Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 22, 2016


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My Ten Minute Marriage

by boxergirl


My guess is that you've never heard of a ten minute marriage. Well, truthfully, it wasn't ten minutes. It was ten months, but it felt more like ten years. Now before you put on your pharisaic sandals, please do me a favor and read the rest of my story.

First of all, I had always been an independent gal; I prided myself on not needing someone to "take care" of me, and, honestly, I had always enjoyed my "me" time. Don't get me wrong, I can be a social butterfly when the opportunity arises, but for the most part, I am happiest piddling around the house doing whatever, whenever I like. Get the picture.

So, how did I get myself in such a mess? Well, after I graduated from college, I got my dream job, coaching girl's basketball.  I was in hog heaven, loving every minute of it; maybe I should say every hour of it because, if you know anything about coaching, you know that it's not a nine to five job.  I dated here and there, but not much. I was either busy busy or the pickings were slim to none in the small town where I lived, if you know what I mean.  None of that was a problem; I was perfectly happy, too busy to be lonely.

The problem, if you want the honest truth, was other people--society as a whole. I couldn't go anywhere without someone asking the question. You know the question, right? "Are you seeing anyone? You're not married yet? Honey, you're not getting any younger, you know?"

On and on it would go. Even in the 70's, many people still felt like it just wasn't normal for a woman to be single, especially into her 30's...gasp! But I learned to ignore all the voices or, at least, that's what I thought.  After all, I was content with my life, and life was good. Heck, I was even proud that I wasn't like some of my single girlfriends, who whined constantly about their singleness, afraid they would always wear the "old maid" albatross around their neck. I hate that term--thank goodness it has become somewhat obsolete.

Before I could blink twice, a decade had passed.  Now I was in my thirties, still happy, but then, several things happened that started the big ball of mess rolling uncontrollably down a long steep hill towards disaster. First, my best friend, Kristi, got married. They quickly adopted a newborn baby girl. All that was good; I loved being Auntie KK and helping take care of her. I actually became somewhat enamored with, maybe even a little envious of, their family life. Meanwhile, I started dating Don, a new guy whom I had met at church. He seemed like an okay guy, not George Clooney cute but not bad either; he came from a good family, yada, yada, yada.

There were no bells and whistles in our relationship, but we got along. We didn't spend a lot of time together--work kept us both busy. It seemed like the perfect situation for me, Miss Independence. Then the strangest thing happened. One Saturday, he stopped by for lunch.  When we finished eating our sandwiches, he brought out an engagement ring and asked if I wanted to get married! I used the word "strange" because we weren't anywhere near serious. I actually thought he was joking, but when I realized he wasn't, I said, "What? No!" That should have been the end of it, right? It wasn't.

He proceeded to coax me into trying it on, and I swear, it was like a magic spell took over. The shiny ring sparkled in the sunlight streaming in from the window. I remember thinking how beautiful it looked as I held my hand out, turning it this way and that.  I guess he could tell that I was liking it because next he said, "Why don't you just wear it for awhile and think about it?" 

Still blinded by the spell of the shiny ring, my brain obviously took a brief siesta as I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Okay."  And just like that, we were "engaged."

After he left, I stared at the ring for hours.  My thirty-seven-year-old mind running rampant with questions. Am I dreaming? Engaged? Really? But instead of coming to my senses, I answered the questions by playing back the messages in my mind from past encounters. He's a good guy. You've been too picky. Your biological clock is ticking down.  After chewing on these thoughts like a cow's cud, I finally called Kristi and told her my news.

She was shocked, of course, everyone would be; but she just wanted me to be happy.  So she jumped right into my fantasy boat,  excited as any Maid of Honor should be. The more we talked, the more I got sucked into the fun of it all.  Being engaged got even better when I went to work the next day.  I strutted into the teachers' lounge, anxious to show off my new shiny symbol of status.  Their enthusiastic reaction only electrified the surge of excitement in the air, and how "normal" it felt being one of the girls with a "ring."

The fun continued, and the ball kept rolling. Before I knew it, his mom and my mom were organizing bridal showers, and we were setting the date--August 13th. Yep, it was a Friday--another red flag ignored. But, in my defense, who could deny the fun parties and the awesome gifts?  And then there was all the shopping--more fun. Kristi and I shopped till we dropped for my wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses; however, in the back of my mind, the "date" was drawing nigh, and my stomach was starting to feel like a bundle of tangled knots.

Then a huge red flag popped up.   About a month before the "date", Don got mad at work and lost his job. Remember, I am someone who likes stability, so I told him, "No job, no wedding."  In a few weeks, he found another job. I should have been relieved, but I wasn't. Instead, the knotted ropes felt a little more tangled.

In complete denial of the dark cloud looming over me, I got married. It was a beautiful storybook wedding.  Most everyone in town was there. I was so proud--not happy--but proud. The ceremony played out perfectly; the reception went off without a hitch, and, if pictures don't lie, I was a beautiful bride, and Don, a handsome groom.  Swarmed by warm smiles and words of congratulations, any doubtful messages were locked away in a broom closet somewhere and replaced with positive cheer chants like, I'll be fine. I can do this!  

After our PG13 honeymoon, it didn't take long for me to realize,  no, I couldn't do it. The fun part was over, and reality checked in. Week after week, misery became more and more my companion, especially when Don's temper showed up in our relationship. He never hit me, but he came close, and his verbal abuse was sickening.  I was smothering under the truth of what I had known all along; I not only didn't love him; I didn't even like him.  And, in reality, he didn't Iove love me either.  I realized after the fact that he just wanted to be married--to someone--anyone.

So, night after night, I sat in my bathroom, crying tears of anger and frustration for getting myself into this situation. After ten miserable months, I realized I couldn't live like this, so I made one of the toughest decision I've ever had to make-- to file for divorce.  The next day, I called my mom, and she said, "Honey, are you sure?" When I said yes, she told me, "Do what you need to do."

After the divorce, I was so ashamed to go anywhere--especially back to work. I knew everyone would be talking about it. You know, small town and all. I must have been walking around campus with the look of shame because my boss called me in his office and gave me some of the best advice I've ever received.  He said,  "Coach, I know this is hard and you feel bad, but you've got to get over it. Stop worrying about what people think. Those who love you, still do, and those who don't, don't matter!" I looked up at him and took a deep breath.  It was like the spell had been lifted, and I could breathe again.

So there you have it--the whole story in a nutshell. I won't lie and say I never thought about it again.  I would still beat myself up sometimes, but I refused to let it define who I was. I finally got my life back. Even my mother noticed the difference. The next time I went home, she smiled and confirmed what I already knew, "I can see you're back to your old self again."






 


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A lot of people were hurt in the making of this story, but I have both given and gotten forgiveness during my healing process these past twenty years. I am thankful that God can bring good even into our moments of madness, and in the end, no record of mistakes just lessons learned. And yes, it's still somewhat embarrassing to tell you about it, but those of you who love me, still will and those of you who don't, don't matter! 8-)
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