Divorced Woman, Phenomenal Woman
Yes. You read the title correctly. But let me backtrack a bit. I feel like you may need some context here.
We are back in the year 2010. I graduated from Princeton University with my Bachelors in Sociology and a certificate in African American studies. I was in a relationship that was fun but long distance. I moved from the East Coast closer to home and began teaching preschool in San Francisco. I was at my best, living in my first place with my younger sister and a friend. I was learning quickly how different life is: the difference between real life, and life in “the orange bubble.” I was exploring the world in new ways—my sister and I worked hard during the week and took off to different cities on the weekends.
My long distance relationship got harder with time. Young, immature and lacking experience in relationships as well as communication, I began to distance myself from my boyfriend and in that process, I ran into my future ex-husband.
We fell “in love” fast, moved in together even faster and within a year we were engaged and planning an even faster wedding. Moving fast meant that we both ignored obvious signs—difficulty leaving each other, jealousy, unpreparedness, mental and emotional needs, unacknowledged trauma and beyond. My family and friends were speaking LOUDLY to me, “We never see you. Why did you delete your social media accounts? What do you mean I can’t come visit? Is everything ok?” At first, I was rebellious and their concerns fell on deaf ears. I rejected every warning. I reached a point though, where my gut turned, my sleep became restless and I could no longer ignore when someone sent a warning my way. I knew their concerns were true and felt I was past the point of return.
Eventually, everything imploded. The abuse and need for healing outside of ourselves was too great to bear. I left. And I became a divorced woman. For months after the divorce, I had trouble accepting it all. I often just pretended as if it never happened. I could not speak his name. Like the magical wizarding world and “he who shall not be named.” The pain was too real, the invisible scars too fresh.
I wallowed in this label. It felt like the giant scarlet letter “A,” the curse of the community, the failure at love and adult life. I told myself often, “just forget about dating again, no one will want to date a divorced woman. You’re 25 and divorced.” It was also difficult to allow other people to love on me, when I was so used to one person being present and constantly deferring love.
I had literally hit the restart button and I couldn’t tell my life story without telling of this painful time in my life.
When I first started dating, I just glossed over this truth. I wasn’t ready to trust and commit, so I only dated people who knew me before, knew my story and were okay with still spending time. After that, I would date but in the first ten minutes of conversation I would blurt out, “So…I am divorced.” I would then proceed to give way too much information for a first date. Over time I found a good balance between trusting my story with people I have an interest in without carrying the label as a weight that would limit me from love or possibilities.
I had convinced myself that the divorce meant that I never was nor could ever be a phenomenal woman again. I have now realized that through that experience I learned what healthy “Me” and a healthy “we” looks like in love. I learned how to communicate better, what I want and do not want in a relationship, including a relationship with myself. In the process, I learned to love the whole of myself.
'Cause I am a divorced woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me.