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I wasn’t sure why I joined the group. I thought it was probably what I should do. 

‘Going through a divorce is difficult, you need all of the support you can get’.

Against my better judgment, my mother was right. The group seemed to be the best bet. Strangers, brought together via the internet to bring solace and comfort to one another. A strong group of women, a fierce group of broads, tough mothers who were as intelligent as they were resilient. Yes, these are exactly the kind of women I needed to surround myself with!

The group didn’t turn out to be as I imagined. The strong, fierce survivors who had “I Am Woman” singing in their ear while they fearlessly put the pieces of their fractured lives back together, were absent. A group of Phoenix rising from the ashes to support, hold up and embrace their new single-dom? They were not here. Embraced by their female brethren they would climb great heights for divorcees everywhere? Gone. That group, was no where to be found. In its place I had found what I feared most. These were not Phoenix. These were injured, hurt, vengeful and vindictive women. Harpies. Cheated by life and victims of the circumstances that happened upon them. They wanted answers they would never get.

‘Why did he cheat?’
‘Why did he lie?’
‘Why did I not see it? It was right in front of my face!’
‘I’m fat right? You can tell me, honest, that’s why he left me! I’m fat.’
‘What have I done to deserve this?’
'Why did he leave me?’
'What about my kids? ‘

These questions they would only ever ask of each other. Never would they dare ask their exes, the only ones who could answer them. In absence of answers came the bashing. Oh the bashing.....Hard, fast, cutting words being carelessly thrown about the room like tiny daggers finding their targets. Never censored, always rage filled and hauntingly sad.

“If that bastard thinks he’s going to see MY kids he has another thing coming”
“Can you believe it? He had the nerve to tell me I would like her. Her! That girl that he cheated on me with”
“I am going to bleed him dry. Completely dry. He will be sorry he ever met me.”
“I swear on the lives of my children if I ever see that thing I will punch her in the throat.”
“So now he’s gay? Gay? I have a gay as the father of my children! What do I tell the other moms in the PTA?”
“He didn’t even give me a reason. Who says ‘I just don’t want to be married anymore?’ I know there is someone else and by god if it is who I think it is...”
“He thinks he is going to get joint custody? He must be crazy, it will never happen, not over my dead body”
“He can’t dump the kids with me and go party. Screw him and his midlife crisis. Where’s my second chance and 20 year old to revive MY youth? He stole my youth! ”
“What do I do now? Date? I’m 47 years old. What the hell am I supposed to do? This is all I know. He will pay.” “I will take him for every cent he has”
“He will pay.”
“He will f@%king pay.”


They were relentless. They were angry. They talked trash about their exes, their children, their exes mistresses, their ex in-laws, their own parents, their siblings, their bosses, their co-workers, their kids teachers, one even talked trash about the checkout girl at the supermarket.

“I swear I hate that girl. I was so rude to her today. She looks like that tramp he left me for. I hate her face. I wish she would just die.”

Hell hath no fury, but these women were beyond scorned. They had a level of anger and rage I had never seen, nor do I think I will ever see in my lifetime. They were hurt, jilted and just plain pissed. Their dreams forsaken for another, their lives ruined by a careless act or just because it was over. They were tired. Tired of fighting, tired of crying, tired of feeling second class, like their lives didn’t matter. They no longer mattered. Didn’t matter to him.

I sat in our little ‘sewing’ circle, book club on steroids, said very little and simply listened. There were fourteen in our group. We met on Wednesday nights from 7 to 8pm in a little room on the second floor of the local library. A room with a door that could be closed to protect library patrons from the onslaught of continuous profanity and rage that came from that little room in just an hour of time.

They were skeptical of me at first. They grilled me almost like I had to prove my credentials to them. Clearly, just going through a divorce wouldn’t qualify me to be allowed. I needed to ooze hate. They couldn’t smell it on me. Animals who are similar tend to track the same scents.  The were trying to sniff me out and getting no where. Obviously, this group was well formed like a piece of play-dough left out of its can. Hardened into the shape it would maintain forever.

“So, what’s your story? What did your husband do to you? Do you hate him like we hate ours?

The truth was, I didn’t hate him. I didn’t really know how exactly how I felt. I loved him still, part of me did at least. Part of me would always would love him, just not the part that required any kind of intimacy. He lost that right. I left the marriage when I couldn’t take it anymore, it had been about 6 months since my departure. He left long before that. When it was, I couldn’t say. Always good for reading the situation of others, I could never quite get it when I was the one who needed to get read. I don’t know that he was ever truly there during our entire 14 year marriage. I’m sure I played a part, it takes two to make, and two to break a marriage. His never quite having both feet in, never quite giving up the thrill of the chase, the cheating from before and throughout our marriage- certainly didn’t help.
However, I wasn’t angry. Not angry as these women were. I was hurt. Hurt that I didn’t see it. Hurt that he thought it was okay. Hurt that he never discussed his wanderlust with me. Hurt that we had kids he confessed never wanting until after they were born. Hurt that I lost my person. I lost my friend. We had gone through so much together and now it seemed he was ready to chuck it and start fresh. Maybe that is what hurt the most.

