Thirty years ago today I married my nightmare. It didn’t start out that way. It’s funny, even after all these years I can’t help but notice the date. As a twenty year old bride it was the happiest day of my young life. Years later I began to think of it as the anniversary of my biggest disappointment.
Everything was wonderful. He was the guy everyone else wanted, surely I was the luckiest girl in the world. And for a while it was great. Somehow, slowly, things started to change.
They say that if you drop a frog into a pan of boiling water it will just jump out again. But if you put him into a pan of room temperature water and bring it slowly to boiling, because he’s cold-blooded he’ll sit there until he boils.
One day I looked around and realized the water was boiling. I was stuck. I had no money, no job, no car, and two school-aged boys.
It’s strange; it takes a long time to wrap your head around the word “abuse” in relation to yourself, particularly when it’s the kind that doesn’t leave bruises and broken bones. That kind is easier to define. Abuse is what happens to someone else. What is happening to you is just, well, unpleasant and unfortunate and not what you prefer. But not abuse.
Luckily, I was finally able to confide in a few trusted friends and just short of our 18th anniversary, I began to make plans to leave. But he suspected that something was different and confronted me before I could get everything organized. That night, he moved out. Which was weird, because among the things he used to say to me, he threatened to take away my kids. Turns out he didn’t want them anyway.
My divorce was final on July 2, 2004. I always note that date, too. I consider it my personal Independence Day. If you read this blog, you already know the rest of the story. A few years later I met my Happily Ever After. In the middle of my nightmare, I often wondered why I had to go through all that. On this side of it, I can see a few good things that came out of it. I’m much less judgmental and much more compassionate, realizing that I have no idea what other people are dealing with at any given time. I know what I like and what I don’t.
Besides, that broken road led me straight to my sweet. I’m eternally grateful.