I was married at 20 and divorced by 26.
It was the eighties, the decade of Princess Diana and Madonna, and it seemed everyone was doing it -- getting married young and divorcing.
Even my best friend at the time shocked me when she suddenly filed for divorce. When someone close to you calls it quits you take a magnifying glass to your relationship, searching for the cracks. No need to look very close, ours was shattered to bits; held together with spit and glue.
I have to admit; in the beginning her divorce left me appalled! But after a while, I saw how happy they both became and that's when it finally dawned on me that deep down my husband was probably as miserable as I was, and so I decided that for the sake of the continued happiness of us both -- we could not stay married for one. more. minute.
Nobody Likes a Quitter
It was impossible to paint a picture of my ex as an insufferable troll.
People understand when you divorce a man who is a cheater, an addict or someone who can't hold a job. It wasn't him it was me. That line is cliché I know, but some sayings become clichés because they are so damn true!
My ex-husband was/is one of the nicest men on the planet and that sucks even more. I left an all around great guy because I yearned for something more.
"More than what?" my dad had asked me upon hearing that I wanted a divorce. "What more could you possibly want? It doesn't seem like anyone can make you happy!" He was right about that. That was my job, only I didn't know it at the time.
I only knew that something profoundly wonderful was missing. Something... untenable, indescribable and indefinable, and I wasn't able or willing to settle.
That made me feel greedy. And wrong.
Other people settle. Why can't I? It would be so much easier!
God! I had so much to learn. I had gone from living under my father's roof to living under my husband's. I identified as someone's wife.
Until I wasn't.
I would say the biggest benefit was becoming comfortable with my independence. I had been half of a couple, a team, and now every decision, every mistake, was mine alone. I needed to figure out who I was and what I wanted from life, and in the process I was forced to become comfortable living without a man.
When there was a creepy sound in the middle of the night who checked it out? Me and my trusty baseball bat.
I started taking some risks, teaching myself how to invest money. I bought stocks and bonds, which scared the shit out of my dad, but ended up rewarding me with great returns.
I also became skilled at all manner of apartment maintenance and eventually acquired a power drill and a small, red toolbox. Woof!
I had a hard time with the label divorcee. Every form I filled out asked me my marital status and checking the divorced box reminded that I had failed at one of life's most cherished milestones.
In my 20s.
Guys aren't sure what to make of a 26-year-old divorcee.
No wild-eyed desperation, or ticking time clock here. Some of them acted relieved. Many seemed a bit bewildered. Truth be told, it scared the bejesus out of most of them.
I don't know where all the other 20-something divorcees went to date -- but in my circle, I was as rare as a Unicorn.
A 26-year-old divorced Unicorn.
Transition in My 30s
Once I realized, much to the amazement of my single girlfriends, that most of the men out there really did want to get married and have babies; and that a divorcee was way too much of a wild card for them at that age -- I was able to formulate a game plan.
I dyed my blonde hair red, which narrowed the field even further. Only serious, artsy guys need apply.
I decided that unless I met someone extraordinary, marriage and children would probably not be a reality for me; and except for about a month when I was 33 and everyone around me was having babies -- I was more than okay with that.
I made a great life for myself. I had a career I loved; great friends, wonderful family and I made foreign travel my passion.
That all felt amazing. Until it didn't.
Even Unicorns Get a Second Chance
After I turned 40, stability became my middle name. I settled down, bought a house in the burbs, let my hair grow longer and went back to being a blonde.
I started dating. A lot. I told anyone who had a friend with a pulse that I was looking to settle down. I was finally ready to share my life.
18 unmarried years had gone by and men my age and older couldn't have cared less that I got divorced in my 20s. Seriously. Most of them were on their second or even third divorce.
I was no longer an anomaly, an outsider.
I decided to go on a blind dating binge and that's how I met the extraordinary man I married at 43 -- he was definitely worth the wait.
At last I found that indescribable, indefinable something I had been searching for, for almost two decades and he had found me. We knew it the moment we met.
Isn't timing everything? Ain't love grand? Maybe it was greed; I don't know; I think it was all just dumb luck.
We all know how lucky Unicorns can be.
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