Thursday, 26 March 2015

overcoming a challenge: young marriage failure, onwards and upwards

This week on the gratitutude challenge I'm talking about a challenge I've overcome, and I've got a doozy of a challenge to talk about.

I got married at 18, and divorced at 20. The failure of that marriage was not totally unexpected, but what it felt like was.

My Mum called it a 'starter marriage', we brought it forward because of visa issues, so it might not have happened at all apart from that, but don't let that give you the impression that this marriage was not a valid marriage. We didn't have any kids together, and lots of people say that that's a blessing. I'm not convinced it is. I'm glad I didn't have kids when I was 18, because I didn't want to have kids then, and it would no doubt have been difficult, negotiating shared parenting, but having been married is a big deal with, or without kids.

When I got married at 18 I was in love, and believed I would stay that way. I planned to make a life with my husband. I said to my Mum that if it didn't work out we could always divorce, but I didn't believe that that would happen.

My parents divorced when I was 9. They shared parenting of us, and kept good communication between themselves. It wasn't a nice experience for anyone, but I felt secure. It never occurred to me that one or both of them might have stopped loving the other. It still seems like a strange idea.

When I was 18 I thought that my parents divorce had wised me up to what marriage might really be like. My husband and I had both been unfaithful while we were engaged, and we'd got through it. I thought we could get through anything. I thought that love could last.

Until he said "I don't love you any more."

Then everything went into freefall.

He left his job, and left our home. He moved in with another woman and she got pregnant. A good friend died, and we drank at her funeral. I went on benefits and spent a lot of time drinking, and considering jumping off cliffs. I self-harmed both physically and emotionally. I wanted to prove that I could be alright on his island, that I didn't have to leave unless I chose to. 
Perhaps a daily cliff top walk wasn't such a good idea.

I don't know who I was kidding.

Anyway, I discovered, as I was free falling, that I grabbed on to some good things. One of those was a good man. He gave me a cushion of a secure family, and good friends. He helped me get a job, and bugged me to stop smoking. He drove me to that job so I didn't lose it. Naturally I, being profoundly grateful, fell madly in love with him, and he was very good about that too, letting me down gently. He helped me to get the courage to leave the island and move on with my life. When I left, I left him behind. I worked hard and saved my money until I could afford to go to university, and once there I studied hard and did well.

In my second year at University a new student joined the society I ran. She was from the island, and she told people what had been said about me over there. I felt beaten, my drinking and bad behaviour returned, but my friends took my hand and led me on. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who helped me through those experiences.

I can't say I'm grateful for the experience. Having your heart broken is not pleasant. Given the choice I wouldn't do it again.

However, nobody died. 

I'm glad I'm married to my husband now, and not the first one. I'm glad I waited until I was 30 before I had children. I'm glad I got to learn that all things will pass, and I also got lots of good life experience to put in books.

What challenges have you overcome? And what did you learn on the way?