The Inspirationals #3: Happily Divorced
Welcome to the third installment of BeFreeMySheeple.com’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me.
This week I interviewed Agnes, a beautiful, successful and strong woman who I went to high school with (the prestigious Bronx High School of Science). Agnes recently went through a challenging and difficult divorce but came out on the other side feeling happy and free. Most importantly, she felt like herself again. This might sound like a weird interview to release on Valentine’s Day, but I believe the most important person to love and take care of is yourself before you can share your love with someone else.
Before we get into the interview, I want to be clear that I personally do not believe in the institution of marriage. I see more risk than reward when it comes to getting married. A core part of my personal happiness comes from optimizing my lifestyle towards maximum freedom and independence. This is best summed up by this Karel Donk excerpt. I strongly encourage everyone to read his entire blog post. It’s a bit of a long read, but I think it’s worth it.
“Marriage encourages people to become dependent, and thus to give up their individuality, independence and freedom…People naturally want to be free, and any relationship that limits people’s freedoms will cause trouble. The desire for freedom is intrinsic to human nature; we are born free individuals. In a relationship where a person’s freedom is being limited, it’s only a matter of time before they start to (often subconsciously) rebel against it…people in exclusive relationships eventually start to develop a desire to escape, which results in secret hostility towards their partner…If you truly love someone and want to continue to do so and enjoy their company for as long as possible, you should avoid relationships with them in the traditional sense at all costs — and this includes marriage.”
I intend to write a detailed blog post about it at some point. Without further ado…
BeFreeMySheeple.com’s Exclusive Interview with Agnes
Adam Francisco: Agnes – thank you so much for opening up about what’s usually a private and personal topic. My hope is that other women and even men can feel inspired by your story. How long were you together for before getting divorced?
Agnes: We were together for five and a half years and married for the last three and a half. I’ve been officially divorced for 4 months.
Adam: How is the single life treating you?
Agnes: Single life is interesting. It definitely took some getting used to! I haven’t been single in so long that many times I need to remind myself that “Yes, you absolutely CAN do this because you ARE single!” Being single is great and I’ve been learning new things about myself. I lost a lot of myself during the time that I was married…A LOT. That’s my “single life” experience so far…I am discovering what it means to be me.
Adam: We are happy to have you back! How your marriage was in the beginning?
Agnes: In the beginning it’s supposed to be great, right? Except it never really was for me. It wasn’t great for me ever, even in the beginning. Getting married was the next step in our relationship and so that’s what we did. Our thought process was that it wouldn’t change anything in our relationship if we were married. What my thought process should have been is that there’s no need for us to get married because it wouldn’t change anything in our relationship. We didn’t love each other more or less, it was just business as usual.
Adam: What did you even like about him that made you want to get married?
Agnes: He made my life a lot easier. It was convenient, as fucked up as that sounds. And I should have recognized it as such, and I should have left it at that. But I was at a very vulnerable and insecure time in my life, and he helped me get back on my feet: emotionally and financially. I had everything to gain from it. I’ve been meaning to thank him for being that person for me during that time, but the person that he turned into during the divorce made me rethink ever thanking him for ANYTHING.
Adam: Isn’t it amazing how the person you once loved and were willing to commit the rest of your life to can become somebody that you don’t even recognize, and possibly even dislike? I can understand the appeal in having stability but that doesn’t sound like enough to make a commitment to a lifetime together. How long after you were married did things go sour?
Adam: [Laughter]. Damn. What was the marriage like?
Agnes: The marriage sucked. The relationship itself wasn’t so great when we got married. That’s another reason why I think I decided to get married; it was supposed to “fix” things in the relationship.
Adam: I’ve know a few couples that also thought marriage would instantly heal everything that was wrong in the relationship but instead, things like wedding planning just ended up distracting them from the truth.
Agnes: I know right? SO stupid. That’s some ass-backwards thinking. I did EVERYTHING for him. I cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, etc. I felt like I had a child instead of a husband or significant other.
Adam: Sounds more like an insignificant other.
Agnes: [Laughter]. I guess it’s a cultural thing too because I was raised by my grandmother in a Korean household where she did everything around the house. It wasn’t that I was consciously making an effort to do everything…that’s just who I am.
Adam: After living in Thailand the last six months I’ve learned that many Asian countries still live in a very patriarchal society with clearly defined gender roles that we would consider to be “traditional” gender roles in the US.
