Eighteen years ago, this is what I attempted to do. It was my wedding day. You know the one that every little girl apparently dreams of? And every woman remembers back to?
I never really had dreams of what my wedding would be like, and as for remembering back to? Well actually I can’t remember a thing of it. I was so doped to my eyeballs with medication, just to get me through the day, that I remember nothing. All that I have is images in my head, created from photos and a video that was recorded of the day.
The wedding had already been postponed once, when my psychiatrist told me he’d commit me to compulsory psychiatric hospitalisation if I didn’t postpone. That was about the only thing that would have worked, and it did… until I shifted and got a new psychiatrist.
As regular readers may remember I don’t ever put photos of myself on the internet, because of some very real personal security issues from my past (and not because I am trying to hide anything from you). But I’ve made an exception, partly because 18 years on, this isn’t how I look anymore. I might yet remove the photo from here in a few weeks time, but in the meantime I hope that people will respect my need for this photo not to go any further.
The photo is me and my Dad arriving at the wedding. I look happy enough, don’t I? But moments before the photo was taken, and before my Dad got out of the car, I said to him “please don’t make me go in there.”
I don’t actually remember saying it, but it was loud and clear the day my new husband and I sat down for the first time (several weeks later) to watch the video that a friend had made. Woops!
Dad heard it, but he thought I was joking and I guess that’s a problem sometimes when you’re someone who has a tendency to do ‘silly’. He also didn’t know that I’d said a similar thing to one of my brothers a few night’s earlier. My brother hadn’t known how to respond either. He could see how clearly upset I was but put it down to my mental health at the time. I should say though, that while Dad and my brother heard me say this, I don’t in anyway think they should have done something other than listen, as they did. It was my responsibility to opt out of the wedding. I didn’t.
To cut a long story short the marriage was doomed and ended some years later. It was very painful, but I’ve come to the realisation that it happened, it’s a part of my life, and that’s okay.
What brought me to that conclusion was when my mother was eager to throw out the photos she had of my wedding. We had rescued them, along with many other family photos, from her home that was destroyed by the earthquakes last year. She said to me, “you should have left these ones there, I’ll just put them in the rubbish.” My mother has never been a sentimental person, so her reaction to the photos didn’t really surprise me. But it did make me think.
Yes, my ex-husband and I should never have got married in the first place. I believe that was the first mistake. Actually I seriously doubt I was well enough, and in enough of my right mind, to be signing any sort of legal document. I was very sick with depression, anorexia and PTSD (the PTSD was a lot to do with why I didn’t listen to my feelings).
At the time we married, I firmly believed that marriage was a ‘until death do us part’ commitment. So I took that to heart when I realised it wasn’t going to work, and tried repeatedly to kill myself. I seriously believed that was better than divorce. Thankfully with some help of a very wise therapist who is now a valued friend, I eventually realised that divorce might not be the ideal, but I needed to do something to remove myself from a situation that was literally killing me.
The marriage was a mistake right from day one, and I’m not going to go into the reasons for that, because I don’t think that is important. What is important though, is what I do with the mistake I made all those years ago. I read a blog recently, where the writer was saying that there are no mistakes in life. I disagree.
The biggest mistake I made was
to not listen to my feelings…
over and over again.
I kept calm and shut up… with the aid of a lot of medication. And I kept doing that throughout the marriage because I gave no value to my own feelings. I simply thought I was wrong. I thought I was a failure of a wife, as a woman, and as a person. I even thought I was a failure as a daughter and sister because my family would be so disappointed in me. It wasn’t until someone taught me that my feelings mattered, that I started to see that what I thought and felt was valid, and not to be ignored.
So yes, I made some mistakes… but at this point I can finally say I have no regrets. Yes, it hurt. Yes, it was very painful for all involved. And yes, there are lasting scars for both me and my ex-husband, but I suspect we are both in much better situations now. I certainly am and while we don’t have contact now I know enough to know that my ex-husband is also now in a much better place.
I also know that I learnt a whole lot from going through all those years. That dreadful journey has contributed to the person that I am today, and I know that has to be a good thing.
I encouraged Mum to keep the photos. I don’t know whether she did, but regardless of the disaster the marriage was, it was a significant part of my life. It happened. While it’s not something I think about much now days, I’m not going to pretend it didn’t happen.
Sometimes we do make mistakes, but actually good can come from those mistakes, and for that reason I have no regrets. I need to add though that it has taken a long time to get to this point. I used to feel physically ill when this date rolled around each year. But this year I’ve discovered that dread and regret is past now.
So believe. It does happen.
“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?”
― Mary Manin Morrissey