I got married at the ripe old age of 21. Granted, I was a pretty mature 21-year-old, but I was still very young. I had gone from living with my parents to college, where I had two roommates, then I met my ex-husband and we married the summer before our senior year of college. I don’t regret any of that. However, because I married so young and never lived alone, I never really developed my own identity. I was always part of a “we” as an adult. There are wonderful things about that. I didn’t flounder in dating land for years. I didn’t get my heart broken by boys and men. I learned early to make sacrifices for the happiness of another person. Essentially, we grew up together. We really began our adulthood as a couple. We made our first major financial decisions together. We experienced some of our greatest sorrows together. We became parents together. My adult life has relished being part of a “we”.
Overnight, the man who felt like half of me, vanished. I honestly felt like someone had cut off all my limbs and I didn’t know how to walk or even move without him at my side. That is the beauty of marriage, the whole “two becoming one”. But when that one becomes two again, it is messy and it is like learning to swim without any limbs. I missed the comfort of waking up next to the comfort of my best friend. I had never made any major decisions as an adult without his input and suddenly I found myself having to make decisions for myself and my sons without him. While I was trying to figure this out alone, he was planning his new life with her and her kids. He jumped from one we to another we. Even now, months later, I still talk about my life and my parenting as “we” …I suspect I will get better taking individual ownership over time, but I am not there yet.
Despite the grief over losing my partner in crime, I am finding some freedom in it. Suddenly the future is the great unknown. I get to do things I find fun, plan events that interest me, and spend my evenings focusing on my priorities. Other than my sons, I don’t have to consider another person when making decisions. In just a few short years my sons will probably be on their own life adventure. One may live with me for a while, but for the most part I get to start planning my own future. I resume graduate school for public health at the end of the month and by the time I graduate, both of my sons will be in high school. I feel like in some ways, suddenly the sky is the limit. I don’t know what the future holds, but maybe, for the first time in my life, I am learning to embrace the adventure known as life.