Sometimes I register my environment as if in a dream. I’ve lived without my friend, who was once my husband, for 369 days. How did I get here? What happened?
For 11 of my 20 adult years, I was a wife; for 16, in love with the same man. One year is certainly not enough time to “get over it” but it’s been a significant year of growth in that direction, if you need to think of it that way. It’s not a surprise that some days I still feel married, but I’ve learned how to be on my own again. I’ve reanimated once dead dreams.
I’ll always love my ex—and eventually won’t think of him as often, I’m told—after all he’s the one who taught me a most valuable lesson: to trust myself.
Starting over has been difficult, and … wonderfully weird. I’ve exhausted myself with fits of grief and I’ve surprised myself with my capacity to heal. In an effort to fall forward, as they say, I set some goals last July to process my new life.
I wanted to remain single.
I wanted to focus on my career.
I wanted to love my friends with the love I used to reserve for a husband.
I wanted to interact with my life in the present; doing what feels right in the moment without overthinking things.
I wanted to experience firsts with the curiosity of a child.
And I wanted to allow myself to feel every feeling as BIG as I could, no matter how messy, and then expose myself by sharing those “ugly” feels with the people who love me, who’ve always loved me, but I failed to let in.
I wanted to stop hiding who I am, and something happened. I found myself, and I fell in love.
The thing is, I couldn’t have accomplished my goals on my own. Sometimes tackling them made me feel trapped, like I’d fallen down a well without a way to crawl out. But I screamed and people showed up. They kept showing up.
Deciding to get divorced was nauseating, the process itself sometimes debilitating; living in the aftermath, a wave of stress, anxiety, and … freedom.
I’ve had to repeat to myself in the mirror, I was a good wife. I was a good wife. I was a good wife. Because I was. I liked being a wife. But just because I’m not one anymore doesn’t mean my entire marriage was a sham and I’ve failed. The demise was not all my fault.
I’ve had to remember how to sleep alone, how to shop for and cook food for one, how to adjust from dual to single income budgeting. I started with a bed and a nightstand—any other home decor that didn’t fit in my car in the one trip I made when I moved out was left behind—and I gradually fashioned a dark cave of creativity lit with twinkly string lights and glowing pink velvet.
I’ve had to open myself up to my parents and my friends and express when I need help without buckling under the fear of being an annoyance, a burden. I hate bleeding on people, but I just couldn’t stop the bleed myself.
For all the things it seems I lost in the divorce, love was not one of them.
“All you need is love.” I get that now.
Mom & Dad
I forgot how clearly you see me and how deep you love me. Thank you for reminding me when I needed reminding the most and for always showing up.
You were the first person I told when I realized my marriage was over. Thanks for letting me know it was going to be okay.
Kimberly, my soul mate.
You’ve stuck with me throughout my most intense discoveries and helped light the way. Thank you for your loyalty and consistent presence, and for reminding me that it’s okay to be seen for who I really am.
Chandler, my handsome weirdo.
When we met, I was an emotional mess of a human and it didn’t deter you. You have taught me so much about myself through all our crazy late-night shenanigans. Thank you for coaxing me out of hiding and supporting me with your time.
Mark, the first 4 I knew I had.
Meeting you at the airport was serendipitous; our instant friendship, refreshing. Thank you for staying on the phone with me when I ride waves of tears and would rather no one know.
Jeremy & Danille, my friends like fam.
You’ve handled the difficult task of friending us both on the other side of our marriage. Thank you for loving us that much, and for being my home base when my home didn’t feel like home.
Charity, my loyalist.
You always know what to say, or what meme to send, exactly when I need it. Thank you for remembering my significant dates and always checking in.
Alicia, my Portland parallel.
I guess there’s one thing we can thank our ex-husbands for: introducing us! Thank you for being brave enough to take the steps you needed for yourself so I felt brave enough to take my own.
Grace, my scientist.
You took time off two jobs to visit when I needed an old friend. Thank you for not letting the distance between Portland and Seattle keep us apart.
Lori, my cube-mate.
When I realized my life was about to make a dramatic turn, you were my daily support. Thank you for talking me through my separation and impending divorce with your legal understanding.
Meghan, my boundary buddy.
You have been one of my biggest cheerleaders as I’ve sought emotional balance of the work/life variety. Thank you for listening.
Allison, my sexy secret keeper.
I knew the first time we spoke I wanted you in my life. You are uniquely you, and that encourages me to be me. Thank you for lending me your backbone when I didn’t have one.
Nicole, my grapefruit in a grove of apples.
I never thought I’d meet my twin! You get me. Like, totally. Completely. Thank you for loving me with your big beautiful heart.
Michael, my stone-faced pillar… until, dimples.
It’s possible I’ve cried in front of you the most this past year. Thank you for allowing me to be raw and then lifting me back up so I can see myself clearly.
Aaron-baybeee, my counterpart and level.
I don’t know what I would have done without a divorce partner to help me move through the feels. Thank you for sharing your insides with me so I don’t have to go it alone.
Quincy, my conversational cave-dweller. We go deep.
You literally watched the end of my marriage unravel and then encouraged me to do what was best for me, no matter how tough it was going to be. Thank you for reminding me what kind of friends I want in my life forever.
Acacia & Rasaja, my sweet beautiful sisters.
You two remind me of the value of my past lives. If not for my ex, I never would have met you. Thank you for letting me lean on you and making me laugh so hard I forget to cry.
And to all of you, new and old friends, and family, thank you.
Grandmother, Aunt Teresa, Aunt Nevie, Bri, Kimber, Andrea, Nathan, Lennox, Ian, Karine, Eden, Amber, Nikki, Matthew, Elizabeth, Jake, Mitch, Jonah, Destry, Cassidy, Chelsi, Anna, Jill, Leigh, Erin, Agnes, Heather, Brittany, Paula, Carrie, and Katie.