I met the guy who I would eventually marry when I was 20 years old. After a turbulent adolescence I fell happily into his arms and had never felt more safe, more accepted and more loved. He looked at me like he had never treasured anything more and when he said he would love me forever I believed it. The electric energy between us made me feel alive.
Years passed and we were happy. We were that couple who had what everyone wanted. We got our own apartment, got a cute kitten. We went on trips and made Facebook albums of our adventures. We got engaged in London, England while we danced to our favorite song in our hotel. We promised forever. We supported each other through university, through the papers and projects and late nights. May of 2010 was a big month: we got married, he graduated college and he turned 27. I was on the verge of 25 and felt like I had the whole world in my hands. I’d never felt so happy or so hopeful for the future. I couldn’t wait to buy our own home, start our careers, start our family.
I couldn’t tell you where things went wrong. The best way I can describe it is to use the boiling frog anecdote. Basically it states that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out. However, if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not realize the danger until it’s too late. A few months after our third wedding anniversary, I began to feel like a frog in water that was getting hotter by the day
I looked around one day at everything I had worked for these past years: a beautiful home in the suburbs, a seemingly enviable marriage. I went to dinner with my husband and looked at him across the table. Age had changed his face; he was no longer the young boy I fell in love with. I recognized him as a man I loved, but from a place of familiarity and friendship, not romance and passion. When I looked at him, I no longer felt the air between us set into flames. And he didn’t look at me the same anymore either.
I looked at myself in the mirror one night while getting ready for bed. And I mouthed the words too sickening to say out loud: I don’t want to be married anymore.
I realized that the things I worked so hard to get were the exact things that were making me feel trapped. The house, the marriage – I had wanted it all but these places that were once my refuge had become my prisons. And the hardest realization was that I had fully participated in their construction.
I didn’t want to be married anymore, so I shared those feelings with my husband. I used to think that was the worst decision of my life but now I realize it was the best. In that moment I knew I really loved him, because I would rather serve him with a painful reality than a false truth. I also realized that in that moment, I was willing to shatter someone else’s world in order to be true to myself. It was a heartbreaking, terrible, necessary lesson in self-authenticity.
I am getting what I wanted, and paying many prices along the way. This journey is far from over. Some days I feel strong, and some very weak. But there is a strange freedom in knowing that the worst thing I’ve ever been through is closer to being over versus still approaching, and another freedom in knowing that once you’ve lost everything, you have everything to gain. Life won’t always go how you expected it, but it will always go on.