A complete stranger recently messaged me on Facebook to say that a post from my series, 'The Predictable Cycle Of Divorce', had helped her somewhat, as she was thinking through her divorce. But her situation is completely different. There is a four-year-old involved and that changes a lot of things.
A friend reached out in person to say that I was getting a bit repetitive in setting the context and that most people who were going through a divorce end up dealing with it in whatever way they know best.
A grand aunt called me up to tell me I was being too "radical" by writing on this subject, especially in a place like India, when the subject of divorce is unmentionable except in the metros.
The help at home, who knows nothing about my writing or even about divorce, has been supporting herself and putting her two children through school after she escaped her violent husband and abusive in-laws. I tried talking to her about divorce once. She said she didn't have the time to engage. I don't know if she was shy or disinterested but she inspires me with her "swag".
"I wish I could change the titles of my former posts, but since that isn't possible I apologise to everyone who disagreed with them and thought I was making a sweeping generalisation."
And that is when I realised, once again, that the human mind reacts in different ways in different contexts and at different times. I agree and identify partially with all the reactions to my previous blogs.
There is nothing predictable about divorce and there is no cycle. I wish I could change the title of my former posts, but since that isn't possible I apologise to everyone who disagreed with them and thought I was making a sweeping generalisation.
When I started writing on divorce a few months ago, I was convinced that there was a predictable cycle that most divorces in India went through. I knew that parts of the divorce process were the same for everyone who ever found themselves in the legal proceedings. I thought I would focus my writing on the steps or the checklist that you need to tick off while getting a divorce - getting finances sorted, getting a lawyer in place, figuring out a half-decent headspace. But a divorce is so much more than that checklist. I had hoped to stay away from sharing any personal experiences because it makes writing either too contextual or too complicated. But let me be candid enough to admit I haven't succeeded.
Unfortunately, divorce is an entirely personal journey as are the experiences and realisations that come with it. While there may be people who support you through it or others you know who are also going through divorce, how you deal with it and react to different aspects of the emotional and legal process is entirely up to you. Nothing that anyone says can either take away the pain caused (and there's always pain and trauma) and no one, not even the other party involved, understands how divorce assaults your sensibilities and sense of judgment.
"I wanted nothing more than to 'win'. I wanted everyone to side with me, to believe my story and to understand my fight. That didn't happen."
When I started with my own divorce, I was quite honestly consumed by it. Every day was spent obsessing about how it was going to play out. Every relationship was measured by how the other person reacted to my divorce. Every person was viewed with a hint of doubt and every day was a war I was silently waging. I wanted nothing more than to "win". I wanted everyone to side with me, to believe my story and to understand my fight. That didn't happen. Not with everyone, not at all times. For the relationships that stood those tests, I'm grateful.
I realised over time that no one really "wins" in a divorce. Agreed there may be small victories - reinforcements of faith, rulings or stay orders in your favour, out-of-court settlements, a sympathetic judge or a good lawyer. But courtrooms aren't what they look like in movies and Kramer vs. Kramer is nowhere close to living through the hellish realities of a long-drawn court case.
The legal processes are neither quick nor easy. You might feel courts in India favour women, and they do, but it takes your all, as a man or woman, to pull yourself together and through a legal proceeding. Societal pressures don't help. The divorce proceeding gives you time to reflect on what you want and also what is worth fighting for, especially if it is a contested petition. It probably anchors you as a person in a strange way. After oscillating between moments of self doubt and complete clarity, at some point, rather randomly, you discover patience, faith, strength and the ability to continue.
Each journey is personal and each story is different. For me, in retrospect, I think of divorce as one tiny element in my story. It has of course defined who I am, at least right now. But there will be other experiences that will shape who I become in the future. I choose not to make it the be all and end all of my existence. Quite honestly, it is the only thing I can do.