Friends take sides after a divorce

Pam Suchman

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My daughter is on a Zoom bat mitzvah right now. The girl stepping into Jewish womanhood is the daughter of my ex-husband’s best friend, “Max.” Max and his wife “Sophie” used to be close friends. Max was the best man at our wedding. I’d known his wife before he did. In fact, he’d met Sophie indirectly through me.

My husband and I traveled to Tuscany with Max and Sophie, we had babies together. Underneath my seemingly ideal marriage, though, was a lot of heartache and unhappiness. Eventually, I decided to leave.

During the year of separation before my divorce, I made it clear to my soon-to-be-ex that I would be dating other people. It was all on the up-and-up. Sophie and I met for lunch with the babies, and I disclosed my dating misadventures to her.

“I won’t tell Max,” she would say. “He wouldn’t understand.” She was my co-conspirator and confidant.

When my ex and I finally filed for divorce, we struggled over where our daughter would live. He wanted her in Minnesota, I was living in Florida at the time. He asked me to bring her to Minneapolis for the weekend. It felt like a trap, and my lawyer warned me against it. My ex had tricked me once before by luring me up to Minneapolis under false pretenses and then serving me with divorce papers. On my birthday.

I’d hoped he and I would mediate peacefully. Unfortunately, he did not want to work it out, he wanted to fight — like in the marriage.

When I called Sophie to explain what was going on, she turned on me. A child of divorce herself, it touched deep wounds for her. I felt hurt, but I understood.

She only heard one side of the story — my ex’s. Her husband and my ex-husband had gone to college together. Bros before hoes. He would get these friends in the divorce. I felt pangs of hurt and betrayal but chalked it up to casualties of divorce. Some people take sides.

A year passed, and I texted Sophie. “Let’s have coffee and talk.” She didn’t respond.

The following year, I learned that our daughters would be in preschool together. We’d see each other every day at drop off and pick up. I texted her again.

“Sophie, I’d like to repair this friendship. At the very least, let’s have a conversation. We’re about to see each other every day at school.”

Again, nothing.

One day, after dropping my daughter at school, I was heading out to my car as Sophie and Max were heading in. We were the only three people in the tiny parking lot. Sophie averted her eyes as if I wasn’t standing in front of her. Max at least acknowledged me with a tiny wave.

Something inside me snapped as they walked by without a word. I went from hurt to angry. F**k her.

Over the years, my daughter has been to her kids’ birthday parties, they’ve been inside my house for my own daughter’s birthday (at my ex’s invitation). And today, my daughter watches her daughter reach a milestone in her life. I peak into the Zoom ceremony, an unwelcome spectator. I wasn’t invited, my daughter was obligated by her father to attend.

An old friend of mine from a completely different part of my life sends me a text. “Hey! I see your daughter on the bat mitzvah Zoom!”

I can’t imagine how she knows them, but everyone I know seems to be uncannily connected. L.A. is a big city but a small town. When she asks me how we’re acquainted, I relay our history in the most diplomatic way possible. But facts are facts.

“Oh,” she replies, “we can have a LONG offline conversation on this subject.”

The sting in my heart abates a tiny bit, and I smile. I know it’s petty, but it feels good that I’m not the only one she’s spurned. A touch of schadenfreude, I’ll admit.

“Can’t wait,” I reply.

The divorce was a blessing in many ways. First, it got me out of an unhappy situation of my own making. But also, it acted as a serum to uncover who my true friends were and expose the character of those who simply took up space. I’m grateful to have shed Sophie’s so-called friendship and filled my heart with the people who loved me no matter what.

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TV writer, producer and author who writes about relationships, dating, marriage and other misadventures. When I'm not writing, I coach women through questions of stay-or-go in their marriage, relationship regrets and dating dynamics.

Los Angeles, CA
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