It’s been long enough now that it feels like an entirely other lifetime. I struggle to bring the image of my ex-husband to mind (not that I have any reason to try). Yet, even now, there are certain flashes of memory, of sensation, that are ingrained in my body.
Nine years ago today contains many of those flashes.
Nine years ago today, I awoke afraid of seeing the man who had abandoned me eight months before. And when he passed me in the courthouse hall, I didn’t even recognize him.
Nine years ago today, I was ready for the divorce I never wanted from the man I thought I knew.
Nine years ago today, I sat in a courtroom with the man I had spent half of my life with. A man I once considered my best friend. We never made eye contact.
Nine years ago today, I looked at his face for any sign of the man I had loved. I saw none. After sixteen years, he was truly a stranger to me.
Nine years ago today, I sat alone in a hallway waiting for the attorneys to decide his fate and mine. Hoping that the judge saw through his lies and would not fall sway to him charms. She didn’t, even asking my husband’s attorney if he was “psycho.” The lawyer could only shrug.
Nine years ago today, I cried and shook with the realization that it was all over. It was a relief and yet the finality was jarring.
Nine years ago today, I felt a heaviness lift as I cut the dead weight of him from my burden. I believed I couldn’t begin to heal until his malignancy had been removed.
Nine years ago today, I laughed when I learned he hadn’t paid his attorney. I had warned the man my husband was a con. Maybe he believed me now.
Nine years ago today, I held tightly to that decree, still believing that its declarations had power. I felt relief that he would have to pay back some of what he stole from the marriage. The relief was short lived.
Nine years ago today, I took my first steps as a single woman. Steps I never expected to take. The first few were shaky. But I soon started to find my stride.
Nine years ago today, I sat around a restaurant table with friends and my mother. A table that had held my husband and I countless times over our marriage. We celebrated the end of the marriage that night. I had celebrated my anniversary there the year before.
Nine years ago today, I read my husband’s other wife’s blog for the last time, curious if she would mention anything about the court date. She did not. I erased the URL from my history. It no longer mattered.
Nine years ago today, I sealed the piles of paperwork from the divorce and the criminal proceedings into a large plastic tub. As the lid clicked in place, I felt like I was securing all of that anguish in my past.
Nine years ago today, I started to wean myself off of the medication that allowed me to sleep and eat through the ordeal. I was thankful it had been there, but I no longer wanted the help.
Nine years ago today, I fell asleep dreaming of hope for the future rather than experiencing nightmares of the past.
And now, nine years on, I could not be happier with where I am.
Not because of the divorce.
But because losing everything made me thankful for everything.
Because being blind made me learn how to see.
Because being vulnerable created new friendships and bonds.
Because the effort of rebuilding made me appreciate every step.
Because being destroyed made me defiantly want to succeed.
And because losing love made me determined to find it again.
I am happier than I’ve ever been.
And I could not be where I am without nine years ago today.