Mourning the loss of love, commitment, promise, security and hope, this is what hurt—not anger bitterness or rage. Simply put, I was hurt. I felt the women in my group may never understand it. That having such bitterness and dire need to “get him” didn’t do anything for them. It held no tangible results, aside from the glib satisfaction that he ‘got his comeuppance’. It hurt their children, their families and in the end, they still have lost and lost in such a disgraceful and defeated way. 

Tonight’s discussion started off with the typical pleasantries, who’s kid was doing what, what interesting bit of gossip someone had about someone else and then where the round robin of bashing typically occurred, something quite different happened.

“I have to share something with the group”

She was one of the empty nester divorcees who’s husband discovered he was gay “late in life” and left her for their very pretty, very male landscape architect, Raul.

“I went to go take a shower this morning and I realized my towels were on the floor still from the day before. Sounds strange, I know, but he used to always hang up the towels after I was done in the bathroom. I’m a grown woman I can do it myself but it was at that moment this morning, I realized that he was not there. I missed him.”

“I know what you mean” chimed in one of the harpies.
She was the 45 year old devout Christian and mother of 3 who’s husband had an affair with their 
church secretary, Stacy.

“He used to leave me notes all over the house where I would find them. Sometimes I would never find them. I found one the other day and I broke down sat on the floor and cried for two hours. I will never get another note. They used to bother me but knowing I will never get another....I miss them.”

As they each went around the room their faces were softer. Their stories sweeter, more tender with each story. Some cried at the stories of others, there was laughter at some and compassion for all. This was not the group I was used to. Perhaps they were channelling my thoughts through osmosis?

“Newbie, what about you?”

The self appointed leader nudged me. She was 44, a mother of 4 and had a story similar to mine. Her husband had affairs throughout their marriage which he compartmentalized and justified because he always came home to her. Until one day, he didn’t. His final affair was a waitress in another city and he decided he wanted out so he could pursue this new, life affirming relationship. She was, perhaps, the most angry, hate-filled, vengeance seeking of them all.

“No. I’m good, thanks” I said. She smiled and moved on.

I could have gone. I could have shared. We all had them. Each of us had our own ‘thing’. That one thing that is endearing, then moves to annoying then fades away slowly until it’s gone. It is what we know about that person. Something intimate. Something that was yours and theirs, an inside joke, a knowing glance, a familiar gesture—something that’s yours and theirs.

When we started dating, he would stay over at my apartment often and I at his. I remember very vividly waking up before him to make coffee. I would go into the main room and see a trail of all the places he had been. Keys and wallet at the table by the door. Shoes and socks not four feet past that. Some pocket contents on the kitchen counter where he stopped to get a glass of water before bed. Jeans on the bathroom floor, a tee shirt on the hallway floor trailing to the bedroom where he would be quietly sleeping with a smile on his face.

He would do this anywhere we were. My apartment, his apartment, later our house. I affectionately dubbed them his, piles. I could always tell where he’d been and the path he took from the time he came home until he came to bed. A trail of breadcrumbs as if he were trying to lead someone to find him. Maybe it was for me. Maybe it was for himself. Maybe he needed to remember his way home? Picking up after him and erasing his trail both angered and tickled him to some extent. I hated the piles on the kitchen counter the most. Cluttered with piles of this, piles of that, piles of him, all over my counters. I would neatly scoop them all up, creating one pile placed in such a way that he would have to deal with it.

Over the years his piles got increasingly better, more organized but still there. Piling, was apparently an inherited trait as both of our children were also pilers. They were more floor pilers then counter pilers but that could change with time I supposed. It was something that we shared, an action once endearing, then annoying, now missing.

I drove home from the angry divorcees group smiling - for the first time - in a long time. I liked to think of the good things. It helped me remember the good and push out the hurt. There was more good than hurt that day.  Eventually it would all push away.  Once endearing, then annoying, now gone. 

I walked the three flights of stairs to my top floor apartment. After I was inside, I walked past the kitchen counter and stopped for a moment. There were no piles to be seen. No trail to lead me to someone, just clean, tidy, pile-free, cold, hard granite.

Thanks for listening friends.

With Much Love,
A Horrible Mother


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