Eight years ago this week, the last week of January 2007, my marriage ended. Or rather, it officially, unofficially ended (we were officially divorced a year later). On January 26, 2007, I packed up my things in a rudimentary fashion - whatever I could fit into a suitcase for the time being - and I moved out of the house in Merchantville, New Jersey that I had shared with my husband for the past three and a half years.
There was no blow up fight, no storming out, no grand finale of sorts. The night before we'd had a serious, mature, important but friendly talk - one that we'd agreed earlier in the day was needed. It was no surprise for either of us. In fact, we'd taken a vacation to Brazil over Christmas and New Years just weeks before, and despite it being one of our best trips, we talked about how it may well be our last together. We were prepared, or as prepared as anyone can be for the end of their marriage. In retrospect, I think everyone's about as prepared for the end of their marriage as they were for the beginning of it, which is to say, not at all. We'd talked, I'd cried, despite being the one who wanted this ending more, he'd held me. It was, ironically, the closest we'd felt to each other probably in a couple of years. We didn't hate each other. We didn't even dislike each other. We were friends even, at least for a while, though we have since lost touch. But we just didn't want to be married to each other. Or rather, I didn't want to be in the marriage and my misery made him understand that it was best for us not to be together. I had no doubt he would have stayed if I had. He loved me much more than I gave him credit for - I know that now, though I didn't see it then. As I gathered my things, for the first time ever, I saw him cry. He told me he felt like a piece of his soul was dying. My ex-husband may be many things, but poetic and outwardly emotional are not among them by any means. For that reason, that single sentence has stayed with me. While it has occasionally, over the years, made me feel guilty, I'm glad to remember it. It reminds that things weren't always bad with him which, after a divorce, even one as amicable as ours, can be tough to remember.
Life is queer with its twists and turns... Cinn (my dog) and I restarted our lives in a one-bedroom apartment. We adjusted nicely, and after a year and a half I met my now-ex fiance. I fell madly in love with someone who was in many ways so different from my ex-husband. He was my partner, my other half, and I thought I had found the rest of my life. In the end, we broke each others' hearts. Or rather, the situation did. I left my marriage because there wasn't enough love on my end. I believe, ultimately, my engagement ended because there was so much love that it became toxic.
As every one of us sometimes learns... Cinn and I restarted our lives again. I started casually dating a friend of mine. Like those before him, it was his differences that attracted me. He was my continually positive cheerleader and believed in me even when I didn't. I ended up hurt and I blame myself for much of that - he'd warned me all along, and as usual, I thought I could make it right if I tried really, really hard. At heart, I'm a fixer. One would think that after a divorce and a broken engagement I would realize that I didn't have this power, but it appears I'm a slow learner. Or perhaps a hopeless romantic. Probably a little of both. Like the times before, there was no bad blood. We were friends, as we always had been.
I took a break from dating, and everyone that cared about me said "thank the dear lord". I spent time growing my circle of girl friends for pretty much the first time since middle school - I've always been one of the guys and had just a couple of close girl friends, but I actually managed a circle of girlfriends who didn't make me want to strangle them for being too girly.
After significant girl friends time, I decided I didn't think men were the devil incarnate and decided to date again. I met my current boyfriend. We clicked right away, and began spending a lot of time together. A couple months later I met his son. I fell in love with them both. Today, I find it ironic that the issue of children was one of the driving factors of my divorce, yet this little boy has now so stolen my heart and having him in my life seems so natural.
This past spring, as all things do, life came almost full circle. I moved from Philly back to Jersey into a house with my boyfriend, his son, and our two dogs. We had a real Christmas tree this past holiday and hosted Christmas morning, something I'd never done even when married. This past year I also started working part time for a conference center - still also doing my travel business - and once again work a job with coworkers, where I have to report at a certain time and have a manager, just like I had when I got married. I'm growing in this job and loving it more every day (I don't think my coworkers read this, so this isn't BS, I swear).
Life isn't perfect. It's never perfect. If it were, it wouldn't be life. We wouldn't be living and learning and growing. I wouldn't want a perfect life. I'd be constantly looking over my shoulder wondering when it was going to turn, and quite honestly, knowing me, I'd probably be bored. I wouldn't change the things that have happened in my life. And I say "have happened", but honestly, I was an active part of many of them them. I chose to be in each of the situations above, I chose my actions in them and my reactions to them. I didn't choose everything that happened in them, but I chose to learn from them. Now, eight years after I walked out of my house and my marriage, I'm finding myself once again. After years of feeling lost, I feel like I've come back. I hope, this time, I'm here to stay.
You never can tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far
So stick to your fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem the worst that you must not quit.