Your commitment to love (and the hope of a happily-ever-after) was beautiful.
It was the most beautiful day, wasn't it? A perfect sunny sky and warm weather. And anyone who knows the East Coast knows that a spring day on the East Coast means you have a fifty-fifty chance of either cold showers or bright sunshine. Mother Nature blessed you and blessed your husband-to-be at the time with a gorgeous day and sky.
You had your vows written. Every sweet and sentimental word, every beautiful thought was true. There were no lies said or untruths spoken as you stood in front of an officiant, your friends, your family, and each other.
That bride-to-be saw marriage and married life as full of hope and potential. Somewhat too sunny of a view considering there had been some red flags between you and your husband-to-be before saying "I do," but not once did you, future Laura and almost divorcée — say, "Don't do it!"
You never would've listened anyway.
You were marrying your first love. Yes, he was your opposite. Yes, there was strife and considerable stress from your future mother-in-law. You knew the road wouldn't be easy there but still, you weren't discouraged. Your commitment to love (and the hope of a happily-ever-after) was beautiful ... Is STILL beautiful.
Although you spoke the words as if you read them straight out of a self-help book, Marriage is Hard Work, when the marriage became not just hard work but hard labor, you were crestfallen.
You walked down the aisle at a societally accepted age — early thirties — but you still hadn't had many serious long-term relationships beforehand. You had dated and dated and dated many flavors and types of men, most that were jerks, but you were much more naïve in matters of the heart than most were at your age. You were enamored, love-stricken, and very much wanting to be accepted.
You were there in your big Cinderella-style gown, and you felt saved — the marriage, the love, the man all indicated you were worthy. Finally.
Laura, I wish that you had felt worthy without the marriage, the love, the man, but you had to take this journey to find that. Sure, you never thought that down the line you'd be splitting custody over your daughter and starting over in a condo without him, wondering how you would make it work.
But had you never been that bride, perhaps you would never be who you are today — worthy of love, worthy of all that's good on your own.
I won't tell you to turn around and walk away. Without him in your life, you wouldn't have your beautiful daughter. You wouldn't have your slightly tarnished and worried, but unbroken and relentless, spirit.
You joined hands and broke glass with a good man who, not without his set of problems and issues, may not have been your "forever after." But you two certainly have (and will always) have a spark and connection. You had to pursue it to learn how a relationship operated and what a wrong marriage looked like.
That day was joyous. You were radiant and the majority of your closest life-long friends were there, the majority of which have held your hands as you complete the divorce process. Your alpha and omega: the ones with you at the beginning are there at this sad end.
The only one tangible and lifelong knot that exists is your daughter. And of course, years of memories. They don't go away, bride-to-be.
Today, you aren't the same person. It was only the beginning of a long journey to get to who you are now: stronger, more confident, tenacious, emotional, fiery, and vivid.
You were just a girl even if you weren't by age, and now you're most certainly a woman.
So bride, walk down that aisle beaming. Walk down with your father and greet your future husband, future ex-husband, and forever father of your child. It will be a journey you didn't expect, but all the sights and experiences you'll have will be worth every single second.
Hold on tight, buckle up, and get ready to grow, young girl. I'm waiting on the other side for you — to hug, to hold, and tell you you did a good job.
And I'm proud of you.