This is part of a story. Part One is here.
So, at 21, I was married and at 22, I was living alone for the first time in a tiny studio apartment. I loved my new place, despite the fact that it was tiny and in a rough area of downtown Sacramento. Sure, there were moments I felt alone, but it felt wonderful to have space to be alone, to heal and to deal with everything that was changing rapidly in my life.
The people around us were absolutely shocked. While we’d been struggling nearly the entirety of our marriage, we’d kept mum—from everyone. I am incredibly close to my parents, and even they didn’t know. Looking back now, I can see that this was one of the biggest mistakes I made through this process. In my mind, I was doing the right thing. Who runs home every time they have an argument to tell their parents? Who brings up marriage problems in casual conversation? Deep down, I suppose I’d always believed that our issues would blow over. Who hasn’t heard that the first year of marriage is impossible? Unfortunately, when we shared the big news, everyone else was blindsided. While we were in the middle of processing the END of the marriage, everyone else was at the beginning of understanding exactly how serious the situation was.
As far as how I was doing, emotionally, at that point, I felt very strongly that I’d made the right choice. There has never been a question for me. But I was desperately, horribly alone. One of the most difficult things about a divorce is that there are sides chosen. While I took what I considered the “high road” and waited for those who knew and loved me to ask me what was going on, my ex chose a different route. He shared his version of our marriage with our mutual friends, with those at the church we’d attended, and even with my family. It took a long time for everyone to figure out what had really happened. I maintained the same philosophy the whole time: those who knew and loved me would seek me out and ask me for my story. During that time, I really learned who my friends were and were not. It was nearly as painful as the divorce in some moments.
You’d think that after divorcing the person I’d dated since I was 17 that a relationship would be the last thing on my mind. A rebound would be a horrendous idea, right?
Because things had been so “over” for such a long time, I found myself feeling ready to try and date. In hindsight, I wasn’t. But, luckily, I met a great guy, J. J and I had worked together, and we started spending time together. For the record, this was AFTER I’d moved out of my old apartment, and AFTER my ex and were officially separated. I did not cheat or do anything compromising. Still, when J and I started dating, I fell fast. He truly was a wonderful person. J and his family were loving and supportive as I navigated my new life. For the first few months, I was wildly happy. It seemed like things were going to come together fine.
And then I lost my job. A job I loved, working with developmentally disabled adults. It was heartbreaking, as I was close friends with my co-workers, and truly loved what I was teaching. I was determined not to let this get me down. I was unemployed for 23 hours, as the next day, I marched to Starbucks and was hired as a barista. Sure, it paid minimum wage, but I refused to sit home and mope. I didn’t want this to be another setback.
Thankfully, I had a web of support from my grandparents and parents, financially and emotionally. I had a chance to pursue something I’d wanted to do for awhile: go to massage therapy school.
I loved massage. I felt like massage school helped heal me; as I learned to help with the issues in the bodies of others, I learned how to heal myself. Once again, I believed all was coming together. The day I graduated from massage school, I was hired at a studio near my house, making good money. I picked up clients quickly; so quickly, in fact, that I was able to quit that Starbucks job. J and I seemed to be doing well, and I felt happy. Relaxed. Joyous.
And then, just as I’d settled in again?
J broke up with me. Out of the blue. He decided to move back to Oregon. I was floored. I’d loved him—he loved me. J was convinced that while we were happy then, it’d never work in the long run. And while it hurt more than just about anything, to have my mending heart smashed once again, deep down? I knew it was right.
So, yeah. In a year, lost my marriage, lost my job, lost the next man I’d loved.
But I PROMISE, the good stuff is coming. Tomorrow.