The Unanniversary: Milestones Post-Divorce

Each year has 365 days and a certain number of milestones. Birthdays, maybe a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, high school and college graduations. Paper, silver, or gold anniversaries, if we make it so far. Our kids’ birthdays. In Through the Looking Glass and Disney’s animated “Alice in Wonderland”, the 364 days that didn’t align with Humpty Dumpty’s DOB were considered the “Unbirthday.”

What happens to the wedding anniversary once the divorce papers have been signed?

I’m approaching what would have been my 21st anniversary this week, five years post-divorce. Some years, I’ve watched the wedding video or shared the album with my kids. In the beginning, I considered bringing my wedding dress to the dry cleaners to dye a more usable color… like black.

Whether or not we’re still wearing the matching Cartier rolling rings, an anniversary celebrates a life event attended by a bunch of people who are no longer with us. Weddings are like this threshold to what’s coming. We don’t have any guarantees. (Though in our wedding video, two of the guests made comments that didn’t bode well for the future!)

Most of us who have seen our name on a divorce summons have stared down that stream of anniversary posts and declarations of everlasting love on our Facebook feeds. I’ve come to this spanking realization that when I have those pangs of not-bright-green-but-more-pistachio gelato-hued envy, I’m really missing the idea of happily ever couple on the front porch or even wiping away tears as we schlep the luggage to our daughter’s college dorm.

Maybe it’s not so strange to toast the beginning of something that didn’t work out as planned.

Marriage can be a challenging proposition, especially in a society where lots of couples are probably more in love with the idea of marriage than with each other. A divorced friend recently shared she has taught her daughters to put the person in front of the event. Find the man (or woman) with whom you’d like to share the covers and with whom you’d like to create a family. Don’t focus on the outcome.

I’ve envisioned my marriage as that toy where toddlers hammer the block into its corresponding hole. Like most girls of my generation, I had a Barbie wedding set and even wore an acetate bridal gown one Halloween. Sometime during my late twenties, dating became this rush to avoid being left standing during premarital musical chairs. May the last man left standing win.

I have no regrets. My ex-husband and I brought two spectacular daughters into the world and shared some pleasant memories. I’ve learned quite a bit about myself.

So, come August 6, I’ll be celebrating my Unanniversary with a glass of champagne and a toast to what could have been.

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