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To my past self,
If you knew how hard it would be, you might not have done it. It truly is one step at a time until you have to run for a bit. Then you catch your breath and run again.
The before time is filled with long conversations, counseling, reading a book called Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum. The Offbeat Bride forum suggests this book, and as they were there for you during your wedding, they are there for you during your impending divorce.
The during time is brief, quick. The hard conversation is more complicated than you anticipate. There is no good way to work out how to end a marriage. You will read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed over and over again until the pages become softened through overuse.
The initial after time is elation, like those photos of Nicole Kidman snapped once she signed her divorce papers. It is self-discovery, and re-creation, and kickboxing at the gym.
There are more hard conversations with your children, your family, your in-laws. Your friends will want information, and you can’t explain the divorce to them. And your others friends? You won’t see them again from this moment on. You will be unsure where you fit in your former family. Are you still an aunt? Who decides these things?
You will have more time to create, write, craft things with your own hands, and take long walks along beaches. You’ll have too much time to think, and you’ll ruminate on things you should not give a second thought to.
You will struggle to find books that do not have upsetting themes. Anything to do with divorce, or unhappy families, or about-to-end relationships, will be unread. You will turn to romance simply because there is always a happy ending.
Your wedding dress will remain on top of your wardrobe, and your bridal bouquet will stay on your dresser. You don’t know that this means anything, except that the dress was expensive, and the bouquet was made of a collection of brooches that belonged to your great-grandmother and your grandmother, and you’d rather see it than have it hidden away.
Friends will encourage you to go back to your single self. You will be constantly asked if you’re keeping your married name. Everyone will have an opinion on this. You don’t have any interest in doing pubs and clubs as you did in your university years, but everyone suggests dating apps. “Meet someone new,” they say. The apps make your heart hurt, and you delete them.
The after time, when the divorce is finalized, is like grief. You’ll whisper, “It’s like someone has died,” to your therapist, and it won’t be an exaggeration. You question yourself all over again, poke holes in every argument, identify all of the ways that you made mistakes along the way. You’ll cry when you hear your bridal processional song on the radio and flip the channel when your first dance song plays.
People still don’t know what to say, and when they come up with questions, you’ll find it hard to explain. You closely guard your privacy, speak well of your ex-husband, make intentional choices not to write about your divorce even though you’ve opened up about the rest of your life on blogs since you were a teenager.
This time is tough, but you are strong and capable. You’ll recognize the good and the bad and be okay with sitting in a place that isn’t okay.
You will be fine, trust me.
Love from your future self.