On this day, four long years ago, I was bawling like a little girl. It was the day I married my now ex-husband. I was very pregnant, and felt a sense of duty and obligation to get married since I got pregnant out of wedlock. My pregnancy hormones took over and I said, What the hell, and I got married.
But, what the pictures didn’t show, was how much I didn’t want it.
I stared down at the empty finger that would soon hold a ring. I was used to the bareness, the small freckle in the middle, and wondered what it’d feel like to have a ring there every day. Would I play with it subconsciously while I worked? Would it irritate me during hot weather when it got too tight?
I had reservations, but I thought I was doing the right thing. I hoped, at least.
“I’m sorry,” he said to me, pulling into the Jimmy John’s parking lot. “We will have it by the end of the week. This means a lot to me. It was my sister’s.”
I looked down at the box that held the ring with a black stone. It wasn’t anything like the ring I had picked out. Since we never got engaged, I didn’t even have an engagement ring. Maybe it was superficial, but I at least wanted my own wedding ring on the day I got married. His sister had died years before and I’d never met her. I’d gone through a similar scenario with my first fiance in college. He had proposed with his mom’s old ring. His dad was no longer alive. It was not my taste but it was sentimental to him, and relationships are about putting the other person first, right?
But, as I stared at the ring that belonged to someone who took their own life, I couldn’t help but think of my own. Was I making the right decision?
“I’ll be right back.” He went inside to get our subs.
When he came back out, he handed me my sub and I unwrapped the paper, a sinking feeling in my stomach that I couldn’t shake. When it was completely unwrapped, I saw the hint of lettuce sticking out. I pulled off the top of the sandwich and there it was, a mound of lettuce covering the deli meat underneath.
And right there, staring at the lettuce that he knew I never put on my sandwiches, that I started bawling. Not simple tears. Heavy sobs from my gut. I couldn’t stop. He tried to apologize. He tried to comfort me. But I couldn’t stop crying.
His friend and his wife and daughter, and my friend Porsha were waiting for us at the church. My phone exploded with texts asking where I was.
He thought I was upset about the lettuce. But that wasn’t it. The lettuce symbolized so much more. It was all the times he was careless. It was all the times he only thought about himself. It was all the times he got aggressive with me and blamed it on me. It was all those things and more.
But pregnancy hormones make you do crazy things and when I finally was okay enough to wipe the tears away, we headed to the church.
I relayed my fears to Porsha in the bathroom while I changed. But I talked myself through it. I stood outside the church, listening to his preacher but not really listening. I felt the wind on my face, and wondered if I was doing the right thing. I said “I do,” but it felt foreign and wrong. I watched him slide a ring that wasn’t mine onto my finger, the stones rubbing my skin in a way that annoyed me. And then I smiled through my hesitations, so everyone else would be happy.
I knew that day I didn’t want to marry him. But I did it anyway.
The next time I say “I do,” I won’t be so gracious. I won’t give it out because some wants me to give it. I’ll give it because I do. I will be so in love that I can’t imagine my life without that person.It will be the happiest day of my life, not the day I wish never happened.
The second time, I’ll get it right.