October 13th will always be a DATE to me.
Our clock stopped in 2009, at nine years. There can be no more anniversaries, but that doesn’t mean it won’t visit me every year. Email reminders from florists, marketing materials from hotels or resorts where nine earlier anniversary celebrations took place, the calendar notification that I still haven’t removed after three years.
I don’t need the external reminders, though. My heart still knows. It will always know.
Today is incongruous. Regret battles the confidence that the right choices were made. I remember the visits to tucked away locations, the laughter as we explored genuine Americana, and the fullness pushing from within my chest. From Cape Girardeau to Malibu, Las Vegas to Savannah, the memories shine brilliantly, highlighting the best stops along the path our marriage took.
It ended because it needed to, but the trip will always have been worth it. I am the me of today because of the me who said I do twelve years ago, the me who made bad choices four years ago, and the me who said it was time to move on.
If you see me today, congratulate me. Not because I got divorced – that was a failure on my part and nothing to celebrate. Congratulate me because I built upon an experience that turns many bitter and became a better person. Congratulate me for realizing that I was unhappy and that I needed to make changes for me. Congratulate me for respecting myself enough to know that I was hurting both of us by staying married.
I will always regret hurting someone who I loved. Whom I still care for very deeply. But I see who I am today, and I know that it was a mandate – it was completely and utterly imperative – that I end my marriage. Every day, seeing people in unhappy relationships who refuse to make difficult choices, who would rather suffer under an illusion that they’re martyrs or being selfless, I celebrate my decision to be selfish and think about myself first so that I can better take care of those in my life who mean the most.
Today would have been our twelfth. But it’s not. And that’s fine.