I ran into an old acquaintance yesterday. As we caught up on the news of our families I braced myself for the inevitable, “and how’s your other half?”
Sure enough, standing among the new tires, sunroom salesmen and fresh baked goods at Sam’s Club, the question arose.
I replied that there was no other half any more – that we were divorced. I gave my stock two-minute explanation: “Last September, Mr. Ex informed me that he was done. We separated in September and were divorced this past August. We had a rough past few years and I’m fine, really. I’m grateful that I can afford to stay in the house and take care of the dogs.” The dog comment was more because of the bigger-than-my-car bag of dog biscuits in my shopping cart.
Clearly this acquaintance doesn’t need the whole story. At this point, anybody who doesn’t know about the divorce doesn’t need to hear that. The conversation pretty much took a dive at that point. People don’t know whether to say “mazel tov!” or “I’m sorry,” and awkwardness ensues. And I hate the pitying kind of look that inevitably comes along with it. My meatballs were defrosting and I was running late for my happy hour date with two women from my divorce support group anyway, so I kind of cut it short.
Driving away, I thought a lot about the ‘other half’ comment. If I no longer have an other half, does that mean I’m a whole now? Is it better to be half than whole? Is half of crappy better than all of less crappy? Of course. Do I feel whole? Is whole the opposite of being without one’s half? Do you feel whole right away or is there a transition to whole like the images on a calendar as we go from a new moon to a full moon?
This is where my black or white thinking gets in the way. I tend to forget that nothing is all-the-time. Sometimes I feel whole and sometimes I don’t. But I do know that it’s better to live alone and occasionally be lonely – occasionally feel like something is missing – than it is to live with someone and feel like something is missing.