I still have an indent on my finger from my wedding ring.
I took the ring off the night we signed the divorce papers. That was twelve months ago, and the indent is still there. I guess your skin doesn’t just bounce back after ten years of metal pressing into it.
It was a cold February day, and the snow in upstate New York was whipping. I slept on the couch the night before. That seemed to be my spot when my mind wouldn’t quiet down. I could fall asleep to the TV, comforted by the hug of the couch. My four-year-old son chirped from upstairs in the morning: “Can I come down now?” He didn’t know why I slept on the couch or that our lives were about to be forever changed. We spent the morning together running errands, eating lunch, planning dinner for the week. I tried to keep the morning normal before the afternoon officially broke our family apart.
I gave myself extra time to make it to the divorce lawyer’s office in the snowstorm. I took the day off work and sent my four-year-old to my mom’s house. My mom hugged me so hard I couldn’t breathe. I told my son I had an appointment and he told me he could stay at Grandma’s for a week.
I got lost on the way to the lawyer’s but I was still running early. My soon-to-be ex-husband was early too. We sat in the parking lot looking at our phones, pretending we weren’t really here. When it was time to arrive we made eye contact and walked-in.
The office was cluttered. The carpet was dirty. Another couple’s life was dissected on the whiteboard in front of us. His car. Her bank account. His boat. We stayed quiet. He signed most of the forms. I only had to sign a few. That still seems appropriate. If you leave, you should have to feel the weight of the pen in your hand, again and again. The air hung heavy. A memory of us signing our marriage license at the town hall a decade ago appeared in my mind in vivid color. I felt the excitement of that day all over again before the weight of what these pens were now doing shatters the memory. This pen worked to dissolve a marriage. A family. A life we built.
The lawyer had us wait for a print out forcing us to make small talk. He sheepishly said, “Sorry”. I shrugged.
A friend recommended that I have a song cued up to play as soon as I drive away. I hit play on “Though You Slay Me” by Shane & Shane—the version with John Piper’s voice overlaid. Piper’s voice pricked the tears I’d been holding back. God seemed silent.
I went to the piercing shop to replace my nose ring stud with a hoop. I purposely planned it on this day. I needed a highlight. Something to look forward to. Six months prior, I got my nose pierced because I felt like I needed to do something I couldn’t picture myself doing. A nose ring was outside of my normal personality—the clean-cut, “goody goody” Christian girl. If I could sit through a piercing and do something extreme (at least for me), maybe the extreme imagination of my husband coming home could be possible too?
I texted my friend that night: “Do I take the ring off now? Or when the judge signs the papers in six weeks?”
“Whenever you feel it’s right.”
I grieved all along the way—the entire ten years. And especially the last two after he left. I had to keep readjusting my expectations of what marriage was going to be for me, for us.
I guess I won’t have a husband that wants to spend time with me.
I guess I won’t have a husband that wants to be intimate with me.
I guess I won’t have a husband that laughs with me.
I guess I won’t have a husband that listens to my thoughts.
I guess I won’t have a husband who knows me.
I put my son to bed and then decided to take the rings off. With their departure, I fell all the way apart. I walked around the house like a zombie, sobbing. Then I curled up on the couch and cried myself to sleep.
After all the years of the marriage slowly dissolving, I thought signing papers would feel like a formality, but it felt like flesh breaking apart. My friend reminded me, “Well, scripture is pretty clear about what marriage is.”
The metaphor they use in marriage ceremonies about the wedding ring is that the ring is a circle. Eternal. No end. But sometimes, the vows do end. An entire year later, and my skin still shows that I was joined together with another person. It’s faint. You wouldn’t notice, but I do. The barely noticeable indention on my ring finger is a constant reminder of what the Lord has brought me through. A reminder of the one who never leaves.
Cover image by Siora Photography.
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