28!! No wait….. 29!!
And then I had a mild freak out and a brief stint of depression.
Oh lord. I’m going to be 29. That’s one year away from 30, people. Do you know what that means?
Well, neither do I. It certainly doesn’t mean what I thought it was going to mean 5 years ago.
As I contemplated my 29th year, I thought about the little timeline I had put together for myself just after getting married years ago. It went a little something like this:
Age 23- got married, opened my one room dance studio with 13 students
Age 24- Studio had grown to 75 students and we moved from a small one room studio to a 3500 sq ft studio with 2 dance rooms, office, and lobby. I had put together a competitive team of 25 dancers and they had already received 2 best of show awards for the year.
At age 25 I was on top of the world from the quick growth of the studio. I believed all my dreams were coming true as I was offered the head coaching position for the BLHS competitive dance team.
Things weren’t too great on the home front, but I kept an optimistic outlook and figured that once we were both established in our careers, things would come around. Besides, we had always fought. Me, never having a mother/father relationship to pattern my own relationships after, took his word that this amount of arguing was ‘normal.’
I figured that by age 27, we would be having our first child, my squad would have won their first opportunity to participate in the State competition, my studio would have grown to 200 students and my husband would finally be holding down a decent job with benefits.
I also figured that by age 30, I would be an established business owner and successful coach with a little family to raise.
However, things don’t usually go quite as planned, do they? They sure didn’t for me.
After 3 years of running the studio and one year of coaching, life at home had become unbearable. My husband was making life miserable for me. He picked at everything I did- the way I did the laundry, the way I loaded the dishwasher, how I fed the dog, how I mowed the lawn. You name it- I did it wrong by his standards. I felt like a complete failure as a wife. Nothing I ever did satisfied him or made him happy. I spent most of my days walking on egg shells just waiting for the next bomb to drop.
On top of that, he constantly made jabs at my love of dance. He called it an “expensive hobby” and a “waste of time.” He laughed when I explained that I was giving my students the gift of discipline and confidence, not just dance. I cried because I truly loved teaching and I loved my students. He later admitted that he couldn’t control his jealousy of my success as a studio owner and coach. He said he “couldn’t handle a wife that was more successful than him.”
I blamed myself thinking that if I wasn’t teaching so much, then things would be better at home. I reasoned that closing my studio would be upsetting to me, but the stress at home had transferred into stress at the studio and I feared that eventually I would end up hating dance rather than loving it.
For as long as I could remember I had dreamed of teaching in my own studio and had finally made that happen for me. My husband had been supportive while we dated but that all changed after we got married. I told myself that giving up my dream was necessary. After all, I had made a commitment when I took my vows. A commitment to my marriage that I didn’t take lightly and marriage meant that sometimes you had to make sacrifices, right?
I also convinced myself that my marriage would heal if I was at home every night with dinner waiting and the house clean. My evenings would be spent giving my undivided attention to my husband and whatever he needed, rather than fussing over costume orders or taking calls from concerned parents.
So I reasoned with my husband. I tried to make a deal. I told him that I would close the studio and never look back after that year, if he would allow me to coach just one more year at the high school. I needed that time. I couldn’t just walk away cold turkey. It would have been too heart wrenching.
However, he held fast to his position of all or nothing. He had plans for us and they didn’t involve my little dance fantasy. For the first time in our relationship, I stood up to him and demanded that I be given just one more year before he took it all away. He agreed and that May I said my teary goodbyes to my students. In a way, I was relieved thinking that the pressure would be off, the stress would go away, and maybe my husband would be happy with me now. But little 5 yrs olds clinging to “Teacher Kim’s” legs broke my heart.
A few months later I discovered by accident that he had put our house up for sale without telling me. I confronted him and he said he planned to move us to SLC to be closer to work. If I wanted to make the 45 minute commute every morning at 4am to coach, then that was my business. I saw the smirk on his face when he knew he had beat me. I surrendered to the realization that coaching one more year would not be in the cards. At least I’d had the chance to do it for a little while.
But then, I discovered that children were not in his master plan either. They would cost money and just get in the way. He admitted that he had plans to get a vasectomy, whether I liked it or not.
If you can imagine the emotions that flooded through me at that moment. Our relationship had been tense the past couple of years, but at that moment a flood of anger rushed through me and shattered my commitment to him. It struck me like lightning that he would be cruel and selfish enough to deny me the chances of being a mother and having a family. All his promises while we were dating were lies.
I realized that while I had made a commitment at marriage, so had he. And he sure as hell wasn’t living up to what we had talked about before we got married. I realized that life required adjustments to be made as a couple went along, but this was just not right.
I never expected to be divorced at age 27, but here I am.
I had the opportunity to continue coaching, but the emotional strain and physical stress of the last few years had taken their toll on me. I was burned out and worn down. While I loved dance, it was a painful reminder of everything that had gone wrong.
I understood that it was time to walk away. I needed time for me. I wanted to finish school and there were good things on the horizon that I wanted to focus on. I was happy to know, that I could walk away on my own terms, and not because someone forced me to.
But I digress.
There have been things this year (my amazing best friend getting married, my lovely sister having a baby, and Andy starting grad school to name a few) that have made me feel like I’m so far behind in life.
I occasionally have mini freak outs about 30 being around the corner. I occasionally get little ‘baby hungry’ twinges. And I occasionally wish for Andy and I to be married, because although things are wonderful right now, there is just something so special about being married. And something even more special about being married to the right person.
But marriage, babies, and career will come when they come. Right now I’m happy and I have faith that Andy and I will know together when the time is right for everything. And that’s pretty much all that matters, right?