Special dates hold power. Sometimes they’re one offs – graduation, moving into your first house, getting your first job, walking your child to school for the first time.
Sometimes they roll around every year – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day.
Following a major life event – like divorce – dates that once brought joy, now bring… what?
I was married on November 2nd, 1977. Today would have been my 40th wedding anniversary, so it’s been looming large in my consciousness the past few weeks. How will I feel? How will I deal with it? Is it going to be as big a deal as I’m worried it might be.
Three years ago my husband and I were in the kitchen of our house. I even remember what he was wearing – jeans, a blue and white striped shirt – and the scent of his aftershave – Old Spice. We shared a kiss and discussed the fact that in three years time it would be our fortieth anniversary. We’d been through a lot during our marriage – separations due to his work, his infidelities and chronic health issues – and survived, so we talked about doing something special for our fortieth.
Less than six months after that discussion he’d left me for another woman.
Two months ago, they married.
To complicate things, November 2nd has always been a bittersweet date for me. My dad died on our second anniversary, so while I celebrated the fact it was the day my husband and I were married, there’s always been a lingering sadness about the date because of my dad.
But that’s another story.
What do I feel?
Honestly…? Better than I thought I would.
This is our third wedding anniversary since he left me.
The first one – our 38th – was very hard.
‘Firsts’ are hard, but in my experience, it was the second of everything – birthdays, Christmas, New Year, Wedding Anniversary – that was the worst. The ‘first’ felt almost unreal. The ‘second’ is when it really hit me – this was forever – but in the eyes of family and friends, you’re supposed to have ‘got over it’ by then – or at least, be well on the way to healing. I know I was guilty of that kind of thinking before it happened to me, but for me, it’s this third year where things are really becoming easier.
Despite everything, I wish my husband and I had made it.
I wish we were going out for dinner tonight with our kids, our family intact.
But we’re not.
And it’s not.
And on this third anniversary of our non-anniversary, that’s… okay. It’s getting better.
I promise you… whatever you are feeling now… it does – and will – get easier.
Hang in there.