Today, November 27, 2016, I would have been married for 23 years. So, in theory, this is my wedding anniversary, since I have only been married one time. It was supposed to last forever, like all good things that are made in fairy tales, dreams, wishes, yadda yadda. And this is where I can honestly say, thank God it didn’t. Last. Here’s the thing, I am a big fan of fairy tales and wishes. In fact, I spend most of my days fantasizing about things that will never happen, as if I am almost a delusional, idealistic child lost in Neverland. I am convinced I will win the lottery someday. I am sure that Publishers Clearing House or HGTV’s Dream Home Giveaway will actually pick me. I was also sure, twenty-three years ago, that I would be married until the end of time, my death, or his death. That said, I am not so sure that is what I wanted. I wanted the fairy tale, for sure, but I am starting to think I wanted a different prince in the picture. But since I am very good at living in dreams, I walked right down that aisle to the prince of that day–the man who was to be my husband.
Twenty-three years ago, I woke up on my wedding day unable to swallow. It’s true. Every time I tried to swallow, even the littlest bit of saliva or water, I experienced incredible pain. I had to take my fingertips and press on my throat just to get anything to go down at all. This was a sign. Of course, it was. There are signs in fairy tales! Why wasn’t I paying attention? The answer is simple. There was a wedding to be had, a celebration, a party! And there was a dress, bridesmaids, tuxedos, groomsmen flying in from all over the country, flowers, caterers, and my stuff had already been moved to New York! The only sign I could see was GO. Wait. STOP. There was also my cousin, Mark, who very sweetly took me on a drive the day before the wedding, and as we drove along the downtown streets, he very calmly said, “You don’t have to do this.” The this he was referring to was the wedding. He was ready to save me if I wanted to be saved, but being the good southern girl who would never disappoint her guests, I laughed it off. Ha. Ha. Ha. Really? I had my chance and I blew it. And this was more than a sign. This was a straight out call it like it is slap in the face. The sting of it lasted through the wedding day and got worse with every year I was married.
Signs. Slaps. A week earlier, before my cousin tried to rescue me, a very close friend at my church, a deacon, asked if we could talk. She was worried about me and my pending marriage. She could “sense that something wasn’t right” between the groom and me. You think? Yes, we had blowout arguments, and yes, he had a tendency to become verbally abusive, and yes, I was often concerned with his behavior during these fights. Dinner napkin thrown in my face in a restaurant, calling me sometimes twenty, thirty times on the phone before I would finally pick up, throwing things at me when I was asleep, trying to humiliate me in public by raising his voice until I submitted, or becoming so enraged with me that his face would be two inches from my face as spit and venom from his mouth hit me with every word. These were just minor things I could fix. In fairy tales, everything can be fixed.
So, after many more years of the same, I now have a new anniversary. The anniversary of the end of my marriage. July 2, 2015. Happy Anniversary.