It’s inevitable. At some point after your divorce, your anniversary is going to roll around. It happened pretty quickly for me—my divorce was final the end of February and my anniversary was the end of March. To make matters worse, it was a significant anniversary. It would have been 30 years. Three decades of my life had been tied up in that relationship, and I felt as if my time had been wasted—that part of my life had been wasted. What was the point?
When my anniversary came around, I wondered if he remembered. And then I got mad at myself for caring whether he remembered or not. I hoped he regretted the choices he’d made.
Let Yourself Grieve
One of the things I realized pretty quickly is that you can’t just ignore the anniversary—especially if you were married a long time. There are memories to deal with, and you need to grieve the loss of all of those hopes and dreams you had as a bride.
It would have been… It could have been…
That’s just it. You are not grieving for what you had (if you were married to a narcissist). You are grieving for what you thought you had, or what you created. It wasn’t real.
Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Exist
I tried to ignore it, with the hope that the feelings would go away. We’d always gone out to dinner or done a little something on our anniversary. The day had been set aside as important and special. Now, all of a sudden it was just another day.
Only it wasn’t.
After my parents died, I didn’t stop thinking about them on their birthdays. Over a decade later, I still know that those two days are special—they always will be for me. In many ways, the anniversary of my first marriage will always be a special day, but I find that I also take notice of the anniversary of my divorce! It was a special day, too. Yes, it was painful, but I can honestly say that the pain was worth it.
Someday you’ll realize it’s your anniversary, and it won’t hurt anymore. Until then, do what you need to do to get through it.
Deal with the Shame
Did I say shame?
Yes, I did. The hardest thing for me about divorce was the shame that came right along with it. I was ashamed that I had failed—that I did not have one of those “strong, godly marriages” I kept hearing about. I was ashamed that I couldn’t fix it, no matter how hard I tried.
Every single anniversary reminds me of that failure and, even all these years later, brings back a little bit of shame.
Realistically, I have nothing to be ashamed of. I was not perfect—none of us are—but I was not the one who cheated. I was not the one who walked away. I stayed, I kept things going, and I supported the kids when he moved 2,000 miles away.
I am proud of what I have accomplished in the past five and a half years. When an anniversary rolls around, I remind myself of what I achieved, given the circumstances.
Quite frankly, I rock.
Plan something special for your anniversary. Take yourself out to dinner, invite a friend to go to the movies, spend the day in a spa getting massaged and pampered like royalty. There is no reason you can’t continue to set aside time to make the day special. Does that seem odd?
In reality, that day changed you forever. More than likely, not all the changes were bad. Find the good things and celebrate them.
It’s nice to have an excuse to eat good food and sip champagne.
Don’t Give In
Whatever you do, don’t give in to wallowing. Don't take the day off and lay on the couch in your sweats, watching The Notebook, going through boxes of tissues and eating chocolate ice cream out of the carton. That’s not celebrating or grieving—that is giving up.
Talk to Someone
Don’t keep it to yourself. Sometimes you just need to talk things out with someone else. Sometimes you just need to tell someone how you feel or share memories. Sometimes you need perspective. Sometimes you just need someone to understand. Join First Wives World, and you’ll always have someone to talk to who understands what you’re dealing with—someone who has been there, and who can encourage you and give you advice when you need it.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : Alex