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Understanding and Connection: Melissa

Alyssa here. I have a hard time thinking how to describe my feelings about this post. I’m excited about it, but excited in a calm and awed way. I’m glad for it, glad that APW has readers from SO many walks of life, readers that don’t fit the typical demographic but still keep coming back because of the posts and the community. And I’m proud of it – proud of Melissa and her honesty and her bravery and her strong sense of self. And proud to be a part of a community that includes folks like Melissa. We’re kind of special, y’all know that, right?

Here’s Melissa.

I’ll be divorced next week.

Seems like a funny thing to admit on a wedding planning website, doesn’t it? I wonder sometimes when I read APW if there is anyone else out there. I wonder if any of you are like me, waiting for paperwork and writing checks to lawyers and having to admit to your boss that you’d like to be called another name (again) now, please, because you’re no longer part of the baby family you had been building. And at the same time, still reading about weddings.

I started reading APW during the planning process, something that seems like a million years and lifetimes ago. I liked the…well, practical aspect of what was said. How I wasn’t ever shamed (instead, celebrated!) for making my own choices, no matter what they were, as long as they were true. Then, after I got married, I liked to see what other people had done. I still read all of it, but found myself drawn to the wedding graduates, and especially to the Reclaiming Wife posts. I enjoyed getting to see how other people thought about weddings and marriage, and to look for understanding and connection to my own.

When my marriage started to crumble beneath me, I kept reading because I liked the hope Reclaiming Wife represents, this idea that if we don’t like what marriage is or how it’s defined in our lives, we can change it. Of course, Meg and APW mean change in a larger, cultural sense, but I took the message very much to heart. It was a chance for me to think about what marriage is, and what it can be, from a wider variety of perspectives than I was getting at home. It helped me figure out what I really wanted, what I really thought marriage should be. It helped, in part, for me to see that while I wanted everything written about on its pages, ultimately, I didn’t have it.

In the past six months, I’ve left my husband, left one job, started and quit another job, and started graduate school. At one point in those six months, I had shoes and homes in three states. Some days, it feels totally overwhelming, and other days, I barely register that it’s happening. I remember wedding planning feeling like that. At times all-consuming, and at other times something you ignored because it just seemed insurmountable, this thing that would never happen to you, something you’d just be stuck planning, and never doing, for the rest of your life. But the wedding happened, and so will the divorce. So maybe, at this point, one week away from the biggest change I never wanted to make, that’s why I still read. To remember that this too shall pass. That when you least expect it, the people around you put on their elf hats (can you have Divorce Elves? I think so, and I love mine) and pitch in to give you what you need, and celebrate doing what is right for you. And maybe, just maybe, help you realize that there is hope out there. You might be the only one looking for it, and sometimes it might seem really far away, but it’s there. And, whether you’re like me or not, we can all be grateful for the support APW provides is the one lesson that fits us all: do what is true for you in your own self and for your own life.

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