FROM THE INVISIBLE OBSTACLES SERIES

Other People’s Opinions

AMERICAN CRUCIBLE, Part 4

As told by Arpine Babloyan
Photography & Editing by Ashia Ray

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Divider line“If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

Brené Brown, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’

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Teen girl backlit by glass wall

Image Description: Bianca sits at a table, backlit in profile by a wall of glass.

CONSEQUENCES

My biggest fears were around Bianca – her not being able to live a good life, for her to be judged.
Losing the house and losing Bianca were my biggest fears. I was afraid to have debt accumulated – would I go to jail?
I knew that if I needed to pack up, quit everything, and go back home to Russia, maybe that could have been an option – but I was afraid that now there will be a case on me here.
It feels silly now, to think that way. But I had no idea. It was scary – I didn’t know what would happen.

 

Mother and daughter in ice cream parlour

Image Description: Arpine walks toward Bianca seated at a table

JUDGEMENT

I felt a lot of judgement – even from the other parents. Our town has all these families with stay-at-home moms, and dads who worked. Everybody seemed to have it all set. I feel like being a single mom was frowned upon in that town and I think Bianca has felt that sometimes.
I was once talking to another mom about a girl who had some learning challenges, and we saw her walking alone. That other mom said, ‘Well, you can understand that, because she has a single mom.’
I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness – she’s probably talking like that about me to other moms.’
I was afraid that judgement would somehow be projected on to my daughter.
Woman at restaurant table

Image Description: Arpine smiles as she talks to Bianca, seated across the table from her.

 

OVERCONFIDENT

Before the divorce, I had a very drawn out plan. I knew what will happen – I was going towards it. I was very ambitious and I kind of was a little… cocky, maybe? Overconfident.
But things can happen to you.
I used to be judgmental about other people who were not as successful, or who weren’t as set as I was. It was a good lesson for me – I don’t judge anyone at all anymore.
Mother and daughter eat ice cream and talk

Arpine & Bianca seated at restaurant table, backlit by a wall of windows. Arpine and Bianca’s eyes meet as Bianca scoops a spoon of ice cream into her mouth.

 

FALLING APART AT FAULT

I was also feeling ashamed because when you’re growing up, you have certain standards either your parents or your society make you think that you have to become. You have to become successful, you have to have a good marriage, you have to have all of that.
When that falls apart, you feel like it’s your fault. It was embarrassing and I didn’t tell anyone for a while what was going on because I didn’t want to admit it.
Teen girl looking serious in restaurant

Bianca listens intently to Arpine, seated across the table from her at a restaurant.

DANGER OF OPENING UP

Being in a different country was difficult. I wasn’t able to get as much support as if it was where I grew up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a huge support network.
I have opened up to a couple of the wrong people who judged me – they were not really true friends. I took that all very personally. I started thinking about that being my fault.
There are labels that people put on to you when you’re going through a difficult situation. If you have a friend who hasn’t gone through this, or hasn’t been able to understand it – even though they might be happy to support you – they might also judge you.
I found that with some of my friends…well, acquaintances, what I was going through was foreign to them, just like some of that stuff was foreign to me before I went through it. I used to think, ‘I would never let that happen.’

 

…Read more in Part 5: Little Wins

 

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This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Arpine B. unless otherwise specified.

If you enjoyed the Invisible Obstacles Series, find out how to support Ashia’s do-goodery projects on Patreon.

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