Learn to sink, swim or snorkel during a divorce

Editor’s Note: This was written two years after my divorce in 2015. I was married in 2008.

This is me on the day I got married in downtown Cleveland, Ohio on July 26, 2008. At the time, I thought my marriage would last forever.

It was hot and sunny the day I went to pick up my intricate, lace veil for my upcoming wedding. I was sweating when I walked into the bridal shop and a little nervous.

It wasn’t the veil I was worried about, it was all of the errands I had to do after this trip. I had to finalize my guest list, print out programs and drop off a miniature roller coaster to a bakery so it could be placed in the middle of my cassata wedding cake.

It may have taken me until age 38, but my heart had finally found its place. I was ecstatic. Everything was set for me to marry the love of my life.

Little did I know seven years later, I would be walking into a courtroom in downtown Cleveland to finalize my divorce.

This is not what I had planned for myself midway through my life. When I walked down the aisle at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland on a hot July day, I was certain I would spend the rest of my life loving the man who was waiting for me at the altar. I was sure we’d have children — maybe a whole houseful — and a fun-filled life.

Instead, here I am this week alone, dreading a day I had not planned on.

There will be no ensemble playing Pachelbel, like there was at my wedding, when I walk into the courtroom. There will be no family or friends watching me with big smiles on their faces. I won’t feel like the luckiest woman on earth.

It will just be me and all the sadness I have built up inside signing papers with my married name for the last time.

It’s a little comforting to know I am not alone in this journey.

According to  divorcestatistics.com, “the marriage breakup rate in America for first marriage is 41 percent to 50 percent; the rate after second marriage is from 60 percent to 67 percent and the rate in America for third marriage are from 73 percent to 74 percent.”

Great, that’s promising for the future.

Divorce would not be so difficult if our hearts weren’t so desperately connected with the one we thought loved us. When you get married you not only intertwine physical objects but more importantly, emotional ones.

You take on relationships with your partner’s loved ones as well as your own. Your holidays are spent together and your dreams are ideally shared. Your partner’s happiness becomes a priority in your life. When the relationship clicks, you experience bliss. When it’s torn apart, you suffer a broken heart. While in a blissful state, even the most mundane day becomes exciting. When you suffer a broken heart, the smallest obstacle can set you off. I know because I’ve experienced both.

There are no statistics available for gauging how long it takes to heal a broken heart. What I’m certain of is that it aches. When you lose someone you love to divorce, a breakup or death, you are suddenly treading water alone in a big ocean. It’s up to you to sink, swim or snorkel. Right now, I’m feeling my way around the snorkel stage. It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It’s also memorable — like my wedding day.

I may never have the opportunity to walk down an aisle in a veil and white dress again. I may never be able to listen to a Bruce Springsteen song without thinking of all the good times I spent with my ex-husband. I may never be able to see a photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa without thinking of my honeymoon in Italy.

I may or may not this or that, blah, blah, blah.

Who cares I tell myself? People get divorced, develop other lasting relationships, and move on.

My hope is that I’ll be moving on soon.

Right now, I’m taking in the bright coral and colorful fish that are coming my way.

It’s a brand new day, and I’m ready to swim.