November 5th, 2002
That's long long it's been since my divorce has been final.
Some of my friends that I've met in NC and GA don't even know that I was married before. It's definitely part of my past, and not something I'm ashamed of, but it's not something that comes up every day.
I can remember this day, ten years ago. It was full of tears, anguish, heartache, and the feeling that my life as over. In a way, it was true. The life that I had lived for 26 years was over, and a new chapter and a new me would emerge.
I put so much of myself into the last few months of my starter marriage, that I wasn't even true to myself. I was so afraid of losing my ex, and being alone for eternity, that I was grasping at anything I could to keep him around. He, being the oh-so-stellar guy that he was, allowed me to bend over backward, and led me on to believe that yes, the relationship that we had been building for ELEVEN years (yes, you read that correctly) could survive.
However, on November 5, 2002, just one year, five months, and three days after we said "I do" before our Church, our family, and our friends, it was all over.
Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" was the soundtrack to my divorce
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't wish a divorce upon my worst enemy. Granted, in order for a divorce to be hard on someone, they have to have a vested interest in being married, so I'm sure there are people who have been divorced who thought nothing about it. I'm not that kind of person. When I got married, I never expected to become a statistic and I never thought I'd have to ever say I was divorced.
It was the most difficult thing that I've ever had to endure. Even infertility, as awful as it is, doesn't compare to my divorce. Mainly, because I have Steve there with me to guide and support me through infertility, and we have a family. With my divorce, I was alone, uncertain, afraid, scared, and heart-broken. I didn't know how I'd survive it or how long it would take to get through everything.
With the help of my family and some amazing friends, I was able to somehow, manage to pick up the pieces and try to find some positives in my life.
I was 14 when I met my ex. On my 15th birthday, he and I started dating, and since I wasn't 16 yet, he and I weren't allowed to go anywhere alone. My cousin Mary came with me on all dates as my chaperone (lol). When I finally reached 16, he and I were still together and able to do things without needing Mary (or another chaperone) with us.
My ex was the first person that I ever loved. He was the first and only person that I dated while in high school, and he went to school 30 minutes away. He was my first for everything, and when he asked me to marry him, there was no hesitation. Never in a million years did I think we wouldn't live happily ever after.
So in November of 2002, I was faced with the reality that I had never been on a date with anyone else. I had never dated really. I was 26 and felt like I had been frozen in time and suddenly defrosted and released to the hounds. It was scary.
But it was also FUN.
I have some of the best friends in the world, and they scooped me up into their arms and took care of me. They helped me forget about the bad things, and helped me focus on finding me.
It wasn't always easy, and there were times that I longed for the stability of all that I had ever known, but I had no choice but to move forward. I found it really hard to date. I knew immediately if I could see the person in my life as more than just a friend, and none of them had any lasting power.
I met one guy who, let's just say, wasn't the smartest. He was cute, and I liked kissing him, but he and I would never be a we. He's the first person who actually said I was damaged goods. Yes, I'm serious. He literally called me damaged goods, oh, and the cherry on that convo was that he thought I was cute, but said I'd be totally hot if I lost like 80 pounds. Yep. That was the end of that relationship (and yet, he was clueless as to why I wouldn't talk to him anymore).
Yikes. It was a harsh reality check, that yes, for the rest of my life, anytime I met someone that I was going to date more than once, I would have to tell them that I was married before. I never knew that it could be something that would leave me branded, and no one even knew my side of the story-- no one knew that I wasn't the one who cheated and decided to leave.
Then there was Dan. Oh Dan. He was so sweet and was just awesome. I liked him the minute I met him and he made my knees go weak. He gave me hope that maybe I could find love again. He and I were in different points in our lives (I was teaching and he was in a fraternity and still in college with no graduation date in sight). He told me he loved me on New Year's Eve 2002. I was smitten, but I played it cool. He and I dated for a long time. Almost a year, off and on. I think my issues with my ex, and not trusting anyone caused some problems for us. He and his ex were very friendly (too friendly and my radar went off about her being bad news). He accused me of cheating, when all I was doing was spending time with B (my roommate).
After living in my apartment (alone) for a year, when my lease was up in August of 2003, I moved in with Amy and Beckie. We lived next door to Krissy, Shannon, and Jess, and the six of us were inseparable.
My heart was slowly mending, and I was dating, enjoying life, and finding myself. But I was still looking for the one and not getting any younger.
I'm not going to lie. I went through a bit of a CRAZY phase. In fact, when I think back to things I did, I'm scared for myself, and yet, at the time, nothing scared me.
I was stupid. (If I'm being honest with myself). I think I gave my mom an ulcer and to this day, I cannot forgive myself for the anguish I put her though during those crazy days.
I mean, I did some incredibly stupid things, and I know I have guardian angels and spirit guides, because they're the reason I'm not in a hundred pieces floating in the Hudson River. But I digress.
One Saturday, the girls and I went to see a psychic. We all made appointments with her and had back to back times. I was the first to go in, and it was incredible. She told me that I would meet the man that I would marry when I was 28 (This was September of 2003 and I was 27 about to turn 28). She told me that he worked with the earth and his last name was at the end of the alphabet. She said he was tall, blonde, and had blue eyes.
Hmmm... so I was thinking he'd be this Dutch farmer with the last name Van something. LOL. Every single time I met someone, I'd ask if their last name was Van something and if they were a farmer.
Then I met Steve.
We met in February of 2004, online, and then had our first date in March of 2004. He was an environmental engineer (sustainability manager) and worked with the environment (ah ha!). He is 6'2 and has blonde hair (somewhat brown in the winter) and gorgeous blue eyes. When I met Steve for the first time, I literally KNEW he was the man I was going to marry.
I NEVER had that feeling with my ex.
When Steve and I met, one of the things that drew me to him was that he too was married before. Both of us having starter marriages, has made our marriage incredibly strong. We have never fought about small things, and when we have had disagreements, we've always worked them out.
My divorce had caused some damage though, and it took Steve a lot of time and patience to "tear down my walls." He used to say (in a Reagan-esque way), "Cathy Kramer... TEAR DOWN THOSE WALLS!!!!"
Thankfully, he had the patience and love to give me the time and space needed to work through issues, and has been a constant companion since the moment I met him.
Ten years ago today, if you had asked me where I thought my life would be in ten years, I never would have dreamed I'd be where I am today.
I am so thankful that God had a plan for me (and still does), and that while the divorce was painful, it was crucial for me to get to where I am. I needed those months BS (before Steve) to experience life, live it to the fullest, do crazy (and stupid) things, and get as much living out of my system as possible. I had a GREAT time as a single lady, and I enjoyed the time spent with my SSR geals.
When I met Steve, I was ready for him. I was finally where I needed to be to catch the boat that was setting sail into my future. Steve is my Love Boat Captain (nod to Pearl Jam), and has never steered us wrong.
I can't imagine what ten years from now will look like, but I pray that I'm as happy as I am today, and that my life is full of love and joy.
Ten years ago today, I never knew I'd be happier than ever in my life, and that I'd have the most tremndous partner by my side.