It's January 26th. Today would be my seventh wedding anniversary. Long before the word divorce crossed my lips I knew it was over. I stopped trying to work on it because there’s no point in working on a relationship with someone who is working on a relationship with someone else.
It’s been four years since we split, and because I took to writing about it, I’ve been solicited for advice several times. Many of the women reaching out ask when I knew it was over; what was the last nail in the coffin for my marriage? The truth is that there were 100 nails in the coffin, not just one. There’s counseling for one nail, or two, but not for 100.
Perched on the bathroom counter with my back against the mirror, legs crossed kindergarten-style; I blinked away tears as I stared at the plus sign on the pee stick. For ten minutes I sat on the cold tile, trying to figure out how I wasn’t going to ruin his life by walking out of the bathroom to announce I was pregnant. He wasn’t ready. I knew I’d have to do it on my own. He was happier than I expected.
Although I had my suspicions before we moved in together, I discovered the first signs of infidelity when I was four months pregnant. Again two weeks before my due date. I thought getting married would fix everything, but text messages at 3 am became the norm. He usually wasn’t home for me to hear his phone buzz. He spent nights getting drunk with his friends, while I watched Disney movies with my toddler. It was my fault. I forced him to grow up. I forced him into a family that he didn’t want. I could never be enough for him.
Ellie and I had nice weekends together. We had breakfast dates, birthday parties and time with grandma and grandpa. He wandered in and out of our little life. On Saturday mornings Ellie always climbed into bed with me. She’d lay her little blonde head on my pillow, close enough so I could smell her baby morning breath. She’d pet my hair and jabber at me while I stretched and yawned. One Saturday morning he was in her spot, and she asked what he was doing there.
I imagined her as a married, lonely woman, waking up alone most days, accepting that she was being cheated on but yearning for something more, and I couldn’t do it any longer. I decided I’d rather be a divorced woman with some hope for the future than one who gave up on any trace of happiness at age 26.
When those women send me their stories, I can read the sadness in their words. Some of them have moved on with their lives and some have stayed in their relationships. It’s hard not to intrude in their lives now, to check-in on them. I hope they’re all happier than they were when they came to me for advice.