Posted in Love and Loss

An Open Letter to Those Like Me

Last night I was able to have an amazingly meaningful conversation with my lifelong best friend after almost 6 months. We tend to go long periods of time without talking sometimes… but I’ll write more about our adventures  in another post. K is just the kind of friend who knows pretty much everything about me and how I operate, and, if I’m being honest, that can be pretty hard to swallow at times. But we’ve been tight since we were 4 growing up across the street from one another.

People close to me forget that I am divorced. Yes, it happened years ago, and it can feel like a different lifetime. I’ve come a long way and I have changed so much as a result of and in spite of the experiences I’ve had since my separation almost 10 years ago. So, in our casual conversation last night, K mentioned a woman we knew was getting divorced after 2 years of marriage. And I could tell that K was just sharing information, but I took it differently. All I said then was, “I feel for her. This is a tough time.” While I am not close with this woman, I know she is in pain.

Since my divorce, my hope has been that not another of my friends make a similar mistake. I’d like the biggest lesson I’ve learned the hard way to save others the heartache. I didn’t set out to be the poster child for short-term marriage, but I’ll take it if it’ll make a difference for someone else. I mean, I’ve already lived through all that bullshit, it really can’t hurt me anymore. But I know, it really can hurt when it’s live and in the moment.

So, my open letter to other starter wives like me…

Oh Love –

I know this is so hard to talk about; to admit that your brief marriage is over. Humiliating that you just promised forever only to be all alone all over again. And it wouldn’t hurt so much if you never had to talk about it, justify yourself, and cling to a small shred of hope that they’ll actually understand. But this isn’t a regular old breakup that you can pretend to those around you doesn’t matter. This was real. It’s hard to say the words.

Especially after that big wedding. Every time you think about it, your stomach sinks. All the stress over getting all the details just right, and the glittery-eyed guests, the heartfelt toasts, and the dress that you fell in love with hard. {Let’s be honest, if you are committed to anything at this point, it’s that dress!} For the life of you, you just can’t seem to get the sight of your dad with pride and wistful memories written all over his face as he gave you away.

The photo album haunts you. Especially the pictures of yourself. You study them to try to see inside your soul in those moments before you made promises that won’t come true. Did you love him? Were you just hoping for the best? Were you happy? Did you love him? Were you afraid? Did you even question yourself when it still could have made a difference?

Oh it’s true, the day you created was beautiful. You danced, and you laughed, and you hugged, and you properly thanked each of your guests for their attendance and generosity. To tell them it was a mistake is the second scariest thing you’ve done. Only second to admitting to your new husband that this life isn’t what you want, maybe it’s not what you deserve. Worse yet, it’s not a life you can live within.

The first dance was to the song you’ve had in mind for a decade, at least. You had your great-grandmother’s lace handkerchief stitched in the lining of your dress. The church that raised you, a perfect backdrop. The shoes, the garter, the veil, the lipstick… all just the way you’d planned it out for months. The tradition and all of the favorite parts that were to make it perfect: wasted on the wrong ceremony.

It’s all over now – the event, not the feelings. Oh no, not the feelings. You have a sense that they will be around for awhile, and I’m going to tell you that’s the damn truth. Time right now seems more fickle than ever – the time you were married seems ridiculously short to outsiders, but for you? For you, it feels like you’ve aged ten years. You’ve faced disappointment, neglect, anger, and frustration; exhibited great effort, compromise, stubborn persistence and tears enough for a lifetime.

You’re going to want to hide like you haven’t hidden in years. If you huddled yourself away in the corner of your closet with blankets, pillows and favorite books like I did as a child, you’re going to want to reconnect with that feeling of peaceful solitude. The gossip, disappointed grandparents and naked ring finger are just the beginning of what you have no interest in facing. Breathe and snuggle into that solitude for awhile. It’s okay to burrow away, but only for a little while. The world is waiting – not for your confession, but for your living to resume. Your one wild and precious life goes on. What are you going to do with it?

I’ve got you, and so do millions of others. You’re not going to feel us beside you as you walk this road, but we’ve tried to make the path a little more friendly. It’s still filled with thorns and assholes, though. We couldn’t do so much about them. But someday, you’re going to emerge and look around and see us. You’ll find us nodding our heads with quiet and sad understanding, holding out our arms for a comforting hug, hands outstretched for holding and walking on, and a shit ton of wine. We get it. And so will you.

So, hold your head as high as you can. You have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a mistake, and a fucking painful one, I know. But this life is so much richer than what you’ve seen so far, and this trial was only meant to show you the depths of your spirit to better savor it. Dwell on your freedom for a bit, and then rejoin us in community and in love. It’ll wait for you. It’s not lost.

All my love, understanding and Shiraz,

n

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