June 28, 2019

One year ago, I was on my honeymoon. I had just married my best friend. We were 22 years young and had the whole world ahead of us. Watching the sunset and looking out into the clear blue ocean, life felt so easy. So simple. I married the man of my dreams.

We fell in love at a free-fall speed. It felt exciting and thrilling. We jumped off the cliff after only a short six months of dating.

It's amazing how you can feel so confident and so sure of what appears to be. As we all know, things are not always as they appear.

When I was young, I would dream about the man I thought I would marry. I used to wonder what he would look like and if his last name would have a good ring to it. As I now know, marriage is more than you see on the outside or the facts you learn over a two-hour coffee date. My heart aches knowing I lost my best friend because I married him. He was everything I wanted in a best friend and that alone deceived me into falling in love.

Best friends don't always make good husbands. People say the first year of marriage is supposed to be the hardest. They're probably right.

Where you saw light, I saw darkness. Where you saw a perfect couple, I saw anxiety and depression... the darkest place I've ever been and pray to God I'll never be again. The human connection is so complicated, the world's most profound psychologists have spent their entire lives studying it.

To the girl who wants to marry her best friend, ask yourself is he also going to be the man you need?

Coffee dates and fancy dinners are nice. Watching your favorite TV series together, going on walks, spending hours texting, and talking on the phone. These are the things you do with your best friend.

Ladies, hear me out... your best friend is not always husband material.

If you disagree, it's OK, but hear me out... Your husband is a leader, he plans for a secure future, he is the calm to your storm, he affirms you, encourages you, makes you feel valued and wanted. He takes your side, he is on your team. He supports you and cheers you on. He gives you time and space when you need it, he listens to what you need, he doesn't tell you what he thinks you need. He is the engine that pushes you to be the best version of yourself, not the anchor that pulls you down.

He gives you time with your family with or without him because he knows family is everything. He gives you grace because he knows that nobody is perfect. When you find your husband, you spend hours talking, going on dates, re-fueling your relationship because that's exactly what it takes.

When you marry your husband, I pray you also marry your best friend. Just please, don't marry your best friend and think you will have your husband too.

I married my best friend when the facts were seemingly perfect. Now, I look back at wedding pictures with a broken heart because a marriage that was supposed to last a lifetime only lasted 8 months. The divorce rate is 50%. I never thought at 23 years old I would have been to Social Security twice to change my name. Life is not always as it seems. I think about the family and friends who supported us, came to our wedding, gave us gifts.

My heart aches. I failed. This marriage failed. I disappointed people.

But you know what? There's grace. There's forgiveness.

As Katy Perry says, "There's no mistakes, only lessons. You've learned from your past whatever it was, and whatever choices you make — you have to make the right one for yourself, as difficult as it may be in the moment."

I have learned so much about myself in the last four months since being single again. I quit my job. I moved back in with my parents. I got a new job. I have gone to therapy. I have learned what I truly need and what I want for my future. I learned that my brain is still growing and changing until I'm 27 years old. I learned that it's OK to change my viewpoints and perspectives on life.

It's OK to speak up for what I believe is right. It's OK to cry in the shower. It's OK to be happy and free.

No one is exempt from making mistakes, but everyone has the freedom to choose their path to happiness.

To my tribe, thank you for wrapping your arms around me and holding me close. You showed me that It's OK to not be OK.

To the people who will never understand why I made this decision, my identity is not defined by what you think of me. Quite frankly, letting go of your unwanted opinions is exactly what gave me the courage to walk into freedom. Really, I must thank you too.

I will leave you my final thought, sometimes broken roads lead to beautiful destinations.

No matter what struggles you face in life, they will grow you, shape you, challenge you and refine you. The struggles will leave you a better person than they found you if you let them.

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