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The most interesting thing about being a 27-year-old woman going through a divorce is the response that people have when they find out my age. The conversation goes something like this.
“Oh, you’re getting divorced? I’m so sorry. How old are you?”
“Oh, you have plenty of time then.”
I would like to respond with, “time for what?”
But I know what they mean. Time to meet someone else, time to enter another arrangement and have babies before I’m past my prime, as though I have an expiration date that determines how much stress, disappointment and failure I should feel at the dissolution of a marriage.
“You’re just a baby” is another response I get. As though the trauma I went through as a child, the loss of my sister when I was 16 and the hospice care I provided to my stepdad last year, don’t give me any reason to understand loss or have a valuable perspective. They find out I’m going through a divorce and they see me through the lens of a young woman who has a good job, a cute apartment, a supportive family (who lives hundreds and thousands of miles away) and not much to worry about.
But I do. Because on top of the fact that my life is not perfect, I have crippling anxiety. The kind that eats you up inside and makes you feel like you’re going to lose your mind and toss your cookies all at the same time. Every stressful event I have to go through I see through a lens of all of the trauma I have experienced in my life.
Every new stressful task to deal with has a mountain of crippling anxiety behind it because it is filtered through all of the painful and stressful life events I have dealt with in my life. It consumes me until I look at the people around me and am convinced that each one both hates me and is disinterested in me. And I feel all of these things while trying to maintain status at my job, remain level headed and take the high road in a divorce that has been going on for a year and learn how to support myself as a 27-year-old who wishes she were shopping for Louboutins instead of a divorce lawyer.
If my 14-year-old self could see me now, I often think, how shocked she would be.
I had a pretty common but unrealistic ideal of my where my life would go. Of course, when you are 14 you typically think that your life will be categorically over by age 30, so you assume all of your goals will be met before then. And of course after that, well, you’re basically just retired from fun.
I have to admit that although I obviously don’t feel that way anymore, as most women don’t as they grow up, I felt like a massive failure—and really, quite frankly, embarrassed. How could I justify getting divorced after only being married for three and a half short years? How could I admit to anyone that the marriage itself had been a mistake and I only went through it to save face?
My anxiety about getting married was so bad, to a point where I couldn’t eat without throwing up. And yet I went through it because the anxiety of having to deal with breaking off an engagement was entirely too much. I was that cliché bride bawling on the floor the night before the wedding, begging my family to run away with me.
Sometimes I feel like I never got off of the floor.
So here I am drowning in what feels like a mountain of woe while still trying to pick the best lipstick shade for my outfit. And I thought, why not write about the hilarious juxtaposition of this horrible crippling anxiety and the amazing ability to live life and enjoy as many moments as possible.
Whether anyone reads this or not, it is my first step in reclaiming my voice. I don’t have to be heard; I just need to feel like I can speak.