‘I Celebrated My Divorce With A Glass Of Champagne’
Ceri Gautama was married at – and divorced by the time she was . She tells Look how she coped…
‘Iwas cycling around Central Park in April this year when it hit me: if I hadn’t got divorced, I probably wouldn’t have seen New York. I wouldn’t have bought myself the trip as a 30th birthday gift and spent the day drinking cocktails in Manhattan and posing for photos on the steps from Sex And The City. And I wouldn’t be secretly saving up to go backpacking for three months when I got back to London. In fact, I wouldn’t be living in London at all. I’d still be in a sleepy town in the Midlands. Getting divorced in my twenties was the best thing I’d ever done.
Of course, if you’d told me that three years ago, I wouldn’t have been so sure. Being married for only two years didn’t make things any easier when our relationship ended and it still took me over a year before I started to think about divorce.
Nick* and I met when I was only 17. He was six years older than me and worked for my parents’ business. Within a few years, we were dating. When I went to Cardiff University to study English, he’d come down to visit me and we’d talk about moving in together as soon as I graduated. Most of my friends were single, so I was used to being one of the only ones in a couple. In retrospect, I guess I didn’t have any reference points for how relationships were supposed to work in your twenties. All I knew was that I loved Nick and wanted to be with him for ever. When he proposed over dinner on his 30th birthday, I cried in the middle of the restaurant. The fact that I was only 24 didn’t come into it.
On the day of our wedding, I was so happy. But as soon as the confetti cleared, cracks began to show. I don’t know whether I’d just been so focused on having a wedding that I’d forgotten to think about the enormity of being married to one person for the rest of my life, or if we’d both hidden our true selves until it was too late. Either way, we fought constantly. I wanted to move to London and travel. Nick wanted to stay in our town and start a family.
After two years of bickering and arguing, I was struggling so much I’d been prescribed antidepressants and Nick was spending more and more time with his friends. Left alone in the house for what felt like the millionth time, I decided I’d had enough. I packed a bag and moved back in with my parents. It was tough and I cried for weeks. Still, I knew I’d done the right thing.
As I see it, filing for divorce when you’re 27 isn’t much different to filing for it when you’re 37. It’s always going to be sad. The only advantage was that because we were so young we didn’t have any assets, so I could fill out the paperwork myself. Nick had agreed that I could cite his “unreasonable behaviour” as the reason for the split, and while it cost a few hundred pounds, he paid for it. Ironically, things became easier between us once the divorce process got underway.
As I posted the papers, I made a decision: I was going to start saying yes to new jobs, to holidays, to taking risks. I’d left Nick because I felt like I wasn’t getting to live the life I wanted – I no longer had any excuses. I found a job in London and asked a friend if I could sleep on her sofa. A couple of days after I arrived, a brown envelope showed up. I took myself off to take in the fact that my marriage was irrevocably over. Then I had a glass of champagne.
My friends are all getting engaged at the moment and I’m excited for them, but I’m not sure if it’s something I need do again. For the first time in my life, I finally know how to be happy on my own – and that’s much better than being unhappy with somebody else.’
Today, she loves living the life of a single girl at
Ceri’s wedding was the happiest day of her life