After the Ink Dries

You’ve been anticipating and dreading this day all at the same time. You’ve counted the days until you were free. Yes, it was scary at first, because you didn’t know how to act.

First you wanted your spouse back. You’d do anything, try anything. You didn’t understand. It didn’t matter who left who. You just couldn’t deal with the aloneness. The rejection. The desertion. All the changes you weren’t prepared for.

No matter how bad things had evidently been, surely this wasn’t happening! It had to be a bad dream!

But then every morning you woke up, that dream was still reality. Your spouse was still gone. He/she had moved on with their life. And you didn’t know how. You felt stuck. And you couldn’t see ahead as far as the next few hours, let alone the next day, next week, or next month. Those rings you were still wearing kept looking at you every day, and you couldn’t tell whether they were waiting for him/her to come back or constantly reminding you how you’d failed.

Then you heard he/she already had someone else. You’d already been replaced; forgotten. Well-meaning friends had seen them together, laughing, holding hands, smiling at each other like they hadn’t a care in the world. And they told you about it, thinking it might make you feel a little better. But it didn’t. It made you feel worse. You wanted to know what that other person looked like, the one who’d replaced you. They told you, and you felt even worse.

Now you wanted to know more. Did they start their relationship before the split? Is that why he/she left? For someone else? Is he/she happier with that someone else? What’s wrong with you?

Now you feel even more miserable. Because you’re still alone. No one seems interested in you. Your rings finally came off, though. What was the point in wearing them any more when they obviously meant nothing to anyone but you.

Your finger felt naked. And you were sure wherever you went everyone looked at your hand to see what wasn’t there.

Then you got the papers in the mail. He/she had filed for divorce. The very word made you cringe, made you nauseous. Suddenly, it was far too real. You cried at first. Then you actually read the papers.

And the tears switched to anger. And rage!

How could he/she dare make the demands on that piece of paper!? How arrogant! And hateful! How mean can one person suddenly become!?

And all of a sudden, you couldn’t wait to get this over! You were finally ready. Despair turned into indignation. The rings were sold and the money used to hire a lawyer.

The process was at times excruciating. Exhausting. Demands went back and forth. At times you just couldn’t believe how such a wonderful beginning had resulted in such an ugly ending.

Now, finally, the day is here. And after asking you a few simple questions, the man in the black robe takes his pen and signs his name, formally and officially ending the marriage.

The wedding that had taken months to plan, and the marriage that had taken years to establish and build, was suddenly and impersonally over with the mere stroke of a pen. No fanfare, no celebration, no friends standing around wishing you luck. After all, how can a divorce be a cause for celebration? Except now there’s that “ex” you have who started it all in the first place.

But now, suddenly you’re really and truly officially single. You really don’t want to use the word “divorced” because it still makes you feel uncomfortable. You’re still trying to absorb it all, just like the ink was absorbed into the paper the judge signed.

What now? You travel home by yourself. You look in the mirror and wonder where you go from here. Even though you were more than ready to be over and done with this unhappy milestone in your life, now you don’t know where you’re going next.

Yes, you’re free. Free to begin your life again. But how? Where do you start?

Quite simply, you start with yourself. By learning who you are. What you want. And not rushing into a new relationship immediately just because he/she did. It’s not a contest. It’s not a race.

It’s your life. Yours. Use it wisely.

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