Divorce. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I don’t like to force my words, so I waited until I felt like things could easily flow out. Until I felt compelled to write, and since the topic has been knocking at me lately, I knew it was go-time now. So, here we are.
So yeah, divorce. Heavy topic to tackle, no? Or actually, maybe it doesn’t need to be. Because if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Divorce doesn’t have to be this taboo topic just because it makes people uncomfortable, because no one knows what to say, or because people are afraid that your divorce might somehow derail their marriage.
Divorce doesn’t have to be described as good or bad, this or that – it’s just something that happens in life. Did I think I’d get married and then watch it all fall apart just over a year later? Nope, certainly not. And definitely not after having been together for nearly 12 years when we got married. But it happened and life goes on. And you know what? It was all for the best.
Where to begin? There are so many starting points to choose from, but I don’t want to dissect my entire relationship right now. So, I guess let’s start here first – with the decision to get married.
I feel like it was somewhere at the start of 2014, we’d been together for 11 years at that point. We were in the middle of paying off our debt and spending a lot of money was not an option. At this point, we’d talked a lot about getting married – I brought it up often, our families questioned us about it repeatedly. But there was never a jumping off point. Time continued to pass, and he never proposed. Hey, if ever I needed a sign…maybe this was it?! It apparently was just never “the right time”. So, here we are at the start of 2014, and I remember asking him “can we please get married on 10.12.14?”. I had a thing for even numbers and the date was perfect. I guess we agreed, and I began planning things out.
So, we got married at a stunningly gorgeous apple orchard + pumpkin farm in the Shenandoah Valley. It was perfect for a fall-themed elopement in October. Yep, we eloped – just the two of us, an officiant, and a photographer. It was all very inexpensive, with my wedding band costing the most. I cannot quite recall, but with everything included, even a hotel and bed and breakfast, I think we stayed under $4000. So hey, mission accomplished.
Fast forward about a year, and this traumatic event occurred that shook me. I felt very alone, not supported, and blamed. There was never a moment when I wasn’t there for my partner, there was never a moment I wouldn’t have done anything for him. But here I am in the depths of darkness…alone. I know now that I could’ve been more direct in asking for what I needed – at the same time, I didn’t really know what I needed, except for support + understanding. So, I place no blame, just lessons learned. For me, I guess I seen this as the final straw though. Something was amiss with our emotional connection, our communication.
As I’ve talked about many times, I unraveled from that point on. And it was the beginning of the end. I struggled, I couldn’t find my way, I couldn’t get back up, and I couldn’t breathe. Come January, I finally admitted that I was lost, I didn’t know who I was, and I was unhappy. This was at a time when I was still a mess of bottled up emotions, when it was hard for me to verbalize what I felt, when being vulnerable just wasn’t a thing for me. So, I decided to see a therapist – in January or February, I cannot recall.
It was hard for me, as I wasn’t used to opening up to anyone. But she was a neutral party who was bound to confidentiality, so I eventually gave in. I became more comfortable little-by-little. She helped me sort my emotions, recommended books, supported me, encouraged me, and helped me build the strength to be myself. I saw her weekly for a while, and after each session, I would go to Barnes & Noble to sit and write. Asking for help was probably one of the single-most important things I’ve ever done, and I am so much better for having done so.
So, that February, it was our 13-year anniversary – the weekend of Valentine’s Day. And my emotions were at an all-time high. My best friend of over 20 years was getting married in Jamaica, and I wasn’t there. That’s another story, but we’ll skip it here. I remember it feeling so ironic that my best friend was getting married while my marriage was falling apart. I should have been in Jamaica with her, but instead, I was sitting at Starbucks, inside Barnes & Noble, with my husband saying to him that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I wasn’t willing to.
My therapist knew that I had made the decision to leave – after 13 years, I didn’t now what that meant, what it looked like, or how I would do it. But she supported me no matter. She was very honest in saying that I could continue with my decision to leave, or that I could choose to stay and work on my marriage, and that she’d help me with that too. I did end up asking my husband to join me for a therapy session (btw, that’s a great song by NF). So, we attended a session together – he did most of the talking. I don’t recall her exact words, although I know it’s written somewhere, but she said to me “it’s interesting to me how flat you are with him being here”. I knew what she meant, I was blank, quiet, and closed off.
Time continued to pass, my husband and I talked a lot – arguing was minimal, as it wasn’t something that I engaged in. Again, I shutdown. April rolls around, and I’m set to file for divorce. I get to the courthouse, but realize they don’t accept credit cards, and I didn’t have enough time to go get cash and return before closing. I remember being really upset with myself, a lot of negative self-talk – so I ended up talking to a friend, and she reminded me to be kind to myself.
Two more months passed. In that time, I moved out in May, and we ended up filing for divorce together at the courthouse in June. It wasn’t a ton of paperwork, and the whole process was surprisingly easy and uncomplicated. I remember telling my therapist that it was like a McDonald’s drive-thru. You walk in, stand in line, tell them what you want, pay a bit money, and walk out. That’s it. Then you just wait for the hearing date to be mailed to you. We filed in June, and the hearing was set for early July, but since we both had plans to be out-of-town, we postponed it. It was rescheduled for August, but I was having an emotionally rough time, so I decided to postpone the hearing again. This time it was rescheduled for October – how I ironic, I thought, to be getting divorced almost exactly 2 years after getting married.
On the date of our hearing, I picked him up and we went together. The longest part of the hearing was waiting for everyone else in front of us to have their hearing. It’s an awkward thing, to listen to all these other people while you stand there anxious, nervous, and nearly sick while you wait for your turn. The hearing was quick, maybe 10 minutes, and that’s it. Later I recall thinking, had we kept things as intended, the whole process would have been about a month long – from filing for divorce to having the hearing. It kind of still feels mind-blowing. But, at the same time, if the decision to divorce has been made, there’s no real need to drag it out, especially when it’s uncomplicated like ours was (no lawyers, no children, no mortgage, nothing left to separate).
He and I were never on bad terms, and we even went out to eat several times between filing for divorce and our hearing date. I can only speak for myself, but it was a relief to finally accept what was. To stop forcing, to stop hoping for things to change or improve. We did discuss giving us the chance or opportunity to try, but I decided that I just didn’t have another 10 years to give. If things hadn’t changed up until that point, what hope did I have that they’d change in future? In the near-future at that. I guess that sounds almost cruel, but sometimes it’s best to just accept what is and move on. Our story had ended. So, I closed that chapter of my life and turned the page.
And with that, I was left to figure out how to breathe again (it’s a song, go give it a listen).