On the morning of February 7, 1998, I stood across from the man to whom I had pledged my love and, together, we read our handwritten vows before family, friends and our beloved church pastor. On that day, we became one as husband and wife.
By Day #6 of our supposed wedded bliss, there was no bliss to be had. While on our honeymoon, my new husband grabbed my hand and, with malicious intent, yanked me into the street. I fell to the pavement, badly skinning my right knee in the process. The scar on my knee is my daily reminder of his strange brand of ‘love.’ Why had he done this? This man that I loved and wanted to spend the rest of my days with was angry with me . . . for walking on the opposite side of the street from him.
The weather was beautiful in Key West that day, but we were walking in the shade where it was chilly. When asked, my husband of 6 days refused to let me wear his sweater to shield my body from the coolness. So I moved to the other side of the street to walk in the welcoming rays of the sun. When we met up at the corner, he took out his passive aggressive anger on me.
Marriage isn’t supposed to be like this, I thought, but kept the pain to myself.
The Stranger in My Bed
For months, I lived with a man that I loved and, in that time, he became a man that I didn’t know. Two months into the marriage, I walked out on him for a week. He had balled up his fist, brought it to within inches of my face and said through gritted teeth, “I’ll knock your head off!” That time, the anger he directed at me was borne out of stupidity: he was angry because I was petting my cat, Napoleon. I believed myself to be a good, Christian woman, but, on that day, I looked in the eyes of the devil.
Eight months later—my spirit broken and my self-esteem at an all-time low—I made one of the best decisions of my then 36 years. On December 18, after months of unmitigated bullshit, I left the man who I thought I would love forever. That love died a slow, painful death.
I was now alone.
Divorce is one of life’s harrowing transitions. It signifies the death of a marriage. The pain of divorce can linger long after the judge puts her John Hancock on the final decree. And then we grieve.
My emotions were all over the place. My happily ever after turned into misery in the present. Would I ever recover? How was I going to move forward? Could I ever trust another man again?
Slowly, after screaming about it, crying about it, cursing about it, seething about it and, eventually, praying about it, I came to the realization that I was indeed a whole woman. I could blossom and grow in the absence of a man, especially a bad man. I can do bad all by myself, thank you very much. My life wasn’t going to stop simply because my marriage was over. My heart and my mind had converged on common ground. It was time to move on.
And I did move on. I re-evaluated my life and where I wanted to be. I purchased my first home. I left a job that was sucking the life out of me. I even found a new companion: a gorgeous lab mix dog that I named Kenji. I was laser-focused on me, a person who I had managed to neglect for quite some time.
After a respectable amount of time had passed, I cautiously dipped my big toe into the dating pool. I was having fun meeting new people, living in my singledom as carefree as I wanted. I was a bad mamma jamma. Soon, the whole dating routine got old. Men seemed to be more concerned with what I could give them than what they brought to the table. I decided to overturn the table. And then I had an epiphany.
As a divorced woman, I refused to allow myself to get caught up in the belief that my life was over. I’ll never find love. I’ll never have children. I’ll never be happy. I’ll never be . . .
My thoughts were poisoning my life.
There comes a time when we just have to stop pushing and let things go. Let go of all the negative stuff. Let go of the misery. Let go of the self-sabotage. Let go of wanting . . . so damn bad that you can’t concentrate on much else beyond a desire to be wanted, needed, loved.
It was as if I had finally exhaled after holding my breath for far too many months. By letting go, I opened myself up for so much more when I least expected it. Including love.
On August 1, 2016, I will celebrate my 7th anniversary with the man who came into my life when I least expected it.
If you too are a divorced woman, know that divorce doesn’t signal the end . . . it marks the beginning of a whole new life. Relax, let go and watch your desires come to you.
Valerie Albarda, a Huffington Post contributor and freelance writer, never wanted to be a divorce statistic. Unfortunately, her first marriage ended and left her a disheveled mess. After much soul searching, she found ways to heal and move on by loving herself, letting go of her anger and accepting that a new life was hers for the asking. She is now happily married to her Flying Dutchman and continues to be triumphant.
A version of this Post features on Valerie’s website midlife-a-go-go.
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