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Stephanie Penn Headshot

Permission to Love Again

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I've been separated for over three years now, divorced for almost two, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of everything that transpired. Initially, I didn't know what went wrong. I didn't know who was to blame and I was just hurt and angry.

Imagine being with the same person throughout your 20s and then marrying that person and waking up every morning for five years, next to who you thought was your best friend. Things were going great, or so you thought. What if the person that you vowed to be with for the rest of your life no longer made your heart skip a beat and the love you once had for them had been turned into utter disgust. Terms of endearment like, "Huggy man" or "Sweets" were replaced with words like, "Dumb Ass" or "Weak." What if your marriage was starting to fall apart but instead of ending it, you stayed in the marriage not knowing what the future held but staying nonetheless. If you stayed after realizing you were in a failed marriage then I'm sure things got out of hand long before you were able to come up for air.

Before I walked away from my marriage and my home, my marriage was over. We no longer kissed, embraced each other and we didn't look at each other the same. Loving gazes turned to irritating side eyes and our once patient tone turned to short-tempered responses followed by loud arguments. At times, I'm still in awe of how things went down.

Dumping the bulk of the blame on my ex-husband would only stagnant my growth so instead of pointing fingers, I look in the mirror every day. I remind myself of my wrongdoings and I replay signs that I ignored prior to getting married. Signs that pointed towards incompatibility. This is my way of taking ownership of the role that I played in the demise of my marriage. But ownership comes at a cost.

Since my divorce, I've gone on a few dates. I've even been smitten by a few wonderful guys but nothing serious. I look at others who have entered into relationships after divorce (including my ex-husband) and I say to myself, "How is that even possible?" It's not that I don't understand their reasoning for entering a relationship so swiftly, because I do. At times, I find myself wishing that I could move on so effortlessly.

One of the many side effects of being a divorced woman is a lack of trust. Not only do I mistrust others, but I don't trust myself. In my eyes, I got it wrong the first time so what's going to keep me from getting it wrong a second time. Instead of taking that risk, I engage in behavior that a shrink may categorize as sabotage tactics. I fall for men that I either have no business falling for or that I'm guaranteed to find issues with down the line. I allow men to hurt my feelings so I have a reason to excuse them from their duties of being my friend. These are all defense mechanisms that I use to protect my heart from myself.

In being honest with my feelings, I've come to the realization that I'm angry at myself. Here I am, a woman who professes to believe in love yet I'm doing everything in my power to combat love when it begins to show its starry eyed face. But I quit. I'm tired and I'm throwing in the towel. Whatever happens, happens.

Last year, I made a pledge to live again but now my pledge is a little different.

On this day, I pledge to forgive myself. I forgive my heart for falling in love and I give my heart permission to love again.