Divorce

A Letter To The 21-Year-Old Girl I Was On My Wedding Day

Stop worrying so much about being an adult.

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Jennifer Bateman's divorce was finalized in January 2015. Below, Bateman writes a letter to the woman she was when she walked down the aisle 19 years ago.

Hey girl! You made it! This the day you’ve been dreaming of, I know. Congratulations!
You’re beautiful. Remember that.

I know you only see the flaws in your appearance right now: the hair out of place, the veil askew, puffy eyes from crying tears of joy mixed with fear. But you’re only 21 -- believe me, you’re beautiful.

As a married woman, you feel validated. You can finally start living your life. You can finally say you’re an adult.

That feeling doesn’t last long but it returns when you give birth to your first child in about three years. Then you’re a real adult, you tell yourself -- a mom, with all the honor and respect that comes with the title.

And while the feeling fades again, it returns in a few years when you and your family move out of state for the first time. Now this is adulthood, you tell yourself: true responsibility, creating new connections and establishing roots somewhere new with a toddler in tow. It's exhausting work, especially when the only one you can lean on is your husband and he’s busy with work.

When you move again the week of your 10th anniversary, it doesn’t matter that you don’t really celebrate. You're six months pregnant with your second child. You have no local family or friends for support but at least you have your husband to lean on.

The kids get older. You start feeling like you should’ve finished school all those years ago. When you go back, your husband is supportive and encouraging. With a degree, you can help ease his burden of being the sole breadwinner. With a degree you’ll finally be a real adult.

Things have been difficult for a while now. Family life is challenging. Once school is done, you tell yourself you can focus on rebuilding the connection you’ve lost as a couple. You’ll struggle through the difficulties together, no matter the cost because that’s what marriage is. That’s what you both agreed to do 20 years ago. That’s what adults do.

But then on the week of your 19th anniversary, your husband finally tells you he wants out. And just like that, the bottom falls out. The rug is pulled out from under you, the earth opens and threatens to swallow you whole -- and you realize you've been adult-ing all along.

You learn you can handle your shit. You don’t run away, no matter how overwhelming things get. Even when you feel like you’re the only one in the game because everyone else has called a timeout. Even when you’re faced with an unknown future on a shaky foundation with the kids.

You are an adult.

And you know what? You’re going to be OK.

Want to share what you'd tell yourself on your wedding day now that you're divorced? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com to share your story.

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