I’m writing this open letter because I’m thinking of you. I know your heart is filled with fear, and my heart aches for you. In an effort to send my love across the many miles, and to let you know that I understand your feelings, I’d like to tell you a story.
Once upon a time I met a man. He was a friend of my friend. At the time I was young, 17 to be exact. I was always the curvy, plump girl in high school who never got asked to a dance. I kept my grades up, but I didn’t really have friends. Instead, my parents made me come home and cook, clean, and take care of things. I lived a life of daily lock-down. It sucked. Then, this friend of mine mentioned that she had a male friend whom she thought would like me and want to be my boyfriend. I had never had a boyfriend before. My tummy filled with butterflies.
Sure enough, we went on a first group date and were smitten. He was a country boy who drove a Bronco jeep and I was the suburban girl who liked hip hop. He swept me away across those country miles and for a long while things were good. When we were dating apart and seeing each other occasionally, things were good. We would write little love notes, go on dates, and make out. There was passion in the air to have sex but we held off.
I moved out on my own, and I remember that I was so taken with him. He was my world. No guy had ever looked at me like he had… and my self-esteem was so low that I felt like there couldn’t possibly be anyone else who would look at me the same way. I couldn’t see a life beyond him. At 18 I got my first apartment with friends. My boyfriend and I finally began having sex. Like any teenager, we felt wild, rebellious, and free. After being trapped under my parents’ thumb for so long, I felt like the master of my domain.
I didn’t realize it then… but I was gambling with my heart and life in a way that would break me forever.
A few months before my 20th birthday I stood in the bathroom of my tiny bedroom and peed on a pregnancy test. I was pregnant. My eyes bulged, but at the time my boyfriend and I had been arguing so I thought a baby would bring us together. I was such a fool. 😦 I was a child having a child, and no baby deserves to come into a relationship that isn’t stable, safe, healthy, and mature.
On my 20th birthday we had a wedding and got married. My family didn’t attend. His family was less than pleased but they pushed hard for it because I was pregnant. It’s simply what you did. Life moved on and my belly grew. I was 20 years old having a child and I was terrified. We didn’t have money to buy many things for the baby, and I had no idea what to expect with each trimester. He didn’t know how to support me being pregnant as he was just as young as I was! It was a mess.
In the Spring I laid in a hospital bed weeping in pain with each massive contraction. An epidural only lessened the pain as I birthed my child into the world. I fell in love instantly and my heart became tethered to my child. But my marriage with my ex began to unravel. Money was tight. Food was rationed to the crumb. Stress was high, and we argued often. We lacked the maturity and communication skills to make it work. Couple that with having a newborn baby and we were at our wits end.
I felt…. trapped.
I was terrified of how to support myself and my baby. I was terrified of raising a child in a divorced home when I came from a divorced home myself. I was terrified of how to make my way in the world. YET! Deep down I knew that I couldn’t possibly spend the next 50 to 60 years with someone who didn’t understand my heart and mind. I couldn’t be with someone who was jealous of me getting an education. I couldn’t live my life with someone who was so controlling! I felt like I was suffocating.
Like any couple in peril, our arguments grew vocal and I told him I was miserable over and over again. “Leave!” he would shout, “just leave!”. My heart felt like it was breaking. Where would I go? I wondered. What would I do with myself?
I must admit here in this space, that I’m the type of person that I don’t do well with massive change. I get anxious. I get frustrated. And I get resistant. But, when push comes to shove… when I’m deeply unhappy, I make changes. I make those hard decisions and take one step into the unknown because I know with every fiber of my being that what I’m doing isn’t working.
So… on a rainy day in the Fall… 4 years after that boy and I married… we stood in a courthouse with other couples. We held a stack of signed papers in hand. One by one the couples would come up. We raised our right hands to be sworn under oath. The judge reviewed our papers and asked if we were in agreement. We both nodded solemnly. A signature of hers was made at the bottom and our divorce was official. The relationship was done.
That day it was pouring down rain. It was as if God was crying for us. We were silent on the drive home. He pulled in the driveway to drop me off. He turned off the engine. I sat there silently. How do you say goodbye to your only love? How do you say goodbye to the father of your children? How do you thank them for the memories as you move on with your adult life as a single person?
I looked at him, and he looked at me. We were both so solemn and silent. Yet, I could see the relief in his eyes just as he could see them in mine. There didn’t need to be anymore fear, animosity, and arguments that left us reeling. We could be individuals focusing on our children. That was it. We kissed for one final time. Then, I got out of the car and moved on with my life.
The marriage was over.
Having children with him complicated my life 10-fold. Getting married and feeling trapped at such a young age broke my heart such a long time ago. But I’m writing this to tell you… life does move on. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I wasn’t sure how I would survive after that divorce, but I did. And years later I met my now-husband. I was much older and wiser. I had the maturity to find someone who I could grow with, fall in love with, and who was at the same stage in life as me. I met someone who was mature enough to allow me to grow and thrive, all while communicating clearly and openly.
I promise you that while everything is so bleak, so dark, that you never, EVER, should live in fear. Do NOT settle for anything less than you deserve. You are worthy of being with someone who loves, supports, and treats you with kindness. You deserve someone who is willing to work on their baggage (and Lord knows we all have baggage! The mature people know how to work on their issues).
I’m here for you, my friend. Always.