divorce, separation, women who leave

To all the women out there who leave

Dear women who leave,

We are the same – you and I. We are the ‘had enoughs’, the ‘won’t take it anymores’, the ‘ones who decided’. The end happened on our watch. We snapped.

And history will judge us for it. It is and will remain the first fact people share in discussion about us. No matter how much time passes. They will describe our former partners and husbands as “lovely, so nice” – because the left are always lovely, you see. Regardless of what went on, they are the saints, the victims, the baffled. But we never wanted to be any of those things anyway.

People struggle to accept our decision, call our homes “broken” and become suspicious of us. There is something deeply unnerving about women who take the plunge, shed an old life and plough on to a new – untested – version of happiness. People don’t like it. They are skeptical at best, downright appalled at worst. We are the villains. We are the baddies. Ruthless, selfish, devil women. Emma Thompson will never play us in the big screen story of our lives.

Because there is still a stigma around our kind. I bumped into someone recently a couple of years after she’d left. She’d endured decades of let’s say ‘nonsense’ – all kinds – and stayed until she could bear it no longer. By the end of our conversation we were both in tears. Parting, she said: “Thank you for talking to me, so many people don’t anymore.”

The truth is some friends don’t want this version of us. We’re dangerous now. Or perhaps they just don’t want to talk about the ins and outs. Socially, we are harder to compartmentalise after we leave.

We’ll never go back. You can’t persuade us or haunt us with “you’ll never find anyone else who loves you”. We’ve got plans for something better. The truth about life with the person we left? Well, that isn’t your business but, it did not work. Yes, this means we’re alone. Yes, at times we panic. But this is life on our own terms.

So okay, we are the baddies. And yes, we will be recorded as the mad, bad women. But we’ll take it on the chin and shake off the shame. Emma Thompson will never, ever play us. But Julia Roberts might. 

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