Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Annulment

Yesterday I got the paperwork that proclaims my first marriage null.

Twenty-nine years after the divorce.  Thirty-one years after the marriage.  I was 18.  He was 20.  It was stupid and some adult should have put a stop to it.

I have wanted this thing behind me since 1972.  And yesterday it was.

It took 5 years to get the annulment.  The Archdiocese of Denver made me jump through hoops for 3 years, and then said because I could not find my former husband, it had to go to the diocese of the marriage - which was Chicago.  My pastor urged me to not let that happen.  He said that if I didn't have a local advocate it would just get lost in the shuffle.  But that didn't happen at all.

I had to prove again that I absolutely could not find this man.  I haven't seen him since 1974.  When he was breaking into my apartment.  Believe me, I can find anyone, but I couldn't find him.  Finally, I produced enough proof that he was unfindable.

They needed 4 witnesses.  Imagine finding 4 people who could speak to a marriage that lasted only 2 years and was over 29 years ago.  I had exactly 4 people, my three brothers and my sister.  They were sent long horrible questionnaires.  They each called me and said "REALLY?  You want me to do this?  What am I supposed to say?"  I told them to tell the truth.  Even if it meant they were going to write "I don't know," or "I don't remember."  One brother called me absolutely freaked out when he realized it had to be notarized by a priest.  He is married outside of the church and didn't want to have to face a priest.  I called my pastor for advice, he told me the priests aren't notarizing the person's marriage, just the paperwork, and to assure my brother he was fine to do that.  He finally sent the paperwork back, but failed to complete the most important parts.  I explained that to the person in Chicago, and they decided that three witnesses would suffice.

And now I have the piece of paper I have wanted for so long.  I felt no joy at this.  I don't know if that is because I am out of sorts with several things.  Another piece of my sordid past reared her head on Saturday night, and I will probably write about that later this week.  But not now.

What a mess of a life I have lived.  I have two more marriages to annul.  But those should not be difficult since I was not free to marry in the eyes of the church.

Why am I doing this?  My pastor said I should.

The first time I met him was in the confessional.  A man had just mistreated me and I came straight to confession.  I went to a church not my own, since I couldn't face anyone I knew at that time.  So, I walked into that confessional, crying, desolate, devastated.  I sat down across from the priest and told him "I'm a mess."  He asked me what was going on.  I told him.  I told him I had been married three times.  He laughed and said "You ARE a mess!"  I told him I felt like the Samaritan Woman.  He laughed.  He asked me to come and see him - and asked if I would mind waiting until after Christmas.  I waited.

And then I went to see him.  He told me I COULD do this.  He told me he would be with me every step of the way.  He told me it would be very healing to get a clean slate and clear away the wreckage.

And now one is done.  Two to go.  And I just want to cry.

I find great comfort in the words of Jesus.  How many times does he say "Your sins are forgiven."  Surely it is the ego in me that wants to convince me that my sins are too bad to be forgiven.  They can be.  I have repented.  I have amended my life.

I thank God for that.


  1. I think it is the sorrow and remorse that we feel when we look back, that is so hard to bear.The feeling that we wished we had lived differently,and according to God's Will for us.
    God Bless you for this post.

  2. Why do you need annulments for the other two? Doesn't the one you just got take care of everything else since they were not valid since you were not technically free to marry? But glad everything is coming together for you.

  3. Kathy, that is a mystery, isn't it? The church never recognized those marriages, but I still need to get them annulled if I want to be free of them. And I do, so I will.

  4. Oh Mary Christine I had tears in my eyes reading this. The first step towards sacramental freedom and I know long you have worked to get this annulment.

  5. Mary Christine,
    I think your story will echo many souls within this world. I do agree with A Catholic Comes Home comment.

  6. I'm sorry, Mary Christine, that things have been so difficult for you. I look back and wish I could have done so many things differently too. God isn't nitpicky and doesn't hold our past over our heads though, so this is a reason to rejoice! Annulments are time consuming and difficult to get. I have a couple of friends who have been through this and it was very frustating for them. May God help you in this area. You are in my prayers!

  7. Wow, what an odyssey. You will get through it, I can feel it. May God give you strength to endure it.

  8. MC I have been down that road,almost to a tee. My first marriage was when I was 19, and when I entered the annulment process, there were not too many people alive that knew us as a couple. the other ones don't sound as though they will be as laborious. I also had a marriage that was easier to deal with. I think it was called lack of canonical form. I really did find this process to help me -stop -feeling like the woman at the well. I felt like the Church helped me put it all in Gods perspective. anyways, I pray you will feel the Lords mercy and love for you as a result of all this.