Being the Black Sheep in the Herd
I was the first woman in my family to get divorced; it had never happened before. I was the black sheep no one wanted to be related to! My parents couldn’t understand why I got divorced, since they felt I had brought shame to the family.
The day I called my dad to tell him I was getting a divorce, he went to the hospital, and we didn’t speak for three years! As for my mom, she was worried about how I was going to survive on my own with three children. She said that mothers make sacrifices for their children and family. She said I should have just been thankful because I had a roof over my head and food in my mouth. But is that what a marriage is?
The day I got divorced was the day I was stamped with black ink- the black sheep of my family.
Divorced! It just didn’t exist in my culture. I was the black sheep! When I got divorced, I was only 29 years old, and I had three children. The youngest was seven years, and the oldest was 12. I never worked outside the family business, my English was terrible, and I couldn’t have a conversation with someone without feeling like I was going to die inside! It was difficult and I was shy, alone, felt small, and rejected. To begin with, I had absolutely no plan of what was going to happen next. I didn’t even have a place to stay with my kids.
All I knew was that I needed to be a mother to my children. Every cell in my body told me I had to be there for them and provide them unconditional love and support. My children deserved a mother who could guide them as well as watch them grow, learn, and flourish to become the people they are meant to be! Not a mother who was miserable and confused about what was happening in her life.
For me, I couldn’t be that supportive mother while I was married.
Now thinking about it, I wonder if I would have stayed in an unhappy marriage even if I didn’t have children. To be honest, I think I might have. But I had three young, beautiful children, and they were a gift and blessing from God. How could I abandon them? I had considered suicide a few times, but my love for my children kept me from doing it. Wanted a better life for my children than what I had. I knew I needed to be their mother and nurture them.
Divorce in Middle Eastern Culture is taboo, and it was even worse twenty years ago. Your family turns against you like a light switch. One day, you are loved because you are a good wife and daughter-in-law; the next moment, you are the black sheep in the herd. Making a choice to get a divorce as well as going through it takes strength and courage, something I didn’t know that I had.
Once I got divorced, I never looked back. I was on my own with no support for over 22 years. Had to learn how to care for a family, discover me again, find my purpose in life, be happy, and, most of all, how to be a mother. I gained so much more from being a single divorced mother than from being called a married woman.
I gained self-respect and valued myself more.
And I had beautiful grown children who thanked me for having the courage to walk away. I knew I deserved so much more from life.
I learned that my identity as a woman isn’t defined by whom I married but rather by myself and the value of what I contribute to my family, community, and society. You don’t have to be a wonderful wife or an obedient daughter-in-law to be respected and valued. I learned that I could create my reality and live happily.
Have you been through the experience of divorce? What was it like going through it? What have you learned about yourself? I love to hear back from you. Share your thoughts; in this space, I am here to listen– free of any judgment!
Cheers to all of you women who dared to walk away and live a life of dignity and joy!