How the heck did I end up married to a man I didn’t love and then allow him to abuse me? Good question. I write my story in an effort to try to understand it myself. Welcome to the series, “Marriage Hell.”
The day of our wedding arrived and I got up really early. First, I started cutting up fruit for a gigantic fruit platter. It took forever as a sliced, cut and rinsed. I started crying while Rob slept soundly. When that was done, I started getting dressed. I loved my wedding dress, Morgan looked gorgeous in her pink flower girl dress, and Nicky looked so pretty, too. Rob wore navy linen shorts and a cream colored short sleeved shirt from Tommy Bahama. On his feet were nice leather men’s flip flops. It was a very nice look for all of us—pretty, casual, and perfect for an outdoor summer San Diego wedding.
By all accounts, our wedding and reception was going to be beautiful and fun. And yet I was in a panic. I had a vision. I wanted, more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my entire life, to get in my car, wedding dress and all, and drive to Tom’s house and not show up for my wedding. I had a million scenarios in my head on how that would work. Just like in a movie. I’d show up on Tom’s doorstep. He would be there, see me, I’d tell him I loved him and I almost made a big mistake. He’d grab me and kiss me and then we’d live happily ever after. I couldn’t quite imagine in my head I would explain it all our wedding guests on why I didn’t show up. Or how I’d tell Rob. Or how I’d move out of our big house and get out from under that financial albatross. Or how I’d explain to Morgan why I had made such a big mistake and then backtracked out of it and all of it was a big “never mind.”
No, none of that was working out in my head just right. Instead of leaving to drive to Tom’s house alone, Rob, Morgan, Nicky and I drove to our wedding venue together. It was at the top of Soledad Mountain in La Jolla. It was spectacular. A perfectly sunny day with spectacular panoramic views of the ocean and San Diego skyline. We couldn’t have picked a better day or place to get married. I acted happy and excited. Rob and I held hands a lot and laughed and smiled. And smiled some more. That smile was just pasted on my face. I was in a daze, stunned that I was there at all. “How is this happening?” I thought. “Help me!” But outwardly, I smiled some more. We saw our guests. We hugged and smiled some more.
Our ceremony started. Our family and friends were all there (minus Rob’s daughter, Kellie, who boycotted the whole thing). We had written our own vows. Rob read his and I smiled and laughed a lot while he read them. I have to say, Rob looked so happy and it tore my heart out. I wanted to love him. He was so kind and good and optimistic and I wanted to wrap my arms around him and sob. “Why can’t I love you like you deserve?” I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t. I could only smile while my heart kept breaking a bit more every single second.
This was horrible. I think I had read books about stuff like this but this was ME. And it was real. And I was powerless to back out of it.
I started reading my vows, saying words like “I can’t wait to come home to you” and “we will be building our family” and “you are becoming my best friend” and “I love you and you’re amazing and I trust you”. And then I started crying during my vows. I didn’t mean any of those words! And then I heard clapping. It broke me out of the trance I was in. I looked up at our guests, almost confused. Right, there are people listening to all of this and they all thought I was crying because I was touched. Rob was smiling at me. I looked at him. I looked back at our guests. And I wanted to scream at everyone, “STOP CLAPPING! I’m not crying because I’m happy! I’m crying because I don’t want to be here. What am I doing here? I want to stop this! Rewind! Take me back to my condo in Pacific Beach please! No no no no no!!!” And I envisioned, again, getting in my car right then and there and driving to Tom’s house. But this wasn’t a movie or a book or a dream. This was real. I was stuck. And I smiled some more, read the rest of my vows, kissed Rob, and it was done. Sealed with a kiss.
After the ceremony was over, Morgan rushed into Rob’s arms and called out, “Daddy!” We went back to our home for the reception, which was one of the coolest wedding receptions I’ve been to. No boring, rubber chicken, too much alcohol at our party. Instead, we grilled food, had an amazingly delicious catered lunch, and mimosas and California Quivers to drink. The kids put on swimsuits and swam. We adults hung out with family and friends. And inside, I was dying. Tom was, in spirit and unbeknownst to him, with me the entire day. A beautiful and fun wedding, to be sure. But Day One of my journey into Hell, married to a raging alcoholic who would lie to me, verbally assault me, and terrorize our entire family until I finally left him. I should have made that drive to Tom’s house after all. It would have been awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing, but the trauma it would have saved me and my children in the long run would have been worth it.