I believe each person divides his or her life in “before and after” moments. As in “pre-September 11” and “post-September 11” or “pre-baby” and “post-baby”. Although I was only married for three years before I left him, I divide my life into “pre-separation” and “post-separation”.

I woke up the morning of February 13th, 2006 and crunched the numbers in my head. I had just over $2,000 in the bank, enough to cover first month’s rent and security deposit, plus groceries and gas for the month, and my part-time secretary’s wages. I glanced over at my sleeping husband, who hogged the king-sized bed with his big-boned, perspiring body. What I felt for him at that point is hard to put into words: pity, disgust, hatred, revulsion, and sadness are the adjectives that most vividly paint the picture of my despair.

Sensing my gaze upon him, he awoke. With the words “I can’t do it anymore”, I exhaled upon the house of cards we had both been holding our breaths around and brought it tumbling down.

A day later, on Valentine’s day, I lay in bed within my one-bedroom apartment. Once again I held my breath, except this time it wasn’t out of fear, but out of elation. Like a cancer patient in remission, I had been given a new lease on life, a second chance to follow my heart.

The adobe walls of my little oceanfront home have been a warm and embracing cocoon, silent witness to my emotional metamorphosis. Within them, I have taken minuscule yet life-affirming steps. I made my bed with luxurious chocolate brown sheets and a calming seafoam green bedspread, seemingly insignificant purchases which would have incited a debilitating battle of wills in my former life. I built a home office in the corner of my bedroom, headquarters of the business venture which financed my ticket out of hell. I filled my closet with clothes that reflected the new “me” – a stronger, thinner, more out-going woman who stood up straight and allowed nobody to put her down.

Next week will mark the eighteen month anniversary of the day I followed my heart. It has been a journey filled with the unconditional love of new and old friends, the roller coaster of professional challenges and triumphs, and the painstaking discovery of who I am now and who I strive to become.

I have decided to once again follow my heart, this time towards the man who so lovingly cradles it in his hands. In November, at the conclusion of the wedding season, I will be moving into Mr. T’s house, clothes, bedspread, office and all.

We were both hesitant about living “in sin”, not because of the religious implications (we’re not religious at all), but because of countless doomsday studies which have been pushed upon unwed couples. Yet, what makes more sense: getting married now, a scant sixteen months after meeting, or allowing our love to mature for another year?

Geographical boundaries have pushed us to make this decision, and I think we’re both ready. The butterfly is almost ready to emerge from her cocoon.