Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Choices

Today would have been my 9th wedding anniversary.

Nine years with the wrong man. That's almost too much for me to think about.

When I was 24 I married a man whom I had been with since I was 18 years old. He was a good man. Decent, kind, loving, hardworking, on the surface it was hard to find fault with him. My family loved him. My friends adored him. It was a given that we would get married before he ever placed a diamond on my finger and asked me if I wanted to.

On that night when he slid the box that contained my engagement ring across the table I should have said no. I should have broken it off a long time before. He was completely wrong for me but he convinced me otherwise. At 18 I knew I wanted more than my small town had to offer. I told him that early in our relationship and he agreed. But he lied. He was a simple man who wanted little more than a home in the same small area where he had grown up, a family with at least two kids and a wife who was dutiful and wanted no more than he did. I was not that woman.

There were instances in our lives that should have made me turn on my heels and leave but I chose to ignore them:

He proposed to me when I was 21 but I put off the wedding for 3 years. I always had some excuse as to why I wanted to wait.

Every November he went to Vermont for a long weekend with the male members of his family to hunt deer. I told him if he brought home a deer head to hang on the wall I would put a big red nose on it and tell his young niece that her uncle had shot Rudolph.

He had his gun dealers license and kept an arsenal in our home. I was pro-gun control.

I wanted music, laughter, travel and conversation. He was happy to listen to classic rock, enjoyed fart jokes, thought going to Disney World was the trip of a lifetime, and our conversations consisted of what happened at work. Or how I had slept the night before. And that's it. I'm not exaggerating, that was really it.

Before we were married his father told me, in no uncertain terms, that we needed to have three children, all boys, to carry on the family name. I had made it perfectly clear to my future husband that I wasn't sure I even wanted to have children.

When the subject of children was brought up by me I often mentioned adoption (should have known then that I didn't even want to procreate with the guy). He said that he would never deal with another man's "mistakes".*

I love the Red Sox. He was a Yankees fan.

On the day of our wedding when the reverend asked if there was any reason why we shouldn't be married, I waited for a wiser, stronger person than I to stand up and object to our union. It never happened.

And probably the biggest lightning bolt that should have shocked me back into reality and stopped our wedding instead struck the restaurant where I had been proposed to. A few months before our wedding day the restaurant burned down to the ground. I probably should have seen the big ol' sign that it was.

(Oh, and on the day of our wedding this happened. Yeah.)

I was not a brave girl. Our families were friends, our lives were entwined. Everyone expected me to marry him and I suppose I expected that from myself as well. But soon after our wedding I went into a deep depression. My life was no longer my own since I had given it up to him. Without my permission he changed my last name to his on all our important documents that didn't require my signature and then urged me to change it on the ones that did. I had told him before we were married that I wanted to keep my name. We moved from our apartment in the town I grew up to another one in his home town, two blocks from his parents. I gave up my job prematurely because I was planning on going back to school to update my knowledge of the new technology in my field, but the semester was 3 months away. All of a sudden I was a housewife with a new name, under the thumb of his family. And everyone thought this was wonderful. Except me.

It took me two years and a new job that took me over an hour to commute to and from everyday, but I finally started to find myself again. I made new friends with similar interests. Men and women who didn't think going to Cape Cod was a huge ordeal, who didn't consider restaurants that served chicken chunks and pizza as fine dining. People who enjoyed the theater and travel. I saw a whole new world opening up to me and I wanted a piece of it. I tried to include him but he wanted no part of it. He had no interest in what made me happy.

My marriage was already pretty much over at that point anyway, but nobody knew it but me. When I told my husband I wanted a divorce he was stunned. I guess my sleeping on the couch every night didn't clue him into the fact that I was unhappy. I guess telling him that I was unhappy didn't clue him in either. He convinced me to consider a trial separation and I agreed to it, but ultimately I couldn't do it. I needed to remove myself from that marriage, and like a band-aid that needs to be ripped off quickly I need to end it as soon as possible. Sure, it stung but if we would have drawn it out longer it would have hurt more. I was running for the nearest exit with little more than my heart and my soul.

Over the course of the next 8 months he fought me tooth and nail on everything, from which CDs I could take to how much money I should get out of the settlement. In the end I took much less than I was entitled to. He bought me out of the house we had purchased together just 15 months before, he got most of the furnishings, all of our investments and, hardest of all, our dog. But I was happy to give it all to him, I was tired of fighting. I got my freedom and, best of all, I got me back. Three years after our wedding, almost to the day, our divorce was final. I've never been happier.

