Today I found myself skipping.
It’s something that I haven’t done since elementary school and it felt great. Trying to figure out why that was happening, I started asking myself questions: Did I have too much coffee in the morning? Was that white powder sprinkled at the top of my daily pumpkin muffin really ‘just salt’?
The answer was that I was simply happy, and it has taken me a long time to get to this point.
I have been divorced for almost a year now and it has been the most liberating and powerful experience of my life.
Often, I am met with people who feel pity towards me or approach me as a broken-winged bird; I have a tough time articulating to them that not only am I fine, but I am the happiest I have ever been.
Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I don’t freak out when I lose things. Last weekend while traveling I lost my phone and my wallet all in a matter of two hours. During my search to find these items my friend noted how calm I was. I tried explaining to her that I’m not very possessive of material things and I truly see them as temporary and replaceable.
Loss has never bothered me. However, last year I lost one of my most prized possessions: myself.
I naively entered a marriage that had placed all the hard work I had put into myself onto the back burner.
My ex-husband came in with this presumed power to set limits on my dreams. He attempted to break something that I took years to build. Through his own insecurities and misery, he attempted to dismantle a foundation so strong that even he shook when trying to break it.
During the brief time of my marriage, I found myself faced with someone who made me feel as though I was hard to love. Someone so threatened by my own ambition and confidence that they attempted to pick apart my accomplishments and make all the beauty in me somehow seem ugly.
Now, before you judge me and approach me with the ‘marriage is hard work’ bullshit, understand that I didn’t leave my relationship because I was afraid to put in the work, I left because if I didn’t…it would have destroyed me.
His ability to make me feel bad for being me turned into an abusive and manipulative relationship that was centralized around his own illogical feelings. He projected his own insecurities on me.
My successes became his failures and I eventually was perceived to be a failure myself.
I particularly remember being excited about a new position at work and eagerly applied in the hopes that things would work in my favor. My eagerness was interpreted to be a lack of interest in him, male co-workers suddenly became threats and my work was believed to be a sudden force taking me away from him and my role as a wife.
He reacted poorly. He belittled me in the worse of ways; both publicly and privately.
In the end, I had become a literal and figurative punching bag for a man who just couldn’t handle the woman that I was. It was the very moments that I found myself apologizing for the things I had no control over that empowered me to move forward and eventually move on.
In realizing that my dreams were not built to break, I also realized that this loss was quite the biggest gain of my life.
I am by no means perfect. I have a sharp tongue, I forget to clean up after myself and I am often too sensitive for my own good.
As I think about the idea of a new relationship or a marriage, I am open to the idea of having someone who challenges me and is there to support me becoming a better version of myself.
However, I will never settle for someone who makes me think less of myself. I crave a love so deep that any bit of criticism is packaged in unconditional respect and a commitment to a long-lasting relationship filled with patience.
Real love is transformative. Real love challenges you in the right ways. Real love makes you stronger. Real love isn’t destructive.
I want my future companion to be fascinated and inspired by my drive, not threatened by it. I want him to see my passion as my most beautiful feature.
And more than anything, just as Frida Kahlo once said, I want a lover who looks at me like maybe I am magic.