I was halfway through May 16th, and suddenly it hit me. Yesterday would have been my 19th wedding anniversary. Nineteen years ago, I did something amazingly brave and courageous, or apocolytically stupid and ill-advised (depending upon your vantage point) and married a man I'd known less than a year. And by "less than a year," I mean half a year less than a year.
I was 27 at the time, and I wish I could tell you that I didn't know better. But I did. I knew it wasn't a good idea. I knew it would be difficult. I knew we didn't know each other well enough. But I was certain that what I thought was love would be enough to carry us through.
It is the height of youthful arrogance to think that you have the resilience to withstand a knowingly bad relationship choice for the rest of your life, without it damaging you in psychological and emotional ways. No one does. No one gets out of an ill-conceived relationship without being scarred for life.
I was talking to my friend, Deirdre, just today, in fact, about the 80's. Deirdre isn't a big fan of the 80s. She's on location in... uhh... New Dehli... (yeah, that's the ticket), and she and I have taken to IMing between the time she gets back to her hotel and the time she goes to sleep. Television in... uhh... New Dehli... leaves a bit to be desired, especially at night, so she was subjected to having to watch Pretty in Pink while we were chatting on AIM. Between Molly Ringwald (one of my LEAST favorite parts of the 80s) and Jon "Ducky" Cryer's Flock of Seagulls haircut, Deirdre was puzzled when I told her I loved the 80s.
"What's to love?" she asked.
"I loved everything about the 80s. Torn t-shirts. Dancing welders. My stomach was flat. My ass was small. I loved the music. Then, I got married. And that pretty much sucked the joy out of everything."
(It bears noting -- not to out Deirdre or anything -- that she was in a fairly lackluster marriage herself during most of the 80s, which could explain her aversion to the entire decade. I have no direct clinical proof. My theory is based solely on anecdotal data.)
My marriage, which, like all marriages do, began on such a happy, hopeful note, quickly deteriorated into one person trying to recreate his birth family, and another trying to resist this with all of her might. What began as a sweet, optimistic, ambitious experiment to start a fresh, new family ended with two angry people who never really knew each other trying to find a way to part without damaging their toddler beyond repair.
Sad, really. I just wanted to start a family -- not replay someone else's. He just wanted to be the head of the house that he grew up in.
I was so sure we'd straightened it all out. I was so sure I knew what he wanted and what would make him happy. He was probably just as sure that if I could only succumb and let him build the family unit he wanted, I'd be happy, too. Of course, we were both wrong. I didn't realize that it wasn't my job to make him happy, and he didn't realize that trying to recreate his family was a futile (though common) effort.
So, I live alone, and he is remarried to someone who better suits his idea of family (though he is, at present, not speaking to his parents). Its better this way. Truly.
But I do wonder if I have it in me to make something different. Something better. Maybe the key is choosing a man who, like myself, has no discernible family model (single mother, disinterested absentee father). Or maybe I need to find someone who is mature enough to realize that every relationship wipes the slate clean. The only thing you should be bringing from the past into the present are lessons that make you kinder, more compassionate, a better listener, a better partner, a better lover. Anything from past relationships about the other person -- whether they abused you, lied to you, cheated on you, stole from you or snorted cocaine off your grandma's heirloom marble-top dresser -- is useless in this relationship and should be jettisoned at once.
So it wasn't a total loss, my marriage. It gave me some insights. It gave me my daughter. And it gave me the appreciation for holding fast to who I am as a person and not allowing myself to get lost in someone else's vision.
So, Happy UnWedding Anniversary to me. May I live to have 50 more....