Eleven eleven eleven.

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Well, this date has significance. Not only is it super cool to see all those 11s in a row, but there’s a darker shadow to this day for me. Today would have been my 5 year wedding anniversary to X.

I find this to be the weirdest thing. If I hadn’t gotten divorced, this would be a milestone anniversary! It’s a good day to reflect on how much has changed, and all the wonderful things I have in my life right now that would not be here if not for that day when I finally found the strength to tell him I was moving out and not taking his bullshit anymore.

I’ve been divorced now for exactly three years. Our divorce was finalized on November 4, 2008… one week before our anniversary. I’ve been amused at that irony for awhile now.

In that time, I’ve examined my own life closely and figured out, maybe for the first time in my life, who I really am. I took my time working out my issues and identifying the areas where I will probably always have challenges (the depression, low self esteem, low sex drive, etc.) but I also accept that hey, it’s just who I am. No big deal. I feel psychologically healthier than I’ve ever been. I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever, too. Sure, I want to lose some weight and figure out how to look awesome (I try to put together good outfits and somehow I just miss the mark a lot of the time, anyway– I need a fashion primer), but that’s not all that important in the grand scheme of my life. It’s nice not to beat myself up anymore.  REALLY nice.

I no longer hurt myself when I get angry at situations or failures. I have little manicure scissors again, but they’ve never once been dragged across my skin to cut it open. I don’t do that anymore. I will never do that again. It seems bizarre to realize that I used to be that woman, the one who would just lose all sense of reality and logic and go in the bathroom and start gouging my skin with scissors out of frustration and rage. One time, I stuck my desk scissors into my stomach, making a stab wound that bled for a very long time. I could have really done damage there. And all of it, all that rage, was directed at MYSELF. When X would blame me for something, or tell me how awful I was, or criticize the way I did things, I would react by beating myself up. Like I said, the me today recognizes how insane that seems, but back then? It was a perfectly normal response for me. I felt like I sucked. All the time. And I needed to be punished, and scarred, so I would always remember how much I sucked.

Today, the majority of those scars have faded. I still have a set on my right thigh that’s probably always going to be there, but I don’t look at that and think “wow, you suck” at all. I actually see them as a kind of trophy, if that makes sense: I remember how far I have come, and how strong I really was to rise through all of that shit that happened during my horrible marriage and recover and come out the other side of it so much healthier, safer, more capable and thousands of times happier. I don’t hate those scars for that reason. It’s part of my past, part of the experiences life has given me, and they’re just another piece of my unique puzzle.

I’ve been enjoying my life the past three years. I had one very crappy year (2010) but I got over that, too. I realize, right now, how awesome I have become. While I do hate saying I am 36 years old, because OMG, how did I get to be THIRTY SIX already… I don’t hate the wealth of knowledge and experience I now have as a result of those years. I learned things I never dreamed I’d have to learn when I was younger. I didn’t know I would go through a bad marriage, but wow. Sure glad that I did, and it ENDED. I can’t imagine how awful it could have been if I had–horror of horrors–gotten pregnant with X’s kid. If I had to always have that one connection with that man. I dodged a bullet. Sorry for the cliche, but it’s totally the truth. He would not have been a good father. He’d be a terrible father, actually.

Today, I also have some neat things in my life. On the things list:

* A nice house, that I take care of entirely by myself

* A nicer car, which came as a result of a bad accident, but the silver lining for that really was that I have a better, more reliable car now than the old Rav4 was

* I’ve got a treadmill, and three computers. He’d never have let me have that stuff.

And best of all, I have Hurley.

It’s funny how fate works out! I mean, if I hadn’t left X, I never would have gotten Hurley. I know I was guided by something bigger than me on that day when I moved into the rental house and immediately went up to the adoption event right after the movers left. It might have seemed really quick to just jump into getting a dog, but all I know is I knew what I was doing; this felt right. He saw me first, and when we met, it was instantaneous. Just like it was when I met Sam, and Malcolm. Here was the third incredible dog to come to me, directly, in my life. When it comes to dogs, I definitely believe in fate.

He’s been incredible. I can’t imagine a more well-behaved, pleasant dog, honestly. There isn’t one malcontented bone in his body. He’s just even-keel, calm and happy… he was exactly what I needed! He’s helped me so much over the past three years. He’s been my best friend and housemate. When I was househunting, he was a major concern of mine: was this yard going to work out for Hurley? I picked out the gravel in my backyard because it would be gentler on his paws. I added grass just for him to sit in. He deserves it all, too. You don’t get a dog that intelligent and that perfect every day, and I know it. I am grateful every day for him.

And of course, if you told me three years ago that I would have not one but TWO CATS, I would have laughed. No way, I’d say. I’m a dog person. But then Hurley happened, and I figured out his personal preference (cats over dogs) and the same bizarre, driving force of fate called out to me on that Friday afternoon when I got Simon. I just KNEW. I was going to get a kitten. An orange one. And there he was, in my neighborhood. Homeless and sweet, coming right to me. I think he knew, too. I brought him home and there wasn’t a single hiss or growl. Simon was just home, no doubt about it, from the very first five minutes. Hurley was so happy. (So was Olive, really.)

And I don’t know what came over me to go get Gremlin, but I’m glad that happened, too. It turned out he filled a spot that I didn’t realize was missing until he arrived: He’s the entertainer, the troublemaker, the affectionate one, the one who plays with Hurley non-stop. (I think Simon prefers to lounge around, calm and observant, which didn’t give enough playtime to Hurley. Gremlin definitely is game for Hurley’s wrestling.) I’m very happy with our little family. Me and my three boys. And to think, I always thought I would have daughters…!

So, in conclusion, this November 11 means a lot to me. I don’t mean to belittle the service that the armed forces have given all of us in any way, but I do feel a little like I am a veteran of a war, too. I survived a very tough battle and, really, that’s an accomplishment. Not every woman is able to get out of harmful situations; some women even get maimed or killed. For whatever reason, I was given the strength and ability to fight and get off the battlefield before things got out of hand. I’m very humbled by that, and very grateful. Thank you, to whatever God there might be, for what I have.

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3 responses »

  1. 🙂 ((hug))

    This most made me get all misty- and, yeah, cats and dogs go together like PB & J or salt & pepper… you just gotta have both!

  2. Amen! Pets are simply one of the greatest parts of life. Pure love. And even when they are being exasperating, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 🙂

  3. I don’t know if it’s tacky or bad manners to congratulate someone on a divorce, but it really seems to have been the best thing for you. It’s great that when you stop to look around, you can really appreciate where you are in life.

    And everyone deserves a dog like Hurley. 🙂

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