Yes, you read the title correctly. To divorce someone is to legally dissolve what was concrete and created by law. It is, by definition, the ending, though the strong will always call it “the beginning of something new” or “a fresh start” or something else along those lines. I’ve said and heard such words many times over the years. Do I believe them? Absolutely. And it’s okay to believe in a new beginning. But we also need to deal with the ending as well, regardless of how painful it may be. We need to deal with ourselves.
I met him at 21 years of age, got engaged at 22, married at 23, left him at 24 and was legally divorced at 25 while living out of state. I became a statistic. I certainly never wanted that to happen to me. Being married and then divorced at such a young age had more of an impact on me than I ever thought it would. Even now, almost 10 years later, it still affects me from time to time. From moments of catching myself in forgetting I was even married, to the moments where his face seems so vivid that I have to look over my shoulder and see if he’s looking at me. It’s disastrously amusing how a scent, a sound, a memory, a moment can be so powerful. And, good grief, how much we hate to love them for existing within us.
The dissolution was both of our faults. His broken home background and my strong personality were not a good combination for who we were at the time. And it all seems so classic a story to tell. Almost predictable, really. We went into it with divorce being an option (perhaps I more than he) though I don’t remember that being spoken in so many words. “Let’s do our best but also have an escape plan, you know, just in case.” Save ourselves. Not together, but separately. That way it won’t hurt as much, right?
I prided myself on being a strong, independent woman who chose her man. And any man I chose was lucky to be the one! He deserved me and my love. I was the rare find — the treasured jewel, the blessing he needed, the strength he couldn’t live without. And he should be thankful. The uncertainty I felt on our wedding day at the county courthouse would have shown the complete opposite of strength had anyone tried to peel away the layers to the core of my being. Yet there I was in all my self-glory, sweating and trying to remember how to breathe and not running for the front door because, after all, this man was so lucky to be marrying me. Ten years later, I’m thankful I can smile at the thought of it.
So, what did divorce learn from me?
1. It learned that just because I became part of a statistic, it doesn’t mean the label defined me personally. Am I still a strong, independent woman — a treasure, a jewel? Absolutely. But I try to keep myself a bit more humbled by the notion that I would be equally blessed to have a strong, independent, treasured, jewel of a person by my side regardless of background circumstances.
2. There are far worse things in life to deal with than dissolution. Divorce may be a box I check on a piece of paper to “identify” me, but it is not who I am. Divorce was simply a moment that adds to the story of me.
3. I didn’t crawl into a hole and hide myself from the world. I embraced what happened and kept moving forward with my life, whatever that was going to look like.
4. I may have not been as smart as I thought, but I am a survivor nonetheless. I’m still here. And I still have purpose and worth.
So, I’ll say this: If you can still come away from divorce with even the smallest hope, the smallest breath, the smallest notion that you are still living (though you feel dead) and you have some kind of purpose (though you may not see it or feel it), then you haven’t truly lost yourself. And if you feel you have lost yourself, I promise you can gain “selfness” back into you. Statistics don’t place value on a person. You have the choice to believe in your worth. You are worth loving. You are worth showing up. You are worth being.
This is for us all. You are worth it. And you are enough.
If you divorced in your 20s and learned a lot about love, life and yourself in the process, we’d love to hear your story for our series, Divorced By 30. Send us a 500-800-word essay or an idea for a blog post to
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