It’s been 530 days since I took my wedding ring off, closed it in the nightstand drawer, and cried myself to sleep. That white gold band with a solitaire marquis cut diamond sat on my finger for 13 years, and I still sometimes mindlessly reach across my palm with my thumb to check for it as I leave the house. But it isn’t there now; it is packed away carefully in a basement tub full of memories.
You know what else is gone? The indentation. You know the one. The tiny circle that forms under a ring that never comes off. The small line that’s pure white, showing a tan line, even in the dead of winter. The one that continues to shout “I’m married!” when your ring is off, being cleaned at the jewelry store. Or in my case, the one that shouted, “I’m divorced… and it’s so recent that I can’t even escape the physical reminder on my left hand!” It was like an unwanted tattoo, and I couldn’t wait for that indentation to fade.
Then one day, I realized it was gone. I don’t know when it happened. Obviously, it was at a time when I was emotionally healed enough to not notice the physical change.
The indentation is gone; however, the impact of the marriage remains.
First and foremost, I’m a mother. And I am thankful every day that I am THIS boy’s mama. That his daddy helped me bring him into this world. It wouldn’t have happened the same any other way, with any other man, at any other time. I meant it when I told my son, “A part of me will always love your daddy because he gave me you.”
I also have a wonderful family that will forever be in my life. My relationship with my in-laws has changed very little since the divorce. I still spent Thanksgiving around their table this year, laughing and sharing memories. I still opened Christmas presents with them in front of their Christmas tree. I am close with my mother-in-law, in some ways maybe even closer than we were before. We share tears and laughter, and my heart squishes up when she calls me her “Daughter-in-Love.” I still look forward to nights out with my sister-in-laws. I still call my father-in-law for help with the house. They are no longer my legal in-laws, but they are my family, and I am grateful to have them in my life.
The memories also have impact. It’s so easy to bash the entire marriage once it falls apart. To let bitterness shine like an angry spotlight on every hurt, every regret, leaving all the good and happy times concealed in the darkness. But that’s not how it really was. We wouldn’t have said those vows if the love wasn’t there at some point, if the happiness wasn’t real. There ARE good memories scattered over the years. To borrow a quote from Dr. Who: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” So even though I look back with sadness on the hard times, I’m happy for the good ones. In the moment, they were my life, and they were real and good.
And goodness, have I grown. Our identities change, for better and for worse, when we marry. We are constantly influenced by the other person. Parts of who I am today were formed because of the influence of my marriage, and I have chosen to keep some of those parts just as they are. However, I’ve also found new parts of myself, not in spite of, but perhaps because of the mistakes we made in our relationship. If I hadn’t held up the mirror and really peered hard into this broken, imperfect life of mine, I wouldn’t have known where I needed to grow. I couldn’t have built strength without first finding my weaknesses.
So if I do remarry one day, I’ll take the growth, the lessons, and the wisdom from my first marriage with me. And even as a new indentation begins to form, the impact of my marriage will remain.