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Mara Shapshay Headshot

My Divorce Made Me The Black Sheep

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My divorce made me the black sheep of my family. The million-dollar question is: Can I ever turn white or wear white again?

This popped into my head as my boyfriend recently got down on one knee and you guessed it, asked for my hand in marriage. There he was, all five foot ten of him, on one knee holding out a opened black ring box displaying a beautiful two karat diamond ring in a platinum setting (excellent job I might add, baby).

I had a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I'm a Jewish girl and I had this immediate JAP-y elation when I saw the diamond. But on the other hand, I felt this sad pit in my stomach remembering my embarrassing first marriage and subsequent divorce.

I flashed back to June of 2001 when I stood in a white silk organza gown in front of the mirror of my parent's bathroom in Boston. The blood red walls were closing in on me. I knew I was making a mistake.

I was about to make another error... I had this long veil secured to my black hair by a crystal-beaded comb. My shaky hands lifted up my extremely hot flat iron in an attempt to straighten my Jew-fro but I only succeeded in burning a massive hole in my veil. Did I mention I was loaded? I took a small handful of tranquilizers a 1/2 hour before the ceremony was to begin.

I stumbled down the aisle, which was on my parents' rooftop over looking The Charles River. I could feel and hear the wind whip right through the hole in my veil. I stupidly went ahead with the marriage because he looked really good on paper and was very handsome. Unfortunately, he had as much interest in having sex with me as Rush Limbaugh has interest in women's rights. That's right, I was pretty sure he was gay.

I spent the next six years in that marriage numbing the sexual neglect and remorse with pills and vodka. Looking back, I see that the marriage was a soft cushion upon which I self-destructed and unraveled, and continued to do so during and after my divorce. The black sheep label was now tattooed on my forehead.

My divorce enabled me to hit rock bottom seven plus years ago. I found myself sleeping in my car. I knew I needed to work on getting my life back on track, which I've been doing for the last seven years with the help of many wise guides. Getting married again was not at the forefront of my mind.

Then, earlier this year, I was at a Starbucks in Hollywood and randomly met a cute man. He was wearing a Knicks baseball hat and shorts. I was in a patriotic blue and white striped dress. We sat down at a small table and stared at each other for a moment. I decided to regale him with my story about how I inadvertently slept next to the Dalai Lama for a week.

"I know that story." He said smiling.

"How do you know that story?" I asked in amazement.

"I heard you speak about it at this meditation meeting a few months ago." He said point blank.

My mouth was open. That was the one and only time I had been to that meeting. I was sharing about my experience, strength and hope with a group of people not knowing he was one of them. Chills came over me.

Further in our conversation it was discovered that we both went to NYU and attended the same Jewish summer camp back East. We had everything in common including our shared love of spirituality and Judaism.

I always thought it was corny when people talked about knowing when you've met "the one." But I'm here to say I'm now one of those cheesy mother f'ers! I knew in that instant this was the man I wanted to run down the aisle with.

Ironically, my fiancé is also the black sheep of his family. We both made a lot of poor decisions in our collective history due to substances we put in our bodies. Whether our families let go of our pasts and look to our future without condemnation is up to them. Forgiveness, I believe, is a decision we make to focus on love while letting the rest go.

I've learned that I'm responsible for my own happiness. I don't need my family's approval or for them to absolve me from being the black sheep. I can be the white sheep and wear a white gown. This time it won't matter if I straighten my hair with my veil on because I'm straight and thank God so is my fiancé.