Off-the-bat disclaimer: I’m not a professional relationship expert. I’m just a woman who’s had a whole lot of relationship drama and trauma over the past decade, who wants to share her story for anyone who might find it helpful. I got married at 26, divorced at 32, and, just a few months ago, remarried at 34. All aboard the emotional rollercoaster.
I’m also a writer, and writing has been an integral part of my experience. Along with journaling, I’ve published a few personal essays documenting my divorce “journey.” I’ve written a lot of stories in my day, but nothing has ever elicited such an intense response as these essays have. The first one was published almost three years ago and people still contact me regularly to talk about it. (Side note, if you ever need a mid-divorce pep talk, feel free to slide into my DMs.) One of the most challenging parts for me was feeling alone, and sharing my situation made me realize that I most certainly was not.
I’m in a very different place than I was when I wrote that first essay. I’m remarried. I have an incredible husband (hi Rob, love you). For the first time in years my life feels stable, solid, secure, and safe. A few days before our wedding I realized that I had finally made it to the proverbial “other side.” And yes, I then cried happy tears for several hours.
So I want to continue to share my story in the hopes that it still resonates with people and maybe even makes someone feel a little bit better. This is the part about what it’s like to find love again. If you’re reading this while in the midst of a divorce or any kind of relationship ending, be it romantic or a friendship, don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that it’s all going to be okay, because the truth is it might not be for a very, very long time. (Also, when I was in the thick of all my crap and anyone said that to me, I had to resist the urge to kick them in the teeth.) Hearing the “it will all be okay” platitude did not rank high on my helpful list. What was helpful was seeing and talking to people who had been in similar situations—and gotten through them. Hopefully, reading about how things played out for me does the same for you. And if doesn’t, by all means, ditch me in favor of a glass of wine and an episode of Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip. (That will definitely help.)
There’s no need to rehash the details of what went down in my first marriage; we were just two people who weren’t the right fit for one another. We separated and were legally divorced in less than six months—fast, in the divorce world. That was a blessing for many reasons, but the rate at which my life did a complete 180 also made it hard to wrap my brain and heart around what the hell was happening. But even when things were the most heightened, I always knew I wanted to get married again. I believe in love and I believe in marriage and commitment, and getting divorced ironically solidified those beliefs for me. So I started dating even when things were still a little messy, logistically and emotionally, though with the caveat that I was doing it just for fun. I had been in a relationship since I was 23. I wanted to date and have a little fun distraction, and yes, see if the dating app scene was as bonkers as my friends claimed it can be. (Spoiler alert: It was.)
I believe in love and I believe in marriage and commitment, and getting divorced ironically solidified those beliefs for me.
Rob and I went on our first date two weeks before I got legally divorced. I gave him the scoop on our second date and was honest from the beginning—yes I wanted something long-term eventually, but not necessarily at the moment. Flash forward a few years, and here we are, married, talking babies and house-buying and, my favorite topic, getting another dog or four.
I don’t know how or why this relationship started so quickly after my last one ended. I didn’t expect it. I’ve now been married, divorced, and remarried, all while some of my amazing girlfriends have remained single—and not for lack of trying. It sometimes makes me feel guilty that I found my person and got a "second chance" (I don’t love that phrase but it works here) right away. Yes, I do think it’s important to put yourself out there and be open to new possibilities after a break-up. But I firmly believe that there is always a random, uncontrollable X-factor at play. I just happened to stumble upon it pretty early on.
It’s what made me so emotional a few days before my wedding, because I realized I finally felt that peace and happiness.
Post-divorce dating comes with its own set of challenges. Rob’s patience, understanding, and support were a huge reason why A. I fell in love with him and B. why we are where we are today. And, as I’ve recently learned, getting remarried can also bring up a whole bunch of different feelings: It’s incredible to fall in love again after being heartbroken, but it’s also freaking scary. Oh and FYI, everyone will have lots of thoughts and opinions on the matter. But what I found most reassuring was that I could now firmly and completely trust myself. I could trust that I knew exactly what I wanted and, more importantly, what I didn’t want. I could trust that yes, it was possible for me to love someone else with my entire being. And I could trust that if things didn’t work out, that I would be okay.
"I hope I look back at this someday and feel peace and happiness and understand that this turmoil and tumultuous time all happened for a reason and a greater good.” I wrote that in my journal on a very, very dark day when my first marriage was ending. It’s what made me so emotional a few days before my wedding, because I realized I finally felt that peace and happiness.
My favorite comedian Heather McMahan recently said, “If you can’t wade through the darkness, you’ll never be able to thrive in the light.” If you’re in the thick of the darkness and don’t know if you’ll ever find love or a romantic partner or a best friend again, I really don’t want to tell you it will be okay. I want to tell you that the only thing you can do is figure out how to get through the bad stuff. And that you’re not alone. And that even though it’s not a linear process and there will be lots of ups and downs, it won’t always be so hard and sad. Your “light” might look different than mine. Maybe it won’t be a second marriage. Maybe it will be a new relationship with yourself, one that’s deeper and truer than ever. Maybe it will be a stronger connection with friends who support you no matter what. Maybe it will be a dog. New beginnings come in all forms, but know this: you’ll have one. And I promise, it will be worth all of the pain and sadness because the good after the bad is really, really freaking good.