When was it? 1991? I think that is when I married. Wait. Or was it 1993? I left in the spring of 1995...didn't I? We'd only been married a little over a year. I think. Uh, nope. That ain't right. It was 1991. I left in '93.
I've moved so far away from the girl I was then. I barely remember who she was, or what she was doing, or when she was doing it. She was known to be quiet, sweet and kind.
He was a jerk.
What I do remember is being pushed against a wall with his hands on my throat; being handed a diet coke and told I didn't need to eat any of the pizza he had ordered because I was fat. I wasn't. I remember phone calls on my days off from work to tell me what to do, where to go and how to spend my time.
He was an asshole.
My long-ago-self met him on a blind date during the fall of 1989 and was immediately smitten with his good looks and charming personality. Eight months later she would move away with him, 220 miles north to Sacramento.
The red flags were there flapping in the breeze, then whipping in the wind, snapping and ripping to shreds while she stood unable to feel the hurricane force winds. I can now only imagine what she was thinking and feeling when she decided that if they married everything would change, he would change and they'd live happily-ever-after.
She pushed and pushed to get married, believing that it would make her feel loved and happy. He didn't want to but agreed to shut her up. On November 2, 1991 they drove to Reno, got married and headed straight back to go to work in the morning. She was fortunate to have friends who weren't afraid to speak their minds, but she couldn't hear them. A co-worker asked, "What'd you do that for?" Somehow everyone else could see the flag, shredded up on the pole, but she couldn't.
She was in denial.
There were plenty of starts and stops and unfulfilled promises throughout their four year relationship as the neighbors watched her pack up her car and drive away only to return a day or two later. On one such occasion she went home to her mother's but couldn't stand being in that house or the town she grew up in so she headed right back the next day. All of her friends, her life, were in Sacramento and to their dismay she had returned once again.
But she knew this was the last time.
She needed a plan and with the help of her friends she created one. Her boss and friend, Brandon, put in a good word with his landlord and she found an apartment she could afford. At the first of the month she would be packing up and leaving for the last time. It was agreed that it would be a trial separation, but all he did was boast about how great his life was now that she was gone. Except for those moments when he decided he could just barge into her apartment without knocking exclaiming that he was her husband.
Not anymore. From then on she kept her door locked.
She sat on her bare apartment floor bouncing between excitement for her independence--this was the first time she had ever lived completely on her own--and the painful realization that she was alone, unloved and a failure. She often cried herself to sleep and vowed to never be abused or stepped on again. She was no longer known as quiet, sweet and kind but as an angry man-hater. Fortunately she had friends who weren't afraid to speak their minds and after a slap upside the head she went into therapy.
November 2, 1991 is undoubtedly one of the most pivotal days of my life; one of three occurring in November. It is one of three days I wish I hadn't had to experience. After leaving my first husband I grappled with feelings of regret for the choices I'd made. I beat myself up, belittled myself and raged over the decisions I'd made...marrying that jackass. Emotionally spent and having struggled financially for two years I wanted to run away and began making plans to move to Arizona.
I never made it to Arizona. I met husband number two, with seven kids, and chose to stick around Sacramento. We've been married for thirteen years and have one daughter together.
My first marital experience could be chalked up to a mistaek, but over the years I have come to realize that there really are no mistaeks. Everything happens for a reason; every choice, every experience, every misstep, every situation....life lessons are mandatory and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are so painful they leave you wallowing in cold, dark, pitiful places crying yourself to sleep at night. Others are much easier to journey through.
Gone are the regrets of my first marriage. Gone are the days when I believed I could run away from myself. Had I not taken the path I traveled with my ex-husband, had I not denied the red flags, had I not made the choices I made no matter how bad they were I would not be where I am and who I am today.
If you don't like the direction you're headed in...turn around.
We are who we are because of the paths we choose to take. Good or bad each one is necessary. It may take years before we understand why we have chosen some paths. Perhaps we may never understand, but no matter where we are in our life it is an essential part of becoming who we are meant to become. We might be stuck in a cycle of blaming others for where we are in life, but even if we feel that our status in life is someone else's fault we have the power to take control of the navigation system. We are always on the right path, but we might be traveling it in the wrong direction...turn around.
Do you like the path you are on? Do you need to change direction? Are there choices you regret and need to let go? Are you willing to accept that no matter how easy or difficult life is for you right now, you are exactly where you're supposed to be?