Agnes: Yep. Anyway, we didn’t go out to dinners, we weren’t going on vacations, and most importantly, we weren’t even having sex.
Adam: Wow. No sex? Isn’t that one of the so-called benefits of marriage? Permanent access to sex?
Agnes: Would you believe it if I told you that the sex stopped maybe 2 years into the relationship, possibly sooner?
Adam: That means you guys didn’t have sex for almost 4 years. I heard an expression once, “If you like sex, stay single. If you don’t like sex, get married.”
Agnes: Yep. That’s what most people’s reactions were when I told them about the “no sex for 4 years” bit. I didn’t cheat on him because I had no self-confidence. ZERO. I couldn’t even attempt to attract another man. I felt unattractive, and my life, appearances and actions started reflecting exactly what I was feeling.
Adam: That’s so hard to believe because I see such a beautiful confident woman in front of me.
Agnes: Aww, thanks, Yeah, I hated it because I’d never known myself to be such an ugly person. I was feeling so unattractive and depressed that I stopped hanging out with my friends.
Adam: In the time you needed your friends the most, you felt completely isolated from them.
Agnes: He didn’t like it when I hung out with my friends because he didn’t have any friends of his own that wanted to hang out with him. Also, he wouldn’t drink because he had his stomach pumped twice in his early 20s for alcohol poisoning and drugs and judged the shit out of me whenever I would come home from dinner and drinks with friends.
Adam: It sounds like he took his personal issues and transferred them onto you. This already sounds like a lot to deal with but was there a final straw that compelled you to get a divorce?
Agnes: When he criticized me for being “too ambitious.” Like what the fuck? Is there even such a thing as being too ambitious? I realized that HE was the one who was complacent and lazy when he criticized me for being too ambitious. That’s what someone weak does to bring you down – they make you feel small by somehow turning your attributes into faults.
Adam: Sounds like one of your strengths threatened him so he tried to turn it into a fault
Agnes: And his laziness was getting out of hand. He wouldn’t help out around the house and he was gaining a lot of weight. He gained 40 pounds from when we first started dating. Forty pounds.
Adam: Wow. That’s a lot of weight. Was he pregnant?
Agnes: [Laughter]. Fitness has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember but when I was with him, I’d given that up as well. The first two years of our relationship was a rough time in my life and so it isn’t fair to place all of the blame on him. But he definitely was a contributing factor, that’s for sure. And it’s like he almost didn’t want me to look my best or do anything that pushed my limits. Like for example, when I told him that I’d be running the New York City Marathon, his response was “you know that you don’t have to finish it if you can’t, right?” Like excuse me? What the fuck kind of a response is that to someone telling you that they’re going to be participating in one of the greatest races of ALL time?
Adam: That’s insanely rude.
Agnes: I was dumbfounded when he said that. Right now, in my single life, I wouldn’t even consider dating anyone that doesn’t take care of themselves. Working out and maintaining their appearances gives you an insight into so many other aspects of that person’s life. It’s not just about looking good. It’s like if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you give a shit about anything or anyone else?
Adam: I agree. I think obesity, with the exception of the rare health issues, shows a lack of self-awareness, self-discipline and most importantly self-love.
Agnes: 100%. I was realizing more and more that we literally had nothing in common, and that’s what ultimately led me to the divorce. We thought differently about almost everything and that just isn’t sustainable for any type of relationship.
Adam: How did you feel the day you were officially and legally divorced?
Agnes: I was in Chicago for work when I received the email from my lawyer. I jumped up out of my seat and yelled “FUCK YEAH, FINALLY!” So yeah, I was devastated…NOT! It literally felt like I had rid myself of a huge burden. It’s so strange how just a piece of paper can hold so much power over your life. The marriage certificate held me captive and the divorce decree set me free.
Adam: I can only imagine how empowering that would feel. How has your life changed since then?
Agnes: I’ve completely changed as a person, inside and out. I look better now than I did in my 20s, and I’ve gotten my self-confidence back. I walk, talk and act differently and people react to me differently. I think I like that part the best: people reacting to me differently because I put forth a much different vibe than what I did the last 5.5 years of my life. “You get what you give” is absolutely right; if you put forth positive vibes, you’re gonna get back positive reactions. So much of my life was spent saying “no” during the time that I was married that I am now making sure that is NOT what my life will be ever again. Sidebar – when I was married, I’d even start my sentences with “No, but..” without realizing it, and it was really upsetting when someone pointed that out. Now, I tell people that I’m not saying no to anything anymore and that’s led me to some amazing experiences, encounters and memories in just the last couple of months! I carry myself differently and think differently than I did when I was married and it couldn’t be a more welcomed change.
