[I need to fill in a part of this history about the engagement ring – My first Lost Love actually declared his love for me on a visit home, just a month after I bought that ring. I can still see his face, and remember how much I wanted to kiss it. I wanted to throw the ring into the river, but I couldn’t do it to my fiance, and I had a plan now. Had to stick to my plan and everything would be ok. I replay that day in my mind, jumping into his arms instead of calmly walking away, saying sorry, he was too late and showing him the ring. I think I left this part out because it still hurts, and I still wonder about that huge choice I made that day, choosing safe and easy over passionate and unknown.]
The wire wedding ring he rigged for me did not last long, it was uncomfortably pinchy, and just looked terrible. I took it off and have lost track of it over the years, it may be in a jewelry box, but I’m not positive.
I wore the engagement ring alone, got my first teaching job, a dream position (I thought so at first, that’s a whole different story there) and put my whole self into teaching. Teaching felt too easy compared to 3 jobs and an overloaded course load in college. So I became technology team captain. That wasn’t enough so I coached Science Olympiad and Model UN. That wasn’t enough so I added a part time job tutoring after school. Why did I work so hard? Why was it never enough? What was I trying to prove? Or what hole was I filling?
I had no friends, zero, despite all my work and connections, I was everyone’s leader and no one’s friend. I made the mistake of telling my few college friends about my past abuse, and they all drifted away. I was having trouble fitting in with the teachers, I found many of them to be either ignorant, rude, or downright nasty. They made fun of students in the teacher lounge. I started eating lunch alone in my room. I was lonely. Painfully lonely.
So I started (continued) thinking of my First Lost Love. It has been about 6 or 7 years since we had spoken, since that day I turned him down by the river. I decided to email him. (Don’t judge me – I’m telling my story, and yes we can all say uh-oh now, but at 21 it seemed a good idea so hush) I did some google searches and found him fairly easily. He answered my first emails with a load of surprise, but responded very sweetly. It became a daily ritual to email before leaving my classroom. We just talked about anything and everything. Caught up on the last few years, shared stories of our days, shared our dreams. And his writing was so beautiful, poetic almost, the way he could see things like me. His words moved me, and made me realize how few words I got from husband, other than angry ones. I could not wait to check my inbox each day.
And then it got awkward. (you knew it was coming) We both hinted at how much we care for each other. Slowly, carefully, little hints of true love were sent in the messages, hidden in other stories. And then the hints turned into heartfelt declarations of true love. I even told him how I got married and almost wished he had stopped it. I told him how I think of him every time I see the moon, and he said he did too – we had some special connection. So what to do? I was married, he was not. Was it worth ending my marriage and chasing this fairy tale? We both realized that even though we held on for so long, that it may not be great if we actually got together, that we had both raised each other up into mythical true love entities, that no relationship could hold up to that. But oh my did I want to try. But instead, we decided nothing could happen this way, he would always feel guilty for breaking up a marriage. I agreed. We said goodbye and promised to stop emailing, it was the right thing to do. But it felt like my heart had been ripped out of me.
Now, my husband never noticed my loneliness. He didn’t even notice my sudden happiness when I had my email buddy. But he surely did notice my sudden sadness when I “broke up” with First Love – again. I can’t remember all the details, but everyone decided I was falling into depression again. I started weekly, sometimes several hours a week therapy with the wonderful woman I still see now. After a few getting to know you visits, she asked my goals, and in between sobs, I asked how to get over a Lost Love and learn to love someone else. At that point, I put no blame at all on my husband, and felt so guilty for emotionally cheating on him. I thought there was something wrong with me, something that I could fix, that I was broken since I couldn’t love my husband. Husband supported this idea, that I was broken, damaged, but that he would help me through it. Between the guilt, the pills (they put me on Effexor and Depakote), the pain, the stress, I put on about 60 pounds that year. My engagement ring no longer fit me.
I continued therapy, all my over working, all my loneliness, until I decided I needed to be strong and make a change. I found divorce papers online, printed them and sat down to talk with husband. I told him it wasn’t his fault. That I wasn’t happy, and that I needed to be me without him. I had never had time alone to just be me.
My husband said ‘No’ to the divorce. I didn’t count on that. I wasn’t strong enough to fight him. He yelled and said he was not giving up, and would never sign those papers. He wasn’t throwing away our years together and our future. That is wasn’t all going to be for “Shit”. I apologized, and promised to be a good wife. (What? Yes, that’s what I did) We actually went out that night and bought a new wedding band for me – on the same day I asked for divorce. The ring was Nothing fancy, just something to wear on my finger and remind me that I was married, damnit. And supposed to be happy.