Where to begin…………….
You know how there are things in your life – events, choices, and the like – that, as you get older, you reflect on? It’s about to be a new year, I am more than half a century old, and thinking on the things I would have done differently…..and the things I wouldn’t have changed for the world. One of the latter is having called off my wedding, although I definitely would have changed the timing of it…….
I thought, at first, about describing the man, the way we met, all the circumstances, but then I thought better of it. I decided it really isn’t relevant to the outcome, the main point of this story. Relationships go wrong all the time and the details are only truly interesting if it’s your relationship. Suffice it to say that he was funny, bright, and interesting. My family thought him odd and different so not an altogether surprising choice for me to have made. They availed themselves of the alternative medical knowledge he possessed. He was studying yet another alternative health therapy when I met him. He was constantly building his body of knowledge, constantly reading. As it turned out, that was to be a huge part of the problem – too much emphasis on the books without taking the individual uniqueness of the actual person into consideration. In what, looking back, was the middle of our relationship, I could already see him doing that to me, applying all his knowledge in his assessment of any health issue I might have been having, determining whether or not I had done the exercises or followed the diet he prescribed based solely on a quick visual scan and what he had read in a book. My telling him I had done what he had suggested carried no weight at all. I was always told the same thing – “ The body doesn’t lie.” I’m sure my subconscious was coming to the realization that this was how he would treat me forever, treat any children we might have. The book would reign over the person. As I said, it was an understanding that was growing in my subconscious. Consciously, I was trying to be worthy of his love, figuring that anything I didn’t like about the relationship had to be my fault somehow. That perspective, and its concomitant willingness to turn myself into a human pretzel in order to make things work, was to follow me for many, many years. I’m over it now, though.
Anyway, the conscious realization came at an unfortunate time, as realizations are prone to do – the dawn of the day of the wedding. We had decided to hold the ceremony on a piece of property we had purchased in northern California with a few other friends. It was wooded with a hilltop view and springs bubbling with fresh water from nearby mountain snow melt. Beautiful, idyllic, quiet. No phone. He and a few of our friends had decided to stay out there the night before. The guest list included our friends, fellow students from the institute he was attending, and, of course, his family. Mom, dad, sisters, elderly grandma, all staying in a nearby hotel. The kind of person that I am makes me agonize over what the right thing to do is but, once I’ve had the moment of clarity that shows me what that is, no obstacle or degree of difficulty will keep me from doing it. So I went to face the music. Such a gentle term, when you think about it. Face the music. Like that’s an unpleasant thing. I’ll have to look up the origin of that expression. It was anything but pleasant. Face the firing squad was more what it felt like, made a little less scary by the fact that they were only armed with words. Paper bullets of the brain…..
Friends drove me to the property that morning. First, of course, I told him my realization. He was upset but asked me if I would be willing to go through with it for the sake of appearances and have it annulled later. I said no, I couldn’t be a hypocrite and say important words that I didn’t mean, make a promise I had no intention of keeping. Certainly not for appearances. He accepted that, not that I gave him much choice. I was very young and idealistic. Still am. Idealistic, that is. I can’t say that I can accurately remember what his emotional reaction was. I barely remember how I felt. The impact of realizing what I knew I had to do and the horrible timing of it had made me physically sick. I had developed a fever during the night. He told me I had broken his heart. I guess that says it all.
Then I went to tell his family. His father was sad and compassionate, his mother furious and highly vocal. That was the karma I was expecting, the karma I knew I deserved for leaving her son at the altar. I kept thinking that nothing is free and this was the price I had to pay……so I paid it. After that, I made the rounds, telling the guests that had gathered into small groups. I heard the “b” word a lot. Not bitch….brave. I certainly didn’t feel brave. I had hurt someone I loved and I did it in front of nearly everyone close to him. The only comfort I could take was in knowing I had been true to myself, that I had not betrayed my soul. That may sound selfish but I feel like being true to ourselves is the best any of us can do. No matter what.
The sun set on that day like it did on every other day. I went home. He went back to LA.
But wait, there’s more……
Back in LA, he was working with my sister on some health issues that she had. One day, about a year later, she called me to tell me she liked him. I told her I did too, in spite of everything. She said, no, I didn’t understand. She LIKED him liked him! I was thrilled! Suddenly it all seemed to make sense! They were perfect for each other! I felt like I understood that he came into my life, ill-suited for me, so that I could bring him into her life! They have been married for over 30 years now. And because we are who we are, there has never, ever been a moment of jealousy, or behavior that was inappropriate in any way. It was destiny. For that, and many other reasons, I am thankful for that moment of clarity and have never looked back.
Just goes to show you that you never know about life. Happy New Year everyone!