“I just sold my wedding ring. I think I might throw up.”
That’s the text I got from my friend Katrina last weekend. When I read it, I thought I might just throw up, too. My tummy did a flip, my throat caught, and my heart sunk. Oh. My. God.
This action wasn’t exactly unexpected. Katrina has been separated for over a year and didn’t wear her wedding ring for the last 4 years of her marriage (yes, it was that bad). So, it’s not like she was strolling through the mall and thought, “Hey, I’ll bet I can get some good dough for this bauble!”, yanked the ring off her finger and plonked it on the jeweler’s counter. No, this was a long, long time coming. This was the exit of a symbol that had ended up feeling more like a spiked choke collar around her neck than a token of forever love on her finger.
I knew exactly how she was feeling. Because I was feeling it for her, too. Katrina and I have known each other since elementary school. We started dating at the same time. We dated friends and even cousins. So many of our shared romantic notions of love and marriage were borne of hours of lying around my room or hers, contemplating the mysteries of boys and marriage and “forever.” How did we get here? How did we — two girls who were so very good at long-term relationships, even in our teen years! — land in this pile of the divorce statistics? I was there the night she met her husband. I was at her wedding — hell, I was in her wedding party. How did we not know this was coming? How did we not foresee that someday one of us would be standing at a jeweler’s counter, ridding herself of the very thing that she had most dreamed about for half her life?
I think one of the cruelest aspects of divorce is how you never simply get divorced. You are divorced. Forever. It becomes a permanent part of who you are…. like a scar from a bad car accident on a day that started with so much promise. And every once in a while, usually when you least expect it, it suddenly dawns on you: I am divorced. I did not get forever. My friends and I live through those moments together in a kind of shared understanding that this is now part of our truth and the rest of our lives may be peppered with these small moments of “Why?”
Katrina recovered from her nausea and was nearly back to herself within a few hours. At this point, the pain from those moments doesn’t cause us to collapse, only to stumble. And we have each other to catch us at the elbow, right us again, and send us moving forward once more.