Today is the ultimate Throwback Thursday. It is ultimate (ish) because it is also my 4 year wedding anniversary. At least, I think you still can call it an anniversary because whether or not the relationship still exists, the past event being marked still happened, right?
I wonder if I will ever go through a July 9th and not be reminded of my wedding day. Part of me feels like it is a date ingrained in my brain forever. But another part of me feels that it’s possible that someday I may forget. After all, just a few years ago I wondered if I would ever go through a July 9th and not want to crawl into the fetal position and/or drink myself into a nice numb oblivion, and today I don’t particularly feel like doing any of that.
Instead I feel…OK. Not super great, but not overly emotional. Maybe a tinge of emotion and nostalgia here or there but functionally speaking, I am doing just fine- sailing through my work day and looking forward to seeing some friends tonight. And I feel like that really is a testament to how far I have come in 4 years; how much more balanced I am these days, emotionally. In fact, I like that I still feel something on today’s date but at the same time, I can carry on with my life just fine. It feels good; stable and human.
In light of all this change and even dare I say- points of clarity?- I have pondered the question: what would I tell my 25-year-old self? If we were in a room together right before walking down the isle, would I stop her? Would at the very least warn her? Or do I say, C’est la vie! Everything happens for a reason! Live with no regrets! To figure it out, in true cornball, fashion, I wrote a letter.
Look at you today: so calm, cool and collected, acting like it is just another day, even under the weight of that heavy white dress. I know you hate that dress. I would like to say that in retrospect you will tell yourself “you looked better than you thought!” But no, four years later you still hate that dress. And your hair. And your makeup. What I can tell you is not to worry, because over the next four years you will grow into yourself, both in spirit and in body. Even though today you may yearn for your 25-year-old metabolism, by the time you are almost 30 you will feel more put together and comfortable in your skin than ever. Over the next few years you will learn that you actually *are* beautiful and that this beauty is completely independent of your current weight or the amount of make up you wear. In fact, you can be down right sexy- and it’s OK to admit that- it is not pretentious, bur rather a human right and the foundation of good self esteem.
But enough about that.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to cherish all the good in today. When you are out there today surrounded by loved ones either on the dance floor or maybe when you are eating your cake, take a good look at everyone to your left. Then take a good, hard, look at everyone to your right. Feel all the love you have from them, because nearly half of them will no longer be an active presence in your life come the next four years.
Surprise! You’re not married anymore. Surprise! Your soon-to-be husband is not the wonderful person you thought him to be. Surprise! You, yourself, are not who you thought you were. In fact, pretty much nothing about life will be as you thought it was. It all crumbles to pieces in the wake of your divorce, and you are left to rebuild everything in your life from your physical home, relationships, self worth, and understanding about the world at large.
That all said, I am not going to stop you from walking down the isle. It’s a part of your path and who you are meant to be. Yes, truly, this sucks- no one wants to be labeled ‘The 26 Year Old Divorcee‘ . It will be incredibly embarrassing being only married a year before your separation, and it will totally fuck with your finances. But your divorce is an incredible force that will push you to find out who you are and what you want in life. It will also force you out of your perfectionist ways. Once you are pushed into the middle of what might be considered, the ultimate fuck up, you must pull away from your obsession with being seen as the perfect child/friend/employee since you are irrevocably and indeterminately tarnished. Yes, this hurts and it is hard, but it is for the better. You need to lighten up. There are better ways to live your life than checking things off your To-Do list and keeping every ounce of your life seemingly perfect.
Today, when you arrive at the wedding site, you will feel nothing. No excitement, no fear, no happiness and no dread. This is because you are shut off inside. Recognize that. Hang on to that feeling. While you feel nothing and nothingness can be a viable way to exist- that void of nothingness sucks. Remember this in the depths and dankness of your divorce. Remember this when you inevitably find yourself at 1 am, on a random Tuesday, in the fetal position, in complete hysterics when you can’t fall asleep because the pain and loneliness feels never ending and too great to bear. In those moments, you will wonder why you left, why you purposefully incited all of this carnage. You will feel like the world’s biggest idiot for walking away from the ‘perfect’ life and the most horribly selfish human being for hurting so many others along the way. You’re wrong. It’s just the loneliness talking. Use that numb, empty feeling from your wedding day to get you through it. Deep down, you want more. You need more. Someday, you *will* have more.
Someday the sun will shine again and you will feel calm and happy and loved by both friends, family and a partner, and most importantly, yourself. And even then, there will be times when the clouds eclipse the sun and again you will be left with that feeling that life has gone stale and you start your yearning for more. There will always be more, little Joey. But don’t be ashamed or afraid of wanting more. Wanting more is what keeps us going. Wanting more is what keeps life from being boring. Don’t settle. Don’t feel wrong or selfish for wanting more. Those who truly love you will want you to have more and will want more right along side you for themselves, as well.
Today is wonderful. Today you will feel so loved by so many people. Today you will eat, drink, dance and be merry- and as you should. Today is a beautiful memory. Treat it as such. Even when, years down the road, you start to resent it, even when you become ashamed by it, even when you wish you could take that day back. Don’t. You may never get to dance with your father at your wedding again. You may never see some of those people ever again. There may never again be such a wonderful learning experience.You will never be you in that moment again, and each and every day, every piece of you and every moment you live through is beautiful and worthwhile. Take the good and walk away from the rest. Everything will be OK. There is always more to life than you see.