You can’t realize how unhappy you were until you stop being unhappy.
Photo by Chiến Phạm on Unsplash
I’ll admit it; I was in an unhappy marriage and I didn’t know it.
How did I not know it? Ignorance is bliss and I was trying damn hard to be blissful. I mean, that’s what the entire first year of marriage is meant to be, right?
That’s what I was told, until things got hard.
Then I was told the first year of marriage is the hardest.
And when that wasn’t enough to make me stay, I was told I took a vow.
They were right. I took a vow. I stood before a man and told him I’d love him regardless of what came our way. I made this promise in front of all of our family and friends. I wore the dress. I played the part. I was the blushing bride.
Yet somehow I found myself standing in front of a judge waiting to finalize the divorce of a barely there marriage.
I was able to stand in front of our judge and confirm, without hesitation, that the bonds of matrimony had been severed and there is no hope of reconciliation. As I stood there, somberly and pretending not to see the man who was about to become my ex-husband to my left, I waited for the doubt to creep in. I waited for the moment where my heart would tell me I was making the wrong choice. I waited and yet it never came.
I wish I could have said the same for my wedding day.
A mere 19 months earlier I stood holding that man’s hand, unable to look into his eyes without forcing myself, and felt panic rush through me as I vowed to be his wife. Pure terror rushed through me and I waited for the courage to let go of his hand and run down the aisle, alone.
But now I sit here with no ring on my finger. No husband in my life and no desire for him to be there; but I can’t help but to have a sore heart. I’m just as doubtless as I was in the courtroom, but there’s a gray tinge to the rosy outlook I had on life.
I’m grieving for a marriage I never wanted to be in.
I wish I wanted it. I wish, so badly, that he was what I wanted. How can you want more than a person who loves you unconditionally? A person who would agree to anything just to keep you in his life? A person who just wanted to be loved back?
I never tried to want more. I spent months attempting to convince myself that I was happy, but I just… wasn’t.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am being selfish. Maybe I should have stuck it out and realized 50 years from now that I wasted a life wishing to be happy. Would I have been okay with the choices I made? It’s possible, but unlikely. Regardless of if they’re right or not; it’s okay to grieve for this marriage that never could have become something I wanted.
If you’ve gone through a divorce, even one you wanted, and you’re wondering why it is you’re not feeling like celebrating… just know you’re not alone.
Your marriage ended. I’ve had several people ask me how I’m going to celebrate; I’m not celebrating. I spent the weekend with a close friend of mine and all we did was talk and day drink. Sometimes therapy is watching Grey’s Anatomy silently, crying over Denny Duquette’s death, and wishing you loved someone like Izzy loved him. You’ll find someone that fills your heart with that kind of love; don’t worry. (Bonus points if is name is Denny!)
You may still care for your ex-spouse. That doesn’t mean you’re meant to be with them. I don’t wish my ex-husband ill; I just know that we could never be what the other person needed. Regardless of how hard you try, sometimes the pieces just don’t fit and you’re both left banged up from trying. It’s okay.
Your future changed. You can no longer imagine exactly what your future is going to look like. You were probably, at least slightly, comfortable in your relationship and now that it’s over you’re feeling a bit out of sorts. Give it time. If you separated before the divorce it might be a bit easier, but it doesn’t mean that it’s completely painless. That first year is the hardest, but you’ll make it through.
Your identity is changing. Again. You used to be a single unit, then you became his wife, now you’re back to being on your own again. You’re no longer so-and-so’s wife; you’re just you! It’s both an amazing and unsettling notion. If you’re changing your name back to your maiden name like I am, be prepared for lots of questions and having to get used to signing it again!
It’s okay to feel a bit sad when you think about the life you gave up even if you know it’s for the best. It’s normal. It’s part of the process. I knew before we got married that we shouldn’t get married. I knew it wouldn’t last because I never wanted it in the first place but it doesn’t make it any easier to let it go.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been and then I remember the heart I hurt. It sends a little pang of guilt into my chest, but I know with time it will subside and that ultimately, this is the best way I could have ever shown him that he meant something to me.
Even if he doesn’t get it yet.