It would seem a lot of people are hung up on the question “Are Divorce Parties Tacky?”, as if Googling the opinion of others should determine your willingness to participate in one. The arguments against divorce parties suggest that they makes a mockery of marriage, and if you’re lucky enough to land on Reddit, you’ll find that some may even find them ‘stupid’ and ’embarrassing’.
Ultimately, you really only have one person to answer to on this, you. And the only question you need to answer honestly is thus; is my divorce a cause for celebration or quiet reflection?
According to the Life Change Index Scale, divorce and separation are the second and third most stressful life events. Using this calculation I scored 300+ just in the first year of separation which puts the likelihood of me developing an illness at 80% higher than those not moving through those events. Bonus points; the higher the score the harder one has to work to return to good health. This scale doesn’t speak to the compound effects of major stressors over four years which include a pandemic and raising teenagers but frankly when my divorce was finalized I was ready to not only celebrate divorcing a terrible person but making it out alive.
As you may have guessed, I’m firmly on Team Celebration. To be fair, I did briefly consider how some might find me celebrating the demise of my union as très tacky, but then promptly dismissed those feelings and planned a blow out. After all, just because someone doesn’t like birthdays, doesn’t mean others can’t have birthday parties.
A celebration, by definition, is “the action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity.” Nowhere in that definition does it indicate what important events or occasions, can or should be celebrated. As far as I’m concerned, shaking my ass with my besties to mark the milestone was the only appropriate response.
Divorce parties are as varied as the people who have them. Some want subdued affairs with just a couple of close friends. Others plan spa retreats, or trips out of country. Personally, I wanted something representative of my journey. At every turn I was held back and down by my ex-partner and a broken court system. I felt suffocated and lacked any authority over my own life. What I wanted more than anything was to feel empowered as I stepped confidently into my next chapter.
So I became the Captain of my own ship, literally and figuratively.
I was invited by Le Boat Vacations to write about the incredible trips they offer on the Rideau Canal in Canada, and I asked if I could bring a few friends along. Ten to be exact, who would hop on and off over the course of five days to help me celebrate. Le Boat was happy to oblige and from there is was straight into party mode.
The first point of order was was what to call our trip. I chose The End of an Error, and even had it printed on a banner for the side of the boat. It is quite possibly the best $60 I ever spent.
My friends, who I maintain are the best in the world, did the rest. I would have been happy with just being in their presence and toasting my next chapter, but they went above and beyond. May I present, Exhibit A. This mug made me laugh hard, and brings a smile to my face daily now.
Exhibit B. My custom made shirt, UNFUCKWITHABLE, which is a characteristic of someone you really shouldn’t fuck with. I wouldn’t play myself out to be super human, but I endured a lot over four years, most of which I’ll not likely share publicly. I tell you this though because, if the shirt fits, wear it proudly.
Of course, wherever we go we do matchy matchy because we’re just super cute like that. These bags that my girlfriend Linda brought for everyone were the icing on the cake.
And here is the sappy part of this story. Nobody had to bring me a gift, the gift was in their presence, through their support, and on full display in their silliness. Divorce parties on the surface may appear cold or in poor taste, but in actuality they are cathartic. They represent a clear demarcation between your old life and your new, no different than a wedding really. Perhaps just a little more fun.
*Death of a spouse is the top stressor. So in summation, the three biggest life stressors involve marriage. Good to know.
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