For awhile after D and I separated I believe that I took on a role that wasn't exactly becoming. A long while. I will admit, I had turned into a bit of a martyr. It wasn't that I was intentionally trying to be "that" woman. It just...happened. I became the bitter, scorned, wronged ex-wife who had it oh-so-much more difficult than everyone else.
Embarassing as it is to admit, I only recently came to the realization that I had been acting in this way. Although it likely wasn't blatantly obvious to those around me, it was more of a subconscious feeling that I had.
It was easier to only spend time with my fellow friends who were single parents. Only they understood and could relate what I was really going through. And we could spend the entire night commiserating and comforting one eachother about how difficult our lives were (and spend hours venting about our horrible ex's). Those friends who were married or in committed relationships simply didn't "get it". I didn't have time to listen to those women complain about their troubles either. They truly had no idea what adversity was like. Try being a single mom! Walk a mile in my shoes for one day, and then they would have a clue. Yes, the only people who had real problems were those like me. Single mothers who got little to no help or support from their ex's. Women who were having difficulty making ends meet. Enduring mediation, struggling to get child support from a dead beat ex-husband, and grueling court battles every other month. Yes, those were people who really had it tough. Everyone else was merely dealing with trivial, minor, insignificant issues, that were completely unimportant in the grand scheme of life.
The same theme was carrying into the online community that I am a part of. I found myself only posting on the board where there were other single parents such as myself. I couldn't relate to the married mothers. They would complain about their husband not loading the dishwasher correctly, or not pitching in enough with their children. I wanted to scream at them "at least you have a husband, as opposed to someone who decided to check out when you were pregnant and leave you to raise your child completely and entirely alone". On the other hand, I didn't want to read posts about their happy families and hear about what they had done with their husband and child over the weekend. It was annoying. They were merely trying to make themselves appear perfect. And, more than likely, their marriage was not as wonderful as they would like to make it seem. And, secretly, their posts made me jealous. They made me very jealous. And sad. They were a painful reminder of what I didn't have. Of what I had never had. And what I may never have the opportunity to experience. And I felt different. Like I didn't belong. And like I never would. And that made me uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.
Slowly I began to examine what I was doing. And scrutinized my thoughts. I will admit, I was ashamed. After everything that I have gone through, shouldn't I have more empathy for others? Just because I had been enduring a difficult time, it certainly didn't give me the right to discount the feelings of others. Life is not a contest to see who has suffered through and weathered the most misery. How selfish and self-absorbed had I been to think, for even a moment, that I was the only one who was entitled to complain? Or feel pain. Just because someone had a problem that didn't register an 11 out of 10 on my "misery meter" didn't mean that I didn't owe them the same respect that they had given me. It didn't get me off the hook from lending an ear to a friend as she told me about the argument that she and her fiance had one night. It didn't give me the right to quietly fume as a friend shared her struggles with getting her husband to help more with their two small children. These were the very people who had been there for me every.single.step of the way through my journey over the past year and half. They had rubbed my shoulders while I sobbed when I discovered that D had been cheating on me. They had called me numerous times each day to check-in and ensure that I was getting through it all. They listened. They offered advice. They were there for me.
What I have learned is that no one's life is perfect. And no one should ever, for even a moment, make that assumption. Assumptions are dangerous. And I have learned a valuable lesson: that everyone has their own issues. Their own problems. Their own dilemmas. And I have also learned that the grass isn't always greener. It just seems that way sometimes.