It's New Year's Eve, and I'm in a rather thoughtful mood, so I thought I'd touch on this topic again.
Twelve years ago at this time, I was just setting off on my honeymoon. Even though I was 26, still, looking back, that former self seems so young. I was certainly naive about a lot of things, and in a lot of ways, I wasn't very grown-up. At the time, I envisioned nothing but happiness and wedded bliss. Oh, on some level I knew it wouldn't be all sunshine and roses, but I still believed that things would always work out for the best and that we could make it through the tough times. I expected to find myself down the road celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary, surrounded by kids and grandkids and friends.
The destination I saw for myself certainly wasn't the one I seem to have arrived at, twelve years later. I suppose my first hint was when K told me he couldn't picture us in the future. Naive that I was, I didn't pick up on that. Or maybe I did, but just wanted to ignore it and think we were fine. At any rate, our marriage fell apart, and now I find myself here. Divorced, single mom, more broke than I've ever been, working at a thankless job that I've been unable to get out of despite all my efforts.... No, this definitely wasn't what I had in mind when I started my married life twelve years ago.
I can't say as it's been easy. In fact, some days (although I'd never do it), I've been able to grasp just a little bit why someone might think jumping off an overpass into oncoming traffic seems like a good idea. But some good has come from all of this. First, I have J. He's a trial sometimes, and a handful almost all the time, but he is my precious boy, and I love him with all my heart. Hearing him say, "Mama, I love you" is worth all the gray hair and stress and frustration he causes, and a hug is worth its weight in gold. Second, I have me. I'm not the same timid, mousy little creature I was twelve years ago. I've grown up. I've gained self-confidence, more of an ability to speak my mind and stand up for myself, and I've certainly gained perspective. The downfall of my marriage gave me plenty of time to think about what I would and wouldn't want, what I would and wouldn't accept, if I were to become involved in another serious relationship. I know what my deal-breakers are and what things I can live with. And any man I'm serious about is going to know those things, too, before there's any talk of commitment or long-term or anything like that. If I ever get married again, I think I have the tools to make that second marriage succeed. My first may have been doomed to failure just because I didn't have the common sense God gave a newt, didn't have anything like a healthy sense of self-esteem, and just didn't have the ability to stand up for myself.
So. I've lost a marriage, gained a son, and gained some valuable insight into myself. This may not have been the destination I envisioned all those years ago, and sometimes the accommodations may suck and the amenities aren't as advertised. But all things considered, it's turned out to be an OK destination after all.
Now, let the next journey commence.