Suzanne Erickson's divorce was finalized in 2014. Looking back, she realizes the 12-year marriage was rocky from the start. Below, Erickson writes a letter to the hopeful 24-year-old she was when she walked down the aisle 14 years ago.
Today couldn't be a more lovely April day: the sun is bright, spring flowers are in bloom and that quaint stone church you're about to go into is brimming with love. You're so excited to get to the reception, you ask the photographer to stop taking portraits so you could jump on the trolley with your husband and bridal party and celebrate.
The excitement will be short-lived.
A few short months before your big day, you had been to Coney Island. For fun, you had your cards read by a weathered fortune teller on the boardwalk. She asked you to make a wish. You silently wished to get married and have children. Be careful what you wish for.
If only at 24 you had known how much of life you had not yet lived and that you didn’t need to put time constraints on yourself regarding not only marriage but all of life’s adventures. If only you would have taken as much care of yourself as you did of all the people around you. If only you knew that people have to change for themselves and that going into a marriage thinking your love can tackle all obstacles is a naive mindset.
You try so hard to make it work. Years of counseling sessions, years of loneliness, years of arguments that eventually turn ugly. You hang in there. Your children will grow up in a two-parent home, even if counselors recom you leave. This way of life has become your normal. But you love your husband. You want to see the growth and change you’ve longed for in your marriage and you want to be able to tell your two amazing children that their parents had some rough spots but they overcame them.
There are lots of details I won’t overwhelm you with. Just know that you deserve so much more. That your children deserve so much more. But you are a determined woman and I am proud of you for trying so hard.
Eventually it ends and you are devastated. You were still trying, it was a rough spot, things were going to get better. You will feel a low of lows that you have never experienced. It will cripple you at times, but you get up and go to work every day with a tear-streaked face because you need to provide for your children. Sometimes you feel as if you are not worthy of love; the people who were supposed to love you unconditionally didn't. You spend hours reading about personal growth, marriage and spiritual principles.
You will end up divorced. It will rip your heart out, it will challenge you financially, mentally and spiritually. It's very painful but you will grow and blossom from it. You will become the best version of yourself. A divorce attorney is going to tell you that you are young and that you are getting a second chance and you will be upset with him for even saying that because you don’t take your divorce lightly.
But know this, 24-year-old woman: I promise you, three years after your husband leaves, you will be sitting at your computer one day and your kids will be talking to you and the three of you will be laughing and a magical thing is going to happen: You will have the most wonderful feeling wash over you after all the pain and all the trauma. You are going to look up at your children and for the first time in a very long time you are going to feel normal. You will be a 38-year-old woman getting a second chance to find love, to find happiness and to live a peaceful and fulfilling life. A life that you deserve.
Love, 38-year-old Suzanne
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