I married relatively young. I was 22 when I married. I was 27 when I divorced.
I had known my husband since I was 19, and during those 8 years of marriage I had settles into a life of friendship and solidarity with those around me. They were mostly his friends. I made my own circle of friends with those I worked with. But we tended to socialised with his friends and their wives.
We went to weddings, saw babies arrive and shared their lives of both joy and sadness.
Then just like that it all disappeared. On 16th October 1987 our marriage was dissolved – as the official paper work says – and on 10th December 1987 that was it. Final. The final piece of paper was issued, and my marriage, and my life as I knew it was ended.
My girl friends who were married to my then ex-husband’s friends all disappeared as if I had never been part of their lives. It was before the days of technology, if you wanted to meet with someone you rang them from your home phone. When they were home from work. There were no mobiles, no social media. No easy way of contacting someone. So when I left my relationship – I left the old way of life behind.
Of course you have the wedding photos and holiday snaps in an album to look at. And that was the difficult part, as it was painful reminder of how full my life has been before my divorce. Those women had stood by me through the joys of wedded life and the pain and sorrow of infertility. Then after the separation – the breaking of ties with my past life.
How could I ask my female friends to stand by me, while their husbands stood by my ex. It was an impossible ask, and so they fell away like autumn leaves from a tree. I would not ask for divided loyalties. And they would not have to know the horrors of my final months and the sadness I had to endure.
Then 20 years later, when lives were very different and I had certainly moved on, a face from the past appeared. One of those lovely old friends of time from long ago, someone who had helped me to learn to drive, who sat with me while I drove us around for practice. She was a friend of my new neighbour, what was the chance of that? As the time has gone on, we have met as a group, and I often talk of my ‘old life’. There is no animosity, only sorrow that things turned out the way they did. And shock that I had gone through my last year as a married woman to her friend in such harrowing circumstances.
And luckily she is still friends with another old friend from the group. And by the help of social media I am in contact with this very dear friend. We attended each other’s wedding all those years ago as young women and helped one another through the tougher times. And the first thing she said to me was ‘I have never forgotten you’. It brought me to tears, for all those lost years and lost laughs and memories.
I won’t lose these friends again. We can’t catch up on my lost years of friendships – but going forward that friendship has a different feeling.