The sound of the word divorce always made me shudder, something I was confident I'd never have to experience. It sounds shameful, it sounds like failure, and it sounds like regret. My parents were divorced when I was young, but the circumstances surrounding their marriage were so unique, that I just knew I would never face the same situation myself. Even marriage seemed pretty far off my radar, until it happened.

This year I went through my own ahhhh! divorce, and it feels really cathartic to write about it. I try to keep perspective when I'm in a tense situation with someone, whether that be a loved one or a friend, and remember that I really care about that person, so don't treat them like a monster. Things were alright before the turmoil, so maintain respect, right? You hear a lot about divorce changing people, and I think, really, it simply highlights our emotions, our reactions that already exist in more subdued ways. On the surface, I remained the same person I always am and I'm really proud of that. I look back on the process and am happy with who I was throughout.

I think one of the hardest parts of my process was the external reaction. The most unexpected supporters came out in response with embraces, solid words of encouragement and love. However, I lost one of my best friends in the process, which still stings. It's hard to understand how we affect others, and how a personal separation can have a resounding effect on a third party. I'm finding peace with that; I can't control anyone but myself.

People sometimes respond to the news that I went through a divorce as if I've just told them I'm in a cult or I've just gotten off a spaceship. Quiet ... shifty eyes ... oh.

Do I think I got married too young? I've gotten that question a few times, and it's particularly insulting. It always surprises me when people think there must be some singular thing to "blame". I got married young, but not too young. I loved that person dearly, deeply, wholly when we got married. We had an incredible time together as a pair. We were really happy a lot of the time ... just not meant to be husband & wife in the end. That's okay. It's a sad thing to think that we can't change -- the entire world around us is, and if you change, and paths diverge a bit, I think the recognition in that is a great thing. It's an adjustment, certainly, but I'm embracing my new path as an opportunity to recognize who I am at this stage in my life (FYI, I think I'm pretty cool). I shudder when I hear "true love comes once in a lifetime" -- that's a pretty desolate outlook for people that have lost loved ones for a whole variety of reasons. I think we're capable of love in so many forms, so many contexts; it changes and we experience it in different ways throughout life (hopefully, maybe).

I know a lot of people in really incredible relationships, and while I don't know if I'll ever marry again, I think a deep connection to another person is a beautiful thing. I think a deep connection to yourself, or to your friends, is really wonderful, too. I have friends getting married this Fall after over two decades together - super amazing. Both of my parents have been very happily remarried for two decades, longer than their first marriage lasted, and that's awesome. I have also witnessed some really tense pairings, where the social stigma and complicated nature of separation prolonged a pressure cooker of hostility. I think there are healthy ways to recognize when something isn't going to work, and also healthy ways to recognize when something can be worked through with really valuable effort. I've seen most couples go through periods of struggle, and it's incredible to see the resiliency in those partnerships.

I overheard a conversation in a line the other day between two folks talking about a friend of theirs. "I hope she gets married someday." I get it, we think everyone's on some grand quest to get married -- but, maybe not always. My mom used to tell me you can't fully love another person until you learn to love yourself, and I really love that. I think that can make for a really incredible partnership, where both parties recognize the value in their partner, independent of themselves. It's really great to be around people that are confident in their path, I think it makes you more excited to tag along.