A lot of you already know this story, but I'm telling it again.
When I was twenty, I got married. The man I married on August 24th, 1996 is not the man I am married to today.
When I was twenty-one, almost twenty-two, I found out I was pregnant with twins. The biological father of those twins is not the man I am married to today.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1997 the biological father of those twins, the man that I married in 1996, told me he didn't love me. He had never loved me. He didn't want to be married to me. He didn't want to have a family with me. He was done, it was over.
I had just turned twenty-two years old, and it was over. My marriage, my dreams for a family, my life. Everything was over.
I was devastated. I do not have the appropriate words to describe how devastated I was. I would have done anything, literally anything, to get this man back.
Don't believe me? Once, I was convinced I had won $25,000 in a contest (I didn't. Did I mention I was twenty-two years old? Not very smart? Not very worldly? I was dumb. It was a scam and I figured it out pretty quickly, but still). For a few brief, shining hours I believed I had an extra $25,000 and instead of paying off my credit card debt or saving it for my children's futures or buying a 4-door vehicle, or securing housing for many years to come, I was going to buy my then-husband a truck. A really nice, big truck. He knew a lot of people who had really nice big trucks and even though he literally had zero need for such a thing I was going to buy it for him, so he would be happy. So he would realize I was good and worthy and he would want to be with me.
Did you get that? I was completely willing to forgo my own happiness, my comfort, and my security so he would be happy.
He wouldn't have been happy anyway. I mean, maybe the truck would have temporarily made him happy, but he wouldn't have been happy with me. He would not have had some magical realization that I was good and worthy. He didn't love me.
It's hard for me to type those words, all of these years later. Twenty-two years later I am still struggling to admit this:
Typing this does not make this less painful. Time does not make this less painful. It's still, and will forever be a hurtful thing that someone that I promised to love, honor, and cherish did not love me back.
People say, they always say, "He just loved in you in his own way!" or "He DID love you, he just didn't know how to show it."
He did not love me.
It's okay to say that he did not love me. We all do asshole things to the people we love from time to time. I'd be embarrassed to recap some of the arguments that Jason and I have had through our many years together and I imagine every single couple out there would say the same. There is a difference in occasionally behaving like an asswhistle to someone you love and not actually loving them. There is a very distinct difference. I promise.
People who love you do not actively try to destroy you. People who love you do not try to convince you that you are worthless. People who love you do not tell you that no one loves you, that your life has no meaning, that you will never be a good wife, a good mother, or a good human being. That is not love. There is nothing close to love in those statements or those actions.
I was twenty-two and I had to fight for my family.
I lost that fight, but...I won that fight.
What I won? Was so far beyond what I had and what I was trying to fight for.
There was a time that I'm certain I would taken my ex-husband back. I would have "forgiven" him. Forgiven is in quotes for a reason. Would I have ever been able to trust him again? Probably not. Would I have worried every time he left the house? Probably. Would I be who I am today? ABSOLUTELY. NOT.
Is who I am today better than who I was in 1997? Better is a relative term I guess, but I'm certainly stronger, braver, wiser, more kind and loving, and I 1000% like myself a Hell of a lot better than I did twenty-two years ago.
He did not find me good or worthy, but he was wrong. He thought my happiness, comfort, and security were not important, but he was wrong. He didn't love me, and that's his right. I didn't love me, and that was wrong. I was wrong for accepting less than I deserved. I know that now, and while that lesson came with a lot of pain (some of which I'm still trying to work out, thanks therapy), I get it. My daughter gets it and should she ever have a daughter, that child will likely come out of the womb getting it, and that, my friends, is how I won my family back.
I married Jason on July 12th, 2003. It was miserably hot. I didn't know it on that day, but I had absolutely no idea how to be married. Literally none. As I mentioned, we've had some arguments that bordered on insane over the years (someday I am going to document the "Attractiveness Hierarchy" and every single woman will totally agree with me). He's always loved me. I've always loved him. It's different.
I love me now too and that is also different.
That is also more important, way more important, than I realized in 1997.