Six years ago today I had a picture perfect wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The weather was a mild 75 degrees, sunny and breezy, and my nearest and dearest were there to celebrate the beginning of a lifetime of wedded bliss. It was exactly how I dreamed it would be.
Three years later, we celebrated our anniversary at a trendy Washington, D.C. restaurant. As we toasted our love, I asked, "Are you ready for another 50 years?" After a pause, he answered, "I hope I don't live that long." Such a cynical remark in that context was out of character for my normally romantic husband. It was just one of the many clues that would lead me -- two weeks later -- to suspect something was amiss, read his email, and discover that he was having an affair.
In the three years since we split, our non-anniversary has taken on varied significance for me. The first year, I distracted myself by planning a trip to Sweden and Iceland with two close friends. I spent that day flying in and out of time zones. Traveling made it easier to forget. Last year, I was melancholy. There were no cards, flowers or funny Facebook posts -- things that others would receive on an anniversary. Instead, I had memories of the glass shattering beneath his foot and the marriage shattering just a few years later.
This year, I still noted the date on the calendar, but vowed not to wallow in self-pity. Instead, I marked the day as a new kind of anniversary. Once again, I am making a commitment to love and cherish someone. I am making a commitment to honor and respect someone. And, this time, I am certain, that this someone will be around until death parts us.
I'm making a commitment to myself.
This commitment to myself means doing things I've always wanted to do, but never done. It means taking better care of my health. It means treating myself with as much compassion and tenderness as I would a boyfriend or a husband.
For so long, I put my energy into relationships with others. For seven years, I was devoted to my partnership with my boyfriend/husband. Then I put my energy into mourning that relationship and shortly thereafter I started looking for another one. All the while, I neglected the most important one of all -- my relationship with myself. It's the only one that truly will last forever, so it must have a stronger foundation than any other in my life. That's not to say that I want to be "married to myself" indefinitely. Eventually, I hope to be in a healthy relationship with a man, but I will be a much better partner to someone else, if I remain committed to myself.
I realize that, as in any relationship, there will be times when it will be hard to stay committed, but I intend to remain faithful... 'till death do us part.