Today, I have had one word on my mind: Freedom. One word, so many definitions. So many feelings it evokes. So many types of freedom.
Our most celebrated is political freedom. As Canadians, we live in a country that has been free for so long that our freedom seldom registers in our consciousness. It just is. There are times when the gravitas of our freedom teases the edges of our consciousness, mostly when headlines punctuating a loss of freedom in other countries scream at us to remember how fortunate we are.
As citizens of a free country, we also have personal freedoms that will be protected and upheld as long as we abide by the laws of our country, and some that remain even if we don’t.
Of course, incarceration isn’t the only way to feel a loss of freedom in a free country. We deny ourselves freedom through fear, by allowing the expectations – of society, of strangers, of those closest to us, of ourselves – to clamp down on our minds and hearts like shackles.
In July 2006, I took a terrifying step to reclaim a freedom I’d lost in being married to a man I didn’t – and couldn’t – love the way a woman should love her husband. I left him. After years of feeling the weight of a thousand chains dragging me down into hopelessness and a deep depression, I had a taste of freedom. I celebrated with an abandon that still has the power to bring a blush to my cheeks.
But for the next nine years, one thing – beyond our two children – bound us: We were still legally married. Since I never thought to remarry, that chain didn’t chafe. Earlier this year, after Gabe and I temporarily broke up, I was searching for a way to find myself again. I took back my maiden name on all of my identification. I reclaimed myself. There was great freedom in that.
But one chain remained. And it started to rankle. After Gabe proposed to me in Israel this summer, I knew I wanted to break free of even the paper bonds of my former marriage. Even if Gabe and I never officially marry, I wanted to be free in every way to love him. Today, my divorce is final – after nine long years. I thought that I would exult and luxuriate in the freedom of it. What I am is completely at peace. What that tells me is that while I have ties of commitment to a man I love, I am free in every way. Now that is something to exult in.