Last week, I had a conversation with a friend about divorce that got me thinking, more than usual, about my own. In the 3.5 years since my ex and I separated, I’ve tried to adopt an out of sight, out of mind mentality, but if I’m being honest, it doesn’t always work. First, some background: I’ve been engaged twice, married once, and divorced once. All of that happened by the time I was 26. Sure, you could say the first engagement didn’t really count, since I was still in college and knew I was not going to marry the guy (why I said yes is a totally different story not suited for the internet out of courtesy to him). Nonetheless, the seeds had been sown, at least in my mind, that maybe I’m not good at this whole marriage thing. Maybe I’m the problem. Lauren and I have a running joke that I’ll have 8 husbands before I die, and we even have some of them picked out. Truth be told, that’s actually my worst fear.
If you’ve been divorced, you know the kind of all-consuming sense of failure that accompanies it. It doesn’t matter why you got divorced or who was “at fault,” you still feel like a failure. In my personal situation, nearly everyone with any knowledge of what happened, including my ex, will tell you that our divorce was his “fault.” Well, maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I spent years, both during and after our relationship, beating myself up over why I couldn’t make it better. It’s not even because I still wanted to be with him, it was more the fact that I was unwilling to let go of the idea that I couldn’t control outcomes with my behavior. I was sure that if I just tried a little harder to forgive him, or was a better girlfriend/fiancee/wife, he wouldn’t do the things he did and I wouldn’t be so hurt. If the divorce was his fault, the marriage was my fault, because I went into it refusing to see what was right in front of me the entire time.
After the conversation with my friend, I found myself getting extremely upset. “I’m bad at marriage,” I told myself. “I’m going to end up like Elizabeth Taylor and everyone’s just going to be like oh, there she goes again! No one will ever be able to put up with me for their whole lives. I can’t even put up with myself.” Then I put on my Taylor Swift cd and I was all, “Taylor TOTALLY gets me,” and that obviously made me even more depressed because when you find your life mirroring Taylor Swift’s music, it’s usually not good. Truth be told, I almost called my ex last night (I haven’t spoken to him in well over a year) just to ask him if he thought I was a good wife. I know, unequivocally, that he would have said yes. But if that’s true, then why did we get divorced? A good wife makes a good marriage, right? If I was so good, why would he have behaved so badly? Those, of course, are ridiculous questions, but this is how my brain works at 1 am.
I nearly cried myself to sleep last night at the thought of dying with 8 hyphenated surnames (it would be embarrassing, but also fun at the DMV). Luckily, when I woke up this morning, I saw this blog post in my Bloglovin’ feed. In a nutshell, the post says that we get to choose our “story.” That is, we have complete control over how we interpret events and relationships in our lives, and it’s up to us to direct the narratives that we tell ourselves about those things in a positive way. It made me think about the story I’m telling myself currently and the one that I should be telling myself.
Story 1: I’m obviously not good at being married and I’m going to die with 8 last names. I am a terrible judge of character and cannot be trusted to choose a suitable mate. Anyone I choose will inevitably hurt me, so I will just never get married again and become a hermit.
Story 2: I see the good in people, sometimes more than I should, and that led to me being in a situation that ultimately taught me how strong I am. I learned to be independent and discovered that I am capable of making difficult decisions and following through on them. I met a wonderful guy who, more than 2.5 years later, still has not hurt me or proven to be anything other than kind, generous, and thoughtful. Maybe I used to be a bad judge of character, but I’m not anymore.
The latter is a little more encouraging, right? When I think about it, if Lauren was in this same situation, would I tell her Story #1 about herself, or would I tell her Story #2? Of course, I would tell her Story #2, because I treat my friends with much more kindness and empathy than I treat myself. That’s messed up. Clearly, I’ve been telling myself the wrong story for all these years. You know what the good part is? I am the only one with the power to rewrite it, and I’m a damn good writer. It’s time that I give myself a little more credit and trust that the people who have me in their lives, especially AJ, have me there because they want me there. It’s time to write a better story.
LEAVE A COMMENT: What story are you telling yourself right now? Which story should you be telling?