Sunday, April 14, 2013


Seventeen years ago I was going through something that I never ever in my wildest dreams thought I would be going through:  a divorce.
When my husband and I were dating, we talked seriously about our beliefs.  We both had parents who had been married forever, and additionally came from families where divorce was almost unheard of.  During our discussions, we both agreed that we didn't "believe" in divorce.  As it turns out, my ex-husband didn't believe in divorce...until he wanted one, that is.
We met on a blind date in 1985--a set-up by two of our mutual friends.  I thought he was tall and cute, and nice.  We started dating, and a year later on our one-year anniversary, we got engaged.  We were together three years before marrying in 1988. 
The entire time that we were dating, he was seriously ill with Crohn's Disease.  He'd probably had it for many years, but it flared up about three months after we started dating.  The disease got worse and worse until he was forced to have surgery about six weeks before our wedding.  I jokingly told him that he'd better get well or I'd be pushing him down the aisle in a wheelchair.  Luckily, the surgery made him feel better almost immediately.  In six weeks, he gained nearly 50 pounds of much-needed weight.
Unfortunately, as his recovery progressed, an entirely different personality surfaced.  I guess I didn't truly know him until after we were married.  With his illness in remission, his sweet, loving side disappeared too.  And the longer we were married, the unhappier I was.  I gained tons of weight and spent too much money, both symptoms that something was really wrong.  During our last two years of marriage, I was fat and deeply in debt--neither of which are attractive qualities.  Of course, he intensely disliked both my being fat and my propensity for spending.  Always moody, his response to the situation was to shut me out.  I swear the year before we divorced, we probably didn't exchange more than a handful of words each week.
To be fair, I never said anything about how unhappy I was until it was too late.  I never realized that marriage was actually work.  Both of our parents made it look effortless.  I thought that in order to be a good wife, I should keep my mouth shut, and be as domestic as possible.  I ironed everyday; I made cupcakes for his football team and coaches every week during football season; I made Sunday dinner for the coaches at least once a season; and I hosted all the coaches and their wives at our house for dinner once a season.  Not surprisingly, none of that made the old magic return. 

We split, and he remarried quickly.  I--well, I've had enough of marriage to last a lifetime, I think.  After we divorced, I was still unhappy and lost.  I cried a lot!  A LOT!  In fact, once I cried so hard, I broke enough blood vessels around my eyes that it looked as though I had black eyes!  Even though I am no longer in love with my ex-husband, it still hurts to think how unhappy I was. 

Luckily, right about that time, the college where I work hired a new instructor.  He was my first post-divorce friend--the first friend I'd made independently in more than a decade.  Nicolas was (and is) so different than anyone I'd ever met before.  Artistic, talented, and confident, he gave me the confidence to explore my artistic side, something my ex had never done.  Nicolas and I have remained fast friends for 17 years.  We haven't worked together in many years, and we're both busy with our lives, but we spend time together whenever we can. 

Nicolas was just the first of many friends that I have been lucky enough to make since my divorce.  I've worked hard to make a life for myself that reflects ME, as opposed to someone else.  I am not anti-marriage for anyone except myself.  I salute those who can make it work--you did something I couldn't do. 

At one point, I thought that nothing would ever be the same again.  With the clarity that hindsight provides, I realize that I was correct; at the  time I just didn't know that it would be better than it ever was when we were together.

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