Guest post by Amanda Bohn
I believe that most people go into marriage with a serious commitment to their wedding vows and that even with this commitment, there are times when it becomes very clear soon after the wedding that the marriage was a mistake. The question then is what to do when you know your marriage was a mistake? Do you leave knowing you’ll face certain judgment from friends and family or do you stay and torment yourself while trying to avoid disapproval? In this guest post, Amanda Bohn shares her experience of ending her marriage after six short months.
As Elizabeth Gilbert said in Eat, Pray, Love, “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to quietly slip out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.”
I could not have said it better. So many different emotions were coming in and out of my mind like a PowerPoint on autopilot. One moment there was an overwhelming sense of despair. The next moment there was anger, denial, numbness, optimism, the list could go on and on. A song could come on over the radio, and I’d burst uncontrollably into tears. In short, I was a mess.
However, the most overwhelming feeling of them all was to not cause anyone any more pain. If I could have gone back and clicked Erase on the last few years of my life, I would have. I wanted the impossible do-over.
The saying goes “all things are possible with…,” but there are no possibilities with a failed relationship (especially with divorce). When you realize there is no solution to your relationship’s woes it is like hitting a metaphorical brick wall. If the day of your wedding was the celebration of your relationship, the day of your divorce is its funeral. When you leave, all of those aforementioned emotions become a tangible reality. I soon learned you literally feel it on an emotional, physical and financial level.
Living the Dream
In the mid to late summer of 2013, my then fiance and I bought our first house together. It was a sprawling, three-level, five bathroom 4,000 sq ft. house in an expensive suburban neighborhood of Washington, D.C. I was at the time 27 years old. My husband-to-be was an up and coming government contractor with the Defense Department. I, however, was still a college student. To a college student, having your own house, let alone your first house, was a humongous deal. It was like a dream come true, and soon I was going to have this beautiful wedding, all paid for, with no expense spared. To put it lightly, life was pretty darn good, or so I thought.
The Big Decision
Six months into my marriage, I left. I left everything. My mother had just finished paying off our wedding that was at one of her exclusive city clubs in DuPont Circle. Before our wedding, my mother even underwent $15,000 worth of plastic surgery because she wanted to look her best for it. Even our relatives from London, France, and Spain were invited. Family I had not seen, and she had not seen in years were invited and came. I had not even finished with my extensive list of personalized thank-you cards to those that attended our wedding or sent us wedding gifts when I left. To leave after six months was on the same magnitude as a Seven-Deadly Sin in her and my family’s book. The societal, as well as my family’s disdain, to leave after being married for such a short amount of time was immense. I felt like I had an invisible F surrounding my entire being that stood for failure. My failure. I not only was another statistic for the ever-growing number of divorceés, but I felt I had let my family down too, and in a way I did.
An Important Reminder
I am in no way implying that you should feel guilty over your divorce. However, in my personal opinion, I think that your family trusts you when you marry another person. You are essentially adding to their family, as is your spouse with you. Divorce is hard enough with all of its emotional stages, but it is even harder when you bring in another family member and then six months later take them away from it. That really hurts, not only because you are losing your spouse, but you are removing possibly someone your family member(s) loved too.
In mid- April of 2014, I had packed my two-door Volvo coupe full of black trash bags that contained most of my clothes and drove off to my best friend’s house. In a horrible cliché, I had Bastille’s song “Bad Blood” on repeat on my phone, and I was so wired from the stress of leaving, I felt like I had downed eight espressos. I didn’t sleep for several days. In hindsight this was rather funny, however my journey of emancipation, from an alcoholic and abusive husband, had just begun and a little over a year later we were officially divorced. Our house sold, and we divided our wedding gifts like the now divided memories of us together, and have never spoken again.
So what have I learned from this experience? I have learned several things, the majority of which are important life lessons. However, there is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet that says: “To thine own self be true.” As someone who always seeks the truth, this quote is highly influential to me. Some people have referenced it as a metaphorical way of saying “I plead the Fifth” when explaining their life’s decisions. I see it differently. I see it the way I feel it was meant to be, and that is that one cannot help others if they cannot first help themselves. You find truth when you are strong, and you have strength when you have truth. I could not help my ex-husband, just the way I could not help to influence society’s or my family’s opinions over my decision to leave.
The fallout from my marriage was tough. On an emotional front, I often felt that I was left to my own devices. But inside of me there was a great change occurring. It was a metamorphosis that needed to transpire, and had I not experienced what I did, it most likely never would have happened. With not only this new perspective on life, love and the meaning of happiness, I found a sense of independence that I never had before and there are no words to express my gratitude for that.
Amanda Bohn is a part-time freelance writer based out of Washington, D.C. Writing from her personal experiences, she is passionate about helping others through her written word. She believes in continuing the conversation about common, yet often stigmatized realities people face everyday. Through honest and open communication she hopes to promote a healthier environment for all. In her spare time, she also pursues more of her creative side in jewelry design. She is a senior at a local Washington, D.C. university.