Kate Spade committed suicide by hanging herself with a red scarf in her upscale NYC apartment last Tuesday morning.
Tuesday was a beautiful day in New York City. The sun was shining; the temperature was ideal in the mid 70’s. A new week was still unfolding, yet in Kate Spade’s world, something sinister was unfolding as well. That something was so evil it allowed this beautiful, talented, wealthy woman who seemed to have it all, including a precious 13 year old daughter, to take her own life.
It’s hard for many to wrap their heads around why someone like Kate Spade would kill herself. For others, it may be hard to imagine why she wouldn’t. Those in the second group are likely to have been divorced because, while we talk about divorce being “freeing” and tell people they have the “right to be happy,” divorce often fails to free or make people happier.
Divorce simply makes people different and more, of either the good or the bad, within themselves.
Once divorce is announced, conflict between spouses increases. We openly recognize this increase in cases of domestic violence. The most dangerous time for a victim is immediately after the victim leaves. This increase in conflict is also true in divorce, especially in divorce’s immediate fallout. Conflict is needed by the guilty to justify actions that inflict hidden but violent blows on family members. Divorce has been called one of today’s greatest child abuses. I believe it is also one of today’s greatest and most silenced cases of domestic violence against an innocent spouse.
This is what Kate Spade and other abandoned men and women face in no fault divorce. Domestic violence twists one’s thinking, causes emotional trauma, and brings about long term ptsd in many cases. When the judicial system, which is supposed to protect the innocent, fails to side with the innocent and often rewards the guilty, the result can be deadly.
For an abandoning or checked out spouse, peaceful periods happen when there is little or no contact with an ex. This makes it easy to blame unhappiness on the ex. It makes it easy to look back and mistakenly think life is better after divorce than it was in a struggling Marriage. It makes it easy to ignore the personal responsibility that led to unhappiness and abdicate the power to change your point of view within your situation.
Life is full of ups and downs. In a struggling Marriage, it is hard to realize life is not stagnant. You will have good moments again. Your life has purpose. Even surrounded by struggle, you have freedom to live in love and find joy in your circumstances.
Instead, too many choose not to see life this way. They choose not to see the good in their partners. They choose to diminish good memories and nurture bad. They choose to make pursuit of their own happiness more important than the happiness of those they live with. They choose to believe their spouse’s unhappiness is the spouse’s fault while their unhappiness is also the spouse’s fault. They choose to believe their children’s unhappiness is temporary while their unhappiness is permanent. The devastation they leave behind is predictable, immeasurable, and swept aside when they choose no fault divorce.
That same unwanted, unwarranted, no fault divorce is what Kate Spade faced. It became too much. Suicide was her result.
Kate Spade could not survive knowing she faced life alone. She could not survive knowing her vows meant nothing to the one she shared them with. She could not survive knowing the one person she counted on most could not be counted on. She could not survive knowing the only person who knew her innermost thoughts, her secret fears and desires, her dreams and passions, her private humiliations, and her most intimate moments was not to be trusted. She could not survive knowing she was not worth the effort anymore. She could not survive knowing the one who knew her best had found her unworthy and unlovable.
Kate Spade could not survive questioning her own judgment. She could not survive not knowing who she could trust. She could not survive wondering if her husband was right and she was truly unworthy and worthless. She could not survive without love. She could not survive thinking if he, whom she’d given her best to, was better off without her, everyone else probably would be too.
Because that is what divorce, especially no fault divorce, does.
People are dying, both spouses and children of divorced parents, in too great a number while we shrug our shoulders and cackle at the predictability of yet another celebrity breakup. We spout our voices and raise our glasses toasting friends who are finally “free” to find the “happiness” they “deserve.” We ignore the brokenness of shattered spouses and lost children in favor of divorce parties and spiteful gossip.
We tell people to get over it and move on. We tell the abandoned they will find someone new as if someone new will ever replace who was lost. We tell them things we would never tell a widower as if the holes in the abandoned’s heart, mind, and soul are not worth grieving over. We act as if those holes should be easily filled with someone else. We act as if other human beings should be used as plugs to stop our bleeding.
We talk a lot in divorce, but there is much we don’t talk about too. We don’t talk about what those suffering from no fault divorce fear most or what they know is true in ways the unabandoned can never completely comprehend. We don’t talk about what it does to a living soul to be left, to know it is unlovable. We don’t talk about the fear that buries too comfortably in one’s thoughts that anyone who loves you now might leave too. We don’t talk about what it does to know that, for many, love is based on fickle feeling not dedicated action. We don’t talk about what it means to know love can end. We don’t talk about what it means to know love for you is conditional and based on your performance. We don’t talk about what it means to know your performance created the coffin of your Marriage. We don’t talk about the likelihood of this happening again because if you’ve been left once, chances are good you’ll be left again. This is especially true if you jump into a new relationship too quickly or without going through the hard WORK and intense effort to make life better and less dependent on another human being. This is especially true if you don’t seek absolutes. This is especially true if you don’t find worth in God’s unchanging Love rather than in situational happiness and the opinion of another human being.
