A few weeks ago, I was decluttering when I came across a photo album containing memories of my past - when I was married to my ex-husband. Looking at the pictures, I felt pretty detached from the person in the pictures - my ex-husband's wife, the person I used to be.
I remembered the occasion well because the picture was taken a couple of hours before we announced our impending separation.
The woman in the pictures seemed so different to me. She didn't smile. Her skin looked dull under the all the make-up. Her eyebrows were thin, and her hair was darker and shorter. She wore different clothes, and she certainly looked older than me.
I showed the photo to a few of my friends, who insisted that they recognised me while pointing to my ex-husband's younger sister. When I showed them the real me, they laughed, as though they thought I was kidding.
Since I found that old photo, I've spent a lot of time contemplating the woman in the picture. I don't deny that I was there, that I lived that life, but I question whether that was indeed me.
The woman in the photo lived about 40 minutes' drive away from here. Her make-up was always expertly applied and she only wore nice clothes. She had a much nicer can than I do and she didn't share my goals and dreams for the future.
Our names are different, too.
At the end of our marriage, we were both ready to move on. I needed to be free, to live my life on my own terms and he needed someone who would be a picture-perfect wifey to him. Perhaps we married too young.
The change was difficult, as I felt stifled for a long time and I made many changes right away. There was a lot of adjustment. I felt happy to be divorced, and that my marriage had ended and that seemed wrong. However, I managed to maintain a cordial relationship, almost a friendship with my ex.
I read many psychology books and literature about divorce and separation and was glad to find that I was not alone. I also pursued many of the passions that I had stifled over the years that I was married.
Downsizing was required to manage to exist on my own. I found a home closer to my job and bought a cheaper car. I didn't mind that the new home was so much smaller than the one I shared with my ex-husband. It was perfect for my cat and me.
I went back to school the next year, studying psychology and after I got my degree, I became a family mediator. I upgraded my lifestyle and my ex and I are still friendly. I'm grateful for the experience and what I learned, but I am sure glad it is over and for the person I had become.
Over the last ten years since the divorce, my life has improved tremendously, and I'd like to think that his has too. I'm proud to be divorced, and when I look at that photo, I don't feel like that woman anymore. However, I wish that I could tell her to loosen up because we're in for a fun ride.