Five Years Later: Divorced or Single?

“I’m not seeing my daughter until after the holidays, “she answered, “ but it’s ok, I’m a single lady,” the cashier continued, “I have friends to see all over the country.”

As she rang up and bagged my items she shared her adventures as a “single lady."

“I’m usually out travelling or seeing shows; I go out a lot, you see, because I’m a single lady.”

We talk every time I visit the store but I didn’t realize we had so much in common: I like to travel; I’d like to go out dancing, to meet new people. It took a good five minutes before I remembered: “I’m a single lady too,” I said.

“You are?” She wasn’t convinced.

“I’ve been divorced for five years.” I don’t usually feel the urge to explain myself but the revelation that I too am a single lady took me a bit off guard.

For the past few years I’ve been “divorced.” “Divorced” is a reminder that I know what commitment is and when it isn’t working; I know when to hold on and when to walk away. It tells people a version of my past and though I hadn’t meant for the label to stick, it slipped on and fitted itself on to my shape and stuck. I wore “divorced” as a reminder that my marriage didn’t work out.

Until at least the tenth time she said it, I didn’t realize I don’t have to be “divorced;” I can slip on words that fit and shed words that cling too tightly. If divorced is a reminder of something broken, single is a reminder of opportunities and decisions.

Words don't define me; I do.


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