When mom asked me to write for the blog, I couldn’t think of anything to write about for the longest time. I thought about writing on fitness and the new 6am workout classes I have been killing myself with. Or nutrition and the 1,300 calories I consume daily in order to maintain my 175 lb body. But then it hit me… write about the one thing that’s had the biggest impact on my life…My divorce.
It’s a dirty word. It’s a word happily married people shudder at and push out of their head, like they can’t even fathom the idea. I know this, because I used to do it.
Here’s the thing about divorce… rarely does one get married thinking it will end in divorce… its never a planned event that will happen in X amount of years. Divorce sneaks up on you. Sometimes for years, sometimes it only takes weeks. But let’s be honest, we never plan for divorce. That’s why its so tragic. There’s no preparation. No time to figure everything out. It just happens and you react.
[The following story is a one-sided journey. This is my story. My journey. My words. Its also only a very small portion of the full story.]
I got married when I was 23 years old. In my family, that was pretty normal. My mom and dad got married young and have had a beautiful marriage. All my sisters got married young and have also had successful marriages. So, when 23-year-old me walked down the aisle to say “I do” to forever… I didn’t think anything of it. But here’s the thing about being 23 and in love. You are blind. You think you have it all figured out. Well you’re probably wrong. So, there I was. A pretty idiot, standing in front of everyone I knew and loved, committing to something I knew nothing about.
At 23 years old I did not know who I was. I was insecure, afraid to be on my own and too scared to find the independence I yearned for. I was a lost little seedling looking for guidance and I rooted myself into the closest thing I could find to security. A man.
I threw myself into my marriage. I was determined to be a perfect wife. Determined to have a home cooked meal on the table every night. A clean house every day. Determined to keep my body tight and healthy so that my husband found me attractive. Every breath I breathed was for the approval of someone else. I lost myself completely. I lost my identity. At social gatherings, I would stand in a room full of strangers, being introduced as his Wife. That was what I had become, his. Wife.
In same cases this works for couples, a woman can find total fulfillment in being a housewife. But it takes appreciation from the spouse to find that fulfillment.
So, there I was… 5 years into a marriage where I felt lost and under- valued. I begged for attention, for praise, for my value to be seen. But the truth was… I didn’t see my own value, how could I possibly expect another human to see it? I was a shell of the woman that I had wanted to be. Growing up, I envisioned myself as a CEO of a fashion label or a successful marine biologist. I wanted to be powerful and strong and independent and a boss. And here I was, a sad and lonely housewife working part time as a personal trainer, married to a very successful and powerful man. I felt like nothing.
I will never forget the night when it all changed. It was the day after Valentines day (that we didn’t celebrate). We were sitting in his car, in the driveway of the beautiful home we had bought together. I turned to him and asked “Do you think your life is better because I am in it? Do you think I add value to your life?” He thought about it for a while… and then the earth-shattering answer that forged a will of iron in my heart… “No. Everything we have is because I have worked for it”.
I left the next day.
Walking away from my marriage is the best decision I have ever made. It is my proudest moment. It is my greatest accomplishment.
I saved myself.
I took every ounce of courage I had, every ounce of faith I had, and I blindly stepped into a different life. A better life. The moment I walked away, it felt like the weight of mount Everest had been lifted from my chest. There has not been a single moment of regret. I have taken every single thing I learned from this experience and applied it to my life. I learned about myself, about other people, about how to love, about how to be a good person, friend and daughter. I have learned SO MUCH and therefor I simply cannot regret anything. That does not mean this has all been easy and great. There have been many, many, MANY nights crying and mourning for the life that I thought I was going to have. Many days where fear crept in and I didn’t know if I could do this on my own. To start over completely at almost 30 years old seemed like the scariest thing in the world. And it was. It hasn’t been easy. My road has been long and winding and full of drop offs and twists and hills. But it is MY journey. And the greatest thing to come out of this journey is my self-acceptance. My self-love. I know 100% without a shadow of a doubt, who I am. I am rooted in love for and by my family. I am a child of God. I am strong. I am a boss. I am beautiful. I am a feminist. I am fearless. I am a friend. I am kind. I am powerful. I am independent. I am tenacious. I am spiritual. I am forgiven. And I am loved. And because I know these things to be true in my heart, it allows me to be the best possible version of myself. And isn’t that what we all need? Just a little more love for ourselves?
I challenge you to take a bold step, to find your independence, your voice. I challenge you to stare at yourself in the mirror for 5 WHOLE MINUTES and say everything you love about yourself. I challenge you to affirm yourself sincerely. I challenge you to talk to someone about your pain, your frustrations, your fears. I challenge you to walk away from the toxic relationship that is hurting you. I challenge you to take at least 20 minutes out of your day for yourself. I challenge you to evaluate your life and make sure you are living as the best possible version of you… Why?? Because you. Are. So. Worth. It. And no one, can define your value except yourself.