I sacrificed a lot during that divorce. I lost friends, my home, my dog (I needed to mention that again, because it was tougher to give up my dog than it was to give up my ex), and my relationship with my family took a hit. But if I would have stayed I probably would have two kids by now (and since I now have a daughter I think there would have been a good chance they would have been girls. My FIL would have been so disappointed, the jackass.), a husband I didn't talk to, and a me I didn't recognize. I would have given up a lot more to keep that from happening. I would have given up everything because I was so tired of giving up myself. I never expected to be a divorced woman by the age of 27 but here I am five years later with a new husband that I love (who respects me, took me to Italy twice, and listens when I talk - most of the time.), a child I would throw myself in front of a bus for, two dogs that bring me as much joy as headaches, and it stands repeating, I have never been happier.


*(quick note: A few years ago my ex-husband remarried. His new wife has three kids from two prior relationships. I often wonder if he thinks of his stepchildren as those men's "mistakes".)

43 comments:

jennster said...

this was so well written.. i was dying for each following word. good for you for getting out of it. too many people stay in it for the kids, for the money, for whatever. you knew going in you shouldn't have- but you did.. but the best part was... you got out. you fucking rock. could you imagine living like that forever??!?!??!!

jennster said...

ps- do you ever talk to him now? have you since the divorce? i wonder if he would understand why you left NOW, after having time to look back

mothergoosemouse said...

Mrs. Chicky, your strength is amazing. Did you have anyone to lean on during those years? I do hope so. I can hardly imagine dealing with all of those conflicting feelings on your own.

Happy un-anniversary to you. Chicky Baby is lucky to have a mommy who will help her know herself and support her dreams.

radioactive girl said...

Hooray for you and being strong/brave enough to know yourself and what you needed!

Gina said...

That is very honorable to know yourself THAT well to wise up and get out fast! I admire your strength for doing it. I won't go into the details of how much I have in common with this post! Whew, e-mo-tion-al...

Christina said...

I agree with the others - your strength is admirable. At least you were able to recognize the bad situation you were in and get out. I'm sure there are countless others trapped in bad marriages with no way to get out.

If I had married the guy I was with in high school, my life would be totally different, and likely miserable.

And now you're happy, with a man you really love, and you actually have your life again. I think that's pretty amazing.

Poopydigs said...

Wow, so very interesting. I was about to post that an ex-boyfriend of mine had just remarried. I didn't love him and everyday with him was just a reminder that I was just "settling" because he was handsome, had money, and made my parents happy. He bored me to death. I'm so glad that I broke it off.

(he also had a very small "ahem". But, that's another story.) I might just blog about it, but I'm afraid he reads my blog.

carrie said...

I think it is wonderful that you had the courage to take the reins and do something to change the situation you were unhappy and "not yourself" in. You should never feel bad about doing something because other people have different expectations for you. It is YOUR life! And look how it turned out?

Looking forward to the rest of the story!:)

Carrie

Blog Antagonist said...

I was in a long term relationship with the wrong man too. We didn't marry, but almost. It's very hard to extricate one's self from situations like that. You are stronger than you think. You got out. Think of all the women who spend their whole lives with the wrong person. It's sad. I'm glad you are happy now. Everyone deserves to be happy. :?)

Mommy off the Record said...

Wow. That was quite a story. Thanks for sharing this. I am so glad you had the courage to leave a bad relationship. Your life is obviously much better for it. I'm not sure I could have been that brave. Although the hunting and chicken chunk eating might have pushed me over the edge to a divorce. :)

Kristen said...

Congrats on your happiness! And I'm sorry you had to give up your dog! :`(

HeatherJ said...

It seems odd to say this but congrats on your unanniversary. You are in a much better place now, with a wonderful happy family. Here's to you for being true to yourself (clink!)

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

You know, I want to send this post to everyone I know in a bad relationship to prove to them that escape is sometimes a wise choice. Good for you!

Mom101 said...

I always said I waited so long because I was waiting for my second husband first.

Some people don't find that "Second Husband" at all- and you did, my dear. The rest is water under the bridge. Hooray for happiness and second chances.

And the arsenal? Hoo boy. That's definitely worse than the baseball rivalry.

Crunchy Carpets said...

very true..mom101...my mom is still waiting for the right guy. 62 and single since she walked away from my dad and all the messes he had created.

You are lucky that you had the sense to know that you KNEW something was wrong.

My mom tried to suck it up for over 10 years.

jennster said...

i.just.tagged.you.
because i am a bitch like that

Tori said...

I loved reading this...
You are a strong lady to have realised the error of your ways and to have extracaited (sp) yourself from the situation.

I am proud of you...

And feel your pain that you had to leave pups behind...

Like you say, that hurt more than the divorce.

Great post my little Chickadee....

Elizabeth said...

This was really well written, and quite a story. Good for you for putting yourself first even though it meant leaving things behind.

kittenpie said...

You know, a while back I read something about the increasing incidence of what are known as "starter marriages" that last a couple of years and then the parties realize that they aren't growing in the same direction. Sounds like this, so you're not alone.

