I had left my husband, but I wasn’t gone. I was being held hostage by the choices before me -take cover in an unhappy marriage or become a single mother again. I wasn’t brave enough to choose the thing that would set me free. Where I’m from, one of the worse things you could be was a single black mother. Choosing freedom would mean disappointing my loved ones: my kids, my parents, extended family…myself. I wasn’t brave enough to choose.
A friend of mine suggested that I spend a week in solitude to figure my life out. Within the hour, she contacted a guy who owned a farm in Vermont. She nominated me to take part in a fellowship for folks who are working to change the world. The only world I needed to change was my own. I spent a week on the farm in Vermont living in a tent with limited access to distractions like my cell phone and the internet. I showered under the sun. I ate every meal with a group of strangers. I practiced yoga. I journaled. I was quiet. I focused on me. I was free and it was beautiful.
You know, everything they say about the truth is true. It will hurt and set you free. I was a single mother when I met him. The three of us were great together. One day, after about a year of dating, he came home late from work. I hadn’t been able to reach him which was unusual. He told me, without prompting, that he had engaged in a heavy petting session with a woman at work (I know, I should have run then). I was furious and immediately broke things off. Days later he came by to talk. He proposed. Was I going to throw our whole relationship away because he kissed a girl at work? I reluctantly accepted his proposal. The truth is that I thought marriage would save me from the stigma of single motherhood. Two more babies and five years later, there I was between the same rock and hard place. I am sad to say that I was more committed to keeping my status as a married woman than my own peace of mind.
When I returned from Vermont, he sent me an email explaining that he no longer saw me as his wife. The only problem was that I WAS his wife! We had several circular, exhausting conversations about his email. One day, we were in yet another discussion about his position as my non-husband husband. I listened. I don’t recall what he said. There was no new information shared, only this time I wasn’t angry. I was resolute. I sat up in my seat with my feet firmly planted on the ground. When he finished, in a matter-of-fact tone, I said, “I am going to file for divorce this Friday.”