While I learned how to manage my finances from a young age, I was seriously lacking in many other major life skills. My grandmother had maintained control over so much in my childhood. She did the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, etc. My mother would try to intervene and explain that these were all things I needed to learn to do, but she never would allow it.
In the mid 2000s, you could not ask Siri how to cut up an onion or how to cook hamburger. Yes, these are seriously things I did not know how to do. Through trial and error I learned a few basics, but I was far from “Suzie Homemaker”. Ted’s mother was a fabulous cook and baker, but I had just enough skills to not burn the Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Sunday dinners at my soon to be in-laws were always welcomed.
One of my most hilarious attempts at cooking a meal was my first meatloaf. I had a recipe and the ingredients. Surely I can do this. I followed the instructions exactly and placed my masterpiece in the oven. The smells that filled the kitchen were amazing. I was doing it! We were going to have a real meal that I prepared!
Ted came home and was impressed that I had attempted something from a recipe. He became skeptically excited and glanced in the oven. Laughter filled the kitchen as he asked me how I thought the hamburger would magically form into a loaf while in the oven. Oh dear. I guess the writer of the recipe had assumed the chef would have enough common sense to shape the ingredients into a loaf before cooking. This chef did not! My meatloaf ending up being more of a casserole, but it was still tasty!
The way our finances were handled continued to be a source of contention. Credit card debit was piling up and Ted’s line of work was known for seasonal lay offs. The hole we were in just kept getting bigger. His spending continued and I grew more and more anxious. Cars were traded in only after a year or two of owning them. We were starting to drown. I felt lost and was unsure of how to fix everything. If I said no to a purchase, I would be hounded for days until I finally gave in. According to him, the job I had was not good enough, my student loans were causing us to be financially strained, and my job at the barn was getting in the way of our plans.
The stress that I was feeling began to build. I lost weight and was barely staying at 100 lbs. I began to have episodes of not being able to breathe and feeling like a concrete block was on my chest. My family doctor diagnosed me with panic attacks and told me to try self-help books and yoga. Fabulous. Thanks doc.
I had become a shell of person. I gave up on voicing my opinion and just was along for the ride. Events leading up to our marriage such as my bridal shower and bachelorette party should have been fun and exciting, but they weren’t: My shower was a blur and my bachelorette party almost didn’t happen.
Mary, a high school friend, had planned a fun evening at her apartment to celebrate my last “moments” being single. She lived about 2 hours away so it made sense to stay the night there. On the day of the party, Ted started listing numerous reasons why I couldn’t go: We had just recently gotten a second dog. Who was going to watch it? We didn’t have enough money for me to put gas in the car to drive that far.
My college roommate Jess had had enough and was not about to let me miss my own bachelorette party, so she decided that she would drive me and bring me home that night to watch the puppy. Ted still wasn’t thrilled that I was even going, but agreed with this compromise. What should have been a fun evening out with my best friends turned into a whirlwind visit of rushing the clock like Cinderella.
I knew our relationship was not healthy. I knew our marriage would not last. Yet, I continued to push through each day and become less invested in my life. While I’m positive that if I had gathered the strength to leave, I would have had places to go and friends and family who would have helped me, but I was not ready. The glimmer of hope that maybe it would get better would shine through every so often, so I just kept going.
When the doors opened at the chapel on my wedding day, my father felt me sway and asked me if I was okay. There were very few people who truly knew that this was not the right decision. The preacher who was marrying us was most likely one of them. We had gone through the pre-marital counseling with not much enthusiasm. We struggled to find answers to our compatibility and why we truly wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Why were we doing this?
Down the aisle we proceeded, putting one foot in front of the other. During the ceremony, I had trouble focusing. Jess and Mary were on the stage behind me, ready to catch me as I struggled to stay focused. The vows were said and we were pronounced husband and wife.
Our reception was full of family and friends. It should have been a wonderful celebration. They were all so happy for us! Uh oh – there goes the bride! I bolted from the head table once our meal was served and made it to the bathroom just in time to be sick. My closest friends stayed with me as a migraine took hold of my body. I made appearances as needed but when able, rested in a side room shielding my eyes and wishing for silence. It was not the way either Ted or I envisioned our wedding day to play out.
“..we feel like ourselves but lost in a fog. We don’t know any better and can’t have a larger perspective about ourselves because we are doing our best with the emotional intelligence we have.”Healing Your Wounded Relationship – Robert Jackman
Me on the left around 2006. I was two years out of college and still naïve of the down hill spiral I was about to go through.
The photo on the right is on vacation with Ted and friends approximately 4 years later.
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