And yeah, I've discovered to my dismay that in fact grandparents don't in most cases really accept stepkids as their own family.

Ruth Dynamite said...

You are a brave, brave woman and I, like others I'm sure, can relate to getting in too deep with Mr. Wrong. I'm very glad for your present happiness.

Mama of 2 said...

I wanted to say how proud I am of you and what you did to better your life.

I was married before as well and I never expected to be a divorcee either but I think that sometimes even through all the warning signs and red flags we still need to live through the worst of things to be able to appreciate the best of things.

Mother Bumper said...

I remember when I was 25 I was dating that guy. My parents loved him, he had a great job and home, he was the "right" religion (gag) - all that plus a bag of chips. And he didn't know me. Not in the least. Then he asked me to marry him and somewhere inside of me a voice said "say no now or you will regret it forever".

Reading your story reminded me so much of that time. When it happened to me, my own mother (bless her) said "you will regret letting him get away because you'll never find another like him!". She was right and I'm glad ;). My husband fits me so well it's almost sickening.

(my quick note: that guy who I said no to has been married twice since that time and both ladies left him because he was a control freak who wanted a stepford wife - shudder....)

Thanks for sharing this story. Sorry about the comment hijacking.

Pendullum said...

Wow, I cried for youand all your bravery to share that tale...
What a story that is part of your life...
Thanks for taking me on the journey...

34quinn said...

opposites attract but .sames stay together. you are so much better off..hind sight is 20/20 so leave it in the past. enjoy your happy life and family.

SUEB0B said...

That's a good story. I am glad you got the new life you deserved.

MrsFortune said...

I think maybe we all need to get a trial marriage, hehe. Good thing you never had kids with the guy. I enjoyed reading this story, much more than you enjoyed living it.

Izzy said...

I'm so happy you left. I know it was hard and especially leaving your dog but seriously, you are so lucky you left when you did. Good for you :)

Lisa said...

THis post... Wow. I saw alot of myself in that post. Leaving my college sweetheart (for pretty much the same reasons you had) was difficult. Everybody loved him. And when I ended it I was the town bitch. But I needed to be true to myself. ANd years later, I can't imagine how angry and unhappy I would be had I not left town and changed my life.

So happy you had the strength to get out and start over.

mrsmogul said...

Good thing you got out of that relationship! the family seemed backwards

Jess said...

I think you are brave. Brave for getting married and going against your gut, brave for getting divorced and making a huge change.
Beyond brave for getting married to a Yankee fan. ;)

Heather said...

Yay for happy endings!

Amy said...

I am still bawling after reading this. Of course I was always the "one to blame" in my divorce but as you wrote...I kept saying...wow..that was me too (minus the gun thing :))

Thank you for sharing and yes..yay for happy endings. I hope I can have the same.

sunshine scribe said...

Wow, thanks for writing this. Life is about choices and you were/are so brave and smart in making the ones that you did. Most people would have stayed out of obligation and pressure.

This was so well written and I am glad it is a happy ending.

wendy boucher said...

I felt like I was reading my own biography. Married high school sweetheart? check. Delayed wedding, twice? Check. Wanted to travel and get further educated but married to a small town boy who thinks Mexican pizza is ethnic food? Check. Got depressed after wedding? Check. Convinced to try a separation that lasted a week and then I had to "rip off the bandaid?" Check. Only I ended the marriage a mere nine months after our wedding and I was 22. I KNEW the marriage was wrong but we had been together for five years and I just couldn't imagine life without him. It's all water under the bridge now. I think I know exactly how you feel. Nice post!

Her Bad Mother said...

This is such a powerful testament to the importance of being true to your heart. Bravo, friend.

(And I totally hear you on the dog.)

mamatulip said...

I'm glad you're happy now. I'm sorry you had to go through that to gain happiness, true happiness, but I'm glad you found it.

mo-wo said...

Thanks for sharing this really deep story. You know I usually loathe the very concept of 'deep' but that's wha' this is.

Kvetch said...

I have been there, sort of. You are fortunate to have gotten out quickly, to have known enough to know that it all wasn't OK. I didn't know that for a dozen years.

Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing this. There's something similar going on in my family now, and I needed to hear about someone who went through a rough time and emerged in one piece (and in fact, ended up strong and happy over time.)

Bobita said...

Excellent story. I was most fond of you...finding you again. What an awesome step of courage on your part!

Pattie said...

I am so glad you found the strength to stand up for your self and change your life. To find happiness...to be happy. That takes courage. You must first love yourself before you can love anyone else. You did that. I am glad you found the happiness you were seeking and that you deserve.

something blue said...

Sometimes the easiest decisions are the hardest ones to make.

Many cheers for finding the happiness and true love.

crazymumma said...

What a blow me out of the water post. That which does not kill you makes you stronger...
Anne