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Portrait of a Judge in robes and wig

Portrait of a Judge in robes and wig (Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons)


I spend a lot of time and mental energy in judgment, of myself mostly.  And with the demise of my 23-year marriage, I’m judging my actions and reactions.

Did I do enough in the relationship?  (It takes two to tango, baby.)

Am I sad enough?  (Shouldn’t I be crying all the time?)

Am I sad at all?  (Shouldn’t I be crying?)

Am I upset at the thought that he’s moved on?  (Why?  I was miserable with him.)

I’m wrestling with expectations versus reality.  Society and other people have made clear that divorce/separation is a Terrible Thing.  People cry and stop eating when their marriages break up.  I feel sad that what I thought was real, was not.  That the man I married was not the person I believed he was, or he changed into someone I don’t know.  But I’m relieved he no longer lives here.  Relief is my prevalent emotion.  I didn’t expect that.

I’m anxious about the unknown future.  Anxious about what I need to do next.  Anxious about how my kids are feeling and their futures.  Anxiety rivals relief as my emotion du jour.  Didn’t expect that either.

And then the judge arrives and bangs her gavel on my failures as a wife, mother, and human being.  The judge rules that if I loved my husband, I would cry.  If I were a good mother, I would suffer more.  If I were a decent human being, I wouldn’t be able to eat from the grief.  The judge is making me crazy.

Sometimes I can reason with her and she’ll retreat into her chambers.  But I can still hear her voice through the door, muffled but critical.  I’m honest enough with myself to know that I’m not suppressing tears over the separation.  I really am relieved, after months of anger and agony, to be rid of that daily torture.  I realize that the tears I shed over the course of 23 years were all I had.  I have no more tears for the marriage or the man.

When I hear the judge in my head, I have to recognize her voice and tell her to stop.  I did the best I could, I am doing the best I can.  Feeling guilty doesn’t make me a better person and doesn’t change the situation.  This is the best I can do.

And judge not.