My husband and I were married for 7 years and I thought we were forever. Divorce wasn’t an option… the word was never mentioned. I have a big, aggressive personality and he’s quiet and introspective. We were the perfect match. We didn’t have the problems other couples had. We didn’t fight or yell at each other. We had beautiful daughters, a big house (with a housekeeper), nice cars, even the obligatory rescued-from-a-terrible-life dog. We were the all-american family. We were perfect. I was perfect.
And when it happened, I was shocked. There was no fighting, no screaming at each other. We just stopped talking. He went inward, to his own private island. I retreated to mine. And that was that.
He moved to an apartment down the road from the 5 bedroom house we called home. I was active duty and got stuck with the bills, the kids, and the house payment. And when that gaping black void opened in the pit of my stomach, I learned the true meaning of fear and anxiety. I was convinced I was no one without my husband. It was my fault he left. Now our children will be raised in a broken home because I was the controlling wife who drove her husband away. I ruined everyone’s life, and I was sorry.
6 months after my husband left, I was medically discharged from the military. Just like that. Everything I had ever known for the past 14 years was gone. My income, my retirement, my safety net…erased.
Now I was fucked. No job, no husband, no money. What I did have were 3 kids and debt piled to the ceiling. I was flailing, spiraling out of control. I couldn’t write a resume or apply for a job. I didn’t know how. I had no clue how to be single…how to be a single mother. I didn’t know who I was.
Very bad decision making came next. I was a crappy wife, an even worse mother, and just a terrible human being all around. So, I said “fuck it” (which is when you really know what you’re about to do is the opposite of healthy). I blew my money, shopped until I filled the hole in my stomach, and dated a bevy of douche-bag Type-A meat-heads to validate myself.
And I was really, really sorry.
Depression, anxiety and hopelessness came next. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t eat, stopped taking care of myself. I slept for days at a time. All I could do was just lay still and stare at the ceiling. And continue to apologize to everyone for all the mistakes I had made.
Then came the suicidal thoughts. I laid on my couch, sobbing, knowing that if I just died, I wouldn’t be a burden to anyone anymore. I wouldn’t be the irresponsible woman who blew all of her cash and couldn’t find a job. I wouldn’t be the shitty mother that screamed at her kids because she didn’t know where the next paycheck was coming from. And I wouldn’t be the bitchy ex-wife who took money from her ex-husband knowing he was also struggling. Wouldn’t they all just be better off without me? I have the pills. Death would be easy.
But that’s when I got mad.
This was bullshit. I left home at 15. I worked two jobs until I joined the Air Force. Basic Training was cake. I’d been to war. Twice. I gave fighter pilots information to FLY THEIR AIRPLANES. I’d given presentations to direct subordinates of the President of the United States. That was my JOB for 14 years. I was done apologizing. I was over letting fear and guilt immobilize me.
I knew I had to do something. I needed to put the past behind me and start over. I needed…to destroy my wedding dress. Because that gorgeous, off-white gown, embellished with sequins and beads symbolized the woman I WAS. The wife who conned herself into thinking she wouldn’t have to do anything else to define herself. And when my photographer, Kim Mixon-Hill of Karsun Design Photography, started shooting, I took all of my anger and my bitterness out on that gown. My best friend and our children hurled gobs of paint, handfuls of glitter, sand and water all over it. I walked into the water until I was wrapped in seaweed and neck-deep in the Gulf of Mexico. I let the 3 foot train get caught on sea shells tearing with each step. And I felt good.
I trashed that fucking dress. And I’m not sorry. At all.
When I emerged from the water, sopping wet and covered in grime, I stood on the boardwalk, looking out over the beautiful Gulf Coast. My guilt had dissipated. I was free. Free of the gut wrenching pain of existing in an unhappy marriage. Free of the guilt I felt for not being a better wife, a better mother. I no longer had to be perfect.
And I was done apologizing. Because I’m not sorry that my marriage ended. I’m not sorry my daughters will be raised by two parents who are no longer married. I’m not sorry I blew all my money at Pier 1 Imports (these curtains are to die for).
And I’ll never be sorry that I took my $1200 wedding dress and trashed that motherfucker beyond saving. Because in doing so, I remembered who I was, who I AM. Strong, independent, beautiful. I don’t need anyone other than ME to define me.
I wasn’t a bad wife and I’m not a bad mother. My marriage ended because we fell out of love with each other. My kids are assholes sometimes and need to be screamed at. I made and will continue to make crappy decisions. But they will be MY decisions. And I’ll work on that. I’m just figuring things out the only way I know how. My way.
So, sorry, I’m just not sorry anymore. And if you’ve been where I’ve been, you shouldn’t be either.