People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

The Ugly Familiar 3: This One Goes Out to the One I Love[ed]

Part 1
Part 2

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…

A&R Wedding rehearsal

The wedding rehearsal. My mom bought Robert that ridiculous hat.

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.

A&R wedding

My mom, Robert, me, my dad, and my sister Erin, the ultra-young versions.

Erin and I carried beautiful bouquets.

We had a fancy cake and did all the rituals that people do with wedding cakes.

A&R wedding- cutting the cake

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&R wedding - kiss

A marriage is a hard bell to un-ring.

Not-really-a-part 3.1
Part 4

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14 comments to The Ugly Familiar 3: This One Goes Out to the One I Love[ed]

  • “A marriage is a hard bell to un-ring.” That sentence packed so much punch, I’m kinda dizzy reading it.

    Oh to be so young and scared. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next part each time I read a new installment.

  • First? Once again you’ve picked a song I know backwards and forwards, beloved and familiar, part of the soundtrack of my former life (driving, listening to music).

    Also? My current husband is not my first, but luckily I never had kids with the “wrong guy” so it was easy to walk away and not look back, nothing to chain us together. And also, looking back, I had pings and twinges of knowing he wasn’t right, but felt the momentum pushing me forward, so your words and feelings here are very familiar to me.

    I have said that if the laws had changed the day before our wedding and made divorce illegal and impossible and so I would truly be, in a completely ironclad way, bonded to my ex for the rest of my life? I would have turned and run that day.

    A reminder to listen to my instincts, that inner voice that always knows.

    OK, Missy, waiting for part 4 now…

  • I remember that thought oh, so well…”This is a really bad idea.” The thought I had over and over and amazingly dismissed, over and over. If things weren’t good before the wedding I don’t know how I imagined they would miraculously get better after. At least I’m in good company. We all seem to have made the same mistake. I wonder why we have to go through that?

  • Such honesty.

    Thank you.

    For real writing.

  • So … first, at the risk of being outed as a (proud) word nerd, I really love the multi-use of the word ring. I can tell you that I had to read it twice to really appreciate it, I couldn’t figure out what about it pleased me until that second time. The turn of phrases continue ringing in my mind’s ear. What a truth.

    Second, while I didn’t marry a guy who turned me to complete jelly, I married the right guy. While there have definitely being some rocky, rocky moments, he’s as much of a worker as I am so we continue. I’m glad I left the one who did turn me to mush behind … knowing what I know now, it would have been crazy good, and crazy crazy bad.

    Third, I told my youngest sister a week prior to marrying a guy that it was never too late to say no. She was angry with me for a long time for saying that. And now, for a lot longer for saying it “too late”. It continues, 20 years on. Ugh.

    I love your series, I hope it is a process that is or leads to kindness and understanding of yourself … we are, all of us, a sum of these collected experiences. (I hope you don’t mind me saying.)

  • Now you’ve done it. NOW I’ve had to go back THREE POSTS (because I am of late a lame blog-reader) and get all caught up.

    And NOW I have to wait.

    I think I’ll pee on something. Just because NOW I’m in a mood.

  • Bakingmomma

    Thank you for sharing again. You are a wonderful writer and a very strong person to be able to share your story like this. Waiting for part 4… 🙂

  • thank you so much for continuing to write this story. I love your honesty.

  • Ok first…WHAT? I thought I could read through all four. DAMNIT.

    got you are a gifted writer.

    And REM is the best band of ALL TIME.

    And that song? is so misunderstood and so frequently used incorrectly.

    but you did it write.

    “a simple prop…to occupy my time”


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