Ten years ago today, I stood in front of 250 people and promised forever to a man I loved completely.
I remember the strangest details. Getting bagels in the morning with my maid of honor. My future sister in law scolding me to smile at the salon. Nervously waiting with my dad before walking down the aisle.
The turquoise blue folded note from the groom expressing his love and excitement.
The smoothness with which he handed me a kleenex when I was tearing up during the ceremony.
My mom sewing the bustle button back on in the parking lot.
The home brewed beer. That, oops, the bartenders didn’t save any of for the bride and groom.
Dancing. Enjoying dancing. Smiling so much my cheeks hurt. Multiple layers of tulle stuck and twisted with sweat on my legs.
If you had told me that day that in ten years I wouldn’t be married to that man anymore, I wouldn’t have believed you.
We were so in love. So obviously stupid for one another. We weren’t “babies” – we were 24/25. Graduated college. Did everything the “right” way (whatever that means).
And there’s a hole in my stomach where my marriage used to be. Solid. Stable. Secure.
But then there was the fighting. At first monthly. Then weekly. Eventually, daily. It became noteworthy if we had a day without fighting.
We still said I love you every day. We still had regular affection and connection. After 2 long years of uncertainty we became pregnant.
Then I started reading books. Books recommended to me by professionals. Books about relationships and varying degrees of dysfunction.
I sat in my therapist’s office. Justifying to her how I must have made our relationship sound worse than it was. We just needed to start counseling over. She needed to meet him. To see how we were together. I just wasn’t explaining it right.
So he came. We did therapy. She still saw what she saw.
I got on medication. It must be because I’m depressed. That’s what’s breaking my marriage. My depression.
Medication helped a lot. Until he would get home from work.
I grabbed at books. At blogs. Wrote to experts. I tried every tactic everyone suggested to do my part to change the dynamic.
But the dynamic wouldn’t budge.
Finally I swallowed the lump in my throat and spoke up. To him. Directly. One night in March. After Eileen’s funeral. He was moved. Apologetic. Understanding. Compassionate. Said he didn’t want to lose me… he saw how Don was losing Eileen and he didn’t want to lose me.
There was a new honeymoon. A month in which things were better than ever. I’m so glad Lori & Clay’s wedding was during this break in the clouds. Such a happy memory of being there with him.
And then… slip, slip, slip… slide.
The rocks they tumbled down on me and suffocated. I was drowning. I reached out for help and got some. Reserved support. Pending verification. If what I said was true…
He moved out. I felt safe. And free. At ease in my own home. In my own skin.
And that’s when I knew. That’s when I knew and I couldn’t unknow. I had been tiptoeing around in a house aflame. The October winds blew away the notes I had left convincing myself this was all in my imagination. No longer could I convince myself I was just overreacting.
Even now I cry. Literally. Crying. Writing. Letting a piece of my broken heart out for air.
On Valentine’s day, while others were celebrating their love, I was signing divorce papers.
I stopped at the florist and bought my lawyer a small stem of pink lisianthus. When I gave it to her I muttered something about how if she had to be working divorce papers on Valentine’s day she at least deserved a flower.
When he found out that I had filed, I told him I wanted us to start over. I wanted a reboot. A redo. A clean slate. He promised that if the divorce went through he would find someone else, get married, and start a new family.
I’ve been divorced since August 19, 2014.
And even though since that time I’ve lost friends, grown a business, gained friends, traveled to Europe, traveled to Mexico, got a dream job, got fired for the first time (and the second), bought a car, bought a house…
Somehow I still ache.
I still wonder if I made the best choice.
If I could/would/should have done more to save it.
And the hardest part is, I’ll never really know.