I forgot what life was even like before I met him. And for the first time after years, I was alone again.
17 years ago on my wedding day, my dad squeezed my hand, looked at me with a beaming smile and asked, "are you ready?"
I instinctively said "yes" because standing at the end of the aisle was the man I had fallen in love with. And I couldn't wait for us to spend the rest of our lives together. That day went by like a blur and so did the rest of our 17-year-old marriage. I still can't tell when things started falling apart, but only realized it after it was too broken and fractured to fix. As gut-wrenching as this realization was, this marriage was what made me understand how two people can live together and still feel so emotionally far apart.
We were pushed to the point where we were too tired of fighting and we parted ways. And our gradual divorce started changing me in ways I never realized was possible, it happened little by little, but went deeper and deeper.
For the first time in years, I was alone again. He was my high school sweetheart and after spending close to two decades of our lives together, I had completely forgotten what life was like before we met. Ans as strange as it may seem, I forgot what it was like to be single. The nights were especially hard because the bed felt so empty. The house felt so silent without his footsteps around the house. I'll never deny that he did have a special place in my heart and when he left, it felt like he had taken a part of it from me. At first, it felt like I was incomplete, but later I found ways to fill that space myself. People are always trying to convince you that you need a partner to feel safe and secure in life. But life after divorce taught me that when you cam finally love yourself wholly, that's when you will feel that sense of completeness.
The divorce was brutal, to say the least. It gave me time to finally step out of the marriage and really look at what I had put myself through. I saw how I forced myself to do things just to please him, I let him undermine my needs and make everything about himself, and I let him get his way without ever standing up for myself. With the underlying fear of losing him and what we had built together taking over me, I had forgotten to take care of myself, to pay attention to my own needs. I had forgotten nurture my soul and water my inner garden on the bad days.
After the divorce, I told myself that I'll never do that to myself again. Being a wife doesn't mean I have to give up my identity. In fact, it's not just marriage, but any relationship. I have finally started living for myself and giving myself the attention that I never gave before.
Despite all the ways in which we hurt each other, the one thing that kept us together for 17 years was the thought of our children. But finally, we decided that we couldn't go on like that. I used to feel guilty for putting my kids through the pain of having to watch us part ways. When I managed to look past the blame I was inflicting upon myself, I realized that I can be a much better mother if I wasn't feeling trapped in the one relationship they have been witness to since young. While I know that it's difficult for them, I find comfort in knowing that they don't have to watch us fight anymore.
They won't have to feel trapped in a house anymore where there is no peace. After my husband moved out and as I started healing, my children finally had a home that was devoid of negativity. I was finally able to be more involved in their lives without having to think about my next argument with my husband. And someday, I know my kids will truly understand why the divorce was necessary for their parents to be happy again.
Of course, everybody in the world had an opinion about my divorce. They judged, they pointed fingers at me, and they whispered behind my back. They thought I gave up on my marriage without trying to fix it, but they have no idea what I went through. I realized that people will talk no matter what, but I have stopped listening. I'm finally making decisions for myself and people can finally watch me live the happy life that I deserve to live.
Yes, divorce was one of the toughest things I ever had to experience in my life. But the worst is over. I made it through and I survived. There's no turning back now.