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The Woman Wearing the Scarlett Letter
I’ve never felt so ostracized as I did post divorce. I was the woman wearing the Scarlett Letter, it seemed. It turns out you don’t need to be an adulterer to be shunned, especially if you are the one to end the marriage. Can you return without the social stigma? Is it true you can never go back? Can you walk the same streets and feel like the same person? If you have relocated after a difficult divorce, you may return one day and ask yourself these very questions. I pondered these questions upon my return to a city my children still call home.
I was returning to my former home for my son’s graduation, to watch him mark this once in a lifetime event. It was long and formal as these occasions are however, the photos will remind me of the sweet moment when his name was called to walk across the stage and receive his diploma. My pride swelled quietly in the darkened auditorium. All of these parents, also from my long ago past were sharing the very same emotions.
But in-between these special moments and formal functions I had a little time. I walked the very streets I walked years before. I passed the same monuments. I even graduated from university in that same auditorium. I glimpsed the trails I walked and hiked with my children, the ski hill we took them for their first ski lessons. Luckily, there was no need to drive through the neighborhood of my marital home, as there would be too many memories that still would inflame the heart.
The old favorite shops and restaurants really hadn’t changed that much. What I had found is that I have changed. I know this because two years ago when I returned to this city for my daughter’s graduation it felt very different. I felt more sensitive to the past memories, the isolation and loneliness I had experienced here. This time, I’m much healthier and stronger. Could I have outgrown this place? Since it failed to tweak the old pain of my divorce, the answer is yes. Although, it will always be the place I raised my children, and the place I grew into an adult, my present and future belong somewhere else. I have found my way home now and nothing confirms that better than a trip to my past.
If you have ever felt like the woman wearing the Scarlett Letter know that you can go back and hold your head high. The social stigma of divorce will fade and you will be able to move forward without the pain of the past. Suddenly, you notice the triggers don’t stab you in the heart the way they used to. You can walk that familiar road without the pain.
I leave you with “Her Town” by James Taylor:
How did you deal with social changes following your divorce? Did you relocate after a divorce?