If I'm being honest, I knew my marriage wouldn't survive before we ever said "I do." We had just graduated high school, but as strong-willed and stubborn as I was at the time, there was no other option but to follow through with our naive plans and go against everyone's wishes. Knowing we were probably doomed to fail didn't make our inevitable divorce hurt any less, though. So there were things I needed when my marriage ended, I was just too afraid to ask for them. Looking back, I wish I had.
Some marriages that start right out of high school make it, and my ex-husband and I wanted to believe our marriage would be one of the ones that stuck. Little did we know, or perhaps were just unwilling to admit, that we were vastly unprepared for everything marriage would entail. We loved one another, don't get me wrong, but we had no plan, we had different dreams and aspirations, and I ignored my gut feeling not to go through with it. My life was at a difficult crossroads, where one path had the illusion of security (marriage), while the other seemed to be a free-fall into obscurity. At barely 18 years old, I had no idea what the "right choice" was, let alone how to make it.
Understandably, our marriage was rough from the start. We didn't know how to stop being the kids we were, the ones living with out parents, and start being the husband and wife we quickly found ourselves pretending to be. As a result, we separated almost immediately. We tried for years to repair the damage that had been done, but by the time things should've felt "normal," something was missing. It was as if all the effort was too late. Then, when news broke of our decision to split, I was on the receiving end of all kinds of reactions. Some were helpful, while others only hurt me, and us, more than we were already hurting. So I was definitely afraid to ask for the following things, even if I shouldn't have been.
Initially, I wasn't sure where to go or what to do after leaving my husband of four years. Because we'd already separated once before, then worked it out, I think people were debating as to whether or not this was "really it." Once the seriousness of the split became obvious, I was bombarded by questions, curiosities, and judgements about why we'd given up — again. What I needed was the space to process my relationship and how we'd proceed without everyone's unwarranted advice.
Most people didn't understand why we "quit" on our marriage. While there were a slew of factors, most of which were extremely personal and no one's business. We ended things amicably, and are friendly to this day. I still think about the things said to me in the wake of my divorce, though; things I didn't deserve.
I wish people who didn't understand could've kept it to themselves, or tried to put themselves in my shoes. I was a young woman trying to start her life over again. I didn't need judgment, I needed understanding and support.
It's fair to say that a lot of my friends didn't understand why I decided to get married in the first place. At the very least, they couldn't understand why I had tied the knot so quickly, and at such a young age. Now that I'm older I can say I get it. I understand why it was a difficult life choice for them to comprehend. Back then, though, it didn't matter if they thought it was right or wrong when we married or divorced. I only wanted them to support me.
A Judgement-Free Zone
I don't know why I didn't speak up when others continued to make me feel bad for doing what I felt was best, but for some reason, I didn't feel worthy of expressing those feelings. I should've asked other people to respect my privacy, respect my feelings, and respect my decisions. Period.
No More "I Told You So"
No one is perfect and at barely 22 years old, I could've done without the eye rolls and secret, smug smiles that reminded me I made the "wrong" choice. It was hard enough trying to figure out how to proceed with my life and move forward, without people shoving some perceived "failure" in my face.
A New Beginning
When my marriage ended, officially, I was afraid to ask for help so I could get the fresh start I needed. My ex-husband had support and financial assistance, but I fell into this weird oblivion where support of any kind was non-existent. I needed help to start over in every way, but I was too frightened of rejection to ask for it.
The Freedom To Move On
When it came down to it, I wish I'd been able to move on free and clear and without someone trying to make me feel guilty. My ex got to — why couldn't I? I started dating my current husband shortly after things had settled post-divorce. Some people were supportive, don't get me wrong, but others couldn't fathom how I'd gone from a high school graduate, to married, to divorced, to dating, all in four years. I don't think asking for people's respect was asking for too much. We all deserve the freedom to make our own choices, and move forward from some of those choices. Regardless.