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Friday, December 8, 2023

A man ain’t worth it, dear Marie (Part 2)

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With Rohey Samba

Indeed, the term “divorce” carries multifaceted meanings, each etching a unique scar upon the heart when we fail to acknowledge its pain.

Dear Marie,

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The journey through the corridors of divorce, is far from monochromatic. It spins together threads of emotional, societal, and personal significance, each strand contributing to the cutting slash of its potent impact on the hearts of those who experience it.

First and foremost, divorce encompasses the dissolution of a marital bond, a union that was once a cornerstone of one’s life. For many of us women, marriage holds significant importance in our lives, often becoming a central part of our identity that endures throughout our lifetime. This symbolic severance that signifies the end of a shared journey, dreams, and promises made under the murmurs of love, can be flabbergasting.

In the realm of emotions, the pain is profound, akin to the feeling of an anchor being lifted from the depths of one’s soul, leaving behind an irreplaceable void. This profound void interlaces with the stages of grief, starting with denial, moving through anger, bargaining, and depression, occasionally cycling back to anger. What audacity! How intense can the anger be for someone who has squandered their youth, their aspirations, and their sanctuary on a foundation of deceit, infidelity, and disrespect! The ultimate stage offers a semblance of acceptance, though arriving at complete reconciliation with the reality of loss often remains elusive for many.

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However, the sorrow extends beyond the personal realm. In the tankettes of societal prejudice, divorce can bear an unjust stigma, especially for us women. As I’ve noted before, no woman is impervious to societal judgments once labeled as divorced. The court of public opinion can be harsh, with voices from Ma Samba and Ma Demba, often predominantly male, scrutinizing and labeling single mothers with a critical eye. It’s always the woman’s fault, after all!

In all instances, women are expected to conform to certain roles and expectations within the context of marriage. These roles include being caregivers, homemakers, and emotional pillars of the family. The decision to divorce is too often seen as a challenge to these traditional roles, thus invoking disapproval from society.

Moreover, women, especially mothers, often bear the brunt of child-rearing responsibilities. When a marriage ends, the expectation is that they will continue to shoulder the majority of these responsibilities, further contributing to societal judgment.

The notion that divorced women are somehow less capable or less worthy of respect due to their marital status is a deeply unfair and unfounded bias.

It’s crucial to recognize that divorce is a complex and deeply personal decision, often arising from valid reasons such as incompatibility, abuse, or infidelity. Stigmatising women who have gone through divorce fails to consider the intricate circumstances that led to their decision.

The stark contrast between the experience of single mothers and those who have never borne such responsibility is a divide often overlooked. For men who don’t shoulder the weight of single parenthood, the path can be different, their judgment lessened. But for women who venture into the realm of single motherhood, this stark difference in societal expectations can be acutely painful.

Moreover, married or childless women, who may have never considered the thin line separating their lives from that of a single mother, sometimes fail to grasp the nuances and complexities of this journey. Their inability to empathize can inadvertently add to the burden carried by those who bear the label of “divorcee” or “single mother.” This societal insensitivity can deepen the wounds inflicted by divorce, making the journey all the more lonely, challenging and affected.

The heart, when left unacknowledged, can bear the weight of these complexities in silence. It can harbour emotions of grief, shame, and isolation, often obscured by the facade of stoicism or even false cheerfulness. While I choose not to judge you, dear Marie, by concealing your anguish, and choosing to bear your pain in solitude, you amplified your pain. For it is within the hidden recesses of the heart that the true cost of failing to acknowledge the pain of divorce resides.

In the world of hindsight, I can look back and recognize the significance of opening up, of sharing your pain and your experiences. I would have  understood, supported, and walked you through the lonely path of constant questioning. Together, we would foster an environment of understanding, compassion, and support. For it is in this sharing of vulnerabilities that we create bonds of strength, weaving a safety net that catches the fragments of our hearts when they shatter. For shatter they will, after a divorce – no matter how much we want them not to.

My dearest Marie,

You chose to endure your sorrow in silence, playing the chords of your pain with the strings of solitude. In a way, your response to divorce aligns with the societal expectations that often envelop women abandoned by their partners. Bocar, in his callousness, managed to cast doubt upon your inherent worth, even though your value surpasses not only his own misguided arrogance but also that of his entire family. To this toxic brew, you added the isolating flavors of judgment and depression, which firmly gripped your spirit and refused to let go, steadily entwined with your grief.

The cruel grasp of heartbreak is an affliction that resonates with a profound and inexplicable pain, a seismic shockwave that fractures the very essence of one’s being. Its anguish, raw and intense, eludes description to those who have yet to experience its relentless grip. Bocar, the architect of your heartache, holds a somber place in this harrowing narrative, Marie. Such a wound is unforgivably cruel, a trauma that no soul should endure. It’s a tempest that obfuscates the once-clear skies of reason, sowing seeds of torment so deep that they take root in the soul, severing the delicate threads that weave the intricate melodies of the heart. Thus, the term “heartbreak” assumes a painful and painfully accurate significance.

Amidst this tumultuous sea of emotions, you chose to harbor your struggles in silence. Just a few days ago, I reached out to you, moved by the heart-rending news of your unexpected divorce. To my astonishment, your demeanor radiated an air of cheerfulness that I had not anticipated. Your resilience, displayed with apparent nonchalance, left me in awe. Your words, seemingly accepting of the situation, conveyed that the divorce was merely a cosmic decree, an act of divine intervention. Naively, I embraced this façade, believing you had adopted a carefree demeanour that refused to be shaken by the abrupt rupture of a once-unbreakable bond.

Oh, Marie, how I wish you had unveiled your authentic emotions during that conversation. How I yearn for the privilege of being your confidante in times of pain, a repository for the shattered fragments of your heart. Truth be told, appearances can be deceiving, and your mask of placidity concealed the tempest within. In this world of unspoken sorrows, it is all too easy to hide behind a façade of strength, shielding oneself from the prying eyes of the world. True friendship resides not in projecting an image of invulnerability but in sharing vulnerabilities. It lies in entrusting another soul with your deepest pain, your unfiltered emotions, and your fears. Had you chosen to confide in me, Marie, my empathy would have embraced your grief, offering sanctuary for your anguish. My ears would have been a willing conduit for your words, a testament to the fact that you need not bear the weight of heartbreak alone.

The burden of heartbreak should never be borne in solitude. By sharing our pain, we not only alleviate its intensity but also forge bonds of compassion that bridge the chasms of despair. So, my cherished friend, let this hindsight serve as a reminder of the sanctity of trust and the power of unburdening one’s soul to a willing listener. Let us strive to be those listeners, those pillars of solace for one another, for in our shared humanity, we find the strength to mend the fragments of our wounded hearts.

Our societal prejudice reflects a deeply ingrained set of expectations and norms that has evolved over time. These stereotypes cast a shadow of shame and judgment on women who choose to end their marriages or find themselves in that circumstance. Divorce is not a death sentence; it’s an opportunity for rebirth…

As I stand in the room watching the defibrillator breathe life into you, a doctor enters quietly. I don’t like the look on his face, nor his quiet voice as he speaks… 

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