Today is the official day my divorce is final. I actually thought it was this coming Friday the 14th but in my counting 120 days from my court date, I omitted that two months had 31 days, so here I am, officially divorced.
I will be reclaiming my single name ( FYI, I very much dislike the term ‘maiden name’ for reasons that are far longer than to include on here) and still have to go through that process again of going to Social Security, DMV, and submitting paperwork to banks, credit cards, etc. with the name change. It was a pain in the arse the first time around, though I did it willingly. When I got married, I took my ex husband’s last name because I wanted the unity of a family name with him and any future family we had together. I know a few divorced gals who have kept their married names post divorce, frequently because of their children, but for me, I want to go back to my original name– something I’ve been doing for just about a year now on everything but official documents.
This day is incredibly anti-climatic and perhaps that’s fitting as well in going with the amicable way that things ended with us. I’ve heard many stories of people who hold divorce parties or name reclaiming ceremonies, but I don’t think I will be having a celebration for that. One reason is finding the time- my September got busy real quick- but also because it seems a bit sad to me too. I am happy that the door is just about closed on that part of my life and that I ( and he) can move forward to what we want our futures to be. But it is sad that our marriage ended- especially because both of us believed so strongly in marriage, led by the amazing examples of our parents, grandparents, and other friends and family. We loved each other a great deal- I don’t doubt that- and while I can look back now with clear hindsight and perspective at where things went wrong or the cracks that existed before we got married, there was no 1 event that caused the breakup or something crazy that people would talk about. Having a party to celebrate the end of something that was at one point my happiness, seems off to me.
There are so many things that occur to me now that I’m “divorced”- one is that, as with every other person who believes in love and marriage- is that, obviously, you never thought you would be in this position. In fact, I can remember wondering when all my friends were getting married before me about who the first to get divorced would be- not because I didn’t belong strongly in their love and relationships, but mostly because of the statistics in this country of marriage success rates, I figured it would happen to one of us, but never once thinking that one would be me. The irony is not lost that it is me- and perhaps that- as well as a conversation that my exhusband and I had about divorce in our early days of dating- was a great deal of literary foreshadowing in the story of my life.
When things were at their worst in my relationship, when marriage counseling left me feeling empty and confused, the thing I struggled with the most was not thinking about life alone or what my family would think ( though of course those things entered my brain), but I would get so worked up about saying the words “I am divorced” or checking off the “divorced/separated” option on surveys or personal information sheets. It’s such a tiny thing, but I struggled with that the most. I think that’s what has taken me a good portion of the past year to get over too- my being okay with the words and much less my concern over public perception of it. Any of my worries about what people would think were so secondary to the feelings and disdain I had for myself for awhile about the whole situation.
The divorce has shown me things about myself I would not have known otherwise– and while I embracing my new self, it is a lesson I wish I could have gained in other ways and obviously, a lesson I wish I knew before I was married. This past year I’ve done a lot of self discovery- which can be a real bitch sometimes. The results are great, but working through it all feels a heck of a lot like teenage angst all over again. Breakups of a relationship are hard, but when the breakup is from something you thought was ‘until death do you part,’ it pulls you apart in ways you can’t imagine.
My divorce has taught me I knew nothing about love, loss, and living again. It taught me that I have the ability to love myself in ways I never allowed myself before. It taught me what relationships should and should not be and what I want for a partner. After all the tears and frustration of the past year, divorce has made me believe more strongly in the institution of marriage than I did before. I took marriage as a given in my life, never questioning it. That was something that was a crack in my relationship before I was married that not only did I ignore, I never even thought about. I didn’t really ponder what I wanted a marriage to look like until I was in it- and at that point, it became clear that my vision of life and a relationship were vastly different than the person who I chose to live it with.
Of all this though, my divorce taught me that I was literally coasting through life, going to the next milestone, without actually living each day on its own. I was always looking forward to what was next. I was on the track without every thinking about my place on it and if I wanted it. I followed the path of so many people before me- and while there is nothing wrong with that- I never stopped to think about what I wanted or WHY I wanted it. Throwing myself into my career and pushing myself professionally was the only place where I was really succeeding and living to the fullest, but I allowed myself no way to dream, wonder and ponder what it was that I wanted after 5pm. I never took big risks or a leap of faith for something I wanted.
I can’t say that now I am this changed person who leaps before she looks and plans and that I live each day as my last. I’m not there yet- and I’m not sure if it’s 100% in my makeup to be that person who makes big life changes. I made a HUGE life change with a divorce, living alone for the first time ever, and trying to maintain a home on my own. It might be safe to a lot of people, but it is the most fearful thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t want to make any big life changes for awhile- I want to live the life I’m creating everyday and figure it out as I go, be kind to myself, and allow myself to heal and to grow into the life I stood up and chose for myself.