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A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

No one gets married thinking it will end.

No one walks down the aisle, holds their partner’s hands, kisses their lips and thinks to themselves, “We might not make it.

No one would buy a house and build a home with their best friend if they knew one day they will have to prep it for market alone. No one has ever watched as their lover cradled their newborn and imagined having to tell it that it will have two homes instead of one.

No one.

And yet, it happens. Every day. Marriages fall apart despite best efforts. People change both for the better and for the worst. And while no one plans on it, marriages end.

My marriage has ended.

In the end, it isn’t something I want to talk too much about in this space. At least not in personal detail. I know that one day my daughter is likely to stumble across my tiny piece of the world wide web and I want to respect her and her father. But it is something that I need to talk about to an extent — for myself. I don’t need to necessarily talk about the things you might want to read, but rather I need to speak certain truths aloud to acknowledge them fully:

I need to say that I’m okay now. Really, I am. There was a time when I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. There was a time where it felt as if my heart was literally being ripped out of my chest. There were nights that I sobbed big heaving sobs into my pillow for hours on end. There were days that I had to be medicated just to function as an attorney and mother. There were days where I couldn’t really function well as either. But now I’m okay. I’ve found my footing. I’ve rediscovered pieces of myself that I didn’t even know I had lost. I’ve come full circle and I’m proud of the growth I’ve done in the last six months. Every inch of it was hard fought.

I need to say that I’m thankful. More thankful than I could ever convey. For all of my friends who have risen to the occasion – both near and far. For every night they came over to help me. For every meal they shared with me. For every random gift they sent me. For every afternoon they took off early to sit with me. For every bottle of wine they split with me. For every cry and fear that they soothed. And I’m thankful for my family too. For how they stepped up and in with grace and kindness in a tricky situation. For every road trip they made. For every favor they bestowed on me and my daughter. For every home repair they helped make happen. For every helpful offer they gave. I know without doubt that I wouldn’t have made it through 2019 without the overwhelming love and support of my village and I’ll never have enough words to express my gratitude for these people.

I need to say that I’m lucky. I’m so lucky to have a resilient daughter who has helped me keep my head above water on the hardest days. I’m so lucky to have access to good mental health care in America. I’m so lucky to have an understanding boss and amazingly supportive co-workers. I’m lucky to have had the time and space to deal with all the emotions that come with a failed marriage. I fully grasp that my burdens on this journey have been lightened based in large part on my privileged position and a variety of factors associated with it — most of which I had little to no control over but all of which I’m incredibly lucky to have received.

I need to say that I’m optimistic. I wasn’t always, but I am now. I was once sure that my life was over. I was certain that there was nothing worse than being a thirty-something divorced mother. But I’ve done the hard work of confronting myself. I’ve stared down my fears and unmasked them. I’ve walked through fire and learned that while it does burn, it can also purify. I feel as if I’ve been forged anew in these fires and it has left me a bit dizzy with both pain and anticipation. I’ve seen and felt utter happiness when it was least expected. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the universe on more occasions than I can count. I’ve laughed enough in the last three months to drown out all the tears I’ve cried over the previous year. And now, I’m optimistic because I still believe in love and yes, even in marriage. And because I believe that both are still possible, even for a thirty-something divorced mother like myself.

I need to say that this was for the best. That sounds crazy, I know. I didn’t always see it like that of course, but I do now. Considering I once felt like this was the single most terrible thing that could ever befall me, it is weird to admit now that it was wholly necessary. The burden was so heavy for so long that I was once certain I would perish beneath it; that I’d never rise up again. But it’s inescapable now to think of my life unfolding in any other way. This needed to happen for so many untold reasons and while I am certain that I will never be happy that my marriage ended, I am grateful for this outcome all the same.

No one gets married thinking they’ll one day be divorced, but I’ve learned that you can find peace and hope in the ashes of a failed marriage. Of course, it isn’t easy to find either of those things in the aftermath. It requires getting your hands dirty. Digging through the rubble that is left behind. Watching the world as you know it disappear into smoke. But it is possible and I know that now. Parts of me may forever be tinged by the ashes I’ve managed to dig myself out of, but I know without doubt that I am capable now. Of this or anything else.

And maybe that’s just a different kind of happily ever after.

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  • Reply Amanda

    I’m coming up on my two-year divorceiversary (just made that word up now), and feel everything you said so deeply. I am so glad to hear that you made it through the worst and see the bright again. I still have some days where my scars and baggage reappear. Divorce kind of becomes part of who you are, but it also changes you in a way that you never knew you needed. I know that you are strong and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story and bring vulnerable, its so helpful to continued healing. Much love, Kate. <3

    January 15, 2020 at 11:28 pm
  • Reply Kay RD

    I didn’t know what changed but I saw an evolution taking place in you (from afar on Instagram but still visible). while I’m sure you wouldn’t have chosen this path for your life, the path life chose for you has made you into a strong beautiful soul and it’s been a pleasure to watch you grow. Cheers to new beginnings!!

    January 16, 2020 at 9:01 am
  • Reply Cece

    Sorry to hear this. It’s so tough when you expect to live your life with someone and it doesn’t work out. I have been there. I was younger and kidless, but looking back I realize that I married and divorced pretty young, so at the time it felt like I was the only one going through it.

    January 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm
  • Reply 14 Unmissable Reads, the Best of the Blogosphere (January 2020)

    […] Having had a failed (first) marriage myself, I can identify with Kate’s beautifully written account of finding hope and peace in the ashes of a failed marriage. […]

    January 26, 2020 at 8:56 am
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  • Reply Courtney

    I’m not sure what is harder, being okay or being optimistic. When things end we hurt so deeply, and it’s hard to feel like either are achievable. I’m not fully there with either, but I’m walking the path. This was heartbreaking and hopeful simultaneously. I’ll be reading more. ❤️

    April 22, 2020 at 8:26 am
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