It was March 5, 2011. I was downstairs in a church, eating girl scout cookies in a white dress. You never think of girl scout cookies as something you would eat on your wedding day. But then, you never can predict how you might feel.
For someone getting married, I was strangely at peace with my surroundings. Wiping the thin mint off my face. Dancing in the mirror as I re-applied my lip gloss. I somehow knew that there was nothing to worry about. Nothing to fear.
Sometimes you think you just know.
Sometimes you are wrong.
It all fell apart four months later. At least for me it did. The reality is that the marriage I knew had never existed – and neither had the husband.
As five years of lies unraveled, so did I. The downslope was harsher than anything I have ever felt, or hopefully ever will. Yet I cannot say that I would take it back, for I am not certain where I would be today had I never found that hotel room receipt.
For so long, I wondered what my life would be like had I stayed. The meaning seemed to drain from my world so suddenly – I contemplated whether keeping him around would have salvaged any of it. Perhaps I wouldn’t be in the bathtub, staring at the ceiling, catching my breath in my throat and willing it to stay there until I found peace.
Or perhaps if I laid there forever, I would wake up and see that it was all just a terrible dream.
Two years have passed since the day we said “I do.” 730 days of incredible journey filled with hardship, anguish, joy, and laughter.
Last night, I looked through some pictures I found of him on Facebook against my better judgment. He was with his new girlfriend in all of the shots.
Strangely, I did not feel jealous or angry, or even very sad. I looked into the screen without want or vengeance, and saw a carbon copy of the life that I had. The life that I thought I wanted.
They stood in the same poses. Visited all the same places. The only part of the images that had changed was the girl.
I could almost hear him feeding her the same sweet promises – telling her she’s beautiful in the sincere way that he always knew how to. Touching her in the same places, calling her by the same names.
It was startling to realize. To finally understand that no matter what I did, he was always going to live this life. And for him, it was enough.
I couldn’t help but wonder – did I really help to create our life together, or was it some prearranged journey of his, for which I was only along for the ride? Was any of it true? A single moment?
I supposed it did not matter anymore.
My life is so much more now than I ever imagined it could be. I have lived more in the past two years than the previous twenty-three.
In a way, he gave me the life I never thought I could have. The life I never thought I was good enough for, or more intimidatingly – brave enough for. He pushed me down and taught me to stand – though I am sure this was not his intention.
Today, I am everything he never thought I was. His end was the start of the woman I was meant to be. It may be an imperfect mess of a woman, but it’s one who appreciates life more than most.
I do not know whether I will find anyone who will love me the way I thought he did. It may never happen.
But two years after our wedding day, I would rather be on this side of the fence.
Today, I am full of life
I am open to so many possibilities.
So many dreams I never dared to dream.
Today, I am brave enough.
And I am free.