It’s the night before my nine- year wedding anniversary and I’m alone in the house we bought together. My husband is in his apartment with our boys, and I’m listening to the sound of the air conditioner as it competes with Arkansas August weather.
Nine years ago, it was about 112 degrees with the heat index, so hot that we started serving booze before the ceremony began. Everyone wore sunglasses on the lawn of the Tulsa Garden Center, and at the end of the night my wedding dress was so soaked to my body that we had to cut it off before we passed out. I’d actually shed my undies earlier that day after a bathroom trip when I realized I was wearing a wet pillowcase and might as well toss ‘em since peeling them down took more effort than I prepared.
I am so sad. It completely blows my mind that people can throw themselves divorce parties and do it without looking back to some degree and asking all the possible what if’s that took me from peeling off panties at the Tulsa Garden Center and sneaking away to take pinch hits to realizing for the first time since he left exactly how empty the house feels to me now.
When everyone is gone I can hear the echo of us laughing, wrestling and arguing over who has to get up to get the glass of water we shared during our TV time. I can’t even watch King of the Hill anymore because it got us through all four of our pregnancies and late nights with the boys. I don’t even watch TV anymore because we did it so much together, it seemed like all we ever did. I resented an object on the wall like a more attractive woman towards the end because he never looked at me anymore. I don’t even sit down half the time, I just wander the house doing everything and nothing because when I sit still I hear the sounds he left behind.
Music drowns them out and it’s comforting to listen all day long like I used to at my parent’s house. It feels like home, and I’m desperately searching for the part of me that either left with him or went into hiding sometime in our marriage. I think it’s hiding in the music; I know it’s hiding in my writing as well and even now I’m surprised at what’s coming from a sober mind grieving a broken family. I also know I have to find her alone.
Back to divorce parties, because I am not trying to cuss somebody out over some hurt feelings and hate mail. I get it. I don’t hate him enough to celebrate having to let the world know that some of their wedding gifts outlasted the marriage. I was the most angry in the beginning, but I rarely stay mad forever, even if someone truly deserves it. Prepare for some shade or an ice-cold shoulder that only a Cusp Capricorn can deliver, but it eventually melts when the sun comes out. We shared an abundance of inside jokes and comfort rituals that even couples do long after one isn’t trying to comfort each other anymore. We grew up together, I grew up (enough) for him. While we made a conscious decision there were still things left behind that didn’t leave a bitter taste in my mouth and even at the worst of times I can still remember the best in people. So if you hate your dude and wanted to throw a party cool, no need to explain it to me, really.
I lost an extended family that I spent more time with than my own. I lost older siblings that I loved and looked up to along with my only nephews and niece. Cousins who I miss. It’s weird. I loved a lot about our life, but at some point we stopped loving our marriage. We stopped giving it water and sunlight and did all the other stuff you think is more important at the time instead. And it doesn’t make me want to celebrate. It makes me want to vomit. So while some of you may be in Vegas or Branson or Turley celebrating in your newly divorced sash dripping in penises like your bachelorette party, I’m over here making lists of where I went wrong so I can properly take care of myself in a way that will make me available to not help someone run another relationship into the ground. I’m looking in the mirror and appreciating what I love but focusing on what I can improve. I wasn’t prepared to do it before and went as long as I could; if it ever happens or if it never happens again I want to at least say I didn’t ruin my three boys’ lives in the process. Or my husband’s.
While I plan to lie in bed in the dark with my phone off all day tomorrow, I hope that next year I’m able to celebrate the beautiful family we created together that will always love each other long after our anniversary date comes and goes. Because regardless of how it ended, he came to me at the perfect time and gave me more than I can ever thank him for.
Besides, I can’t be too mad; I was a complete dime piece in those bridal photos and I regret nothing about a good picture.