At 17, I was one of those girls who walked the stage at high school graduation with a baby bump.
I was in love with a sweet-talking, motorcycle riding, salsa dancing, soccer player. I just knew he was the man of my dreams. Not even a month after turning eighteen, I delivered my first child, Jizelle. Ironically enough, now that I am looking back, she is the rearing force of my post-secondary education. My mom was alright—but I wanted to be amazing, awesome, freaking astounding.
Turns out, Señor Salsa Dancer was not the man of my dreams. The truth of that rang resoundingly clear to me when he had the nerve to propose to me while having another girlfriend. In my mind, that ring was living proof that he was ready to be devoted to me, and come home to his family, in our two-bedroom shack every night.
I came to my senses one day, found a new place, and left.
When Jizelle was two, I met the second man of my dreams. He was a firefighter in the Marine Corps and the most tender and compassionate soul I've ever met. We met in August of 2011 and were married by the end of December that same year.
I know it sounds impulsive, but it's a trend that I am still trying to conquer.
During the time of my marriage, my husband was always great. He allowed me to engulf myself into my English studies and back away from working. We spent nearly four years married, and I had my second child in September of 2012, another girl, Presley. I delivered my third child not too long after.
I definitely started pushing him off the cliff, if we're being honest.
When I say he was a good guy, he was the best guy.
Even with my mistakes, flaws, and controlling ways, he still seemed to be patient, empathetic, and never teetered. I mean, friends would gush about their guy, how he couldn't keep it in his pants, texted other girls, gave the silent treatment—endless things. I treated my husband worse than any could imagine, and he never lost love or hope for me.
I had rushed into a marriage.
I know this now. I get it. I am fully aware that since I did not have the most stable and positive family aspect growing up as a child, and swept a failed household with my high school boo under the rug, my heart craved a family. I wanted a sense of completeness.
I needed wholeness. I needed a family, a good husband, a degree, and a career to prove to myself that indeed was a worthy woman.
I finished my Bachelor's in 2013 and my Master's in 2015. I have been teaching full time since 2014. From the outside, I was an inspiration, an overcomer, and such a nice girl. Truthfully, I was buried under mounds of unhealed wounds. I continued to ruin that poor man, until I had the gall to admit I could not handle the marriage.
In February of 2015, I'd had it.
I told him I was moving out. I couldn't stand living with him. Looking at him. Sleeping next to him. Each day, I had a new reason why or one more thing for him to change. Now looking back, it should have been me gathering books, articles, and self-help guides to be a better wife. I should have been sprawled on the alter, begging the Lord for mercy and healing. No, thanks!
I packed up, got an overpriced 2-bedroom apartment less than 15 minutes from the house we owned, and left. Those days were the most severing of my life. The silence, small space, and time alone made me beam with joy. People noticed a glow, and questioned if I was pregnant again. “No, ma'am," I'd say, “I've just left my husband!"
Sorry, not sorry.
So I'd spent six months alone, February to August of 2015. My husband had still wanted to go on dates from time-to-time and I agreed. One, free food is great. Two, I didn't want to look like a bitch and decline the offer. And honestly I really enjoyed being around him.
Towards the end of August, I thought to myself, Wow, we have been getting along so great, maybe it's time I move home and commit to making this work for the kids. I can't actually get a divorce without giving our marriage a try just one more time.
In comes that evil impulsiveness. I met with him and told him I wanted to move back home. Within a week, we were moving my things back home. I found somebody to take over my lease, and it was done.
I was home. Oh, home sweet home.
And then it happened again.
As soon as I moved back home, I converted back into the evil woman I'd once been.
There, I said it.
Soon after, and like perfect timing, my husband was offered a job near his hometown in Baltimore, MD and he was ecstatic."
"Yay, we can move near my family and friends, and the kids can play in the snow, and we can go to Ravens games. And our son can play lacrosse. Yay, yay, yay."
All the while, I'm sitting here looking like Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins with my "Ain't nobody got time for that" poker face.
I played the good girl and said I would move, but like old patterns, after four months of cohabitating (and losing myself all over again), I declared we were officially done.
He was a great guy, but not my guy.
I was a good girl, at heart, but I knew I would never be his woman.
I moved into a three-bedroom house in November of 2015. He officially accepted the job up North. We put our house in South Carolina on the market and It sold in a little over a week. On Christmas day, we opened presents, he kissed our kids goodbye, and with his truck loaded to the brim, he left for his parents' house in Baltimore.
I exhaled the moment he pulled out of my driveway. Bye, bruh.
Of course, now that it's been over two years since our initial separation, and a year and a half since he moved, I can take the blame. There is some serious self-work that needed to be done before I could fully submerge myself into another relationship.
My parents never quite taught me things I needed to know to be in a healthy marriage. It seems I was pretty much free to do what I want, say what I want, and act how I wanted my whole life—and until I was married, it never posed a significant issue. It landed me an internship, jobs, two degrees, and ultimately, the wherewithal to raise three children on my own. Heck, I've even gotten published from some things I have mustered up at a local coffee shop.
Learning who you are before accumulating children and serious relationships is vital.
I preach to my students, be single, have fun, learn who you are. I can never say I wish things were different, because, well, my kids. Even the slightest difference in my past, would have led to me not having them. And my sweet babies are everything important to me on this planet. So, I've decided my sporadic decisions and untraditional happenings were supposed to happen just this way. That this was my path. This is my journey.
My actions serve as a model of what not to do for women. As a guide of what to do if things do not go as planned for young ladies who may have a similar story to mine.
I am only twenty-six and I'm divorced.
But that's not all that defines me. I've graduated with a Bachelor's in English and a Master's in Education. I've adjusted to being a single mom. I've gotten used to working numerous jobs. I've also taken my investment of self up a notch by paying out of pocket for therapy to heal the wicked woman I have buried inside. Seeking redemption in His name, faith is a new journey.
What I've learned is that it's important to take your time, to never lose focus on your goals, to be an eager learner, to be nice to people because it's free, and to listen earnestly to those who need an ear. Most importantly, I've learned to be unapologetic of who you are, but that's not to say that it's acceptable to be unapologetic for scornful words and unjust roles in relationships with your significant other, family, or friends.
Get to know what makes your own soul smile and your heart heal.
Ty Snowden is a mother of three and surrogate-to-be. She is a teacher by day and college professor by night. Dreamin' of being a published author and prayin' on happiness for her arch enemies. Naturally, always include wine and sunshine. And be sure to follow her and read her other musings over at Single Momma of Three.