I was married at 27, divorced at 28 and 10 years on I am still single looking to meet someone who will not judge me for being a divorcee.
When I returned to my parents home following the breakdown of my marriage, for at least 3 years I didn’t want to tell people that I was divorced and my marriage didn’t work out. I feared what others would say or think of me. The D word was unheard of in my community then and there’s still a stigma attached to divorce now: ‘you can’t be divorced because women should make their marriage work no matter what they are going through’ is the thinking. My parents had to hear a lot of unpleasant comments from the community, but they backed me and were not afraid to say to people ‘we support our daughter because if she’s not happy and has been mistreated then why stay and live a life being miserable?’
At the time, I found it challenging to go to work and concentrate on my job because I would always be thinking how do I start to tell people I’m divorced and my marriage didn’t work out? It was really hard to live a normal life because all I could think of was, ‘I’m bringing shame to my community and I will never meet anyone again’. My ex husband said to me ‘you realise if you divorce me you’ll never marry again?’. Sadly, I feel this is the case as I have really struggled to meet someone because I am divorced – there is a lot of judgment from people in the community including parents who label me as an unsuitable match for their sons due to my divorce.
I feel tainted, and used goods as if the D word means I’m diseased because people don’t want to talk to you. I have had men say to my face “I am sorry I am not looking for a divorcee and my parents will not approve”. The elderly community frown upon me for being divorced and they look at me as if I’m dirty and should never have got divorced but no one has asked me ‘what happened… what did you go through that made you walk away from your marriage’? It’s just easier to judge me than offer support and compassion.
When I finally gathered the courage to start looking to meet someone, I used the matrimonial service in one particular Gurdwara, I was told I could only meet those guys who are divorced and at that time there were only around 4 on the list. I even tried the approach of not disclosing straight away to potential partners that I was divorced, they would be interested up to the point of when I told them. I did meet a few guys who were accepting of my marital status but would say their parents won’t accept it.
When I returned to my parents home I started to fall into depression and feeling isolated. It hugely affected my physical and mental health. I didn’t want to do anything and I would spend days crying because it was shameful to be divorced. I never thought this would happen to me. I would spend days on my own, not talking to anyone and not wanting to leave the house. I felt alone, isolated and in a dark place. I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t exercise, I didn’t eat for days, all this had a massive impact on my mental health. I was at a real low and it’s at this point I hit rock bottom. I turned to my faith and my parents helped me. They would check up on me, my mum is my best friend, I could talk to her about anything and she helped me to rise above it. Having that support helps lift you. I slowly started to go out with friends, I started talking to people and even though I was still up and down it still helped to have those few people around to help.
Many people are going through something in life and after what I went through my advice is always check up on someone and be the light in their darkness.
I know for me being a divorcee meant that single men who have never been married wouldn’t accept me because I have this label. I struggle to understand the difference between someone who’s divorced and those who openly date one or many people? They still physically have had a relationship with someone so why label a divorcee? I feel like sometimes there is pressure on me having to settle with anyone that would agree to be with me because I am divorced. But, I know how difficult marriage is and what I did to make mine work, I don’t want to settle, there needs to be a shared connection.
I made the choice to walk away from an unhappy marriage because I knew I had loving and caring parents and becauseI had my belief in my faith which is what made me stronger. I know it was tough for me at the time but I didn’t let the divorce label stop me from moving forward. I started to get involved in charity work, then I grew in my career in the corporate world and then landed a presenting role at the Sikh channel. I hosted my own breakfast show where I could get those voices on to be heard as I know what it felt like to not be heard. I picked myself up with support from those few close friends and family and most importantly my faith, meditation and prayer.
I did something about the label and I spoke up about it because I believe divorce is a taboo in the Asian community and it isn’t openly talked about. I want to share my story because when I got divorced in 2008 it was unheard of and yes, it’s got slightly easier now but that doesn’t mean it makes it easier to meet someone because the label and stigma still exist! I wanted to speak up as I feel anyone who is divorced should not feel ashamed as you walked away from an unhappy marriage and you are no less of a human than anyone else.
If someone judges you for being divorced then it’s their loss, not yours. Ever since my story was shared on the BBC I have had a number of people reach out to say well done on speaking up and that they have gone through a similar experience. Being divorced should not leave someone with a label, feeling like used goods or to feel low about yourself. I want to raise more awareness of divorce and its impact because it makes me sad to hear other people are suffering and staying silent when really, we should be able to talk about issues and help others.
I want to help others through sharing my story and to say I am happily divorced and have never looked back and regret walking away. I had so many struggles in my life and the only reason I openly talk about things now is that I don’t care what the world thinks. I care about helping others, being true to myself and to not give energy to those who try to bring me down. I want to thank my parents who supported me and have always said treat people the way you want to be treated and always smile because when you smile the world smiles with you.
I am a true believer that if you do good it always comes back. Even if someone has hurt you, love them. Be there for people and help others as it’s the nicest thing you can do is offer a helping hand to others who need it. Check up on someone you haven’t heard from because you never know what they might be going through. Life is short and we should live it being happy.
Marriage is great if it works and you’re with the right person but if you’re unhappy and you’re going through an abusive marriage please reach out for help as you’re not alone. I have had many rejections not just with potential partners, but in jobs and also opportunities but I just keep going! We can achieve anything we want because we rock and we should help empower one another and grow together!
To all women out there I just want to say let’s help each other and pull each other up. Don’t let anyone make you feel you’re not worthy because you are and a strong woman by far stands out from the crowd!
I am always looking for people to share their stories if anyone wants to share their inspirational story they can by contacting me: Minreet.firstname.lastname@example.org