Getting married at 21
Let me be the first to tell you: Five years ago, becoming a world traveler was not in my crystal ball of how my future was supposed to be. I was married, living in Virginia, pursuing my bachelors degree in psychology, and my five-year plan consisted of my husband, children, a puppy, work and that’s it. But life had it’s own plan for me…
At 21, I got married to my former husband who was 20 at the time. WOAH! I know, but this was military culture. It was “normal” to marry young. We barely knew ourselves, and now that I am older, I could argue that we barely knew each other. All we knew is that we loved each other and we didn’t want to be apart.
As young adults, we had differences, way too many. Honestly, we didn’t know how to handle or approach this. Again, we were young. So, we coped the best way that we knew how: Partying. Drinking. Sex. Anything that offered us a temporary distraction from our issues was refreshing. Things were bad from the moment we said “I do,” and I mean… really bad. Every month it was something new; almost as if the universe didn’t want us together, like someone else was orchestrating our inevitable downfall.
To top things off, he left for deployment on his second tour during the middle of all of this, and I was home and alone. Feeling afraid, lost, and distressed, I turned to church. They say desperate people find faith, and I was feeling pretty hopeless. I wanted peace, desired guidance needed healing.
And this is what started my spiritual journey.
A marriage that couldn’t be saved
I didn’t feel prepared or equipped to save my marriage. Well, not on my own at least. Grew up in the church, I went back to my roots. It offered me solace as I learned how to pray over my marriage and how to have a personal relationship with God. I learned how to hear His voice and distinguish between mine and His. I became a prayer warrior whose prayers moved mountains. This monumental first step is what prompted me to leave.
One day, fed up and deep in depression, I dropped to my knees and asked God if my marriage was for me. I heard, “No.” YIKES. So, I followed up because maybeeeee my question wasn’t clear. You gotta be “clear and precise” (at least that’s what the pastor said). So I asked, “Should I stay?” and again, I heard, “No.” At this point, my heart was racing. I panicked. How am I going to afford to live on my own? He paid most of the bills. Will I get approved for an apartment? My credit is bad now. What will my friends think? OMG! What will my family say?
THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING.
Confused, afraid, and defeated… I succumbed to my bedroom floor and cried. I knew what I heard wasn’t my voice because ultimately, deep down I didn’t want to leave him. We’ve been through too much, and I didn’t want to explain anything to anyone and I damn sure didn’t want to feel embarrassed. We were “that” couple who shared everything on social media. There were way too many factors to consider. Making the decision to leave was complicated.
I asked God, “How can I do this without him?” and He replied…
“I got you.”
Who am I?
The next day, I went over to my mom’s house seeking some advice and comfort but quickly remembered how my mom kicks it to me straight every time – tears flowing down my face or not. It was as if she could hear the desperation in my voice to stay with this man. Her motherly instincts and profound wisdom were in overdrive. She told me something that changed my life…
“Latrice, I love my husband. He can wake up tomorrow and tell me that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and I have to be okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be hurt and I’ll probably cry for a while…but I have to be okay with just me.”
That made me realize, I was not okay with just me. I didn’t even know who I was. My identity was my title. I was a wife, a daughter, a sister. But who was I really?
I finally made the decision. I packed my things, moved out, and moved on. Just from taking that first mental step, doors opened for me. I remembered God’s answer, “I got you.” My credit score went up over 100 points and that allowed me to secure my apartment. My job offered me a full-time position with benefits. Still, there was one thing missing: HEALING.
Finding a healing way
Whether you’re the divorcer or the divorcee, the pain of going through a legal separation from your spouse is real. It hurts. It hurts soo damn bad. There were soo many days when all I could do was put on a fake smile at work (if I even had the strength to get up) then go home and cry all night.
I NEEDED HELP.
I joined another church, that was non-denominational, because my baptist church was just lacking the extra something that I needed. A member of the church asked me a question that literally stumped me. A question soo simple and soo easy to answer for most, but I had nothing to say:
“What do you like to do?”
I couldn’t answer it. Everything I could think of was something that my husband liked or introduced me to. But, what did I like? What made ME happy? For years, I invested in a relationship with someone without knowing who I was, what I liked, and what I wanted.
I dated myself
From that day on, I made it a point to try new things. I learned about myself and dated myself. I’ll admit, it felt weird at first. I was very self-conscious about what other people thought when they saw me eating dinner alone all dressed up. Until it became normal to me.
New hobbies like yoga and working out was fun but there was no spark. I didn’t feel all fuzzy and bubbly inside. A friend who lived in D.C. (3-hour drive from Virginia) invited me to visit one weekend. Finally, a spark.
Traveling became my cheap thrill. I went from looking up driving directions, to bus deals, to affordable flights. Once I saw how affordable flights were, I booked my first international trip to the Bahamas with my girls for my 25th birthday. I loved everything about the process: choosing a destination, researching locations, watching prices, buying new clothes, traveling to/from, taking pictures, diving into a new culture, EVERYTHING.
It just made sense. It felt good. I knew I found my passion, a purpose when I woke up. I was excited about something that motivated me. During the early stages of my divorce, I was soo devastated and embarrassed that life didn’t go as I had planned. Until I realized how life can go off course sometimes and lead you to something better. It might even lead you to find yourself. When I share my travels with people, it’s not to brag. It’s in hopes of reaching another person who hasn’t quite found his/herself yet and will see my story as an example of resilience.
Pay it forward.
Much Love, Trice <3