Does your T-Shirt say Divorced- Damaged Goods?

Marriage Decree Ripped in Half

Divorced- Damaged Goods

I never, ever, ever thought that I would be checking off that nosy marital status box on forms – DIVORCED.

Thrown into the storm of divorce after discovering my husband’s complicated secret life and finding out that he had no remorse or plans to change, I screamed and fought my way through divorce like a mad woman caught in a tidal wave.

I had been married 20 years. Who would willingly decide to give up all that shared history tied together with silver ribbons? Photos of each of our 3 newborns, 5 years later each of them standing by our front door proudly showing off their new shoes on their first days of school, smiling in front of the new home we stretched for years to buy that finally had enough bedrooms for each of us?

And where would our golden retriever sleep now?

In the beginning I told no one. Ashamed, feeling rejected and reeling from my husband’s callous comments that our marriage had long been over for him in his head so he had been out looking, I felt an overwhelming mixture of shock, fury, despair, guilt, panic and worry.

Had I failed at Marriage- the most important job I had ever signed up for?

My parents had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the year before my world blew up. Why couldn’t we have at least made it to 25?

As the shock began to wear off, I cried every single day, thinking to myself- how did I get to this place?

Like a defense attorney, I needed to put together an airtight case with supporting evidence and testimony about why exactly this divorce had to take place. It was not enough to show my closest friends and relatives the forest full of papers my lawyer sent to me detailing subpoenas, depositions and my husband’s AMEX bill with the charges for the trips for two that I had never gone on with him. I needed to convince the neighbors, the parents from our kids’ schools and our friends from church too!

Soon I was defending the reasons for my divorce to the plumber who came to fix the dishwasher in the rental home I had to move into, the postal clerk when I turned in a change-of-address form and the dental hygienist when I was trying to explain why I’d missed my last several check-ups.

I believed that divorce was wrong and the consequence was that now I was damaged goods.

When the divorce became final in 2008, I started to venture into dating again. Although I had tried to convince myself that it was time to move forward and start my new life, I was far from ready.

Each first date became a mirror of the previous one- getting dressed up anticipating a fresh start, determined not to talk about my failed marriage and then ending up talking about it anyway. My date would usually respond in kind and soon it felt like we were in a Damaged by Divorce Group Therapy Session.  By the time the server brought the check, I just wanted to rush home to read my new Oprah magazine and cuddle with my dog while eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

It took me several years of finding my own way and a lot of therapy before I could clearly see how divorce doesn’t define me or make me damaged goods.  Like a scientist taking apart a substance to find out what it is made out of, I had to go back and do the inner work to figure out why I so strongly believed that divorce was wrong and made me feel less worthy.

Now I’ve learned how to see divorce through an entirely different lens.  A lens with more compassion and a clearer understanding that those who go through divorce need our support and encouragement instead of judgment.

A hug and a kind word go a long way.  Our experiences in life don’t always show up for us in black and white- there’s often a lot of grey mixed in, adding a richness that we can learn to appreciate, rather than feel that we need to defend.







Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments Section below.


  1. Oh gosh! I am sorry to hear about your divorce (not an easy subject to blog about) It seems like you have coped well though 🙂

  2. I know how you feel, however, I promise you it does get better and you’ve got the right attitude. Keep your chin up! And thanks for such a great post. I’m sure that it will help countless others deal with this challenge as bravely as you are!

  3. Beautifully written and expressed, Nancy. You will give hope to others who are going through this and feel self blame. It was not ever your fault! I’m happy for you that you’ve come through the other side. Congratulations. I wore the t-shirt, too for a time. Now I’m proud because the divorce is like a badge of honor that says “I made it”.

  4. well said. I understand having been divorced and my daughter has just moved out of her marital residence and into a house directly behind me, divorced. What a blessing. We are determined to look for the good in this unbearable situation. Three children who do not deserve what their father has done to them. There is good to be found. He is still trying to pick fights and saying cruel things and even tho our natural tendency is to let him have it… we refrain. It will only keep the fires of anger burning longer and we need peace.

    I’m so proud of my daughter. She has been thru hell, and like you, marriage was her main job. But it was not his. It takes two. I’m glad you survived and you will be fine…so will she. Enjoyed your post. I could so relate….