7 years ago I gathered up my courage and left my marriage.
In that moment, it felt gigantic. Overwhelming. Too hard. Too much. My world was falling apart. Ending, as I knew it. And I suppose it was.
But what I remember hurting over the most was my own bullshit.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to someone like me. Sure, 50% of marriages end in divorce, but mine wouldn’t be the wrong 50%. I didn’t fail. I didn’t quit.
I worried so much about what people would think of me. How disappointed they’d be. How they’d judge me (“she’s a divorcee”, I was certain they’d whisper snidely).
The funny thing is – no one was judging. I received a swell of support from my friends and family. I feared and expected their judgment mostly because I was judging myself.
After all, I didn’t fail. I didn’t quit.
Other people, maybe. But not me!
Finally, here was something I couldn’t make work, through my sheer force of will.
My heart refused to lie. It refused to let me tell myself a story. The voice encouraging me got louder. Get out. Get out now. The other voices tried to drown out the whisper, but it was steady. It persisted through each objection:
“No one in your family gets a divorce.”
“No one wants to date someone who is divorced.”
“You can fix this. Don’t be a quitter.”
“You don’t want to be seen as a failure, do you?”
“You made this commitment, and you have to stick to it.”
“You haven’t tried hard enough to make it work.”
“Nobody’s marriage is perfect.”
“You are selfish.”
“You are incapable of commitment.”
“You should be embarrassed.”
And suddenly, there I was – failing and quitting.
The illusion of me, and the illusion of my marriage was breaking down. Behind the façade was a scared, but strong, little girl who stubbornly refused to settle for anything less than the truth. Even if it felt harder and more uncertain.
But I had been promised the fairytale, damn it. Or at least the finish line. And everything seemed right on paper. The life we built sure looked lovely from the outside. A house in the Hollywood Hills, good jobs, dogs, expensive dinners, parties. I was the right age. He asked. It seemed easy. But the truth always catches up.
People ask me if I knew it was “wrong” before I got married. What I say is this – I thought it was right ENOUGH. Right enough with the naive optimism that we’d change together.
With 4 words – I want a divorce – I burned down the life I had created up until that point. And guess what? Everything that felt so certain, so sure, went up the quickest.
But I was still here.
Thankfully, everything gets easier and less painful as time passes. And with hindsight and some distance, I can see that it all went the way it was supposed to go. I can see clearly now that I wasn’t upset that I was losing love. I was upset that I was letting go of an illusion. That I was waking up to the empty result of my own poor choices. I was disappointed that I had allowed myself to be blinded by a shiny object, a projection, a hologram. I felt like Jim Carrey at the end of The Truman Show; I had crashed my boat right into a Hollywood set. Mostly, I was pissed at myself that I had lost sight of what was true. What was right.
Did I need to grieve over the death of an illusion? I guess I did. I really hadn’t suffered much until this split. I hadn’t been brought to my knees. As a result of this messy time, I gained wisdom and accessed deep understanding and empathy. I got to know myself a bit better. So did other people. Connections grew deeper and more genuine. I made it to the other side, changed. And better off, having taken the journey into and out of hell. And now I have the confidence to chose true over easy. Every time.