It must’ve drizzled earlier because the pavement was wet but the gray sky was only threatening rain on my drive to Hartford, not actually doing it. The weather reminded me of my wedding day, fourteen years ago to the very day. There are lots of things I’ll remember vividly about that day, forever, and the gray sky is just one of them. Being late is another. I remember getting ready, asking how much time I had left. Rather than an answer, my sister cheerfully reminded me, “It’s not like they’re going to start without you.” Despite that, I remember taking time to sit down and write him a letter, something to commemorate what was on my mind at that very moment. (I wonder what ever happened to that letter.) I remember taking a shot with my momfriendaunt, who also happened to be our officiant, just moments before walking down the aisle, a sopping emotional mess. A late sopping emotional mess. “Nobody’s being late today,” I reminded myself, pulling me back to the present.
Today, I arrived fifteen minutes early. I found parking, paid the meter, walked to the right building, and still arrived to my appointment with ten minutes to spare. Were my daughter there, she’d have pointed out that “being early makes my heart happy.” Words I remind her of with some regularity. But it was just me today. No maid of honor to escort me to the bathroom. No DJ to announce my arrival. No cousins clawing for the bouquet. No friends Cha-Cha Sliding down the sidewalk beside me. Today was far less fanfare and far more solitude. But it was an equally important day.
It took about an hour, sitting next to her at a conference table made to feel like a dining table by having a leather placemat set at each seat. I listened. I read along. I tried to tune out the construction taking place on the city streets outside. I nodded. I affirmed. I watched the sweat form on the glass bottle of water at the table’s center. I signed. At the end of the hour, she excused herself to make copies of the documents for me and told me that it should all be finalized within a few weeks. A few weeks. And the past 14 years of my life (and 8 more years before that before we got married) would officially be completed.
There’s a fairly small group of friends and family who I’d told that we were separated. An even smaller group of people to whom I’d confided some of the why. And an even smaller few on whose advice and support I relied to carry me through this transition phase of my life. So I vowed to myself that I’d finally say something here, openly, about my marriage, about it ending, on the day that I signed my divorce papers. But now that the day is here, I realized that there’s nothing to say. The true things, the real things all seem too personal to share. And the things that feel acceptable to share don’t really capture any of my actual feelings about any of it. So I turned to one of those small few that I mentioned earlier and I asked for advice. How can I mark this day with a piece of writing that doesn’t overshare? “Write about how you feel about your future instead” were the words I got back.
That idea has had the pleasure of bouncing around in my brain for about a week now. And it’s made me realize that I have spent too much time looking backward. So how do I feel about my future?
OVERWHELMED. I like routine. I like order. I like plans. And right now, today, I feel a bit like I have none of the above. The possibilities are literally endless and that sheer volume of what could be is daunting. Then that leads to second guessing myself because if there are so many options, how will I know I’m choosing the right one? When I think too far ahead, it feels a little uncomfortable so I try to stay in the present as much as possible. I’m learning to believe in life falling into place.
THANKFUL. I think I was 14 when I had my first boyfriend. And since then, I can’t recall being single for more than a few months. Certainly I’ve been coupled up all of my adult life. Point is, there’s virtually always been someone to confer with, compromise for, acquiesce to. (That goes both ways in relationships, of course.) In my future, though, I have complete autonomy. I’ve spent the past year or so working a lot on myself. Listening to myself. Learning who I am as an individual. My future is for reclaiming all the parts of me that I’d given up over the years for others. And that is a tremendous gift to give oneself.
SCARED. Sometimes when I think about the fact that I’ve always been half of a couple, it makes me wonder how capable I am. How many of my successes were only made possible by my partner? Could I have overcome certain obstacles without my partner? Would I have fared as well alone? Can I live life, successfully, solo? I think there’s a lot of stability in being married. A lot less what if. And all that unknown in singlehood feels scary.
OPTIMISTIC. As time passes and we inch closer to finalizing the divorce, I have felt my insides relax. I feel more at ease, happier. And those good feelings translate to so many other areas of my life, not the least of which is my parenting. There’s been an undeniable shift in my relationship with my daughter. We laugh more. We read together more. We spend more quality time. It broke my heart to see her heart break over the impending divorce. But the growth I’ve seen in her and in our relationship over the past year has made it clear to me that this is the right thing. An at ease, happy me makes for a better mom. And that’s only going to continue to build.
EXCITED. All of those same things that scare and overwhelm me also light a fire in me. Future me is going to focus on really giving some thought to what I want in life. Reevaluate my priorities. Make decisions based on actual wants rather than what ought to be. Be intentional. Live a little. I have an opportunity to rebuild, to rearrange the parts of my life that still feel right and to make room for all that could be.