BY VICKI KORITNIK
My 20-year marriage:
Like an old pair of broken-in jeans.
Torn, worn, and lived in.
I’ve zipped my lip. Found change. Been holy. Been shitty. Been pissy. Been flexible. Been supportive. Been supported. Softened with time. Faded with age. Dug deep in the pockets to hold on. And pulled myself up when I just wanted to lie crumpled on the floor.
I’ve worn these jeans like I’ve lived my life:
Straining and testing the strength of every inch of the fabric. Carelessly ripping and tearing at them. Wearing the material thin to the point it has no choice but to give way. Flexing the seams with added weight and hiding my frailty inside of them.
At first, they fit so comfortably, so well. I’d feel and see the kind ways they’d flatter and soften me, the way they gently followed my curves but still gave me room to move.
But in years 5-10, they didn’t fit so well. As I changed, they would bind in uncomfortable places, failing to stretch, flatter, or give.
At 10-15 years, they ended up trashed, thrown into the darkest corner of my closet. I couldn’t stand them on my skin. Rubbing me wrong. Binding me in what felt like a straightjacket. Suffocating me. My body underneath had changed too much.
So off they came. I chose being naked and free over the stifling confinement they made my body feel. And it was so freeing to stop kidding myself they could ever fit again.
Then from years 15-20, they started feeling comfortable again. I can’t be sure if I love or hate these jeans. Do I love them simply because, after 20 years, I can still find a way to fit into them? Love them because of our history? Love them because, after 20 years of being soft yet rough in them, they still resemble the jeans I picked out so long ago?
Or do I hate them because they never really fit quite as comfortably as those first five years? Hate them, because at some point, I felt dying was better than wearing them. Hate them because there seems to be barely anything left but the skeleton of what they used to be, so I move ever so gently in them, fearing if they fall apart I will regret not being more kind and gentle with them?
Or am I just indifferent about them now? I’ve come to know myself more. All those times of being naked without them has given me a greater feeling of freedom. I know the jeans never held me up. I know they only ever looked as good as I felt wearing them.
I know more now than I did back then, and as these jeans and I changed, we both wore in, wore out, and wore on.
Regardless, here I am, wearing my 20-year-old pair of weathered, broken-in, ripped, torn, stretched pair of jeans called my marriage…
And telling myself we still fit.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life.
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