Sometimes I wish I could walk around with a sign on my head that says: “Yes, I’m 26. Yes, I’ve been married. Yes, I am divorced.” Whenever I meet someone new, it’s always a shocker when they find out how young I am. My age doesn’t match my experience nor does it match my attitude. I used to hate when adults would say that I am so mature, yet now I appreciate it. Being young and dumb was never in my plan, but once upon a time, “dumb” seemed to be my norm.
When I left my mother’s house for college, I never imagined that I would find myself living the way that I did. I jumped into adulthood too quickly, and in turn, I set myself back more than I could have imagined. See, when you think you’re experiencing that Romeo and Juliet kind of love, everything you thought you wanted fades to black and the only thing in focus is the present moment. At that time, my present often involved shouting matches, tit-for-tat petty jabs, physical altercations that left me hurting the next day, and a trail of financial ruin that still follows me around today.
Yes, my Shakespeare tragedy was my harsh reality on steroids. Shortly after I eloped, and surprised my family with my marriage, the love I thought I knew vanished. The first time he put his hands on me to harm me was an encounter I will never forget, and I’ve got a small chip in my front tooth to prove it. I had never seen a person as enraged with me as he was. When I managed to look into his eyes, I didn’t recognize him. The same hands that held mine days before promising to “love and cherish” me were the same hands choking the life out of me. The same hands I loved to hold to get the warm and fuzzies in the pit of my stomach were the same hands that shoved me into a wall. Later on, those same hands would backhand me over my sofa onto my stomach where my unborn child laid. The same lips I kissed with intoxicating passion, would be the same lips to purse up and spit in my face in broad daylight.
So much for a classic love story huh?
I tried and tried to get “that” feeling back that we had before we said “I do.” I figured that if I allowed him to grow into who I believed he could be, everything would work out fine. The truth is, I knew who he was when I fell for him. But, like oh so many others, we aim to change the ones we love. We get seduced and fooled by potential, never taking a moment to really tap into the truth we know we can rely on. I could see the greatness inside of him through all the chaos, however, I could not make him see it within himself. The life I wanted for him was not the life he wanted for himself. The life I wanted for me and the child we conceived didn’t match the vision he had for us. That’s where the constant battle came from.
I could vent about how much I lost in the name of saving our love. I could talk about the nights I cried myself to sleep praying I would not wake up the next morning. I could write about the times I told myself I deserved every ounce of pain he made me feel. I could go on and on about everything that happened during those four and a half years of marriage i endured up until the day he and I signed our divorce papers. But, I won’t.
I was scared to get a divorce because I did not want society to look at me and think I had a child out of wedlock. I didn’t want to be labeled as a single mother. I was afraid of sharing the parts of myself with the world that I had not yet come to grips with. I was once ashamed that I had failed at the one thing I knew I always wanted to be – a married woman. I was afraid to move forward not knowing how the rest of my life would play out.
Today, I can honestly say that everything I experienced was on purpose, and for a purpose. Pulling myself out of pain’s grasp was the first step in my healing process. It was also a part of my destiny to become who I am today. My pain pushed me to my purpose, my misery became my message, and my storm transformed into my success. I am no longer ashamed to tell details of my life. I willingly own who I am and who I was created to be. Saying I am divorced at 26 and getting an astonished look no longer holds me captive, it turns into an avenue for a healthy conversation.