Ex-wives. According to statistics, over half of Americans either have one or are one. As far as numbers go, I am part of that statistic. As far as reality goes, I’m a little more complex. You tell any divorced man that you too are divorced and I swear he instinctively reaches for his back pocket to make sure his wallet is still there. There are so many stigmas attached to being divorced and far too often divorced women are seen as the bitter, lonely, money hungry, typical divorcee. Yet the problem with perception is that it’s generally one sided.
I am happily divorced. If there is such a thing. Divorced at 22, I was told that my divorce would ruin my life. That’s a grim little picture isn’t it? I decided that this was not going to define me. That my divorce was not going to become part of my identity. It’s a part of my story, granted, but there is so much more to the woman I am.
I’ve never met a woman who on her wedding day thought: “Oh well. If it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced.” No. You’re standing there, dressed head to toe in white, looking at this man, the physical embodiment of your happiness, thinking that you’re going to grow old together. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if it actually happened that way? But sometimes people grow and people change and chances are the person you wake up next to in five years won’t emotionally or mentally be the same person you married. And no matter how much you truly meant those vows when you said them, sometimes “Til death do us part” can loom at you like a life sentence.
Divorced nearly four years, I would genuinely like to be friends with my ex-husband. He was the first man I ever truly loved , my best friend and the father of my child. So do we have to swear to be mortal enemies just because our marriage didn’t work? In the end of our marriage you could have cut the tension with a knife. We were walking on eggshells and tip toeing around the truth. And that truth was that we made each other completely miserable. I didn’t want our daughter to grow up and think that our marriage, our relationship, was the norm. I wanted to give Prinny an example of how happy two people in love could be. Her father and I couldn’t give her that. I left him on my birthday. I considered it my present to myself.
However, after my divorce I spent my days grieving for my marriage like a family member had died. There was an aching hole where my heart used to be and I prayed to God to make the pain go away. I nearly drove myself crazy racking my brain trying to figure out what I could have done, what we could have done and wondered what would have been if only we had loved each other more. As if sheer will and determination alone could have magically fixed an irretrievably broken marriage. And then something wonderful happened. I woke up one morning, literally peeled myself of the floor and realized that I was going to be ok. That my daughter was going to be ok. That this decision I had made, the path I had set us on, was the best thing I could have done for us. Little by little, I found the person I had lost during my marriage. I found me again.
My ex husband is now remarried. And I couldn’t be happier for him. I can only hope that they make each other happy in ways that he and I never could. You meet those women who have been divorced for 20 years and still spit their ex husbands name out of their mouths like poison. I can’t help but feel sorry for those women. How painful it must be to carry that burden, to have that bitterness in your heart. I know the joy of letting go of that pain. I can only liken it to a butterfly rising from a cocoon. It’s a beautiful rebirth and I’m a better person for it. The bitterness has washed away and while the nights can get lonely I have faith that this isn’t the end of my story. It’s actually just beginning. Thank goodness I’m anything but typical.0