Kathryn Peterson writes the “Split Happens” column for the Houston Chronicle’s Gray Matters blog. I met Kathryn at Epicure, a café and bakery on West Gray in Houston where I used to write when I lived there in the early 1990s. I knew the owner, and whenever I’m in Houston, I stop by to say hello. In our era of non-stop change—and during the personal sea change of divorce—it can be reassuring and grounding to see people who’ve stayed in their jobs, remained invested in their same careers, continued baking the same cookies.
I like change in general, and am always eager to try the new restaurant or take the new route. Change keeps us mentally alert and current. But stability matters too, for us and our children. I find that visiting people who’ve stayed where they are, or places that have been around forever, is a reassuring reminder of the continuity and continuation of so much in our lives, even when it feels as if we're standing in a hurricane of upheaval.
For Kathryn, blogging about her divorce has been an aid to moving through it. Her blog debuted on Valentine’s Day 2015, and she’s been doing it ever since. It’s mostly personal essays, her own processing about her divorce, and riffs on dating in one’s 40s. For her job, she's been charged with being "the Carrie Bradshaw of Houston," a designation with the advantage of framing her column, and her divorce, as a fun, fascinating part of adult life.
She recently wrote a piece about Splitopia. As Kathryn says in her story, she was intrigued by the idea of the “good divorce,” but also skeptical. She writes:
“My biggest question was how a couple can have a good divorce if they are really on different pages? For instance, if one person wants the divorce and one doesn't, or if one person is still very angry and tends to want to punish the other partner.”
While I have a friendship with my ex-husband, not everyone wants that. Sometimes a good divorce means extricating yourself from the chaos of the other person kindly, and as cleanly as possible, turning your focus to your own future. Meeting Kathryn was another chance to see how we can use our own creativity to process a difficult time, and provide guidance and amusement for others.
* This post originally appeared on wendyparis.com.
Wendy Paris is the author of Splitopia: Dispatches from Today's Good Divorce and How to Part Well (Simon & Schuster/Atria, 2016). Splitopia and her work on divorce have been covered by The New York Times, Real Simple, The Washington Post, The New York Post, The Globe & Mail, Psychology Today, The Houston Chronicle, Salon.com, Parents.com, Family Law Quarterly, PsychCentral.com and radio and TV shows nationwide. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and is an advocate for family law reform movement. She is divorced, and lives in Santa Monica, California, a few blocks from her former husband, with whom she has a warm co-parenting relationship.