I always forget that during Memorial Day weekend I’m supposed to be remembering and honoring fallen soldiers. It’s not that I’m not patriotic or that I don’t appreciate what the United States armed forces have done and sacrificed. It’s because Memorial Day was hijacked by my ex a few years ago, and I can’t help but spend my time and energy keeping those memories at bay. It wasn’t until last night, while reading through Facebook statuses of people thanking the military that I said to myself “oh yeah…”

Two years ago, while at a cemetery honoring the fallen military personnel buried there, my marriage fell apart in the blink of an eye. I use Memorial Day as my “anniversary” date of the end of my marriage because the following two weeks were a pathetic attempt to deny the obvious. Memorial Day was when things really ended, not June 12 when he moved out.

Last year, the one-year anniversary of the shit-storm, I spent an entire therapy session dealing with the memories of what had happened. It had finally been enough time that I could actually face and deal with everything that had happened. I try to joke about it now, playing it off as no big deal, when in fact it still traumatizes me. I don’t know if I have ever expressed to anyone just how completely life-shattering that day was. The only person who probably has any idea is my mom who had to come rescue me from the cemetery in the pouring rain.

On Memorial Day of 2009, my marriage ended. My husband proved to me that he did not love me or care about my well-being. The details of everything that happened that day become unimportant compared to the truth that was brought to light. It became infuriating, however, when I would tell people that me and Voldemort (how he is referred to now) were splitting and everyone was still convinced that he was a great guy, based on his charismatic, life-of-the-party personality he showed to everyone else. I wanted to scream at those people “HE FUCKING LEFT ME IN THE RAIN AT A CEMETERY WHILE HE STAYED AT A RESTAURANT TO EAT BREAKFAST! HOW IS THAT OKAY?!?!” I wanted to tell the world what a horrible, deceiving, narcissistic man he is– but all they could see were his jokes, his position as a worship pastor at our church, and the optimism that maybe… just maybe, he’ll change.

The frustration around the fact that no one saw the real Voldemort was probably the worst part about our breakup. I know some people were trying to be encouraging, but their attempts at talking about the possibility of change and his “good” qualities just made me want to yell and scream!

So every Memorial Day, I fight the images, emotional scars, and feelings of dread that come along with the recollection of what happened two years ago. It always takes me by surprise, too– I hardly ever think about Voldemort, but my subconscious finds a way to bring him forward in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. And then I have to face the reality that something that sad and terrible– my marriage disintegrating before my eyes and the person I loved and had committed my life to showed me that I was not loved or valued by him– happened to me.

I know as more Memorial Days come and go, the less I’ll think about him, and the less I’ll have to deal with the lingering emotions that come with that day. When I “reclaim” the day by doing something amazing and awesome, in the back of my mind is the reality of why that day needs to be reclaimed in the first place.

I hope the Memorial Day comes soon that I don’t need to think about reclaiming it, that I don’t think about what happened on that day, and I can just enjoy the extra day off work and have the thankfulness of the sacrifice of military personnel at the forefront of my mind.