I wake up on my couch in my living room and I feel my heart sink.
Last night was a dream, right?
This can’t have happened. We had been together for seven years. Less than 10 months ago, we stood in front of our friends and family at our picture perfect wedding and said the words ‘I do’.
But it wasn’t a dream. It was the morning after my marriage ended.
Let me start by saying, I don’t want to go into the he said/she said part or speak too much about the specifics. It’s too personal, it’s too sad and in truth – no one is to blame. My ex-husband is a good man and I wish good things for him in the future.
From the outset, we did everything we were supposed to do. We dated and after 12 months, we moved in together. We’d travelled internationally multiple times, did the major holidays with each other’s families, we had a long engagement. On paper, we did everything ‘right’.
I guess that was almost the problem. I was so busy checking off the things I should do, I never checked in to see if it was something I actually wanted to do.
You see, I am your classic overachiever. I got straight As at school, I never skipped a day and when I do something – I commit and I am all in. At this time, I was working for myself and I was LOVING doing what I was doing. I was business coaching amazing women, running a successful podcast and making good money – yet no one cared. Every friend I’d see focused on the fact I wasn’t wearing a ring. I could feel pity run over my naked finger as they commented, ‘It’s okay. I’m sure he will ask soon.’
Other people felt the need to have an opinion on my unmarried status as well. I’m not just talking about our family or close friends. I once found myself in a discussion with my Australia Post guy about why our packages didn’t have the same last name. REALLY? It was 2018.
After my partner proposed and I readily accepted, the wedding became the entire focus and centre of our lives. Flowers, cake, hair, dress… but to be honest, I was just waiting for it to click. I was waiting to feel like the perfect bride and I never did.
After 10 months, it became almost impossible to ignore the fact – we went through all of this because we should have wanted to do it. Not because we wanted to.
Almost as soon as we announced our separation, many people in my life came forward and said out loud the things I never thought other people thought – they were having doubts if marriage was for them too. I always ask them the same question ‘Is this what you want to do or is this what you feel like you should do?’
It’s a simple question I wish I had asked myself every single say.
It’s been a little over six months since we split and a lot has changed.
Separation, liquidation, moving house, more therapy sessions than I care to admit to and even more wine… and I’m finally starting my life over again.
When I finally asked myself what I wanted, my soul much to my surprise exclaimed, ‘Can we please travel around the US for a few months?’
I obliged and we are having a great time.
Jemimah Ashleigh is a best selling author and international keynote speaker. You can visit her website here.