I wasn't quite sure what I expected to feel this week because the feelings I had these exact moments a year ago were quite confusing.
When the papers arrived in the mail with the date stamped February 18th, 2014, I knew what they held. In that large manila envelope was a series of paperwork, all signed and dated by a Maricopa County judge.
It was over.
Seven years of the life we had built were over.
It all seemed so broken.
But I had been waiting for those papers because I wanted things to move on. I think I figured if those papers came, I could feel a sense of closure and healing.
That didn't happen.
Instead I panicked. I turned to the comfort of my eating disorder. I started failing classes. I was full of anxiety most days. I cut off my friends and family slowly.
I didn't realize just how badly I was hurting. I didn't realize how much fear was the deciding factor in my daily choices.
This morning, I was on the computer and thinking about a year ago and the 6 months before that where the separation and lawyer meetings and fights and anger and figuring out custody were pretty much running my life. I looked up pictures from that time---I found the pictures I had uploaded 2 days before he left me. None of them had been edited or saved correctly on the computer. I don't think I had looked at them at all since sliding that memory card into the computer that day because two days later, my life was so drastically changed.
In the beginning, these questions are started with: Who is filing the paperwork? Will you get lawyers? Who stays in the house? How often do the kids go from one house to the other? Who pays the other or is it evenly split?
Those questions seem kind of obvious with divorce. Everyone has to figure them out.
But then there are the questions such as: What goals do we have after our divorce? Are we working together to keep our kids healthy and loved? Are we fighting in front of them? Are we going to swallow our pride and treat each other with respect? Are we going to allow the kids to be with the both of us in the same room?
It's confusing sometimes.
None of those questions were answered in a day. I've thought about all of them multiple times throughout this past year. I've figured out my personal boundaries and then changed them a few times to make sure I feel safe. I've prayed about my childrens' needs and tried my best to make sure they are ok. In fact, that alone has been the cause of a lot of my anxiety.
I want my children to come out of this as emotionally healthy as possible.
And I believe they will.
Not only because of what I do for them but because of what their dad does for them. I don't need a marriage contract to know that he is a good dad. He has learned to be there for them too.
My anger toward my ex-husband has eased an incredible amount in the past year. I am working on forgiving him and I believe with the help of my Savior and His atonement, I will be able to completely heal and find my heart at peace.
But...God's timing is not my timing...and for today, I'm ok with that. Actually, my heart and my brain don't quite agree on what "my timing" should be anyway so I think it's best to just trust that God knows.
Living with empathy is a much better way to live life. I wouldn't change the infertility or the divorce or the many 'disorders' I have on my medical records. Each and every time I am given something, I learn a whole slew of new things and I become a better person than I was before.
It's weird to think that I've only known about The Togetherness Project for a year because those people that I've met have been life-changing for me. It's weird to think that a year ago, I still didn't know why my marriage had ended. That came later. And although I have many days where the effects of my failed marriage haunt me, I know that I am strong enough to live with the memories and even smile when remembering some of them.
It wasn't all bad. In fact, a lot of it was good.
Most importantly, I am grateful that it all happened. I am grateful for seven years of a marriage. I find myself learning from those experiences every day. I wouldn't change it. That took a while for me to be able to say. For a while, I blamed myself for getting married in the first place. Who does that at 19?!! (just kidding, to all of my teenage married friends) I didn't know if I could forgive myself for making what I had decided was a stupid decision.
But without my marriage, I wouldn't have my children. Without my marriage, I wouldn't have Togetherness or my ward family or the extended in-law family I was able to fall in love with for seven years. And without my divorce, I wouldn't be the person that I currently am. I probably wouldn't be pursuing a bachelors degree in Human Development and a masters degree in Counseling.
It isn't that staying married would've been horrible. It could've been amazing. We had the choice to make it amazing---and we did not both choose for that to happen.
Three hundred and sixty five days of this life---and I have faith that we will all be ok.