18 Years ago, shortly before our wedding, my husband bought me a dress. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned; pale yellow chiffon with large grey and pink flowers on it. I knew I had to have it the moment I laid eyes on it, and though it was way out of our price range, he moved mountains to make it possible for me to own that dress.
I only wore it once - the day after we got back from honeymoon and attended a wedding. It made me feel like a real adult to wear it, so different from my usual attire of jeans and t-shirt. It made me feel beautiful, desirable and feminine; attributes that had been severely lacking in my self image.
Like many small things that, for no particular reason, attain some sentimental value throughout the course of a life together, that dress became one of my most prized posessions. It made my heart melt to look at it. It became a symbol of the way I felt that day, all the optimism and boundless hope I had. Whenever I caught a glimpse of it in my closet, I would smile and gently caress the fabric, reminded of hope and love and the promise the future holds.
That dress traveled with us for 18 years and through four major moves. I could never part with it. It was too dear to me and I looked forward to the day I could wear it again. It would have to be a very special occasion, like our 20 year vow renewal perhaps.
Three weeks after D-Day in January, I was cleaning out my closet, getting rid of all the clutter and clothing, shoes and jewellery I hadn't worn in a while. There was a car boot sale the next day where I intended on selling those items. When I came across my beautiful, special dress, I knew what had to be done. I took it out of the closet and tossed it on the pile of items that had to go.
That afternoon when my husband got home from work and saw the dress on that pile, he was shocked and surprised. He took the dress and hung it back in the closet. I took it out again and tossed it back on the pile. We went back and forth on it for a while, with him insisting that I keep it, as he knew how much it had meant to me and me insisting that it had to go. Eventually I broke down and started sobbing, screamed at him through my tears, "The young woman who wore that dress is dead! She's gone, along with all the hope she had for her life and marriage and she is never coming back." The next day I sold the dress for pocket change without a second thought. It had become worthless to me.
Sometimes I think he doesn't quite understand the magnitute of what he has done, how much he has destroyed. He has genuine remorse for what he did and for the pain he has caused me. He has held me while I screamed and raged through wracking sobs. He has seen me again for the first time in years. But he still doesn't understand how the way I see the world is now forever altered by his betrayal. Hopefully we'll get there. He is trying harder than ever before.