So, yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin are getting a divorce.
Now I gotta tell you, I don't give one good damn about those people in any sort of real-life way. Ms. Paltrow never struck me as one of the most talented of actresses, although I could be wrong in my opinion and I just this very second went and checked out her lifestyle blog, Goop.com for the first time and it's about what I thought it would be, all New-Agey and just chock full of great advice on how to live and shop and eat and exercise and be a parent, blah, blah, blah, although of course, all of that advice would mostly be valuable if you lived on the same planet she does, which I do not.
I think she's a sincere and lovely woman, though, and I know nothing at all about her husband except that he's a musician from Great Britain.
So why do I care that they're getting a divorce?
Well, it's this whole phrase of "conscious uncoupling" which they're choosing to call what they're doing and it freaks me out because...is divorce really supposed to be like that?
As if they were two train cars that are now just going to be uncoupled and sent on their merry ways to travel different rails? After ten years and two children together?
I've been divorced. And although my ex-husband and I are now on the very best of terms imaginable and I consider him and his wife to be very good friends, it was not ever thus. We had to consciously (yes) work very, very hard to get over the emotional train wreck that divorce was for us. I had grown up without a father and he had too and I knew how much children needed a father who was present in their lives. And by god, we had to swallow a lot of anger and we had to get past a hell of a lot of hurt and it took years for us to achieve what we have achieved.
And yet- still- when I think back on what it felt like to tear my little family asunder, even now, knowing as I do know that it was the right decision for everyone involved, my heart still quakes.
And we're talking thirty-four years now.
I will never get over the trauma of that and I doubt my kids will either, no matter what they say.
And so when I hear that Paltrow and Martin are blithely announcing this conscious uncoupling thing and claiming to still love each other so very much, and acting as if all were just a joyful little change in living arrangements, I think that either (a) they must be lying their fucking heads off, (b) they are very, very shallow people, or (c) they really and truly are way more evolved and cool and spiritual than I ever dreamed of being.
And if it's (c), well then good for them and maybe the world is changing and facing the reality that many, many couples do not stay married forever.
But somehow, I just don't believe that.
Humans are humans. Two people who still love each other tremendously don't just up and decide to get divorced. Especially if they have kids. Something happened or a lot of somethings happened and the things that happen which make people decide to get divorced are usually far more hurtful and deep than "he never puts his clothes in the laundry hamper," or "she doesn't spend enough time with me."
And it's none of my business what happened and quite frankly I do not care. But what I do care about is this very false image that divorce can just be a small bump in the road, a furthering along of the spiritual and material path of two people and their children. It strikes me as ridiculous and silly word-play. It strikes me as a lie.
And about as helpful as the tips on Goop about how best to live.
But you know, maybe on the planet these people live on, divorce can be so very different than what it's like for us down here in the trenches. We don't fly first class, we don't spray active silver around us on flights to keep the germs at bay, we don't eat kale at every meal and we don't have Tracy Anderson as our personal friends and trainers. We also don't have Oprah or world famous spiritual leaders on speed dial to help us through the rough patches nor do we have all the money in the world to spend on buying the moving-out spouse another mansion within walking distance so that co-parenting can be a breeze.
We ain't got none of that.
So we do the best we can with what we do have and sometimes all that consists of is grit and determination and an overwhelming desire to make sure our children feel safe and loved even as their worlds are torn apart.
And there's nothing fun or lighthearted or blithe in that at all.
There wasn't in my experience, anyway.
Instead, there were years of nights of tears and self-recrimination and bitterness and deep, dark depression and anger and guilt and hard, hard work to rebuild myself, my life, my children's lives.
And there had to be grace and love on the part of not only me and my ex-husband but on the part of his wife and my husband. There had to be acceptance and sacrifice.
And not one damn bit of it came about through magical thinking or magical labeling.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe divorce doesn't have to be that way.
What do you think? I'd like to know.