Kate Spade Shows How Gossip Blames the Abandoned Spouse in No Fault Divorce
We tell the divorced a lot, but we tell others a lot too. The scarlet letter “D” is plainly emblazoned on the chests of the divorced whether they are innocent or guilty, and we delight in spreading their gossip. We have heard so often that there are two sides to every story. We hear no matter how thin you make a pancake, it always has two sides. As if people were pancakes, we cast blame on abandoned spouses.
Our souls were created for the Sacraments. When something as precious as Marriage breaks apart, we naturally seek to make sense of what our souls cannot understand. We automatically find reasons to cast fault on the divorced. To make ourselves feel better, we add insult to their injury and rub salt in their wounds.
“She’s so demanding…”
“He’s such a slob…”
“She’s a nagger…”
“He drinks a lot…”
“She’s just crazy!”
“He worked ALL the time…”
Whatever it is, we find reasons to cast blame on the abandoned spouse. While children of divorce are told it is not their fault, abandoned spouses are told it is their fault. We point fingers and partially blame the abandoned spouse for destruction of her Marriage and family.
Kate Spade’s sister suggested Kate was to blame for divorce and suicide.
Kate Spade’s sister, Reta Brosnahan, offered her insight to Kate’s suicide. She told media outlets she was not surprised by Kate’s action. Brosnahan paints a picture of Kate Spade as an unstable woman and claims Kate had always been emotional. Brosnahan used the term “chickened out” when speaking of Kate’s refusing to go to a treatment facility. She makes Kate Spade seem as though she was materialistic and concerned more for her brand and image than for her own life or the happiness of her husband and daughter.
Was Kate Spade all her sister suggested? Other family members disagree. They say Brosnahan should not have spoken, especially while the family is under such intense grief. I don’t know much about Kate Spade or her mental health in the years leading up to divorce and suicide.
What I do know is that, like Reta Brosnahan, I was not surprised by Kate Spade’s suicide. Unlike Reta Brosnahan however, I will not blame her suicide on Kate’s being overly emotional. I will not blame her suicide on Kate’s “chickening out.” I will not blame her suicide on Kate’s having an intense lust of image.
Kate suffered these before her husband filed for divorce. She had all these and a husband by her side helping her deal with them. Was it an easy road for either of them? Of course not, but no road is easy long term.
Anyone who has truly lived and loved has issues of some sort. We all have baggage. Just because Kate Spade’s baggage bore her designer label doesn’t mean it didn’t need the help of a strong, patient, committed husband to help her carry it. Some of that baggage also bought her husband a very luxurious life. When you Marry another, you Marry their baggage too. You don’t get to reap the rewards of having a spouse and then toss that spouse aside because you want to carry someone else’s bags on the next part of your journey. Kate knew this. Her husband did not. I wonder what his next partner knows?
Divorce, Depression & Suicide Are Not about the Money
Divorcing spouses assume the courts will take care of financial assets. They assume each party will get his or her “fair share.” This is seldom the case however. Men lose life’s wages to women who walk out on them near retirement. Women who stay home with children never make up years of salary lost even if they somehow get a job they love. For many women and children that dream job grows farther away over time rather than closer and court rulings sentence them to a life of scrambling and poverty.
I won’t get into what dividing children in divorce does to innocent kids and their heartbroken, twice abandoned parents.
That needs its own space; I assure you it isn’t pretty.
People who have not been the innocent party in no-fault divorce have a hard time understanding why someone like Kate Spade would commit suicide. She didn’t have the financial concerns most abandoned women face. She had plenty of people in her social circle to count on. It seems that, other than the catty, gossipy Reta Brosnahan, Kate Spade had a caring family. She certainly had connections to rebuild whatever hit shook her empire. She was stunningly beautiful and would surely meet someone new soon.
So why would someone who had it all like Kate Spade did commit suicide in divorce?
They commit suicide because no fault divorce is never about the money or the meeting someone else and moving on. Those are concrete things we can grasp and hold onto. Those are tangible things we can talk about. Those are things others can understand and relate to.
What really happens in no fault divorce goes much deeper. It is hard to talk about because it is such a part of who you become in abandonment that it is entwined in your identity. To give it away to someone is to give a piece of yourself away.
And we’ve seen how giving yourself away turns out.
