My apartment was empty and the blinds were drawn. My boyfriend was off recording with his bandmates and wouldn't be coming over until later. Usually this is a time when I put on my most luxurious pair of $7 stretch pants, languidly sprawl out on my mid-century sectional like a chubby Cleopatra and watch my shows in blissful, non-judgmental silence. But on this afternoon, Abbi and Ilana's pixelated vaginas would sit unwatched in my Hulu+ queue.
Instead, I lifted my couch and pulled from under it a long Tupperware storage container covered in dust bunnies. Bits of grey fluff floated into my nose as I popped open the top and I came face-to-lace with the most expensive piece of clothing I own—my wedding dress.
It was wrinkled and still had the same dirt on the hem that I'd collected while dancing on my wedding day. That was Aug. 12, 2006. I was 22. Just a baby, as many who've realized I'm a divorcée have said.
I took off my jeans and pulled on the duchess satin and lace gown. It's not nearly close to fitting anymore. Despite being dirty and starting to yellow, it's still lovely. However, I feel no connection to it. No warm and fuzzy feelings. No wistful remorse or anger. It's just a dress that cost way too much money. I thought I would need to stab it with the sword of Gryffindor to destroy any residual bitterness that might still be in me. But I didn't. I took it off and put it back in its plastic coffin and closed the lid. Is that a small shriek I hear? But, most importantly, did I just make myself out to be Voldemort with that Harry Potter metaphor?
The reason for this forced moment of nostalgia is because, after eight years of separation, I'm officially divorced. Sorry, I mean, I'm finally (in Oprah voice) OFFICIALLY DIVOO-OOOORCED. I'd considered getting shit-faced and busting a dick-shaped piñata to celebrate, but then I wasn't up for it. I'm not sure why. I rarely pass up an opportunity for drunken dick bashing.
Backstory alert! In 2008, I called quits to my marriage not because I'd stopped loving my then-husband. I just wasn't equipped to be married to an addict. The kind of addict who spends rent money on cocaine and stands you up at your grandpa's funeral because he was too wasted. It did not end well, as you can imagine.
I was not equipped to handle the responsibility of aiding someone through the difficult road to sobriety, and probably never will be. Now, at least, I have the self-awareness to recognize that I shouldn't put myself or someone dealing with those serious issues in a position where we're relying on each other to be happy.
For years, I battled feelings of failure that were exacerbated every time I had to reveal that part of my history. On many occasions, closing out a tab has turned into an awkward conversation when someone learns my other last name. My marriage has been like a sexually-transmitted disease that I felt obligated to disclose to every new partner. "So uh, just FYI, I was married and am technically still married, but I haven't seen him in years and he lives in England. I just figured you should know in case it's a problem for you." It's served as a sort of litmus test of how evolved men are when it comes to this sort of thing. Nine times out of 10, I found that they're far too thirsty to care.
There's a stigma attached to people who are divorced. Like there must be something wrong with us, right? I mean, otherwise why would we be divorced. That's total bullshit. Unfortunately, I found that the stigma is harsher on women. I was called cruel and heartless for abandoning my husband when he needed me most. I understand that being an addict is incredibly difficult, but I also don't believe it's something that can be overcome by love. It takes a lot more than that.
Women should not have to be steadfast toward their men to prove they're good. I personally don't believe love is enough to conquer all. Women don't have to stay and stick it out, hoping that things will get better, just as men aren't expected to do so. I don't think I'm a bad person for walking away or think he's a bad person for being an addict; I'll defend both sides of that coin.
The only real lasting effect my divorce has had is that I now have a distaste for Shepherd's Pie and I'm not willing to sacrifice my time on people who disrespect me. That's probably why I have more exes than Jerry on Seinfeld. Whatever, man. Being a spinster doesn't sound bad. I'll just bone my way through Italy then write a book about it.
It took me a very long time to stop being angry, disappointed or sad about my marriage. Now, it's just a factoid. I don't hate him or that part of my history anymore. It's like it happened to a whole other person, but the effects are there. That's undeniable.
I choose to wear my divorce as a badge of honor. It's a government document proving I am not the one. Bye, Felipe. I'm not willing to sacrifice my time. My tolerance for asshole behavior is lower than my tolerance for EDM music. I'm willing to work for a good, mutually respectful and loving relationship and won't be shamed if I decide that it's time to walk away.
The thing I'm most excited about is getting my name back. I've been living under two aliases for almost a decade. I can't wait for the moment I walk up to a bar to close out a tab and get to say my name again. That will be the moment I destroy my last horcrux. Damn it, did I make myself Voldemort again?
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also bug her on Twitter.