“I was still a child, didn’t get the chance to feel the world around me. I had no time to choose, what I chose to do.”
After five years largely away from the spotlight during which time she navigated a divorce, Adele reintroduced herself to the world with those haunting, beautifully sung words in "Easy on Me," the first single from her new album, "30". And while the world had eagerly awaited new music from the star, what wasn’t expected was that the album would focus entirely on her split. Most celebrities shy away from sharing details of their personal lives, but not Adele.
The first time I heard the song, I felt a huge sense of relief. Almost an exhilaration. Finally, finally someone was representing a pain I’d known and felt all too well. It was Adele speaking for all of us who’ve been stamped with the scarlet letter of divorce—and have hoped for the world to just "go easy" on us. It may have been our fault, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe there were children involved, maybe there weren’t. Maybe there was a cheating spouse, maybe we just fell out of love.
I remember so many times, feeling the need to justify my divorce to others. Feeling like I had to explain to people why I, a woman and a mom, felt that it was better for all involved to be apart than together. But, no matter how many times I explained myself, the guilt was the same. The shame was the same. The judgment—or what I’d perceived to be judgment—was the same.
My inner narrative about divorce was created at a young age. I remembered the pain of my own parent’s split when I was 9 years old. It hovered over me like a cloak, suffocating at times. I saw my mom in my mind’s eye, crying at the kitchen table. The sorrow, the sadness… it stuck to me like glue. It had become a part of the fabric of my very being. It was part of who I was. I couldn’t shake it. I was conditioned to believe we weren’t supposed to think of ourselves. Our own happiness took the back burner.
This belief followed me into adulthood and my own relationships. At 25 years old, after a string of relationships with Mr. Wrongs, Bill seemed right. He was nice to me, sent me flowers all the time, had a good job and came from a nice family. I moved in with him within six months and married him a year later. I went through all the appropriate motions. Five years later, we had a baby girl and it seemed life was “complete.” I’d published my first book, was a regular on national TV and life seemed to be humming along nicely.
She was standing in solidarity with all of us who had questioned ourselves, doubted ourselves, shamed ourselves, been shamed by others or just haunted by our own divorce-demons.
Except there was always something missing: I didn’t feel the way I thought I should. Like Adele, I tried. I tried and I tried and I tried. I booked romantic getaways and date nights and tickets to NFL games (even though I knew nothing about football) and dinners out at the country club. I kept telling myself we just needed to “reconnect,” that’s all. But as hard as I tried for 10 long years, I couldn’t force what wasn’t there. What was wrong with me? What was wrong with us? Why couldn’t we just be that happy couple?
The answer could finally be found in Adele’s music and that was literally, music to my ears. Looking back at 25-year-old me, I was just a child—like Adele sings. She was standing in solidarity with all of us who had questioned ourselves, doubted ourselves, shamed ourselves, been shamed by others or just haunted by our own divorce-demons. For those of us who tried and tried and tried and couldn’t figure out why it just wasn’t working.
I, too, lost a significant amount of weight after my divorce. I jokingly called it “the divorce diet.” Everyone kept telling me I looked “amazing.” The best I’d ever looked! While the compliments were rolling in, they had no idea what was going on inside of me. It literally ate away at my body and my soul. I wondered if I would ever feel better. My mom had always said that divorce is “the hardest thing you’ll ever have to go through.” And, at 35 years old, I could say that was true.
Nine years later, I’m happily married to my second husband. My ex-husband is also happily remarried. In the end, it doesn’t matter whose “fault” it was. It doesn’t matter who tried and who didn’t. It doesn’t matter who gave up first. What only matters is that you forgive yourself.
Like Adele’s song, this article is my mea culpa. As a writer, my "voice" is through this keyboard and I hope it resonates with everyone reading these words—like Adele’s beautiful melodies did to me. Maybe it’s more of a plea to myself than it is to others. Maybe "Easy on Me" isn’t a message to her ex-husband, to the public or to the press after all. Maybe Adele’s message is to remind herself to go easy. And I’m going to do just that.