Today is the day I was married to my first husband. He won't remember it was today, I'm sure this is just another day for him, he won't forget me- ever but he has long forgotten the date.
It's not like we even made it to our first anniversary, though we were legally married for five years, we lived together in matrimonial hell for four and a half months and were separated until we finally got a court date five years later. We fought constantly- to be honest, if we weren't fucking, we were fighting and sometimes we were doing both. I married him for the usual variety of all the wrong reasons, and you would think I would regret it but I don't.
I am sorry I didn't possess that self esteem not to want to date him in the first place but I didn't. I had one Catholic friend (might I say she was Catholic when it suited her) who said when I re-married that I should not be allowed to wear white but you know, if I wasn't being stoned to death for not being a virgin bride, I think wearing white should have been the lesser sinful act.
Besides, nowhere in the Bible does it list a color for a wedding dress. And I am pretty sure my hymen wasn't white anyway.
But I digress.
I don't regret it because I learned a lot of life lessons from it. I learned I was nowhere near ready to be married and deal with that kind of commitment. I learned that if you spun around and threw a stone in a crowd, I would probably hit someone my ex husband had cheated on me with. I learned I wanted better for myself and I could survive the shame of divorce. I learned I could make a mistake and walk away and forgive myself.
I learned that I needed to stop listening to the negative voices in my head and move on, that if I made myself a victim of my circumstances, it was my own fault. And I learned I could break up with someone and wish them well.
I have never fought with someone that much in my life. Really, it seemed like every second we were together, we were fighting. I don't know that I have ever been so miserable.
It was a desperate marriage at a desperate time for me.
His birthday was December 9th, and I remember going to Target the week before to get him a birthday present. Then came the hunt for the card. Since we were newly married, I thought it would be nice to get him a card that said husband on it. As I picked them up one after the other, and read the sappy, drippy, sentimental crap, I realized I didn't feel ANY of it.
And I cry at poignant commercials.
I'm all about sentimental, drippy crap.
I thought- I should get him a funny card. So, I began in earnest the search for a humorous card- one that said 'husband' and not 'love'.
Yes, it was, as they say, My Aha moment. Oprah would have been proud. I think before Oprah defined that, I called it my moment of clarity or my moment of enlightenment. But I realized I had to leave him. Love was important to me and I realized that I was out of love with him, that I felt some vague obligation to be a nice person but my heart was finished with it. It was over.
Then, I thought- well I can't leave him right before his birthday, it will devastate him. And I should probably stick it out til after Christmas because it would be mean to break up with him right before Christmas.
I set a goal of January, and decided I would stick it out til then.
I gave him all of his birthday presents and smiled and was sweet to him on his birthday but I only made it til December 12th before I left him.
Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do and life intervened and I decided it was just time.
He screamed at me to come back for about a week and a half but I was done.
Don't feel too bad for him- he was living with someone else by January and he moved to North Carolina with her and they had two babies.
They told everyone in North Carolina they were married. She hated me for a while until she figured out I wasn't incarnate evil and wanted to get the divorce as badly as they did. She waited five years to marry him.
And three months after we divorced, she ran off with another man in Effingham, Illinois. He called me up and wanted to get together. Really?
One day, out of the blue, he called me to tell me he was sorry.
He was trying to get sober and was in AA and he was making his amends. I raked him over the coals a little "So, remember that one girl, did you sleep with her, too?"
The answer was always yes.
I told him, "Nice to know I wasn't crazy like you said. And that my instincts were pretty good."
So, he said "Will you forgive me?"
I replied "No. Not yet. I'm not ready. You hit me, you choked me, you cheated on me, you emotionally abused me and you destroyed my self confidence for a long time. I'm not letting you off the hook for these things and I am not ready to forgive you yet. I think I will one day. I have already let go of the past and I'm not angry with you any more but I don't think you have earned my forgiveness yet. I think you have a ways to go- but I ask you to pay it forward and be good to the next girl. Learn from your mistakes and be a better person and treat her well and in that way, you can earn my forgiveness. But not today. I will give you this, I sincerely appreciate you calling me up to tell me you're sorry and to make amends- it means a great deal to me to have this conversation with me and I thank you from my heart."
Eventually, I did forgive him, but I have never told him so. I have no anger or ill will towards him. I have no place in my heart that is hateful any more. I do wish him well. And I hope he grew as a person and became better. I haven't really talked to him since that day.