My Essay in Split: true stories about the end of marriage and what happens next

My Essay in Split: true stories about the end of marriage and what happens next February 21, 2017

If it’s difficult to write or talk about, then I’m generally in favor of doing so. However, applying this idea to my own life, and specifically my divorce, hasn’t been a a walk in the park.

I view oversharing as feminist activism in some regards, and that’s part of the reason I blog. I still am very strategic about what I share online, though. For instance, when I finally disclosed that I was getting divorced, it was well after the decision had been made, and prompted mostly by the realization that I didn’t have enough bandwidth to keep up my blog on a regular basis.

So when I saw Katie West’s call for contributions to her upcoming edited book of essays on divorce, Split, I was intrigued but also hesitant. Did I want to broadcast that much about my marriage and its end? Writing is often therapeutic for me, but I’m kinda private about certain facets of my life.

The more I thought about it, and corresponded with Katie about my ideas, however, the more I decided to go with it. One factor that swayed me was her insistence that this was not to be a venue for unfair venting or throwing one’s ex under the bus. We all need to vent or achieve emotional release sometimes, but it’s rarely appropriate to do so in public. Knowing that this endeavor was not encouraging that behavior was immensely helpful for me.

Another reason I chose to send in an essay was that I suspected my experiences might resonate with others. As a personal narrative scholar, I know that we share stories about our lived experiences in order to connect with others and inspire empathy. In sharing my story, there’s the chance that I’d be giving words to an experience that others have had, but had not articulated. It might help them feel seen and heard, and thus less alone.

My essay focuses on my experiences as a feminist folklorist processing the cognitive dissonance of a marriage gone awry. I talk about rites of passage, and how we don’t have many of them to help us handle the major life transition of a divorce. I also discuss the conflicts between managing a professional life as a scholar and a personal life as a wife, especially when some of the same topics come up in both (like a feminist critique of gendered emotional labor). I try to do this all as fairly as possible, emphasizing my emotions in all this, not making accusations or trying to force my own narrative interpretation onto events that were ultimately more complex than I had the space (or inclination) to cover in great detail.

I tried to accomplish a lot in my essay, and it’s a lot to balance, but I’m happy with how it’s coming along. I guess I’ll always be ambitious with my writing, even when it’s not aimed to impress and please my academic peers.

Please check out the book and consider pre-ordering a copy. I’m excited and nervous, as this’ll be my first non-academic book chapter in, um, ever.

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