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In all my years of studying the English language, this word is one I never truly considered and analyzed, until now. Before, it was simply an affirmation. I suppose it has always implied positivity, moving forward, and acceptance. I’ve also recognized it sometimes as a term of victory, a shout of exultation. It’s always had many meanings, but is such a simple, common word, I never really examined it before.

Now, that simple word means much in terms of beginnings, and also of endings, for me. It is the word that represents the alpha and omega of my marriage.

A little over 13 years ago, it was the word I spoke as I knelt across an altar, holding hands with a man I adored and was prepared to be with for eternity.

Yesterday, I stood alone, held up my right hand in front of a judge, and he asked me if I affirmed that I had agreed to and signed the document before him detailing the terms for the termination of my marriage.

Once again, with finality, I said yes.

Seems melodramatic, I suppose, but I am an English teacher, and I naturally make connections and find symbolism in things. This connection hit me like a physical blow when I said that irrevocable yes, and it made the whole thing more profound, meaningful, and heartbreaking.

There is beauty in heartbreak, in vulnerability and acceptance. That final yes also symbolized another new beginning for me. It represented liberation and hope for the future. It closed one precious door for me, and opened a multitude of others.

My family and friends are excited for me. They are relieved and happy and overjoyed for me. In their eyes, I am finally free.

I don’t know yet what to feel. I had too many feelings all at once yesterday. Relief, joy, heartbreak, and deep pain. I wanted to cry and laugh and dance and curl up into a ball and rock back and forth. It was too much, too big, too…everything.

So I shut down. It’s the first time I’ve done that in a long while, gone into protected mode. I allowed it. I needed it. I have to go to work the rest of this week, after all. I have to put up with hordes of teenagers suffering from Spring fever. I can’t lose it yet. I don’t think I will lose it. I think I’ll take my time and process through each emotion, each phase, and I’m looking forward to it. I like discovering and uncovering me, and now there is a massive release of pressure, even with the pain.

It is finished, and I am no longer in survival mode as far as my life outside of me. I learned how to accept and handle my fear, so that it no longer controls or even bothers me. I learned how to put myself and my children into God’s hands, so I no longer have to fix all the problems all the time. I learned that I still have much more to learn, and will be forever relearning, and that’s okay.

So I will let my insides take care of themselves for a while. I will pay attention and be present. I will always analyze, I can’t help it, but I will be soft and patient and careful and kind.

I will take my first solid, confident steps toward rediscovering me, toward creating a new, better life for myself and my children,

and I’m ready, as always, to soar.

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