From the beginning, I knew that my heart was broken.
I could feel it, piece by piece, falling apart. Pieces missing, getting lost along the way. Some of them were ripped out almost violently, or crushed with a hammer, others dropped off without much notice like small feathers floating to the ground, some shattered into a million little pieces.
But broken no matter how you looked at it.
And that was okay. That’s what we should feel when something this life changing happens, and happens swiftly and without warning. It’s expected. And as the saying goes, it has to get worse before it gets better.
I believed that, in the beginning.
From the beginning, I was told that I would find love again, and most likely even marry again. So many reassurances and promises, thrown at me to make me believe that this too would pass and there would be a rainbow at the end with all of my heart’s desires. People mean the best when they tell you that you will meet someone wonderful and love again, that it will be better than you had before, and hopefully even better than you could ever imagine.
At least most of them do.
The first time it was brought it up was during my divorce. Odd, isn’t it? There I was, sitting at a table with a divorce attorney, dissecting the life I had created with someone for the last twenty five years, to divide it up and let it go. Burying what I thought was the love of my lifetime, the definition of my existence, and already the reassurances began.
This was in the first meeting.
I was told about previous clients that swore that they would never marry again, and here they were, five years later, remarried and amazingly happy according to my attorney. The true fairytale realized.
I shook my head, that’s not me. My attorney smiled and said “you’ll see”.
A few weeks later, I sat at a table with attorneys, a mediator, a financial consultant and my soon to be ex and the “what if” question came up – what if I marry again in five years? How will that affect the settlement, the alimony? This was a question from my soon to be ex-husband. Looking for the loophole already, in the hopes of cutting me loose as quickly as possible.
I shook my head, that’s not me. I think I even chuckled audibly, the thought of it so bizarre to me.
As time went on and I began seeing a therapist, she too told me of the wonders that would await me in the near future. I would definitely meet someone that would love me dearly, who would love everything about me, and most likely I would be remarried within five years (what is it about five years??) It happens all of the time, she assured me.
I shook my head, that’s not me.
I tried the dating thing, just to see if I could actually try this whole song and dance again. Maybe everyone was right, maybe I just needed to meet the right guy. Maybe this door could be a window after all. Some very nice men, divorced with kids, looking for a new beginning. But I found myself blurting out that I had no intentions of ever remarrying…on a first date. And I wondered why I wasn’t having many second dates?
People may think that I’m only saying this because I’m hurt, still raw, and once the wounds scab over, I will get past it and give in to this idea.
But that’s not me.
It goes back to my childhood, weirdly enough. I’ve known this from the beginning. I remember spending the weekend at my grandma’s house one summer, I was about thirteen. We were sitting on the floor in the living room, to be close to the air conditioning vent, to stay cool. It was a hot, sunny day cooking the house even with the central air going – maybe because the thermostat was set at 80? Possibly, if I know my grandma as well as I think I do.
Somehow the subject of relationships and marriage came up. It was the 70’s, girls were still being trained to look for a man to marry (even if you planned on going to college) so you could have kids and perpetuate the pattern of your mothers before you, remember?
While we were talking about the whole idea of marriage and what I had in mind for my future, the thought that my grandpa would most likely die before my grandma came up. It’s statitistics, plain and simple. I asked my grandma if she’d ever remarry, thinking about how lonely she would be without him. Her answer surprised me.
She shook her head, and said no. Never.
Confused, I questioned her somewhat quick answer. Maybe she didn’t really understand the meaning behind my question, maybe she wasn’t looking at the reality of being alone, maybe she wouldn’t remarry right away but wouldn’t she want to?
Wouldn’t she be lonely?
My grandma chuckled and smiled, shaking her head once more. No, she wouldn’t want to marry someone else, even if my grandpa dropped dead tomorrow – she was in her late fifties at this point, so not too old to consider it. But she went on to explain her answer.
She’d have to learn about a whole new person! How he takes his coffee, what his favorite foods are, find out if he snores or not, the list was endless. Why, she asked, would she want to go through that trouble again. She’d already done it once, and once was enough.
I gotta admit, it has stuck with me ever since. She made sense.
They had been married for over thirty years by then, that’s a lot of invested time and effort to consider. There was a lot of experience, history and struggle in those thirty plus years. I guess that’s where the phrase “marriage is hard” comes from because it really is hard. It is work, everyday. Almost like a job, but one that you work at twenty-four hours a day.
As I got older and went from one long term relationship to another, I started to get a taste of what she was talking about. Obviously it was much more exciting to start over with someone new in my twenties, finding out all of the things you have in common and the things that you don’t but you’re willing to adopt, and “long term” was only a couple of years, three at most, back then.
But once I was married for a few years I completely understood.
There is a lot of effort that goes into a marriage, it makes the dating part look like a walk in the park. You’re learning more about each other everyday, every year. Some of these things you love immediately, you find endearing and sweet; some are annoying, foreign and downright confusing – those are considered “the price of admission” (listen to Dan Savage eloquently describe this idea at https://youtu.be/r1tCAXVsClw).
It’s a balance of the not so endearing parts with their wonderfully special gifts that make this a ride of a lifetime. To ride the ride, this gloriously delirious ride of love, you have to be willing to pay up with your patience, understanding, and sometimes just downright ignore the ugly, stupid stuff.
I realized only a few years into my marriage that I had no intention of trying to ride this ride, in any other amusement park of a new partner, anytime again in my lifetime.
Once was enough.
So when my ride came to a screeching halt, the music stopped, the air shifted and I was pushed out of the seat of the ride, I decided I was done. No need to get back on that one again.
One and done.
I know, many people go through divorce and come out of the other side eventually ready to try it again, some barely wait while others take a timeout to regroup, everyone has their own timeline.
Some of those people that remarry are truly successful at it, some even happier than they were the first time around, so glad to have this second chance to find their true love. And to them I say that is awesome and I am happy for you, but please don’t ask me to get in that long, slow moving line once more just to experience this ride again.
I’ve been riding this ride too long, there have been too many twists and turns, and sudden almost endless drops, that have left me dizzy and stunned, my stomach queasy. I’ve tried it, it was good and it was horrible, and I don’t regret the experience overall. I just don’t think it’s the sort of thing I need to repeat.
Like my father used to say, “you have to try everything once to know if you like it, and if you don’t like it, don’t do it again.”
I can feel the hole that my heart has left behind, deep within me, almost everyday. It’s not just a numbness or ache, but an emptiness that has no real shape, it’s just there. It’s vacant, and will remain so. No need to learn someone else’s habits, meet their kids and possibly grandkids, to adapt my life to fit into theirs.
There’s less upkeep this way. Just like my grandma said, one and done. I get it.