Arden Recommends Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce by Cathia Friou (interview included)

Book: Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce 

Author: Cathia Friou

Publisher: SPARK Publications

Genre: Memoir, Relationship/Divorce, Self Help/Divorce

Basic Description: Sometimes divorce happens. Sometimes it’s not the end. In Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce, Cathia Friou takes readers through an intimate series of vignettes from her marriage, separation, divorce, co-parenting, and re-entry into the dating world. Each chapter stands alone as a piece of clarity, as an appreciation for the good, the bad, and sometimes the absurdity of life. Together, these pieces offer readers hope that a family can remain whole and beautiful despite divorce.

Arden’s Thoughts: Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce is aIMG_6180 beautiful book written from the soul. We venture along the author’s different memory points throughout the book and reach a simple conclusion: life is messy; it’s how we handle the mess that makes us who we are.

She doesn’t sugar coat the hard moments but there’s a grace within her writing that lets the reader know things do get easier with time. I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about a divorce, in the early stages, or wanting to know how to support a friend going through a divorce.

I got the pleasure of interviewing Cathia recently. I hope you’ll enjoy what she had to share with you.

Arden: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me a little today, Cathia. I’ll start with my most pressing question I had as I read Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce… Why did you choose to write this book, about this subject matter, at this time? 

Cathia: About a year before I turned 50, I decided I wanted to write a book. I wasn’t totally clear about the subject, though I imagined it was going to be about my adventures walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, as I’d been trying to write about that for the last five years. The one thing I knew for sure was that it was not going to be about my divorce. Ha! Fast forward a few months into the writing process and all that was coming out was about the divorce. Eventually I quit fighting and “let” the book be about my divorce.

While I was committed to a finished product, a real book I could hold in my hands, I wasn’t sure I was going to actually publish it. I originally thought of it as a legacy project, primarily as a gift to my children. But the deeper I got into it, the more I felt compelled to share it. And I began hearing from other people who read parts of it that I should seriously consider sharing it with a wider audience. I was scared to death to put myself out there like that and decided to do it anyway. 

Arden: You know, a lot of people fear putting out their story and very few actually share it. From the many who will benefit from this book, I’ll say, “Thank you for being willing.” Since you started with one idea for a book in mind and it transpired into something totally different, I have to ask what was the writing process like for you, especially considering how personal the story is for you?

Cathia: Honestly, it was gut-wrenching. I’m a sentimentalist, so to write and re-write about my divorce for all those months was pretty grueling. And after a year or so, and remarkably close to my 50th birthday, I had an insight (in the shower, no less) that I was finished. I said out loud and to several people later, “I’m done. I don’t know if the book’s done or not, but I’m done.” I didn’t have any more blood, sweat or tears-tears-tears to give it.

That said, there were fun parts to the writing process too. Recounting some of my dating escapades, even ones that were painful or troubling at the time, were great fun to write. Reflecting on and laughing about the absurdity of life can be its own form of healing.

As hard as it was to tell the story, it felt necessary. I felt like I had to both make sense of my divorce journey and pay homage to it. Deciding which stories to include and in which order to tell them, trying to weave a cohesive but decidedly non-linear narrative, it was all very challenging. And I loved it.

Arden: And I loved reading it! Now, your title includes “scenes from a charmed divorce”. Is there really such a thing as a charmed divorce?

Cathia: In a word, no, but there are charmed circumstances surrounding a divorce and we certainly had those. And, it doesn’t inoculate one against the absolute shattering that is any divorce. I got to walk my divorce path with an easy-going ex, in material comfort, and without the added pain and complication of a third party (to name but a few of the “charms,”) but I was still gutted by the whole experience. Divorce is horribly painful, no matter the circumstances. And the grief journey is longer than I could have ever imagined.

Arden: That makes sense and I appreciate your honesty. So, on a lighter note, what was your favorite scene to write? Why?

Cathia: At the risk of sounding morbid, my favorite scene is the imaginary funeral of my ex-husband. Not because I want him dead, certainly not, but because it allowed me to time travel into the future or into a different kind of present. It really encapsulates the bond of a long-term marriage and the illusion of divorce. And because he’s a man with a lot of friends and a robust social life, it was fun to muse about that side of him. The chapter kicks off with the two of us matching on a dating website post-divorce, so it’s lighter than you might think.

Arden: Interesting choice… a good one, indeed. So, I’ve got readers in all walks of life reading this now, and in the future. If you could say anything to someone contemplating divorce, what would it be?

Cathia: First, I’d say you’re normal. Many people think about it and I think that’s okay. I think it’s a great chance to take inventory of your marriage; to tell yourself the truth about things. And, I’d say spend as much time researching and soul-searching as you possibly can. This is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in life, and not typically reversible. Divorce is as flawed as marriage, in my opinion, and somewhat illusory – especially with kids in the mix.

The book offers people thinking about divorce a chance to try it on from afar and reflect. The message is neither “Come on over, divorce is awesome,” nor is it “Don’t even think about it, you will destroy your life and the lives of your children.” While there are no easy or clear answers, I think our story offers both hope and a model for a healthy divorce if splitting up is the path you choose.

Arden: As an objective reader and reviewer, I totally agree with you. Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like Arden’s Book Club readers to know? 

Cathia: I’m not an advocate of divorce. But if you find yourself in the midst of it, do as much research as you can to help embrace the model of a healthy divorce. I believe it to be a mindset that people can adopt, though nothing about it is easy. And if you’re on the cusp of divorce or in the midst of it, please check out The Art of Co-Parenting on my website. It’s a 25-page guidebook that outlines the six principles of shared parenting during divorce and straight talk about how to put them into practice.

 

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