A year and two days ago, my life changed forever.

I was winding down after a few days at a Women’s Conference, talking about it with my husband. We discussed our days and shared our nightly ritual together. We talked. We hugged. We got ready for bed. And then my world was completely torn to shreds in just one instant.

I can still remember the lack of emotion in his eyes and in his demeanor. He was cold. Ice cold. It was a look that will haunt me forever and one that I wouldn’t wish on my sworn enemy. No one deserves to get that look. No one deserves that pain. And yet, I endured it. It was gut-wrenching and raw. It was a pain that I hadn’t felt before – a pain I didn’t even know existed! I wanted to throw up – I needed to throw up. I was sobbing and wrenching in fear. My body didn’t feel like my own and I didn’t know what to do as the words, “I want a divorce” were uttered out of my husband’s mouth.

It wasn’t a joke. I know some people use those words as a sword, to hurt and to get what they want in the moment. But that’s not what this was by any means. He had completely checked out of our marriage and had decided he was done. It was the worst night of my life. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my short life. I felt betrayed, lost, confused, blindsided, and made a fool of. Here I thought that our married life was just beginning, that our future dreams and hopes would someday become a reality. Little did I know that my husband of 2 1/2 years was done.

I don’t really know exactly how long he had been checked out, but looking back, it’s easy to see the signs. Was I just that stupid to believe the issues were petty and temporary? Was I so foolish? It’s easy to play the blame game in a situation such as this one, but in the end, it didn’t matter. He had been done with me for a while and finally had the nerve to tell me. And my whole world came crashing down.

It’s honestly something that I find difficult to put into words. Describing a loss is so incredibly hard, but trying to explain a loss such as this, one that another person chose is quite frankly impossible. He knew what he was doing, yet he did it anyway. He threw away our future, our memories, our commitment and love, our home, our life that we had built slowly and with a lot of patience and grace. Sure, it wasn’t an easy road. Life is difficult, but we did it together. We journeyed over the mountains and survived the low valleys, hand in hand. But that day, his hand was gone. The trust was broken and chaos ensued. I couldn’t fix this, this marriage that I didn’t even know was so broken. There was nothing I could do or say to change his mind. He no longer loved me.

Looking back now, it’s still tough. When I stared at the exact time two nights ago and remembered the words, the emotions, the pain, I cried. I’ll admit it, as I’m not ashamed of it. Yes, I’ve moved on, but the pain is still there. It’s a grieving process and I still have questions that will forever go unanswered. But I’m dealing with that and living with it. I know that I’ll never have all of the answers – there will never be closure. Why? Because I’ll never understand. I’ll never understand how you can commit yourself to another human being, vowing to be by their side through thick and thin, never giving up, and then going back on every single thing you ever said or promised. Ending it without a second thought or explanation. I didn’t stand a chance.

Today, I’m stronger. I survived the hurt and agony that began a year ago. I waded those deep and savage waters as best I could, with my loved ones as my life preserver. I questioned God and faced some pretty difficult days, but I survived. I went through the separation and divorce process. I faced him in court. I have zero contact with him or his family, and I have an entirely new life. Today, I’m happy. I’ve learned a lot about myself in this past year, things I never would’ve fathomed learning. If it wasn’t for my husband leaving me, I wouldn’t have learned just how strong I was, just how vulnerable I could be, just how much life could change in an instant, or just how close a family could really get. I’ve learned all of these things and more. Much, much more. I’ve learned how to stand on my own two feet again, depending on myself to take care of things around the house and to deal with being sick on my own. I struggled, I cried, I didn’t want to face a lot of days this past year. Some days were just too hard to bear. But I did it anyway.

I learned that I could forgive. I don’t hold a grudge against my ex-husband. Do I wish ill on him? Of course not. That’s not who I am! Was I mad? Yes. Am I still? Absolutely. There are so many “could have” and “should haves” that it’s ridiculous. But ultimately, I forgave him. I forgave him for everything – for the lies, for blindsiding me, for giving up when things got hard, for wrecking my world, for cheating, for the hurt, for the shattered memories, for the loss of my hopes for our future. I forgave him. That in itself was a tough journey, but I did it. And I’m so glad I did! It was essential in moving on with my life and for creating new memories, new hopes, new dreams. It was essential in discovering who I was without him, in finding myself and really focusing on who that was.

I survived one of the hardest years of my life. This past year was filled with so many emotions and feelings that it’s quite honestly overwhelming to reflect back on. But it was also necessary to do so. It is a part of my journey of self discovery. Reliving that night isn’t something I do very often, but when I do, it’s still raw. It still hurts. But it also reminds me of just how far I’ve come. And I can honestly say with absolute confidence that I’ve come a long, long way.

I survived divorce.

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