For what now seems like only a brief moment of time I had a different moniker. LaToya Cotton or, am my GMC cadet peers called me, Mrs. Cotton. For the total of two plus years I was married to my first husband. It’s a period in my life that has taken me almost a decade to get past but I’ve had occasions recently where I’ve found myself giving it a great deal more thought. When is divorce really the right course of action?
If you asked me that before and during my divorce I would have told you never. I would’ve naively said through my pain-filled tears that you never break marriage vows. Even now I believe that that is as it should be. However, I also know that we make the choices that we do in life not only because they’re the right ones, we make them out of the fear of what the other options may bring. Sometimes we feel that a bad decision may somehow work out to be the right one or that there is no sunshine after the torrential downpour. Even though we may have the best of intentions, the one thing you can count on in life is that it never goes the way you plan.
My mom and dad have been married since they were 19 and 21 respectively. Growing up my brother and I were raised only by couples who remained together. In addition to our parents, both sets of our grandparents are either still married or widowed. We were both raised to aspire to that. And we’re both learning about marriages that are sometimes forced to end. When I decided to marry young, I thought that I was merely following in the footsteps of my parents. At least, that’s what I’d hoped for. I didn’t get the fairytale ending but I did get to reclaim my name.
I must admit that there are sometimes blessings that can come during and immediately after a divorce. I consider myself quite fortunate that I’ve really neither seen nor spoken to my ex-husband since our divorce a decade ago. It was a very hard road. There was a lot to overcome. There were years of utter despair, self-loathing and seclusion. There were many moments of bad decisions and occasional recklessness. No matter what the terms of a divorce are, there is always a period of mourning. I mourned for years. The thing is, I’m still on that road. I think that because we didn’t have children or any reason to remain in contact that I was able to live in a solitary compartmentalized haze for several years while I tried to make sense of it all. If it wasn’t for my very close family and a handful of friends, I’m honestly not sure where I’d be. During those times it often very easy to lose sight of one’s purpose and general sense of being.
Everyone heals in their own way and in their own time. For me, despite being very happily remarried…okay, let’s be real, I love my husband but he drives me crazy. I’m only human. I married someone who is in many ways my opposite so I consider him the yin to my yang. As I was saying, I’m remarried and during this time of renewed hope and contentment my mind will sometimes drift back to my first walk down the aisle. I thought that I was Superwoman and that I could overcome it all. I’d forgotten that it takes two people who want the same things and want them from each other in order to have a chance at making it work.
Do we ever really get over our first? I didn’t used to think so. However, letting go and accepting that life is never quite how we envision it has helped. It’s been a very long and arduous journey. I will admit that in some ways I’m not fully over it. Even now the pain is still there. I’ve let go of a lot since it all happened but having lived in that painful space for so long, some things linger. There were so many dreams and wishes that never did and never will come to fruition. But we all live, adapt and ultimately we are forced to move on. I’m no longer bitter about it but I’m still not at peace with the hurt of the experience.
I know that sometimes people think that by telling us about what our exes are up to they’re doing us a favor but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t want to know about my ex-husband. That can be said for all my exes. We’d all like to be stronger than we really are but sometimes we just aren’t. Sure, I wish them well. I want for them to be happy, of course, but I don’t want or need to know about it. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way and I acknowledge that some may even see it as being petty. Regardless, if an ex wins the Nobel Peace Prize or has ensured the continuance of his family line, I don’t want to know.
The thing is, at the end of the day we sometimes don’t want to be reminded of an unhappy painful period of their lives. Yes, life goes on but these are the things that are deeply personal, the things you carry with you your entire life. They are the experiences that shape you, that guide you and that can define you. Sometimes it’s not necessary to remain or be reminded of the space where your past has full control over you or holds your interest to the detriment of the life you’re meant to live. In the face of my first marriage failing I felt helpless, undesirable and unfulfilled. And even though at the time it was a course of action that I did not want to take, there were and are better and brighter days if you allow it. Divorces aren’t always the end, sometimes they are the very beginnings that puts our lives on the path we were ultimately meant to go down.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 8/14/13 issue of The Union-Recorder. The article appeared under the title, When is Divorce the Right Choice?
August 14, 2013 at 9:46 AM
There is definitely life after divorce and the possibility of having a happy ending. I believe and am living proof of that as my divorce was a very nasty and miserable one. The happy ending for me was being able to take time out for “ME” after everything was final and focus on me and my daughters well-being. When I look back, I know God was my sources of strength through it all. That doesn’t go to say I didn’t have some very rough days. No sooner than I found out about my exes infidelity, I was also laid off from my job of 8 years. Yes, when it rains it really does pour sometimes. Yet and still, I couldn’t allow my circumstances to break me. I had a 16 month old baby girl who needed me. Little did she or does she know, she was a great source of my strength as well. Someday when she is older and asks questions I will tell her how she helped mommy stay strong.
As you said, life goes on. It went on for me but taking the time for me and surrounding myself with positive people and family who loved me made things easier. I can relate to feeling unfulfilled and even empty and not wanting to love again. Thanks be to God that the feeling didn’t last too long and put me into a slump.
I have often referred to myself as “Happily Divorced.” Divorce was not part of the plan. I mean, who makes the choice to be a single parent? Believe it or not, I almost convinced myself at once that I should work through the mess we had since I had a baby and recently lost my job. For a moment I got caught up into worrying about what others would think if I filed for divorce. Well I am here to tell anyone this. PEACE OF MIND IS PRICELESS! My divorce was filed in 2008 and completed in 2010. I have had time to exhale, let go and let God. For this and so many other reasons, I can believe in love, receive love (without dragging any access baggage around) and most of all express love for another again.
LaToya, you hit it on the head when you said “Divorces aren’t always the end, sometimes they are the very beginnings that puts our lives on the path we were ultimately meant to go down.” I am a firm believer of this. I don’t regret my experience, nor do I hold any ill feelings or ill will towards him. What was meant to happen happened. Had it not been for that season in my life, I probably wouldn’t be the strong woman that I am today.
When a woman goes through what we did, I believe it can do one or two things. Make you or break you. You have obviously made it my dear.
Keep on loving and living.
LaToya M. Davidson
August 14, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Thanks for your thoughts and feedback. Indeed, we never plan on having divorces happen but it’s a common sad reality. It’s often said, it’s easy to get married and so difficult to get divorced. I’m glad I found K. He’s nothing and everything like how I imagined it to be. It’s true what they say, we often end up marrying our dads. Not only are they practically the same age, the things that drive me crazy about my dad drive me crazy about him too. However, even if I didn’t remarry I do think that you’re right about how important it is to find ourselves and to concentrate on ourselves. Divorce is never pretty, but there is definitely a fulfilling life to be had afterwards!