I’m back from my travels. I had some interesting insights about divorce, which I will write about eventually.
Reflecting on what it means to be an outsider, keeping in mind it’s relevance to my blog about divorce I’m almost lost in the maze of how divorce turns you into an outsider.
However positive a spin you want to put on it, your divorce makes you an outsider.
Weddings. I’m not invited to weddings anymore. This is not a great loss since I find them a waste of time and money. I much prefer a party where you eat, drink, dance and chat with your friends instead of the forced gaiety of weddings and the over the top spending, lack of sleep, good sense or healthy food. I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t being invited to weddings, so little did I miss them. Now that my daughter’s getting married I realized that my ideas about weddings are a little out of date. This is because I have been an outsider at weddings since forever. But talking to other divorced friends, people who actually enjoy the pageantry and who have wept many a bitter tear at the exclusion and the gibes if included, I realize that there are divorced people who feel like outsiders because divorced women don’t get invited to weddings. It used to be widows and even now in smaller towns and places where people haven’t given it much thought widows are excluded from festivities because their bad luck may taint the wedded couple! Widowers aren’t treated with such distinction, because it isn’t such bad luck if the wife dies. The harbinger of bad luck is now the divorced person. The person who has lost a husband through her behavior, not even her karma ( unlike a widow) is not a person whose life needs to be entwined with normal, happy people who believe in marriage. Because that is always the assumption – that the divorced person doesn’t believe in marriage. If she did, she would have tried harder, wouldn’t she ? Well she didn’t and now she deserves to be outside the inner circle.
Vacations. I have moaned before about vacations, how the divorced person with adult children has nobody to travel with, that traveling alone in India is an adventure a woman alone may not always have the stomach for. It takes a certain amount of bravado (yes, bravado and not courage) to venture forth in a land of curious males as an oddity of the highest order. The woman alone. Yes there’s a lot to be said for traveling alone, for traveling with women’s travel groups, for traveling with friends but, the fact of the matter is, all your married friends are going off on cruises, trips to Thailand, a weekend at a nature reserve, a long drive to Jaipur as and when the fancy takes them. They don’t need to fit in their plans with the women’s travel group. They only need to convince their partners. When it comes to vacations the divorced person is again an outsider.
Holidays. Social gatherings that usually involve the family. You don’t have one. Not a real one anyway. You have a virtual family and you can eat virtual biryani and light virtual candles together but you’re still a lonely person raising your wine glass to someone on Skype. Nothing like holiday season to make you feel excluded.
Are you really an outsider though? Isn’t everyone an outsider to something or the other? Married people are outsiders to divorce. What do they know of the satisfaction of looking at how you’ve grown over the years of your aloneness. How you no longer notice the pitying looks of people who go to weddings, because you know you don’t like weddings and you’re comfortable embracing that fact. You’re an outsider to family holidays and the bickering and lack of relaxation that go with them. Travel alone is the most liberating experience and having to plan your life a little is not the worst thing in the world. You’re now an outsider to travel with the clan. I say, you might as well not travel at all than travel with your family since you can’t take in any of the sights or even interact with new people when you’re insulated by the family. Travel alone is the best kind of travel.
And I ask you, what’s wrong with being an outsider? It gives you a different perspective from other people. It’s interesting to have another way of looking at things. I’ve always felt that anyway, always admired the unusual angle, the out of the ordinary. When my divorce presented me with this opportunity to always be an outsider, to have a falcon’s eye view of things I began to long for the things I didn’t want anyway. Just because everyone else wanted them I thought I should want them too and began to look at my outsider status as something worthy of tears. Actually I’ve always prided myself on being different, on having the extraordinary experience, the new – on taking the road less taken. I rejoice in being an outsider – a person not accepted by society or isolated from it – a person who does not belong to a particular group. The divorced person doesn’t belong to the married person’s group. That’s all that it means.