When we got married in Reno in 1990, I don’t think anyone thought it would last. I was 20, Anthony 26. We had lived together for a year and a half at that point. We were two young adults who had an opportunity to go to Australia for a year with the cosmetics company I worked for. If we were married Anthony could come for the year with me on my work visa.
Days after our Reno wedding I left for a 3 week working interview in Sydney, Australia (yes, that is why we named our daughter Sydney). I got the job, came back to San Francisco, packed up our stuff, and flew with Anthony back to Australia for a year. We had the time of our lives. We explored Australia as newlyweds. It was an incredible year, one that we will never forget. We came back to the US and had another wedding in the church a year later. We were all in.
We were carefree and had so much fun together. There always seemed to be an adventure for us to go on. We both worked jobs we loved and started building our lives together. We decided to have kids 6 years after getting married, bought a house in San Francisco and were living the American dream, raising our children in the city we loved.
We fell into our pretty traditional roles quickly. We both came from families with stay at home moms and working dads. Anthony was the provider for our family. He was always the one who could make us laugh. He coached all of the kids teams that needed a coach. I was the stay at home mom trying to start a new business and raise two little ones. Family dinners, snowboarding trips, exploring SF, soccer filled weekends and loads of fun were the core of our family life.
Fast forward to 2016. After 2.5 years in marriage counseling, it became clear, that no matter how much we tried, and we tried so hard, our marriage was over. Sure, we could keep going to therapy. We could try another couples retreat. We could read more relationship books. We found a great new therapist and worked tirelessly on finding ways to connect and keep our marriage together. All of our hard work did not change the fact that it was time for us to move forward separately.
Being married just shy of 26 years and together for 28 made the thought of leaving the marriage that much more terrifying. I loved him. He was exactly what I needed when we met. He was honest, loyal, reliable, kind, funny, and a great dancer! We had spent more than half of our lives together. We had a family. We had a house. How could I leave? I don’t make enough to support myself. My mind raced. I was in a tailspin for months. The “what if’s” were paralysing. I didn’t want to break up the family life that I had worked so hard to create.
I truly was slipping into a deep depression and felt I had lost touch with my true self. I did some serious self reflection, tons of walking (like 30,000 steps a day) lots of therapy and talked with my closest friends. I spent my time practicing mindfulness and being open to what the universe was trying to tell me. One day after so many signs from the universe, lots of tears and sadness it became crystal clear to me,I was going to have to end the relationship. Sad but true, there was nothing we could do to change that reality. I got up the courage to say it outloud in our couples therapy. I don’t think anyone expected that to come out of my mouth. It was surreal. And in a way such a weight was lifted. It felt awful to see his face and to feel like it came out of left field. Yet, it was not at all. We just didn’t want to give up and hoped we could make it work.
I am so thankful to Anthony for our life together. We have had so many amazing experiences together. Those memories will never fade. We will always be connected by our kids. We will always be a family. We will all figure out how to navigate our new dynamic. I know we will have our ups and downs and I know we will all get through this together. We are starting a new chapter in our lives and true to Vaca form we are doing things outside the box! That’s how we roll.
Divorce does not have to be ugly and mean. It does not mean we failed. I look at the last 28 years and feel very proud of all Anthony and I have accomplished. We have been very successful in raising our kids and creating an amazing community of friends and family. We will continue to create a family environment that supports our needs as a family, as it is now and as it changes and evolves.