Guest blog from Trash the Dress private online divorce support group member Brittany.
As soon as I saw pictures of women trashing their wedding dresses, I knew that was something I wanted to do. After my divorce, I struggled to get closure, despite the fact that the divorce was my idea. I knew where he and I went wrong in our marriage. I knew what I could have done differently, as well as what he could have done differently, but there was still something that just didn’t feel right.
Shortly after getting married, I became a different person. So different that I didn’t even recognize myself. Within a year of our wedding, I gained 120 pounds. At one point during our marriage, I lost 80 pounds, but ended up gaining all of it back.
Our divorce was finalized in August of 2012, and I began to focus on a whole new me. I lost 90 pounds. My entire attitude and outlook on life changed. But there was still something inside me that felt tied to the past. Something I struggled to let go of.
I realized that I had let my marriage and my ex shape who I was as a person. Somewhere in our eight years of marriage, I had lost myself. And I knew that part of getting closure would be figuring out who I was and finding myself again; finding the person I was prior to getting married. I had gotten so accustomed to being referred to as “them” or “his wife” or “Mrs.” that I just lost myself along the way.
The first step was starting over with things we owned together. Despite the fact that he didn’t want to keep anything besides his clothes and a few random possessions, I knew that I didn’t want to keep any of it. To this day, over a year later, I still get confused looks when I say that I don’t want our china or our silverware. But for me, part of starting over and finding myself again involved putting as much of the past behind me as possible.
The second step was doing something with my wedding dress. I had many friends tell me that I should donate the dress to a good cause. My family fought me when I told them what I wanted to do, but ultimately, I was the one who needed to take that step and get the closure I so desperately needed. In the end, they accepted that I was going to do what I wanted to do regardless of what they thought. I contacted a friend who is also a photographer and asked her if she would consider doing a “trash the dress” style shoot with me, and I got an extremely excited “Yes!”
Prior to doing the shoot, I tried on my dress only to discover that it no longer fit. So instead of having me put it on, we came up with other ideas and ways to trash it. The feeling I got when pulling the dress out of the bag and dragging it through the mud and dirt and branches was so liberating. I was finally beginning to feel like I had the closure that I was looking for. After dragging it through the woods, we hung my dress up and I squirted it down with paint. And then used my fingers to spread the paint around. We then proceeded to set the dress on fire. Watching as the dress was slowly becoming unrecognizable was one of the greatest feelings in the world.
The session as a whole was incredibly therapeutic and helped me get the closure for which I had longed. Had I listened to what others told me to do and sold the dress or given it away, I think I would still be struggling with closure.
I am to the point now where I can look back at the past and feel numb to it. Instead of feeling sad or angry at everything I went through, my marriage and divorce helped to make me the person I am today and helped put me where I am in life right now.
For any women out there who are struggling with their divorces, if you feel that trashing the dress is something that might help you to get closure, go for it, even if you get criticized for your decision.
No one else has been where you were.
No one else is standing where you are right now.
No one else can determine what it is going to take for you to be okay with your past and for things to not hurt anymore.
You are the only one who can decide that. So find whatever you think will bring you closure, and seek it out. You are worth it!