Four Years and an Abrupt Close


When I met my ex husband, I was a baby. Like, pretty much as close to a baby as you can get with some tiny amounts of legal rights……..mostly held by my parents. I was 15.

When I first married, I had a strong belief that I would be completely content with the idea that being someone’s wife and someone’s mother is “Enough” and that was all that I needed to be “happy”.

Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I decided somewhere around 22 when I started taking a couple classes at the community college to discover my interests it was not a big threat to the family unit.

Once I decided that I was going balls to the wall – all in – and taking on an aggressive full time accelerated program to finish my undergrad – it started to put a significant strain on the family unit…

I think that for a very long time – I believed that this choice was selfish – it caused conflict within my marriage – and I think it made my ex-husband feel like he had to pick up the slack when it came to raising two small children. I am absolutely certain he felt the pressure of my schedule. Fast forward to after that relationship ended, and in a new relationship, I don’t feel like it was ever selfish or imposing on my spouse. I think that I harbored that guilt for quite a while believing that it was my fault for focusing too much on myself and then exclaiming “Well, I gave up my future to push you towards your goals!” No, Alyssa, you willingly handed over that future. It’s your fault for changing up the expectations. (In reality – what does a 17 year old girl know about her own future? Nothing.) The truth was simple. I could no longer blame anyone else for me putting my life on hold. I had to hold myself accountable now and then make a change to move forward with the proper changes. When I met Drew I had kind of adopted the attitude of “This is me, this is us, take it or leave it.” I had become a little ‘hard’ and decided that I wasn’t going to mask my real motives. I would like to be in a monogamous relationship with a person who believed that they were my partner and didn’t make me feel guilty for the choices that I had made that meant in the early part of our relationship they would need to help pick up the slack. I wasn’t going to hide anything. I did that with Drew and thank goodness – he was ALL IN. He literally came in and said “I love you, I love them, we are doing this. You’re incredible and I want to see you meet your goals.” So I threw myself even further into it. I wanted a better GPA so that I was a solid candidate for a Masters program and he literally committed to what that meant and has never made me feel guilty about it one time. If that meant he was cooking for the kids, covering bath time, games, practices, etc — while I studied and wrote papers or completed assignments. He wasn’t just in it for the fun stuff where we go out together and enjoy fantastic food, go on vacations, or spend our weekends at concerts; he was in it for the hard stuff. The nights when I cried because I wasn’t getting any quality time with my kids or I wasn’t getting ANY down time. I accepted a salaried position at my job, with a lot more responsibilities, and that meant that the days started to bleed into my home life in addition to that.

I am not of the “Happy wife, Happy life” mindset – because that is silly and one-sided. If women want to be treated as equals – they need to see their partner as an equal – the world doesn’t revolve around the lady of the house. But there is something to be said when your partner recognizes where you came from and knows exactly what you need to grow, meet those goals, and knows what I need to do to

And now, it has all come to a close. Saturday I turned in all of my final assignments, got some last minute life wisdom from my professors and now its over. All of the final grades are in and I have officially closed the chapter of four years of intensely hard work. I kind of feel a little empty – the hard work was a part of my identity. Now, there are six months until I start my Masters program – it is just…such a different world. I seem to have forgotten what it was like to have time to run without bargaining for time to get homework done, time for arts, crafts, hobbies… kid stuff without looking at my watch to make sure I was home to do dialogue or listen to lectures at the right time. I am going to have to re-learn how to do those things again.

Friday, I walk. My family will all be there, my Dad will be in town.

Saturday, is the big Catholic commencement ceremony – stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down.

It’s been four years of hard work and heartbreak — I’m graduating with honors cords and a GPA that has given me my pick of pretty much any Masters program that I want. That is something that I should be proud of.

Onto the next chapter. We’ll be on the beach in a couple weeks with our family and for the first time in a very long time, I will be able to enjoy it without having to worry about doing homework.

I have a degree. I, finally, have a degree. I have wanted this so much and its finally done – its finally here – and the way that I feel is pretty incredible. I am the second person on my Mom’s side to have an undergraduate degree. I, think, that I am the third on my Father’s side to have a degree. I’ll be the second person in my entire family… both sides… to have a Masters degree. And that my friends, readers, is something to be proud of. I honestly don’t think I would have made it this last year without Drew’s help.

#BillikenProud #SLUGrad

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