Exactly six years ago today, I woke up like I did every morning, unaware that I would go to bed a completely different person and my life, as I knew it, was going to end. Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but as September 5th, 1977 was the date of my birth, September 21st, 2011 is the date of my re-birth. It is a date I commemorate each year and will for the rest of my life.
It started as any typical day would. I got up and checked some emails as I ate breakfast with my daughter, and try as I might, I cannot recall anything extraordinary about that day. I had a fancy party at the Nixon Library that evening to rub elbows with some fellow wedding industry people and was excited to see my friends. I was content. I had a beautiful and smart daughter, a stable job that I didn’t love but allowed me freedom, my photography business, and was working on having a more positive attitude toward my marriage.
A month before, I was forlorn, heavy with the burden that I was married to a man I didn’t respect or love and because of our faith, I was stuck with him forever. I really had to grapple with the regret that I didn’t leave him when I found out about the second affair a few years prior and now I didn’t have any excuse to leave him. I had vowed to work on my mindset and make the best of our marriage, for the sake of my sanity and for everyone around me. But somewhere deep down, I hoped that he was cheating again, and so I could walk away free and clear.
Little did I know…
Coming home from the party, I walked into our bedroom and he had fallen asleep on the bed. His typically tightly guarded phone was laying beside him and unable to pass up the temptation, I grabbed it. With my heart pounding, not sure what I’d find or if he’d wake up and catch me, I quickly scrolled through his text messages. I didn’t have to look very far to find what I was looking for. I calmly woke him up and said, “We’re getting a divorce.” Those four words were the keys to my rebirth.
[RELATED POST: You’re Not Going Crazy. 8 Signs He’s Cheating On You].
For months, there were signs (there always are) of the affair, but even after having it happen twice before, I am almost embarrassed to say, I ignored my intuition. And you know the rest of the story. If you’re a regular reader (and if so, I thank you), my journey unfolds on the screens of this blog. There are little holes here and there, which I promise to fill you in on someday. Soon.
September 21, 2011 brought a dichotomy that was both crushing and freeing. My spirit was broken but I was set free at last. Was it scary? Hell yes. But at last, the bonds I had put myself in by staying in the marriage were broken. The road ahead was rough, as most places worth going are. But, even though the last six years was the most challenging of my life, the path of pain, growth, hard work and refinement has led me here and it is a beautiful place.
This day reminds me that I don’t have to be stuck where I am.
If you need to make a change in your life (and I’m not just talking about leaving a relationship), let me tell you from the other side that the journey is absolutely worth it. Every tear, every heartbreak, every self-doubt, and every moment of putting the pieces back together, has brought me here today. And so each year, I celebrate this day, not for what I left behind, but for the life that awaited me when I broke through my fear and began again.