Dearest, darling Divorce,
Man O man, you saved my life!
I had no business getting married at twenty.
That's a decision that is layered with complexities and as science has shown, I had four or five more years of brain development ahead of me to get that one right.
Besides, I agree with you, no one should be able to sign a marriage license before they can legally buy beer.
I stayed for six years but I could feel you, there on the sidelines right around year three, and here's the irony: I was terrified of you. I had you pegged as my adversary when in actuality you were to become my greatest ally.
What did I know? I was wearing Daisy Dukes and living on Doritos and Dr. Pepper.
You were right Divorce (and you of all people know how hard it is for me to utter those words), when you kept reminding me that you were not failure.
That was a tough lesson for me to learn, what with the snarky remarks from the peanut gallery, and all the subsequent years of confused men and a seriously empty bed.
Still, I love you, I do!
They say you know it is love when you become your best self inside of the relationship. That was the clincher for me. I was never better than those eighteen years we spent together. I guess you could say we grew up together you and I -- and you taught me so much.
You taught me the courage to make the tough, unpopular decisions. To never settle, to run from mediocrity and forge my own path, and to be my own person outside of a couple.
You taught me to be discerning. To call bullshit, and not to fall for the fast lines and the cheap wine.
You taught me to slow down already! Life is not a race to the finish line.
"Savor it. Take your time," you said -- and I did.
You taught me that although I was still young, once might be enough.
That I may never get another walk down the aisl e-- and that would be okay.
If I got panicky you reminded me that I had been there and done that.
You taught me to hold my head high. That even though I had already been married -- no one had to know unless I told them.
There was no banner across my chest, no giant D written in red lipstick on my forehead.
You showed me that I could use the accumulated relationship knowledge those six years had provided to do good in the world. I had insights that could help other girls.
You showed me that adversity builds character and I was a girl who was in serious need of some character building.
You taught me tolerance. The fact that even when people start out with the best of intentions, promises gets broken.
You taught me compassion. Leaving someone is hard enough. You don't have to emotionally eviscerate them and kill every ounce of love on your way out.
And you were right again when you cautioned me not to stay too long in the marriage or this was bound to happen.
You taught me to listen to my gut. That it is the real brains behind the operation. Not my head, and most certainly nothing that resides below the waist.
You cautioned me against closing up my heart. That I needed to keep it open and supple -- resilient and willing to try again; and that a tiny, dried up raisin of a heart has a hard time holding love.
As luck would have it I did find love again. But I never would have been able to recognize it or love him without your years of priceless observations.
Now go -- visit yourself upon another young girl who is in over her head and is just looking for that chance to grow up.
And whisper that stuff about failure to her... I loved when you did that for me.
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 email@example.com
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