The next installment in my Defining Moments Series is written by Kristen Costa. After you’re done reading her post here, you should head over to her blog Life By Kristen and follow her on twitter @kristencurator
I’ve always been a lover of surveys, questionnaires, etc. I don’t know why—maybe it’s because I’m opinionated and this allows me the opportunity to let me views on things like laundry detergent or frequency of grocery shopping to be known, but regardless of the reason, I am a member of more than a handful of online survey groups. My defining life moment came in September 2011 when filling out a survey about grocery shopping. And it all involved the checking of a box on the usual question of “marital status.” Let me explain.
In July 2011, after a mere year and two months of marriage, my ex-husband and I decided to end our marriage. Those fourteen months of marriage—preceded by a difficult two and a half years dating—were painfully difficult, and so much more than in the usual tough ways of the first year of “wedded bliss.” After half a year of individual therapy for each of us and couples’ counseling, it became clear that we were not made for forever together. While we decided to separate in July, it was not until we had ironed out the details between the two of us that we told our families, friends, and coworkers in August. It was not until September that he moved out of our house.
Telling people was difficult though so many people in my inner circle saw it coming. I sort of avoided telling the rest of the world—a lot of people noticed a change in relationship status on Facebook (21st century solution to awkward situations for the win!), others noticed a lacking of wedding photos anywhere online or in my house. Most people who were acquaintances learned when I was a guest blogger during the transition period. This lack of “announcement” by either me or my ex was intentional—we wanted to keep things private and only our families and closest friends knew what happened between us, but honestly I can say now—a year later—that I was afraid of the word “divorced.”
Being divorced was never something that ever entered into my atmosphere—sure I had lots of friends who parents were divorced and even members of my extended family, but in my mind, I came from a close immediate family—grandparents married over fifty years, parents over thirty, with similar numbers on my then husband’s side. We both thought we knew each other well enough that we would have years of success. I even pondered to myself each time a friend was married about who would be divorced first; with rates of marriages ending being on the rise, I figured my close circle of friends would also fall to the statistics. I was naïve enough to not even consider that the statistic might end up being me.
Deciding to get divorced was not easy by any means—but filling out that form and clicking the box “separated/divorced” on that grocery shopping survey was the first time I had to “publicly” proclaim the words. It seems like the smallest thing in comparison to having to tell me parents I had failed at my marriage, but to me it was the biggest. In that moment, in going from the ‘married’ box (and previously before that the ‘single’ box), I became totally redefined in the minds of the survey analyzers. I was a new demographic and in one that I felt held so much judgment—not by the survey takers, but by ME. The word divorced held so much weight to me and literally brought me down into a bit of a panic in thinking about checking off this new box. Knowing I had to end my marriage to be happy was one thing, going through with it and doing the paperwork was another—but this—this proclamation to the world and putting myself into a new category of life—was something so much bigger. I know that I gave all the weight and power to the word and what it meant and that being divorced is not the end of the world. Yes, my marriage failed and I broke a vow—two things I never imagined for myself, but deciding that I needed to end my marriage was me taking a stand for my life and choosing happiness over obligation. The defining moment was checking off that box; while I am not proud that I am divorced and it is something I do not wish on my worst enemy—I am proud that in that moment, I was able to realize that checking off that box was a small action, but a huge thing at the same time in accepting my life and the choices I made for myself.