What. A. Year!
Had someone told me this time last year what was coming, I never would have believed them. I could not have imagined my whole life falling apart the way it seemed to in December. Then again, I don’t think anyone prepares to hear their spouse say, “I don’t think I love you and I don’t think I have for years.”
When I sat down to write about the divorce in March I was still so fresh in my grief that in looking back on that article, my heart still aches for that woman. I was still in the do-four-things-a-day survival mode. I didn’t know how to ask for help. My co-teacher was doing more teaching than I was because, God bless my coworkers, everyone knew I could hardly form a sentence myself let alone teach English to 8th graders. At that point I had so many unanswered questions and was pretty sure I would never even get to ask them, let alone get the answers I wanted. I still loved my husband and while I knew deep down I deserved so much better than what was happening, I probably would have taken him right back home if he changed his mind.
What. An. Idiot!
Yes. I just called myself an idiot. Ok, I called deep-in-grief me an idiot. Because here I am, months later, thankful for everything that I have gone through to get where I am today. Cause guess what? I got answers! I got clarity. I found out that all the things I questioned and was told “you’re crazy” about were true. I finally got mad. No more Mrs. Nice Girl. I was so polite for so long and finally I had to stop. It wasn’t healthy for me. It wasn’t fair for me to be bending over backwards for someone who wouldn’t even spit on me if I was on fire. The fire he set, by the way.
For months, I sat and questioned how I could be so dumb to have missed all the signs. Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t missed things. The man who he is now is not even close to the man I married. This man, this new version of him, is appalling. His ideas of loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, basic decency…these things are laughable now. And trust me, I have been laughing!
My sister told me when all of this started that getting divorced sucked, but being divorced wasn’t so bad. I was sure she was off her rocker. But do you know what? She was right! Because once I got out of my big grief fog, I remembered who I was before.
Before I gave up traveling anywhere fun since he didn’t like to go anywhere. Before I stopped trying new things because his idea of a good night together was sitting at home playing a game on separate computers, but at the same time. Before I stopped going to great restaurants because he was always on some sort of fad diet. Before I spent less than two hours at any get together friends threw because he hated being around people.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are still grief days. I still get mad at stupid things sometimes, like having to pick up dog poop since that was supposed to be his job since he was the one that insisted we get a dog. And I get overwhelmed taking care of the house all on my own (I still don’t know how to mow the lawn or turn on the grill!) But overall, I am happy. I wish I could go back to the grief-stricken me from January and tell her it gets better. I doubt I would believe it, but isn’t that how it always is? I could have gotten tough and strong and independent through some other trial, but the military divorce was the catalyst that kickstarted this change.
The last two things I had to do to finalize things were change my name back, something I was all too happy to do, and cover up my anniversary tattoo. When I did that (the tattoo, not the name) I got a lot of grief from people. The snide remarks about how I must regret getting my anniversary tattooed on me to begin with and how stupid I must feel having to get something like that covered. I said it then and I’ll say it again now.
I don’t regret the original tattoo any more than I regret my marriage. I loved my husband. I look back and I remember happy times and good memories. I don’t regret eloping. I don’t regret the six and a half years we were together. I would do it all again, even knowing it would end, because it showed me just how much love I have to give and taught me what I will never settle for ever again. I covered my tattoo with a wave and cheesy as it sounds, it almost feels like I am washing away the past. Not erasing it completely, just letting the healing waters crash over me and renew my soul.
Now excuse me. I have a first date to prepare for and it is either going to be the start of something fabulous or the next chapter in my book of bad dates!
Read next: Military Divorcees, I See You
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