I Dropped My Marriage Off At A Consignment Shop

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
photo of the author circa 1986
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Love

It was a slow painful death. My marriage that started as most do with love and happiness when we were young was scratched and dented along the way. But it wasn’t the tiny chips that did us in. It was a catastrophic health event 13 years into it.

Our son was not quite two years old when at 35 I suffered a severe stroke during the sixth month of my second pregnancy. That baby is now 22 years old. I was paralyzed on one side from the stroke putting an end to sharing activities together as we had done since we met as teenagers.

The challenges combined with a lack of commitment to creating the perfect storm that would completely destroy the marriage over the course of about 16 years after the stroke.

My husband struggled for years with the idea he was going to leave me because I was disabled. I remember him not sleeping many nights wandering the house in his black bathrobe. When I asked him what was wrong, he avoided the question with vague answers about stress at work.

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He had been thrust into a caregiver role at age 38. It is almost impossible to remain a loving, connected husband in that role, or at least it was for him.

The chasm grew deeper after I insisted we move into a more handicapped accessible home from the two-story house we lived in at the time of the accident. I think it was then he realized he was going to be expected to live a life crippled by my disability for the rest of our lives.

He became more and more distant even as we slept beside each other and sat at the dinner table every night.

I coped with being dismissed and disrespected by trying to fill the void with shopping. I frequented a pricey local boutique where the owner fed on my insecurities by helping me try on extravagant outfits that made me look great despite having a disability.

I spent thousands of dollars on clothes I didn’t need. They acted like drugs numbing the pain and giving me a temporary high as my closets filled.

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Of course, my husband resented my spending while never appreciating how good I looked in the new, fancy clothes. After some marriage counseling and individual therapy for him, he moved out 6 years ago.

His newest romantic interest has pushed him into getting divorced; something we were avoiding for financial and health insurance reasons.

This year he informed me he was no longer willing to support the marital home with me and our sons in it. He also wanted to cash in on the pandemic-fueled fire of the housing market.

I found apartments don’t have the closet space I need which led to a major purge of clothing. In cleaning out the basement I came across my 35-year-old wedding dress preserved in the box it came back from the cleaners in.

I decided I didn’t want to drag that dress around for the rest of my life. I found there isn’t much of a market for 35-year-old wedding dresses. I tried giving it away through Facebook marketplace. I posted it for free on Craigslist.

My brother suggested I burn it in a ceremonial fire. I didn’t feel so bad about the end of my marriage that it warranted destroying the beautiful dress I wore for the ceremony when it began.

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As the moving day grew closer, I felt a stronger need to get rid of it so I contacted a local consignment shop to see if they deal in wedding dresses.

Putting it on consignment would at least put some money in my pocket if it sold. The shop owner told me she had about 8 wedding dresses in her store and would be happy to take mine.

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So I packed up a large load of dresses and jackets from my depressed-era shopping days with the wedding gown and removed all of it from my world significantly lightening my load for my upcoming move by dropping all of it off at the consignment shop.

I won’t miss the clothes I bought to try to fill the void in my life. In fact, they often reminded me of some of my darkest days so I am glad to see them gone.

I’m also happy to not need to drag my wedding dress through the remainder of my days. I just hope it isn’t cursed to bring bad luck to its new owner.

Victoria Ponte is a storyteller, young stroke survivor, and mother. Check out her site at www.victoriaponte.com.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.