Who gets to decide when you are ready to move on? Here is a hint: you do. Fine. That wasn’t a hint, it was an emphatic statement; something that I am really good at making. June of this year I celebrated my ninth wedding anniversary in Branson, Missouri. Branson, for those who don’t know, is the Las Vegas of Missouri. What happens in Branson stays in Branson, maybe. That is to say there are a lot of replicas of things, people trying to get you to sign up for a timeshare, and buffets. Branson is not the real thing. It has the flashy lights and some entertainment, but it will never be Las Vegas. The thing about Branson is that you’ll spend just as much money there, too. All that “aren’t we fancy and having fun” comes with that Vegas price tag. You pay so much for something that is still counterfeit.
My soon-to-be ex-husband and I pulled into our cabin for the weekend and promptly got into an argument. A shared friend of ours did something really awful to me right before I graduated from my Master’s program. They violated my trust in a big way. I was unpacking and trying to express to my husband why I was hurt. My husband, laid out on the bed, stared at me unblinkingly and struggled to access any empathy. The argument was over if he would stay friends with the person who lied to my face and risked my educational career.
This was a thing we did. I would feel hurt or betrayed about something and would spend hours attempting to help him see why I was hurt. He could hardly ever see, even when it was obvious to everyone else. Over our nine years we'd sifted through addiction, mental health issues, family drama, death, and affairs. We’d done nine years of really hard work. When I say "we" I mostly mean "I" did nine years of really hard work. We’d still not arrived at, what I thought, was the real thing. How ironic that we were celebrating our union in faux-Vegas! We went to a spa and zip-lined. We ate at fun restaurants and had mediocre sex. The best part of the whole anniversary was when some friends decided to join us. It was a reprieve from the constant work of giving him all the attention he needed that often left me emotionally exhausted.
It would be a few weeks later that I requested we separate and start the work of divorcing. I’ve never wanted to visit Vegas, let alone faux-Vegas, and I was too tired to do anymore pretending to have fun. It was costing me too much.