Adam: What an amazing turnaround. Are you happy?
Agnes: YES! I really am. It feels amazing to have to answer to no one and to be able to have control over your own life. I dictate what I do, where I go, and who I spend time with. These are things things that I really couldn’t do when I was married because I always came second. Now I live for me. I’ve never been this selfish before and I’m “sorry not sorry” for it. I’m slowly starting to see that life isn’t all about securing that high-paying job. It’s about you finding out what truly makes you happy, that’s it. I’ve spent all of my adult life, except for the last couple of marriage-free months, overcomplicating damn near everything, literally. It’s gotten me absolutely nowhere, and I’ve missed out on so much stuff! I have so much catching up to do. I couldn’t tell you how happy that makes me: the thought of just living my life!
Adam: You are speaking my language. What advice do you have for somebody who is thinking about getting married?
Agnes: Really evaluate what it is that you think you want from getting and being married. You need to manage your expectations for the marriage because chances are if you don’t, you’re going to end up disappointing yourself. There’s nothing that you can’t do with your significant other while not married that you’ll all of a sudden be able to do because you’re married. You can absolutely have kids without being married. And if you’re worried about optics or what other people think, then you probably shouldn’t be thinking marriage in the first place. Religious obligations are something completely different, so I’m leaving that alone. Just know that at some point in your marriage, that you’re going to become second, and that you’ll get used to being second. You’re going to lose yourself somewhere down the road, become resentful, and then you’ll end up being this ugly miserable old maid, which you clearly are not. Know what it is that you are willing to sacrifice and stick to it. Yes, relationships are about compromises but once you’re bound by marriage, you’ll see how easy it is for the both of you to take each other for granted and take advantage of each other. Set your boundaries, know your worth, and stick to it.
Adam: This is the hard truth and it’s personally why I do not see marriage happening in my lifetime. What advice do you have for somebody that is trapped in a bad marriage?
Agnes: You are worth so much more than what you think you are worth at this very moment. The thought of having to “start over” is a daunting task and it seems like you wouldn’t even know where to begin. I think this just means that you’ve become dependent on the other person to carry you through. There’s nothing wrong with building a life with your significant other, but there’s a problem if you’ve lost your sense of self during that process. You need to be able to stand up on your own before being able to join forces with another human being. And if you’re a perpetual relationship person like I was, then there’s no better time than now to learn what your capabilities are. You never want to be in a situation where the other person holds you back. That’s a terrible place to be and it’ll change you as a person, and I promise you that you won’t like what you become.
Adam: Would you get married again?
Agnes: As of now, I’d say no. But you’re never supposed to say never, right? Being married changes people. It makes them stop trying. It’s weird. They stop courting each other, stop trying to look their best for each other, stop doing anything that can be considered thoughtful or romantic. At least that was my experience. But maybe it’s just that I was married to the wrong person. Who knows.
Adam: Based on my research, this is more common than you think and unfortunately many of the “happy” marriages we see today are likely to end up exactly where you were within the next couple of
minutes months years.
Agnes: And if I were to marry again, it would be a completely different experience from the beginning because of how much I’ve changed as a person since my divorce. I know what I’m worth and I know what I need, and I will absolutely be demanding that the person I’m married to treat me in a way that fulfills both of those requirements.
Adam: Do you want to have kids one day?
Agnes: I would like to have kids in the future and that would be a reason for me to be married. Not to have the baby, but to raise the child in a stable and secure, family environment. I had a pretty unusual and sometimes rough childhood, and I turned out tough as nails. It was a 50/50 chance of whether I turned out this way or absolutely fucked up, and I don’t think it’s fair when those odds are already presented to the child from the moment that they’re born. I’d like to be able to provide them with all “the right things” to the best of my abilities.
Adam: Agnes – thank you for such raw and honest answers. If any readers have additional questions, can they reach out?
Agnes: Of course. My Instagram is @__agneskim__
You can follow Agnes on Instagram, @__agneskim__
Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.
Be Free My Sheeple!