01/25/2013 02:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Divorce Papers

I never thought the words "I do" would come out of my mouth at the age of twenty-two, but they did, and I blame the healthcare system for it. You see, I needed a root canal but didn't have dental insurance. The guy I was dating did, so we went down to City Hall, said our vows in front of a janitor and a city clerk and became husband and wife. Then we went to Burger King to celebrate our nuptials. It doesn't get any less fairytale than that.

Fast forward five years, and everything had completely fallen apart. The marriage had failed and so had my root canal (which I didn't even know could happen). My husband, who is eleven years my senior, was trying to control me in every way possible and I let him do it because I didn't know what else to do. I was in my twenties, still trying to discover who I was, and I thought that was what marriage was all about. It wasn't until I finally got my husband to agree to go to couples therapy that I realized what had gone wrong in our relationship. Within twenty minutes of our session, the therapist turned to me and said, "Get out! Pack up your belongings and leave. This is not a healthy marriage and you both need time apart." I couldn't believe my ears! I had my very own cheerleader (with a goatee) rooting for me and taking my side. It was at that moment that I began to feel strong and independent. I realized that I deserved better and I was done being bossed around. So I did what any newly independent woman would do, I packed up my stuff and moved back in with my parents. I let my husband keep the house, the cars and everything else we had accumulated over the five years we were married. Nothing but my happiness mattered and I had gotten it back.

It took me about two years to get back on my feet and when I finally got my own place I remember looking around the living room, trying to figure out how I was going to decorate with only two hundred dollars in the bank. The walls were bare and in need of some paint and photos. I rummaged through some hand-me-downs from my mom and found an empty 8"x10" picture frame, but the only picture I had large enough to fill the frame was my wedding photo --- which I had drawn horns and mustaches on. Then a brilliant idea came to me: I was going to frame my divorce papers and hang them smack in the middle the living room wall to remind me to never get married again! I ran up to my bedroom, retrieved the documents and quickly inserted them into the frame. I then realized I didn't own a hammer (or nails) but was too excited to put this idea on the back burner, so I jumped in my car, drove to my parent's house and borrowed the items I needed to put my brilliant idea into action. When I got back home I threw my keys on the couch, swiftly grabbed the picture frame and with a dance-like motion I twirled, spun and leaped my way over to the chosen wall. "Tap, tap, tap" was all it took to set the nail in place. I then hung the frame, took a step back, tripped over my pocket book and fell flat on my rear. As I sat there, on the living room floor, I stared up at the papers with a smirk on my face. Those papers were what set me free. They gave me my maiden name back, they allowed no one but me to control me and they helped me begin to discover who I really am.

Fast forward another four years and those divorce papers are still hanging in the exact same place. Hanging the divorce papers has been good for my mental health and the wedding photo has improved my aim -- it's hanging in my basement where, on occasion, I throw darts at it.