Independence

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Traveling up Bear Tooth Pass to Yellowstone last summer; our last big trip as a married couple.

This year, while fireworks burned bright over Kansas City and friends & family gathered around the grill, I celebrated Independence Day in an usual and hopefully not-to-be-repeated fashion: I traveled to Costa Rica in order to sign the papers for my divorce.

This trip marked the last chapter of what has been a long, painful struggle around the question of what to do when love runs strong between two people whose lives are taking off in completely different directions.

I’ve avoided talking about the break up of my marriage, in part because I’m not one to air my private life in public forums, but also because in this case my private life was also the private life of someone I care for and respect very much.

There’s nothing quite like seeing seventeen years of love wrapped up and snipped off in the clean, cold language of lawyers and judges. It’s an experience that shakes you to the core; one that I would not wish on anyone.

Seventeen years ago this month, my then-to-be husband (and now-to-be-ex) asked me out for the first time. Not only did I accept; I was so certain something fundamentally important was about to happen that I called up another man I was dating at the time and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was not going to see him again.

From that day forward, through all our years of dating and marriage, there was no one for me but this one person and the joy, passion, and adventure that we shared. If I’ve learned one lesson from the sum total of my experience with my marriage, it is this:

Always choose love.

In case you didn’t get that the first time around:

Always choose love.

My marriage may have come to an end, but no one can take away the years we shared, or the happiness we gave each other. And despite the pain I’ve suffered, despite the sadness I feel, if I were given the opportunity to go back and do things differently, I wouldn’t change any of it.

Except, perhaps, if I could find a way to make us last a little longer. That I would do. But if that opportunity ever existed, it passed us by, and this is something I am slowly learning to accept. At the end of the day, there is no going back. One life is given to us. We do the best we can with every precious moment, and then we move on.

Ironically, I’ve also learned that the one thing that makes heartbreak bearable is love itself. The memory of love, the presence of love, the promise of love, in all its forms. Even as the tears fall, even as I go through another box of tissue and reach for another bar of chocolate, I have no regrets. I feel sadness, at times deep and gut-wrenching melancholy, but that is not the same as regret.

Regret is when you’ve done something you wish you hadn’t done. I will never wish away the years of my marriage. I mourn their end, yes, but I am very grateful to have had them.

He and I made the brave choice, after all. We chose love. And our blessings have been many because of that.

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The road to Poas Volcano this morning; my first solo outing after filing for divorce.

15 thoughts on “Independence

  1. Karin, your sentiments have me teary eyed but in a good way. Life is filled with good and bad but the worse thing we can do is nothing out of fear. And love can be a very scary venture. You have a beautiful outlook on life. Thanks for putting into words a hard message to get across.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Karin, what a beautiful and heartbreaking tribute to your marriage. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I’m sending you all of the virtual hugs I have in me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is nothing as great as love, even when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated. I’m so proud of you and Rafa, for making this difficult choice with all that love in your hearts. You know I’m with you, heart and soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “There’s nothing quite like seeing seventeen years of love wrapped up and snipped off in the clean, cold language of lawyers and judges” I feel for this part of your pain. And send tissues and hugs.

    They weren’t writing about your love. That’s my hunch. Whatever official thing the lawyers have to say…they can’t touch the love. And that is the profound thing you are saying here. And why I am so incredibly grateful for your words. They bring so much healing to me.

    No one can undo love that has been given. No one can divide it up the way one person takes the couch and someone else takes the table. Love remains. I’m so glad you chose it. And for continuing to do so even after all the tissues.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Karin, I saw your post while I was away and couldn’t log in on my phone. So I wrote myself a note to remember to comment when I got home.

    A beautifully written testimony to love and all the wonder and happiness it has to offer, even in tough and sad times.

    Best of luck and peace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Independence Revisited – Karin Rita Gastreich

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