I got married in a discount gown with a low back and my older male friend said, “I though you were a good girl” when he saw the photos.
I thought I was, too.
Everybody told us we were children. Which is true, though not strictly speaking. We could vote and go to war, but not drink or rent a car. I suppose that says something about what the powerful think of us, but that is not my point here.
My point is that neither of us had fully formed prefrontal cortexes which one needs to make long term decisions. But the more ancient, rudimentary parts of our brains—the parts that keep the species going—were fully functioning. So we were in love and nobody had ever been in love like this (another side effect of not having a fully cooked PFC) and we were going to write our epic, heartthrobby, Disney-worthy love story. Except better, because Disney princes never kissed like that (though I’d hear a case for Eric knowing some dirty words). And we would be in this together.
At least, I thought so.
So we jumped in holding hands, but when we broke the surface tension, the pressure was too much and our grip broke. I’ve spent so many years flailing around, mostly blind, trying to find his hand again while I suffocate. And then reeling back when my fingers touch his skin.
I didn’t realize we were sweeping fears of abandonment under the aisle runner. Or that the petals fell on existential crises covered in white satin. Or that the candles on the alter covered the light stench of neglect. He has his story and that’s the point:
I thought that it was ours.
More honestly than that, I needed it to not be mine.
I needed someone to save me, to make it so that I didn’t have to bear up under the weight of my confusion and my wounds. Someone who would dress them for me, let me never have to think of them again. Someone I could lose myself to because myself had became a real pain in my ass and I didn’t want to deal with her anymore. I wanted to be swept up and away from everything that hurt and felt unsafe.
I used him to escape and trusted him to make a life for me that made sense, felt good, kept me safe.
Obviously this is a dumb idea. But in my defense, my prefrontal cortex was still a baby and he looked very good in a uniform. Prince Eric, eat your heart out.
We have almost 17 years between us and those kids on the altar and many of those years have been hard. What a slight word for an unslight thing, but it’s the one I’ve got. Hard and good. So much of the life we’ve built even from painful un-reckonings is more beautiful and fulfilling and Good than I could have dreamed up in my very best imaginings of our life together. Disney doesn’t show you Jasmine and Aladdin 2 kids in, exhausted and broke, making each other laugh with Office quotes or burying their shared and shattered history with their pet Rajah.
I can’t wrap this up neatly because it’s not wrappable yet. Everything is out on the ground and we’re both deciding what to pick up. But I can say that for all the things I thought this was and all the things it is turning out to be, I do not regret walking down the aisle in that accidentally skanky discount gown. And I am grateful for the stories we are making our own.