5 years ago this week, I woke up and prepared to say my vows. I clutched my dad’s arm in excitement as we walked down the aisle to greet my forever. I felt peace in that moment and cried tears of genuine joy as I became a Mrs.
If you had told me all of those years ago that I would now be divorced, I would have been devastated. I would have been humiliated. I would have felt like a failure. I had so much hope for the future, but that light dwindled through the years. Through pain and trauma, I lost myself. In my divorce, I found me again. So as a part of my healing, I decided to write a letter to past me:
I am writing you this letter because I hope that it will help bring you another perspective and give you clarity in the days to come. There is no delicate way to share this news: You are going to get divorced. Before you reach your 5 year anniversary, you will be back home with your family. You will be trying to put the pieces back together and make a plan for your future. I know this feels like the end of the world to you because the idea of getting divorced was in the “NEVER” category. You were sure that your resolve to make your marriage work no matter what would ensure success. Unfortunately, you are going to be met with circumstances that will make that nearly impossible.
Your marriage is going to turn abusive. Your biggest fear of dealing with “angry men” is going to become your reality. You will be verbally and physically assaulted on numerous occasions. I know that this may seem hard to believe, after all you wouldn’t be getting married if you didn’t believe in your choice of a husband. Although I think if you are honest with yourself, you can admit that it isn’t a complete shock. You have seen snippets of what is to come, despite the fact that you have tried to make excuses for his behavior.
One week before your wedding, He pounded on your car and screamed that you were a “f*cking bitch”. I know what you were feeling in that moment, because to be honest those memories do not fade with time. I can still be taken back to the absolute fear and dread you felt. You began to ask yourself, is this what he is really like? Is this a fluke due to the stress of the wedding? Should I call off the wedding? How many people would I inconvenience/ how much money would be lost if I walked away? With time you will realize that your family would not have judged you for making that choice. Feeling guilty for ruining travel plans is not a reason to get married. But I understand that you felt you had no other choice.
In hindsight, it’s not a surprise that history began to repeat itself. Not only that, it began to escalate with every coming incident. You began to post on Facebook about how marriage is “hard work”, but overall it was worth it. You loved each other. This was love, right? All of the sermons you heard growing up about “choosing love” and how marriage was “the hardest thing you will ever do” seemed to make sense now. You began to believe that this is just how marriage was.
Marriage was being called vile names and then cuddling afterward. Marriage was being broken down and then apologizing for not being able to forgive fast enough. Marriage was being depressed and crying to your spouse about how you believed you were a “brat”, “Jezebel”, a “whore”, “selfish”, and a “bitch” because he told you that you were.
You will cower in fear as he pretends he is going to hit you, just to scare you. You will be told you cannot go out to eat with your Dad anymore. You will run the streets around your apartment complex trying to escape. You will be pinned down as his spit falls on your face. You will be locked out of your apartment in the winter. You will be physically hurt when he realizes the threat isn’t enough anymore. You will fear for your life. You will feel empty. You will pull out your hair and sob on the bathroom floor as he screams and demand you open it. You will feel powerless because you just can’t seem to “make it work”.
After all of this, can you understand why I say it is not a failure that you got divorced? You chose life. You chose respect. You chose to believe that God had good things for you in the future. You will feel many things in 2020: freedom, peace, love, anger, grief and healing. I know that you view anger as a sinful emotion, but through therapy you will learn that there are valid reasons to be angry. It is okay that you are mad about what happened to you. It is all a part of the process of healing. In your healing, you will start to learn how to work through your triggers(there are quite a few of them). You will be met with patience and understanding by those around you. You will learn that love doesn’t have to hurt. You will learn that disagreements don’t have to mean pain. You will learn that true love is free from abuse.
In the end, should you regret getting married? This is a question I still can’t answer, and maybe I don’t need to. The trauma that you will endure in your marriage is unthinkable, but I can’t help but appreciate that every experience led us to now. We are who we are because of our experiences.You will grow. You will love. You will learn how to be resilient. It will all fall apart, but you will gain confidence in your ability to put it back together. So Jubilee, if you insist on walking down the aisle, just know that you will be okay. Your forever awaits you when you’re ready. A forever free from mistreatment. A forever filled with safety and love.