December twenty-fourth marked the six month anniversary since the finalization of my divorce. When I tell people I have not spoken to lately that my divorce is now complete, most people instinctively congratulate me. But are congratulations really what are in order?
I never thought much about divorce before my own. Of course, I would hear in passing that someone I knew was getting divorced, or was already divorced. But as the child of a widow, the sense of loss that follows divorce always paled in comparison to watching the anguish my mother went through losing a spouse that I never paid divorce much mind. How misguided and insensitive I was.
My mother became a widow at 39 years old, the same age I was when my husband left me. That year, as my thirty-ninth birthday drew near, I could not help but feel a sense of foreboding. I was now the same age my mother was when my 41 year-old father suffered a massive heart attack and died suddenly. Blowing out the candles on my thirty-ninth birthday cake, as my 41 year-old husband sat beside me, the similarities were not lost on me. That I just needed to get through this year was my only thought. Then history would not, could not, repeat itself.
Four months later my husband would walk out the door and never return to live in our home again. He did not die. Worse, he chose to leave. And I had to let him go.
The emotional war that I waged within myself after he left, a war of would’ve, should’ve, and could’ve, took its toll on me both physically and mentally. For three months, I could not eat. I could not sleep. I could not think of anything except the loss I believed would ravage my mind and body forever.
In all fairness, no one ever promised marriage would be easy. But no one ever warned me that the period after divorce would not necessarily be better right out of the gate. Instead, the pain only proved different, my loneliness merely displaced.
Although my marriage was lackluster on a good day, my mind continues to play tricks on me, toying with me in my darkest hour that perhaps I would have been better off fighting harder to stay in a bad marriage rather than being alone as I am today. After all, my ex-husband still remains the devil I know.
But, the truth be told, he is not the devil. He is only a man, with human failings, just like the rest of us. Fear, it turns out, remains my satanic and maniacal combatant in this uphill battle to redefine and rebuild my life as a single divorced mother, both a monumental and arduous struggle that consumes my every waking moment.
Facing the unknown is daunting. Doing it alone, even harder. I have already met my share of middle-aged “devils” on the road to meeting my soul mate and, to date, I have not yet met the man I am supposed to be with. But I do believe he is out there, looking for me, too. I just need to be patient, although that is difficult, as well.
So, please, do not congratulate me on my divorce. But do not pity me either. Just tell me you are sorry. For what does not matter.
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