with personal fear but gradually the excitement took over as my goal inched closer. It took me two years of meticulously checking off the ‘to do ‘ list. My finances needed shoring up because like most people he left me with debts and commitments I had to fulfil.
I started getting more organized financially which was important given the project. After much planning, the day arrived. I filled two large duffel bags with a year’s worth of my life and boarded the plane. For a year there would be an ocean between me and my divorce.
The year abroad was life-changing. My future took shape. I began my writing career by writing a once a month travelogue for my hometown newspaper. I was slowly shaping a post-divorce me.
When I arrived in the country I knew no one. I made good friends quickly and travelled extensively. I learned to love the country and found out that my ancestral roots were there.
From that year experience, I was introduced to hill hiking. That led to a decade of organizing hiking trips and introducing many to the natural beauty of my adopted country.
The experience changed my life in many ways. There were many challenges and they helped rebuild my emotional strength. When I returned, I was not ‘the woman with the sordid divorce story’ but the woman who made the big bold decision to work abroad on her own for a year.
Every week, for the year following my return home, someone stopped me on the street to congratulate me and tell me they followed my adventures in the newspaper. I was more than another divorced woman with a salacious divorce story. I had successfully made a giant leap into my future.
Divorce is a detour and not a stop sign. Take control and fuel up your life with conviction. Write a brand new, exciting chapter in your life story.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.