Everyone likes exclusivity: Sororities. Country Clubs. Posh restaurants with exclusive dress codes…the Hall of Fame. We all want a place to call OURS that only WE and a select few can belong to. Black women these days want to belong to a myriad of “members only” establishments-namely “First and ONLY Wives Club” and “Mommy’s only”.
When I was married, I found myself part of that exclusive club albeit briefly. The “I won’t be a statistic, I’m an educated black woman who found someone and that someone found good enough to marry” club. I was fast-tracking it to several other exclusive memberships: the homeownership in a nice neighborhood club, the “vacationing w/ couples and having adult play date” club, the “always have a built-in plus one” club, and finally, the all-exclusively grandiose golden club of “Motherhood” which is akin to something like The Links, The Girlfriends, Junior League, and any other elite social-service club you could think.
That all changed on December 1, 2008 when I got divorced. My membership to the club was revoked. There wasn’t a card burning or my paraphernalia snatched. There was no phone call or meeting. It was more subtle. The calls stopped. The check-ins and mindless chatter stopped. The sharing of their lives with me ended. I was no longer part of the club-the sisterhood of married, black women who had escaped the fate of singleness. They had moved on…and with it I just got painful reminders of how membership had its privileges. Severed where the built-in girlfriends, shoulders to cry on, prayer partners and support systems. Broken all because my marriage was broken…It seemed unfair.
My girlfriend of umpteen years, as soon as I shared the news with her that I was divorcing, stopped talking to me. I couldn’t believe it. After sharing numerous momentous and joyous occasions together, she couldn’t be here for my personal pain. She didn’t call to see how I was. Instead of being able and excited to cart our husbands around to various events and show them off along with our degrees and achievement as some sort of “tag team”, she dumped me to the wayside. She never returned my calls. She stopped interacting with me via Facebook. She never replied to my emails to check on her and her new child. All I could see was pictures of her new life and how we were no longer friends. It was a painful reminder of the revocation of my membership.
I stopped getting invited to weddings...I mean it stopped cold. I didn’t have my built-in plus one. And they probably felt like it was bad luck to have divorced me there at the wedding. I didnt want to be a hex anyway....or a reminder of the shadow of my old-self, my former posh membership.
The “couple friends” that I had amassed during my marriage had left, slowly deleting me from friends’ lists. Failing to let me know if they came to town to visit. Failing to invite me to things that had nothing to do with couple things at all. If I ran into them, they barely made conversation. I'm not sure what that was about.
And most embarrassingly, was how new moms interacted with me. I remember being out with a group of women, new moms and expecting (married) mothers. Wives who wanted to be mothers. They shared stories of diapers and cranky husbands. Breast feeding versus the bottle. Gas and teething and tips on daycare. They tried to involve me in the conversation but you can tell it was a strain. What was I doing here? I suppose out of cordiality. They passed the babies around as casually as you would pass the salt at a dinner table. I guess they thought holding a baby was the panacea that I needed. It just made my heart ache worse. When the conversation turned to finding the right ob/ gyn, one girl, feeling that I was probably feeling left out, asked me who my gyno was. I sat there and just stared then slowly responded. I thought to myself. “Of what importance was it? None. Who cares about my barren uterus? No one…. “I felt like I was on display. A Mona Lisa with a crooked half-smile, hiding what I felt inside, and nodding aimlessly like a bobble head. It made me think that they were saying internally.."Poor Mocha...she'll never have this! She could have had this! Oh well..no longer part of the club!"
God-bless my married friends’ souls (Well...some of them.)…..they try not to make you feel like an outsider when in fact you really are.
I wonder: If I gain my membership back….would I be welcomed back in the fold? Do I even want to be there?