Besides, the most important part of who and what you are is such a tangled mess in abandonment, it can be hard to unravel even for yourself. It can be hard to articulate profound worthlessness when you look in the mirror. How can you verbalize it to a friend?
What if you somehow find the words and they agree that you are so worthless? In the mind of the abandoned, the possibility is very real. Remember, it’s been, not just a possibility, but their absolute, living, unimaginable reality.
There is the fear that by voicing what you are afraid you are you will speak that ugliness into being.
The Truth About No Fault Divorce
Abandonment and no fault divorce leave a pain that never goes away. They leave a crater that is almost tangible except the wound moves physically to different part of the body so that one can never quite grasp it and toss it permanently aside.
Reminders of abandonment and no fault divorce strike out of the blue. A song comes on the radio, a line from an old movie is quoted at a family party, and milestones reached alone all serve to remind you that you are worth less.
Rejection deepens when you don’t get the job you hoped for or when someone doesn’t return your text as quickly as you think they should. Little things make you question yourself and your purpose. While you know in your head reasons people give for not getting back to you, it is harder to know them in your heart. Rejection is hard to overcome in dating and job loss and being picked for the team in grade school kickball. Rejection from Marriage leaves scars that never heal completely.
There is Hope in Divorce That Does Not Come from Suicide
I’ve painted a bleak picture of no fault divorce. I know the truth in my words because I’ve lived them and because I’ve coached women and spoken to men who have lived them for years. These are people who seem to be living lives just like the rest of us. These are seemingly well-adjusted people. These are people you would never know carry deep, long lasting wounds, but they do.
So how do you recover from abandonment and divorce?
You recover intentionally. Time does not heal all wounds. It puts space between infliction and your present, but without intention, time heals nothing. If we are not careful with what we do with time, time hurts more than it heals.
Living intentionally means deciding feelings will not rule your judgment, actions, or commitment. If feelings ruled me, I’d have been dead a long time ago. You must make the decision to live first and foremost! You must decide to not give up. You must decide to not let a divorce of your life enter your thoughts. You must see the sin of your spouse acting on feelings and decide you will not succumb to that same sin by acting on yours. You must recognize your spouse’s warped thinking and decide you will recognize and not succumb by acting on your own warped thinking. Satan has a limited game plan. He twists the same plot and manipulates individuals for it. An abandoning spouse has already fallen. You must resist through intentional, active decisions.
Once you make the decision to live, you must decide who you live for. You learn you can never again live for any human being. You can never again get your worth from another human being.
To hope someone else shows you your value puts too much pressure on them. It leaves you building your house again on sand rather than on rock. It is unfair to both them and you, not to mention what it does to children involved. To rely on another for meaning, purpose, and value damages future relationships.
The abandoned know better than most that people change. You must build your house and your value on one who does not. You must get to know the one who knows you far better than the one who left you. You must get to know His Word and recognize His voice. This takes time, intention, and commitment. Read the Word of God. Journal about what you’ve read and how His message speaks uniquely to you. Spend a few minutes every morning immersing yourself in the one who created you and always chooses to Love you.
God is Love. When your self-worth comes from Him, it comes from an unchanging, self-sacrificing, ever present, all knowing force. It comes from the one who created you. It comes from the one who knows secrets about you that you wouldn’t share with your spouse. It comes from Love itself. It comes from a Love of you, for you, and in you.
When your self worth comes from God alone, it comes from the one who allows you to be where you are. It ones from God who gives you power to choose to love and grow here or to choose to shrivel up and die here. Suicide is a horrible thing, but too many of the abandoned choose suicide through a long, slow death. They waste away in misery and fear. They make choices that seem good at the time but are not Love based. They never choose to Love themselves. They believe the gossip about themselves. They eventually live the gossip about themselves. They commit suicide slowly over long periods of time becoming angry, bitter, isolated, or hopeless.
You are made for better than that. You are made to live in Hope. You are made for Love. You are made to be Loved and to Love better than you are today, and you can Love more powerfully after divorce than you could before. This is God’s promise to you when you commit to building on His rock rather than on your own empire.
This is what Kate Spade didn’t understand. I pray this is what she is learning in Purgatory now. I pray God’s Love is surrounding her and she is realizing the choices she had she didn’t take advantage of.
I pray this is your time in Purgatory.
I pray that whether you are in a struggling Marriage or have been abandoned and are without hope for reconciliation, you make the decision to Love better today than yesterday. I pray you choose to Love despite the odds. I pray you choose to Love all you meet rather than just those you like. I pray you commit to learning what Love truly is and who is True Love. I pray you learn the power of Love that your ex will never know because the only real power in Love comes when you give it away.
Those who make it through abandonment best discover value in others that goes beyond human understanding. This is the value you have. This is the value your life has. This is the value Love has.
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