17 & Married Part 2: Ten years later, Now What?

Welcome back loves! I’m glad you could join me for this week's installment of 17 & Married.

I am currently 28, divorced, and happy! Throughout my marriage to B, we made two more children a son and daughter, Nay and Bean.

You probably think we hated each other and just stayed for the kids, but you’d be wrong. We actually had some great years in there. For a while, he was my best friend. B and I stayed married for 9 years. I graduated college at 23 with a bachelor's in education. A couple years later, we bought a house in a nice quiet neighborhood, where we intended to raise our kids until they were adults. From the outside looking in, we appeared to be the perfect couple. But that’s just it isn’t it? Things always appear great from the outside.

When I finally mustered up the courage to announce my pending separation and divorce, no one saw it coming; not even B. He thought we were good, that I was happy and things were going well. By the time I told him I didn’t want to be with him, I had been checked out of the marriage for years.

If I'd known then, what I know now, I would have done a better job communicating my needs. But I didn't have the tools at that time, so I managed the best way I knew how. Which is all any of us are really doing isn't it?

It's strange how your head and heart can be in a different place while your body goes on about the daily routines. I would tell myself, just tough it out for the kids. They deserve this. I tried to force it for two years before I finally pulled the plug. One day I realized that staying for the kids made no sense. Our children were still so young. We had years to go before they would be adults. And I was suffocating. I was dying trying to be someone I wasn't. I couldn't fake it any longer.

I’ve asked myself, How did he not know? Was I that convincing of an actress? Or did he truly never see me?

I think the latter rings more true. He didn’t know me. Not that it was his fault. We’d been married since we were children, I didn’t even know me, only knew the roles I played.

For my entire adult life, I had been someone’s mother and someone’s wife. I never had the chance to just be Dina. I had no idea what passions I had outside of my home life. There were no concepts of self or individuality. But there was one thing I knew for certain; I would never become the woman I was supposed to be with him.

I remember having that epiphany. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted so much more for myself than the roles I'd been assigned. Some may call that selfish. I had everything many women dream of. The doting husband who comes home every night and works to provide, who's a good father, faithful, all the typical good man qualities. But I was not happy. I wanted more than weekly church services, white picket fences, and the tiny box mindset I was accustomed to. I wanted things that I had only ever dreamed of, and I knew that he would hold me back from those dreams. You see, he feared the unknown. B is the kind of guy who will complain about a job for 20 years and never leave. He was not a fan of change. He didn't take risks. He was downright rigid.

But he held the keys. He was the gatekeeper to how I lived my life. All of my choices ran through him, from the clothes I bought to the way I spent my free time. I was stuck.

They say marriage is the biggest commitment you can make in life. You take vows before God, and your closest family and friends. It's supposed to last forever. I wanted that, but not at my expense. My family thought I was crazy and that my reasons weren't good enough to leave a man who loved me. Yes, he loved me, but not enough to give me the space I needed to become who I was meant to be. I was transforming, becoming a butterfly, and every time I tried to retreat to my chrysalis, he was there blocking my construction. I didn't have the strength to build myself AND fight him. I couldn't be the submissive wife who honored her husband while discovering myself at the same time. We stopped growing together. So I had a decision to make; me or him. And I chose ME.

Often women are told to sacrifice. We’re groomed to see it as part of being a woman. We sacrifice our dreams, ambitions, autonomy, independence, and individuality for the sake of pleasing others. We make ourselves small to inflate the ego of men who aren’t as smart as we are; Men who lack creativity and vision. We shrink ourselves down into the roles that have been dictated to us by our life’s circumstances, and we play out our lives on a stage we didn't get to chose.

I know some of you can relate. You’ve been in relationships so long that you don’t know where he ends and you begin. You’ve lost yourself. Or if you’re story is like mine, you found that relationship before you ever truly knew who you were in the first place.

You don't have to wait until someone is cheating on you to leave. You don't need to suffer abuse to leave. Normalize leaving once you've outgrown a stage of life. Leaving while there's still love. Not everyone is ready to ascend with you.

I was tired of the walls being constructed to keep me from myself. So I left a man that I had loved almost half of my life because it was time that I loved me more.

And every day I am so grateful that I did. I know you want some juicy details on what in the world happened between that wedding day with milky breasts and winding up in divorce court. It’s coming loves I, promise. Along with some crazy church drama. (Including the time we almost got into a full out brawl at the family picnic!) But that’s a different story for a different day.

Today I want to speak to you who are in the valley of indecision. My hope is that you take away this one imperative gem. Choose you. Always choose to love yourself above all else. You get one life to live. Live it!

Tune in next week for a new installment where I’ll discuss what it was like to be married into a church family who thinks you trapped their Golden Goose.

Posts are updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! Be sure to tune in.

See you soon loves!

Stay blessed,

Dina Shanae

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