Anniversaries are just one of those reminders from the past that we eventually learn to either celebrate or forget!
My “was-i-versary” (aka the wedding anniversary from my previous marriage) is coming up in about two weeks. These little special occasion reminders from the past pop up throughout the year. Our former spouse’s birthday, the date of our divorce, first dates, and other such annual events. These times can be especially hard to swallow the first few times they rotate through the calendar following our divorce; but, our reaction to these dates can become a gage of our healing and moving on as time goes by.
When we’re in a committed relationship, it becomes one of our little duties to keep track of dates that mean something to our partner. We begin to recognize when their important dates are, as well as those of their family members, and a collection of our own red-letter dates together. The anniversary of when we first moved in together, got engaged, bought a house, and so much more!
After a divorce, these dates become like a pesky thorn in our shoe, constantly reminding us of what was and causing irritation, just when we think we’re moving on and have our mind on other things.
I remember taking calls at my desk at work. I was kind of “in the zone” getting work done when all the sudden I saw “May 19th” in the corner of my computer monitor and was struck by the bitter and empty feeling that it was, rather should have been, my anniversary!
That date was still stuck in my brain along with other essential data, such as my social security number or the password to my e-mail account. How irritating it was to not be able to shake this set of numbers from my mind, nor the association of them to memories of promises once made dreams for a sweet future and grave disappointment.
The first few times that date came around, I found myself thinking “this would have been our twelfth, fifteenth, or now our seventeenth anniversary” if only our marriage would have gone as expected!
No surprise that it’s a sensation of sadness when we reflect on a marriage that has failed and those annoying dates do nothing to help the situation!
What I have found, however, is that “was-i-versaries” take on new meaning as time marches on. What was once a date that inspires warm and fuzzy feelings, then contempt because of disappointment, finally becomes an opportunity to celebrate our newfound freedom and an annual reminder that we’re 365 more days distanced from an undesirable situation!
I have also come to enjoy the fact that as more time passes, the significance of these dates begins to fade. Case in point: my ex’s birthday passed a few weeks ago. Long ago, I programmed this date into my brain because it was important, as a loving wife, to memorize and plan to celebrate this day in his honor.
When that date passed this year, it never occurred to me until late in the day what day it was! It was my first experience of completely blanking a birthday (so I guess now I know exactly what it was like for my ex all those times he spaced my birthday!). I found myself writing the date on a form, and for a moment wondered if there was something important that I was forgetting. I literally had to wrack my brain to recall what about that date stuck in my mind!
What is this an indication of? That right there, folks, is progress!
Slowly but surely, the day of his birth transitioned from a date to never forget and take special notice of, to a date that made me roll my eyes in disgust, and finally means little-to-nothing to me! In the meantime, I have created new significant dates and anniversaries that give me reasons to celebrate throughout the year. My once anniversary will always be part of my history, it just no longer means the same thing to me.
My “was-i-versary” will come and go. I might remember on that date, and maybe I won’t. Now when I think of that day, I shake my head in bewilderment, wishing I could go back and tell that young bride not to go through with her wedding. I imagine the heartache and headaches that could have been spared from never making May 19th something special.
In the same thought, I realize that even if I had an eraser for a choice I wish I never made, it would be a mistake to eliminate ten years of my life that have meaning for many other reasons! Most notably, my kids were born to me during that time and because of that relationship. In the span of that decade, I also learned, grew, and became the person I am today.
For better or worse, I owe part of who I am to that relationship, my wasband, and even my was-i-versary! If I do remember the date, perhaps I’ll toast with a glass of wine the life I’m able to have today, the freedom I now have from the worst chapter of my life, and the lessons that delivered me to where I am today!