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  • Writer's picture Nandini Vadera

Divorce Is Not A Dirty Word

Despite actually being divorced, it's not a word I hear often.

A whirlwind romance and dream wedding made way for two things: a caved-in fairy tale and the reluctant admittance that my marriage wasn’t working. Separations, reconciliations, therapy…nothing helped. The divorce was surprisingly quick, and soon I found myself in my childhood bedroom– drowning my pain in wine and Netflix.

The odd cousin messaged to say, “hey I can tell something’s up, I hope you’re ok,” but other than that, I was left alone. It was best, because I got to grieve privately. Any other way would have not felt appropriate or genuine, because the things I was grieving were private and not always visible to the outside world.

I grieved the loss of a life I'd planned with someone else, because it just didn't exist anymore.

Several months of therapy, being signed off work, crying to my parents and best friends, and yes, an embarrassingly significant amount of trash TV later, I was… ok. Not great, not at all, but I was ok.

I remain grateful to my family for not bothering me at the time. But as time passed and I started to feel more like myself, I’d realised something odd. Most people around me are not only acting as if I’m not divorced, but they’re also acting as if I was never married.

I grieved the loss of a life I'd planned with someone else, because it just didn't exist anymore.

Small comments were building up – my sister came from overseas to attend the wedding, and not a single soul refers to this trip in relation to my wedding. When discussing family weddings, or the years I lived in another city, mentions of a wedding or marriage are carefully avoided. And where every unmarried cousin is asked questions about marriage and kids, I don’t think I will ever hear this again. It’s been decided that I’ve been there, done that, and obviously will now play the role of the elusive aunt that drops by to spoil others' children, never to be asked about her own.

I’m torn. Initial thoughts of "This is great! I don’t have to answer difficult questions," helped me to grieve and process the divorce in a way I needed to eventually feel okay again.

But now I fight the urge to jump up and down and scream "Hey! Remember that huge chapter of my life that shaped who I am in ways I’m still trying to understand? Can we stop pretending it didn’t happen?!"

During a recent family wedding, I found myself casually bringing up my own wedding to see others' reactions.

“I remember we had x food on arrival at our wedding.”

“I think I paid x amount for a venue.”

Often there was no external reaction, but the conversation would certainly end there. Are they feeling awkward and afraid that they’d upset me by acknowledging my wedding? Perhaps. But it inadvertently felt likeI should never mention this aspect of my life again.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m blessed to have a family that has supported my decision, and an ex-husband that genuinely is a good guy,making my experience with divorce and separation more sad than angry. I know women who have tried to leave abusive marriages, only to be sent back to their husbands because ‘lok kya kahenge.’

Even in South Asian families where divorce is still a taboo topic, shouldn’t accepting a marriage ending be the minimal expectation? Surely, we should now be taking the next steps in saying the words, out loud, and dare I say, normalising the experience? Talking about it would've made me feel less like an outcast in certain conversations, and not feel like I had to be ashamed.

Divorce is not a shameful secret. It takes a lot of strength and courage to leave any situation that makes you unhappy, and when it follows a public promise of lifelong love, well, it’s bloody hard. Did I feel like a fool? A failure? Yes.

Do I know I did the right thing in the end?


My divorce was a private experience that only me and my ex-husband will truly understand, but it’s part of me now. It’s changed me, challenged me, and – hopefully – bettered me. So, let’s stop pretending it didn’t happen, and accept that it’s ok that it did.


​As a second-gen British-Indian her 30s, Nandini grew up struggling to balance what it means to be British, and what it means to be Gujarati. She is passionate about normalizing this, and other life experiences that are not openly discussed in her community. In particular, she advocates for discussions and debates around mental health, relationships and the challenges navigated by women. Her professional experiences as an educator, and now a mental health practitioner, are fueled by her passion to increase understanding of mental health challenges and decrease the stigma that still surrounds it. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, cooking and dancing, finding them to be her own therapy.

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