As a little girl, I never wanted to grow up, get married and raise a family. I knew early on that I wanted to break free of the chains of domesticity; I saw it all as a weight that would hold me down, hold me back and prevent me from being the person I dreamt of being...
Then I met a man who changed my mind - as sweet and sincere young men often to do free-spirited young women. I fell in love, I changed my mind, and before I knew it, I was walking down the aisle.
I never got to fully become the "Jennifer" that I dreamt of being, all those angsty teenage years, pouring over my journals and plotting my world domination. Instead, I became a wife and mother, a climber of the corporate ladder...and sometimes it surprised me how happy I was, being that person. It felt natural and good, and I was truly fulfilled. While I did eventually become a version of the woman I always thought that I would be, my entire identity was wrapped up in my marriage and our family. I was a wife and mother first, I was "Jennifer" second. I wasn't an individual, I was part of something greater: a family. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that - for a healthy family dynamic, it's imperative that both spouses feel that way.
When my husband of 14 years - the man I trusted to dedicate my life to - left last summer, my entire world fell apart, which I now understand is what everyone experiences during a divorce. Even though we almost all feel the same way during a divorce, it's a very isolating feeling and no matter who you talk to or what stories you share, when you're going through a divorce, you are SO ALONE.
Misery loves company, and I've cried to many a girlfriend, but no matter how similar our stories may be, each of our stories are unique and there are some things that other people just won't ever understand.
And if they do understand? It doesn't make it hurt any less.
I've surrounded myself with friends. I've run away to NYC to visit one of my best friends and made new friends there, and it might seem selfish to leave Angeline home so often, but I can barely face my family because every time I look into their eyes, I feel like a failure. Divorce isn't something that I was raised to view as an option.
My friend welcomed me into her home as often as I could afford to visit - which, thanks to American Airline miles, was every other weekend - and we had some great adventures together, some great heart to heart talks...she was there for me in more ways than one. Many friends opened their hearts and their ears to me during the early stages of my divorce, but she literally shared her home with me. I hope that I can one day repay the favor in some grand gesture, because I don't think I could have made it through those months without her or her generosity.
While my time in NYC may not have always been spent in the healthiest ways possible, I began to feel at home there almost right away. I felt like MYSELF there...not Chris's wife, not Angeline's mom, not my parent's daughter - certainly not the almost-divorced 30-something that I was. Though I did take Angeline with me to NYC for Valentine's Day weekend, and we had a blast - even though she was too cool to hang with mom most of the time!
One day, during the Jonas Blizzard, I caught myself feeling HAPPY. It was in that moment that I realized I had fallen in love with New York...and that I would eventually fall in love with myself again.
It hasn't happened yet, but it's coming...
So when people ask me how could I ever leave Miami, where I was born and raised, to move to a place like New York, I tell them this: I went through a blizzard and I went through 5 degree weather, and I survived just fine. I actually had FUN.
Maybe I'm not such a beach bunny after all!