When Robert and I got married, the wedding preparations weren’t difficult because of the one we’d cancelled just a year before. We called the florist, the baker, and the tent rental place and re-ordered the things we’d already chosen. My penchant for procrastination paid off since I’d never gotten around to selling my wedding dress.
Caught up in round after round of frenetic activity, I never stopped to consider any of the choices I was making. Growing a baby (and the attendant vomit-o-rama), planning a wedding, and finding an apartment and moving, not to mention jobs and classes, made it easy for me to ignore the whispers at the back of my skull.
I think I felt happy. I certainly look happy in the pictures. It’s amazing what the intervening years and the experiences during those years have done to the memories. In trying to remember how I felt and what I was thinking, there are shadows laid over everything. How I felt about Robert then is changed not only by how I feel about him now, but also how I felt about him when our children were born, and when our marriage began to die in earnest, and when we divorced, and when, and when, and when…
In a stunning illustration of how little I knew about myself, we had a small but very traditional wedding. We all got dressed up in the customary wedding way, including a giant white dress.
Erin and I carried beautiful bouquets.
We had a fancy cake and did all the rituals that people do with wedding cakes.
I can hardly believe it myself (and I was there!), but there was a woodwind quintet.
Whose wedding was that?
I guess, though, if you are marrying the wrong person, you should do it with the wrong wedding.
At 11 am on May 29, 1993, I took my dad’s arm and we walked out of my parents’ house and into their backyard. Walking down the aisle we’d created with rented chairs, giant dress billowing around me, I looked ahead to where Robert was standing and suddenly, those tiny whispers at the back of my skull rallied.
Unintentional and absolutely unwelcome came the thought, “This is a stupid thing to do. Marrying Robert is a really bad idea.”
And yet…I didn’t consider turning around and walking away. I moved forward, passed my bouquet to Erin, and exchanged vows with Robert. My roiling, lurching stomach reminded me of the baby that was coming and I didn’t want to raise that baby by myself.
I thought I couldn’t raise that baby by myself.
I thought I was weak, that I needed Robert.
I thought that I was incapable of creating a satisfying life for myself without him.
I thought I needed to keep the first man who was willing to be with me because I would never find anyone else.
I believed I was unworthy of anything better than adequate, and even that might be too good for me.
I didn’t understand that Robert and I were doing little more than using each other. How could I have known that? I was young, naive, and scared out of my damn mind. I didn’t know myself well enough to understand my own motives.
So I told myself everything would be OK and I rang the bell.
A marriage is a hard bell to un-ring.