There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Harry goes up to the office of Albus Dumbledore.
While Harry waits in the office Dumbledore’s pet phoenix, Fawkes, is engulfed in flames and dissolves into a pile of ash while a terrified Harry looks on. Dumbledore explains that it was Fawkes’ “Burning Day”, the day on which a phoenix bursts into flames and is reborn from the ashes. As Dumbledore explains this, a tiny bird pops up from the ash, and a new life begins for Fawkes.
Getting divorced at 25 years old felt a lot like a burning day. One moment I was trotting along towards the future I had planned, and with the stroke of a pen the life we had built and the future we had planned disintegrated.
The guilt, the shame, the sadness, the anger, the disappointment, and the sheer shock of it all burned inside of me like a wildfire, and when the papers were signed the house we bought, the memories we made, and the years we had given to each other were gone. All that was left was me, my dog, and the ever looming question- what now?
I felt so many different emotions when I decided to leave, and even more when it actually happened. You never feel the double edged sword that is social media like you do when something like this happens. I thought of all the family, friends, and acquaintances who had congratulated me and told me they were proud of me when my marriage was announced.
I thought of all the people who I hadn’t seen in the better part of 10 years who would now be privy to what felt like a personal failure, blasted across my Facebook page. I thought of my wedding album and changing my last name back. I thought of all the people who would judge me and my life.
Then I thought of myself. You see, I was hit by so many emotions when I moved out of our house and when we signed our final paperwork, but the one thing I worried about feeling the most never came- and that was regret. I know that this turn of events shocked some, disappointed others, and confused most, but for me, when the dust settled all I could feel was peace. I made a promise to love someone forever, and I haven’t failed at that. I love my ex-husband, but loving him and loving myself meant that the two of us shouldn’t be together and we both knew that.
When faced with the decision to part ways and still be able to love, care about, and cheer for each other, or trying to hang on and waiting to part until we had truly broken one another, the decision wasn’t hard anymore. I believe a huge part of why our relationship is so good now after everything is because we made the decision when we did. We hang out, we get our dogs together, and we talk about the people we are seeing now- I even made his Tinder profile for him. He is an incredible man with a lot to offer, and I want the best for him even in realising that that isn’t me.
The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the bride and groom who refused to acknowledge the ‘til death do us part’ in their wedding vows. Post continues after audio.
The thing about losing the future you planned is that the ashes of what you had pictured for yourself form a mountain of opportunities. All my life I have unquestioningly followed the path that I was told to take. I have always been a high achiever, and I did well in school so I could get into a good college, get a degree, get a good job, find the right person, get married, and settle down. But over the course of a lifetime of checking off accomplishments and moving on to the next, I never took a moment to ask myself if the path I was on was the path I really wanted.
I had a masters degree, a solid job in my field of study, a husband, and a house we bought. I looked to the future, and that was going to be my life for as long as I could see, and to be perfectly honest, I hated it. There were days where the reality of it absolutely knocked the wind out of me, and I often felt paralysed by it all. When everything fell apart I was surprised to find that I felt like I could just breathe again. As a very anxious person, I didn’t expect for something like this to make me feel so calm and even hopeful.
I don’t regret the choices I have made in life. I believe that we are the sum of our experiences, and though some of the experiences that built me have been absolutely heart breaking, I love who they have forced me to become; I believe they have made me better. I don’t regret the path I followed, but I am looking forward to moving forward on a path of my choosing, my own design. I am determined to build a beautiful life on my terms- even if it looks a little different than I had planned. Everything burst into flames, but a new life is waiting.