So to start understanding where it all went wrong you’ll need to know a little background about my previous relationship. When I went off to college I was still in a relationship with my high school sweetheart. He joined the Navy and was multiple states away the majority of the time, but we made it work. He ended up proposing to me and I accepted. Then in my Junior year I found out that he was having relationships with other girls. He’d spread lies about my character to the friends we grew up with so that they wouldn’t reach out to me. Everyone thought we were no longer engaged. There was one friend however who couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew that I would never do the things I was being accused of, and so he reached out to me. That breakup was very painful for me at the time. I truly thought I was in love with him. Now, looking back, I can see that wasn’t really love… but it created the mindset that led me to my marriage.
Fast forward a few months… My friends and I were at a bar celebrating Thursday (In college that was a good enough reason to celebrate 🙂 ). I looked across the bar and saw my future husband. For the sake of easier storytelling let’s give him a name …. John. John was tall and skinny with dark hair. He looked like a nice, quiet guy. I turned to my girlfriends and said “See that guy? I’m going to marry him”. I created my own self fulfilling prophecy. Why him? Why that man? I didn’t know a darn thing about him. I just decided he was going to be the man I was going to marry. This resulted in years of me ignoring what was right in front of my face… and why? Because I believed in love at first sight? Because I was confusing physical attraction with love? Because I just didn’t understand what love was because I’d never had it modeled for me? Or maybe I just didn’t believe in my personal value? I have no idea. I’d love to get younger me into a room and pick my brain. I’d love to tell myself that there are better things out there…. if I could just be patient. But instead I can only replay the memories in my head of how I used liquid courage to become brave enough to give this stranger my name, and eventually my heart.
He seemed like a nice enough man when we first started dating. He was a little quiet around my friends and family, but I was lively and loud so I thought that gave us balance. He was harmless enough and we had fun together. But then about two months in he began to become very argumentative about seemingly small things. So much has happened between us over a time span of 14 years… so some of the details have become hazy… but I remember the first time I thought to myself “That’s not normal”. We were sitting in my car in a Burger King parking lot in the rain. The windshield wipers were making squeaking noises on the window and he was screaming at me because I told him something he said had hurt my feelings. It seemed like such a little thing to me. Don’t you care about me? Wouldn’t you want to know if something you said hurt my feelings so you could try not to do it again? I don’t understand. But just that little comment from me was enough to turn him from a kind, gentle … even nerdy kind of guy … into an angry, screaming ball of rage. Why wasn’t that enough to make me walk away? I have no idea. I’m hoping that these posts will help me be reflective and maybe I’ll discover my reasoning for the choices I made as I write. I’m also hoping that being reflective will help me from making similar mistakes. I’m learning to look for “red flags” like these. But the real lesson I learned from this encounter is that there really is no such thing as love at first sight. It takes time to earn trust … to get to know a person …. and to develop meaningful love for that person. One more thing I would tell younger me if I could.