Let me start by just putting this out there – I’ve been married three times. Yes, even the famous “third time’s the charm” managed to fail me. How does one end up married (and divorced) three times by the age of thirty-two? Pure talent….and a lot of gullibility. And yet with all those marriages I have never experienced being in anyone else’s wedding.
My best friend did it right. She and her fiancé have been together for sixteen years, never married, three kids together, and as happy as any other couple I know, maybe even more so. The thing is, even looking around at people who “did it right” and looking back on my “failures”, I can’t help but not think of them that way. I don’t feel like a failure. Granted, I used to. I used to berate myself for my failings, wonder what I did wrong, why I was such a loser at relationships.
As I got older I started to realize that it wasn’t that I was incapable of good relationships; it was that I was making the wrong choices, both in who I got involved with and how I went about it. I lost myself in relationships a lot. While I think it’s healthy and good to take up the interests of your partner, I don’t think it’s good to get lost in them, or to lose yourself.
How did I get back on track from that and from three divorces? I sat down and I thought about what I really wanted for myself (and for my son). Are you a list person? I am. I made lists, lots and lots of lists. I wrote down what I wanted, what I didn’t want, things I wanted to accomplish over the next year, over the next five years, the type of people I wanted in my life, what I wouldn’t accept anymore, etc. I made a lot of lists.
More importantly than the lists, I really thought about what I was writing down and wanting out of life. Some people meditate while some pray; some do yoga, some go for a run. I sit and think. I suppose it’s a form of meditation. I am a famous over-thinker, as are many people. As I started to organize what I really wanted, I knew one of my top priorities was finding happiness within myself so that when and if I did get into another marriage or relationship this one would not be ending in divorce.
Because while I no longer consider myself a failure, I don’t know many people who go into marriage thinking “Well, I can just get a divorce.” No one wants to go through that – the stress and anxiety, the cost, the emotional toll it takes on you (and any children who may be involved). When I was starting to get back to what *I* was interested in and was finding more time for myself is when my anchor walked into my life. It was unexpected and it was something neither of us was looking for. In fact, he had plans to move across the country mere months into the future from when we met. I like to think, though, that the reason that didn’t happen is because we were both content and happy people on our own. And when we realized we didn’t need each other, we knew how important we were to the other and that we wanted each other in our lives.
If I could share one thing I’ve learned from my divorces it would be that – don’t be with someone you need, be with someone you want, someone you choose. Choose them every day, even on the days when they drive you insane. Keep choosing them.
Divorce doesn’t make you broken. If it breaks you, the break is temporary. There is a Japanese art of repairing called “Kintsukuroi”. Pottery is repaired with gold and so the cracks shine through with gold and the objects are stronger. We are like that. We can be rebuilt. We can be stronger at the broken places, and we don’t have to remain broken to do it.
Maybe someday I’ll be a bridesmaid. Maybe someday I’ll even be a bride again. But I know if that day comes it will be because of a want on my part and not a need. It will be because I have rebuilt myself and this person fits with my stronger pieces.
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