Your Style Guide to Divorce editor knows that for many women a divorce provides the framework for an unpleasant spiritual journey. Well-meaning friends and strangers will assure you that at the end of your suffering a better, stronger, and more enlightened woman will emerge. You'll be told over and again that one day you will be grateful to have had this painful experience.
Throughout this lengthy, expensive process, a woman may search the metaphysical content of her marriage for singular moments of grace, so that by virtue of these crumb-sized redemptive acts she need not place her whole life in the "failure" box out by the dumpster. Quests such as these are too often made in vain.
I don't feel that this is particularly dignified or practical. Many moments during divorce are ridiculously humiliating, and in many of these moments your girlfriends and their blenders will simply not be available. That's right, the phones are down, you have a run in your stocking, and the baby's crying. You may be a non-believer, but believe it sister: it's time for a Hail Mary Pass.
When I was a girl, I wore a hole in the knee of my best white tights seeking to bring down punishment on Mary Louise Stefanic, who had deliberately dented my lunchbox. When nothing happened, I staged my own TV preacher show in the living room, accidentally scorching the coffee table with my baptism candle. But several months later the object of my heavenly pleas got the chicken pox and missed our class trip to the zoo. Clearly I enjoyed a special connection. Today I can get out of speeding tickets by closing my eyes and whispering "please sweet Jesus." Not that I'm bragging, but I do have some tips.
First, in times of crisis, direct prayer carefully and use the most expedient route. By that I mean get an agent, preferably a saint, someone who can fast-track your petition directly to the top. Understand that your most popular saints and divinities are busy beyond belief. Common lamentations sent c/o 'O Lord,' 'Mother of God,' and especially the more profane 'J**** F****** C*****' are one in a million and will get you nowhere.
Next, don't shotgun your petition with the equally overused 'Jesus Mary and Joseph,' or 'Father Son and Holy Ghost.' Access to these guys is backed up like cars without an EZ Pass on the tollway. And do not bother St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases. If you haven't noticed, he doesn't answer individual calls any more. You have to place a personal ad in the newspaper, and hope that he scans your particular daily at the celestial Starbucks. Caveat: if you do go this route, make sure and proofread your ad the first day and immediately call the paper if there's been a typo. You don't want someone else getting your miracle.
On the intercessionary B-list, you have a lot of decent choices. There are saints for people in difficult marriages, widows (you should be so lucky) and people who are already divorced. Select the one related as closely as possible to your difficulty, and think broadly (St. Rita is the patron saint of headaches. . . your former spouse certainly is one). Craft your supplication so that it closely matches your saint's skills - don't disadvantage your minor league saint with an assignment beyond his range. St. Damian is the patron saint of surgeons, so always select something surgical for him to do: cut the fat out of a budget, or mend your broken heart. For a more drastic gesture, like encouraging the ruthlessness of your divorce attorney, consider St. Adrian, patron saint of butchers.
Be wary of seeking the help of certain saints, like Lydwina of Schiedam, who earned their stripes by suffering (broke a rib) and then by suffering some more (got gangrene, became paralyzed, went blind, died 37 years later). Not exactly the person you want in your corner. Try asking Lydwina to pay some attention to the person you are divorcing.
Finally, don't let the stress of divorce turn your faith into a superstition. As weeks pass without a settlement, even the most centered of gals can imagine that her divorce is on hold because she has not offered up the right number of prayers in the right order, and that if she can just light enough candles and avoid cracks in the sidewalk her attorney will call with great news. If this sounds like you, cut back on the sacramental wine and get out in the fresh air.
About this Blog
About this Blog: Divorce is something you do, not something you are. It is not easy, but it can be funny. I know hanging on to my humor gave me hope and courage. Divorce shouldn't cramp your style. There are whole industries devoted to helping brides plan their weddings -- why shouldn't we have a style guide for divorce?