I Do: What a Difference 11 Years Makes

Eleven years ago today I became Mrs. LaToya Cotton. It’s interesting how things still affect you. I never thought I’d make it through the demise of my marriage but today I’m reminded of how happy I was on my wedding day or how happy I’d really wan

ted to be. One of my favorite aunt’s (whom I spent what I thought would be my last night as Ms. Davidson with) told me that I didn’t have to get married. She said that to me on the eve of my wedding! I was sick with a cold but was, at the tender age of 19, sure that I would make it work and that the cold was no omen. We would make it work. I’d like to say, oh, I wish I’d listened to her but I suppose one can’t really regret what only ultimately makes them the person they are. I loved Braxton. Yes, we were young but I could see myself being with him forever. At least, the forever that’s perceivable through the eyes of a 19 year old.

This afternoon I mentioned to my boyfriend the melancholy I felt given the significance of the day. Despite his not wanting to re-marry (alternately, him not wanting to marry me) he said that I should be glad to be out of the situation and that it’s for the best. When he realized that his words had little impact on me and my mood he then

told me that the alternative was to wallow in the past. I agreed with the latter and that’s what I did for a few hours.

It’s not that I miss that life. There are pieces of it, moments, events that I do miss. However, I don’t miss how I felt about myself during that time or how I subsequently felt for a long time after. I had so much to learn. Divorce has a way of tearing apart your self-esteem and self-worth. It did for me. I’ve always had issues with how I see myself and divorce certainly didn’t help matters. We were young. He was 18 when we married. He still had a lot more that he wanted to do that didn’t include me. And for my part, I wasn’t always the easiest person to be married to. I’m demanding, moody, clingy, all the things that generally sends guys running for the hills. For me the upside to our marriage’s demise was that I needed to learn how to be more independent and less needy. I’d like to believe that I have changed, even it’s just a little since my divorce.

I was a millennium bride and before the ink was dry on the marriage license I was divorced. The divorce was finalized in early 2004. I don’t think I married too young. My mom had also married young and by the age of 21 had two kids. However, I think that mine and Braxton’s partnership couldn’t withstand one person wanting to be in it while the other wanting to be somewhere else. I don’t hate my ex-husband although I still have no desire to ever see him again. I think that has certainly helped. Not seeing or hearing from him since the divorce has made dealing with it so much better and in some ways easier. Being married certainly changed me. At its end I felt that I needed to reclaim the person I had been before Cotton. I returned to my maiden name (I think it suits me much better) and I worked hard at picking up the pieces. In the process I made several personal missteps including quasi-relationships and acquiring a mountain of student loan debt. During the time it, and earning multiple college degrees, was like a drug. I needed to feel loved no matter who it came from and no matter if I had to pretend it was something more than it was. And while I didn’t have to take a dime out for school, the student loans allowed me to live outside my means and not stress about money while dealing with a broken heart. Now I get to stare at the expensive and expensively framed pieces of paper in my office and reflect on what those degrees mean to me and the sacrifices and personal hardship I went through to earn them. Its effects are long-reaching.

Now, 11 years later I’m still picking up the pieces. There is still so much for me to learn although I must admit that minus the whole ‘getting older’ aspect, my 30s already feels like it’ll be far better than my 20s. And even if they aren’t I do know that at the very least all I can do is take it one day at a time.

One thought on “I Do: What a Difference 11 Years Makes

  1. Oh my goodness… You have no idea how much this post has helped me tonight. I also married young. I was 19 too. We were married for 5 years before we divorced. This month is 4 years since the divorce and he's getting remarried next month. I know it seems crazy after 4 years, but I'm having a hard time with him getting remarried. I think a lot has to do with the fact that we remained close "friends" after the divorce. It also sounds like we are very much alike. I also accumulated student loan debt without even finishing a degree. And crazy me is about to go back to school, but I'm going to let my company pay for it this time while I try to make some kind of dent in my debt. I just wanted to say "thank you" for posting this. It has really helped me tonight. You are such a inspiration for me. Again, thank you. 🙂

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