Oh man. I came across some tucked away my wedding photos the other day and I all I could think of was how IMPOSSIBLY young I look. How fucking naïve my face is, and how miserable I know I was that day. And then, immediately following that, how I wish I could go back and tell that Amie not to do it. To skip out before we went through with it. To leave when my mom asked me if I wanted to back out.
Anything. Everything. To stop me from taking that leap. But, I did it. I went through with the traditional vows and had my first dance and watched all my friends and family be merry and get drunk and congratulate us.
Your past is part of makes you who you are. But I think it’s REALLY important to recognize that it doesn’t need to define you for the rest of your life.
Did I make a mistake marrying that guy? Probably. Did I know it at the time? I think I recognized on the honeymoon that it probably wasn’t the brightest idea I had, and I know for sure I stayed with him wayyyy longer than I should have because I didn’t want to branded a “failure”, but honestly, on that day? I convinced myself that I thought I was doing the right thing.
On my wedding day, I had already been with my soon-to-be husband for over 6 years. I was also still recovering from past abuse—unsure of who I was, insecure with every decision I made, horribly depressed because I was working 40 hours a week, going to school full-time, and racking up a huge amount of debt, and also somehow convinced by (most of) the people around me that “getting married and having a family and living in the ‘burbs” is just what you did. Everybody hated their jobs, and hated their life, and you know, kind of hated their significant other, even. And that’s just the way life is. It sucks, but you “get through it.”
Man, if only I’d know what a complete load of bullshit that was.
Did I love him? Sure I did. But:
1) When you are together with someone from age 19-30, a lot of shit changes. YOU change a LOT. He changes A LOT. I think if you’re lucky enough to have found the right person when you’re young, than you can change together, which is awesome. But that is totally not what happened with us.
2) On top of those changes, we were bombarded by a traumatic event (someday they’ll be a blog post specifically about this, but I’m not quite ready for that yet) which caused us to both pull apart from each other rather than bring us closer together.
When I realized that we were sinking fast and our marriage probably wasn’t going to make it, I made an effort to try to save things but it was just too damn late. I was angry. He was indifferent. And we just weren’t in love with each other anymore. There was betrayal, and there was lying. And there was nothing left to do but file for divorce.
Some family members told me I was lucky that we didn’t have kids, and they’re right. To an extent. It’s certainly easier to extract yourself from someone’s life and never talk to them again if you don’t have a shared responsibility. But it also makes it harder to resolve some things. And I honestly don’t think it affects your feelings about the ending of your marriage—I mentioned it before, but there are so many “what ifs” that happen.
It’s hard to talk about stuff like this without sounding like you’re dwelling on the past, but honestly, I think everybody thinks about their exes sometimes—whether you married them or not. They were a part of your life, and it’s human nature to analyze past relationships and try to dissect what when wrong, where, how, and when. I don’t think it means we’re crazy, or we’re dwelling on things, or that we “can’t get over it.” As long as you learn something from every relationship you have, it’s not a failure. And it’s not wrong.
Related to that, hanging on to anger over something that’s failed, placing the blame entirely on one person, and continually referring to someone as “ruining your life” is so, so, so lame. I don’t think that shit is constructive in any way, and all it really does is make you feel like crap and mire you in unhappiness. Learn from it, forgive it, make changes within yourself, and move on.
What I learned from my marriage is that I deserve to be happy—in ALL aspects of my life, all the time. Every day. Does that mean I don’t have days that suck? Not at all. Of course I do! But it does mean that I know now that it is possible to have a job a like. A future I look forward to. A relationship that is so awesome I can barely stand it. A place to live that I LOVE.
It means I can choose how to be happy, and surround myself with people who love me and want the best for me, instead of wasting time on people who don’t. And most importantly: I can continue to learn and grow and love and be loved.
It means I should be around people who love me the way I am. And accept my craziness and my faults. And forgive me for doing stupid shit. It means I deserve someone who loves me, just the way I am. And that changing to mold myself into someone’s ideal of me is ridiculous.
It means I can stand up for myself when I’m being mistreated. And not be afraid to say how I feel, or voice my opinion. It means I can cut my hair as short as I want, and dress up in whatever I feel like wearing, even when it’s baggy jeans and an oversize tee-shirt.
It means I know how to be ME now.
And if a failed marriage helped me to get here? Then it was more than worth it.