As most people know, because I haven't been terribly quiet about it over the last year-and-a-half, I am divorced. I divorced my husband of 11 years (partner of 16) last March. Signed and finalized papers came through in early April. I'm reminded of this fact every day when I step into my empty house and wake up in my empty bed. It's been a lonely struggle. It was necessary that it be lonely. I've had dear friends who have been there for me at the drop of a text or phone call. I've had friends show up unexpectedly with a bottle of wine because they just felt like I needed a human connection. My friends have kept me grounded, but the internal struggle has been mine and it has been necessarily lonely.
I've been doing really well with being divorced then going through a breakup with the man I dated post-divorce. I'm happy. I'm strong. I'm not lonely because I've finally gotten to the point of realizing just how much fun I am. Dance parties in my living room with my dog and cats at 1AM after working and doing homework all day. We have fun. We are all finally okay with me being single.
What started me on this particular post, however, was a reminder of the distance I've traveled since last March/April. It is time once again to fill out my FAFSA information as I start my third year of school at the end of August. My goodness how this time has flown by. Granted, I'm in an accelerated program where I earn a bachelor's degree in two years, eight months, but still, I've been in school now for over a year. And I haven't quit!! And I don't plan on quitting!
While filling out my information it asked me of my marital status, to which I replied "divorced." Then it asked me to fill out the date of that divorce. It was like a slap in the face that I was not prepared for. Tell us, dear student, when was it that you broke your marriage vows? When was it that you decided you wanted to walk the path of not being married? When was it that you chose to walk away from your marriage?
The decision to get a divorce was not made lightly. It took days, months, years. This is not to say that I was in a bad marriage. It's just that the decision didn't happen over night. Once you get a divorce, however, it feels like there is this stigma placed upon you. These forms, whether for FAFSA or opening a bank account, asks for your birthdate and the date you got a divorce. I understand that it is because your financial situation changes after a divorce, but still. There's a mark on you now. I usually feel like I wear it out in the open, on my sleeve. Don't touch me. I'm divorced. I'm scarred. There's something in me that is broken.
This hinders all relationships moving forward. It shouldn't, but it does. Those of us who have been through major heartbreak (which is everyone, don't lie) seal ourselves up. We lock that shit away. We keep our hearts hidden and safe from future heartbreak. I'm not opposed to falling in love again, but damn it, FAFSA, I don't want to tell you when I got a divorce. And on falling in love again... That is a touchy subject. I love many people, but to allow another person to break that seal around my heart is a big decision. I'm going to keep that key hidden under the rock next to my front door until someone finds it after meticulously looking and understanding what type of rock I hid it under. Is it the plain looking rock? Or the fancy one? Is it the one that looks like a skull? Or a heart?
All of this to say: I think I've finally made it. I understand myself. I know who I am as an individual. Not a wife. Not a partner. Not an appendage. I am me. A woman. A filmmaker. A person at peace. Someone who dances in her living room at one in the morning with her dog and cats, because she can.