Should I Go to My High School Reunion? I’m Divorced and Embarrassed

should I go to my high school reunion

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

When I got divorced at 41 years-old, along with so many other emotions was this feeling of being lost. I really didn’t know who I was anymore, or who I supposed to be. It was confusing and sad, and it made me feel alone. But as the weeks and months passed, I realized there were two things that helped me remember where I came from and who I truly was in my core. Those two things are actually people: old friends and family. So, if you are reading this and asking, “Should I go to my high school reunion?” I have some insight.


I’m writing this article on the heels of a week-long vacation I took, first to Pittsburgh to see my family and for my 40th high school reunion, followed by a flight to the Jersey shore for my yearly extended family reunion. I am home now, but overflowing with a sense of warmth, sentimentality and love that I experienced; one that can only come from those who have always known and loved you—as a child, as a high-school kid, as a single person, as a married person, and now as a divorced person.


If you are going through a divorce or you are divorced, it’s not always easy to face people who have known you for a long time. You might feel embarrassed or like a failure for being divorced. You might feel insecure. Maybe you feel like everyone else is happy in their lives and you aren’t. But let me explain why old friends and family are great for your emotional health during this time, based on my experience this past week. I’ll start with my high school reunion.


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Should I go to my high school reunion? Yes!


I went to high school with 2000 kids, so there were about 500 in my graduating class, and I feel like I knew/know about 75% of them. About 150 came to the reunion, where we are all around 57 or 58. Walking into the large venue, I was nervous. That lasted for about 10 seconds.

When I started seeing the old faces of my classmates, I found myself smiling from ear to ear. From the popular people to my closest friends who I still keep in touch with, and everyone in between, it was delightful to spend time among my graduating class. Every single person I came in contact with was kind and warm and welcoming—even if one or both people had no idea who the other person was. Good thing for the name tags, although I wish they’d been in larger print!


I had conversations with people who were in my home room, my Rockette friends (Rockettes are the dancers in the marching band who perform at football game half-time shows), friends I ate lunch with in the cafeteria every day, my prom date, a group of girls who I absolutely loved in high school and haven’t seen since, a friend I hadn’t seen since our junior year interior design class, my old neighbor, my grade school buddies who I used to walk home with, and my ninth grade boyfriend (who is still adorable.)


The first thing most people said to each other was, “You still look the same!” While we know that’s not entirely true, here’s the thing. A face is always the same face no matter how old you are. There were people there who I met in first grade who still had the same face. And those faces are so cute to me, regardless of age. Being around my old friends, I felt a sense of comfort. They made me feel like I was the same person to them today as I was in 1983. And is there anything more soothing than that to someone who is going through a divorce? Old friends are medicine that helps someone who is in a state of temporary insecurity and self-doubt. By the way, if the divorce rate is 50%, then half of them were probably divorced, anyhow, so if you are worrying about being the only one divorced, don’t.


Back to the reunion. There were three questions you wanted to know from everyone you talked to: Where do you live now? Do you have kids and how old are they? and What do you do? To hear their stories was so nice, but immediately after that conversation came the good stuff: “Remember that time in Mrs. So and So’s class…?” And “How’s your mom doing?” and “Do you still love Billy Joel?” and “Remember when So and So used to braid your hair in the bathroom before first period?” and “You still have the same smile.” And “Remember that night at So and So’s party when the cops showed up?” I smiled and laughed so much that my cheeks hurt at the end of the night.


It’s like you have a special connection to these people and you will forever because childhood equates with innocence and excitement and fun. Last time you saw these people, you had no idea what hard times or tragedy or wonderful times or happiness lie ahead for you. You come back and see them and it is something that never changed. It’s safe and comfortable and it takes you back to who you are—your real self, the person you are in your core. You can just be you. No one is judging. I promise!


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Moving on to my family reunion, which consists of my immediate family (who were all there), two aunts, an uncle, their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren; a total of about 50 people. Again, if you are reading this and you just got divorced, you might feel like you don’t want to face them because of what they might think. I urge you not to let your feelings stop you from going to these kinds of events.

Why? Because family is solid. THEY HAVE YOUR BACK. Ok, there might be a little bit of gossiping going on behind the scenes, like “Why is So and So (that would be you) getting divorced?” “What really happened?” “Do you think she’s OK?” “What should I say to her?” “What is she going to do now?” “How is her financial situation?” (they might be afraid you might ask them for money!) and “She needs to find another husband quickly.”



Try to remember that your family is who they are. There is no changing any of them, and yes, some are going to continue driving you crazy for the rest of your life—whether you are single, married or divorced. That’s the endearing part of family. Try to look at them that way and try not to take anything personally. You might think someone is judging you, when in reality your divorce might have made them evaluate their own marriage, causing them to act a little bit different. In other words, cattiness isn’t always what it seems.


My mom always says, “No one will ever love you like family.” At my family reunion, with people I see once a year and who I didn’t see from the time I was young until a few years ago when we started having these reunions, I felt that. I felt love and warmth, and a sense of belonging, like I matter to them. I promise you, your family feels that way about you, divorced or not.


In closing, what I want to say about old friends and family is that they can be crucial in getting back a sense of self. It’s a comfortable place—a blessed, beautiful place. If you think about it, the person you are divorced from was a short-term relationship compared to your family and old friends. Even if you were married for 30 years, the longevity of that relationship is not on the same level as old friends and family because your family was there for you even before you were born (with your ancestors all the way down to your grandparents and parents), and they will be there for you forever, and it will continue with your children.

You belong. Let me say that again: YOU BELONG. That’s no small thing. I can’t speak for all families, but belonging to mine gives me pride and confidence and self-esteem. It makes my divorce feel like a very small part of a big, beautiful life. Just be you. Your old friends and family are waiting to welcome you. Take advantage of them!

Like this article? Check out, “11 Things Divorced People Want to Say to Our Married Friends”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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