SHARED BY BRITNI P.
I met R at the young age of 21. I moved from Chicago to Arizona after a suicide attempt, and there was so much I had to figure out. I needed to get away from my home and the life I created—a life with absolutely no boundaries, thanks to my own lack of discipline.
If I moved to a new place, everything would automatically be different, or so I thought. It wasn’t too long before I realized it could only be different if I made different choices.
I found myself in a place of dating just to date, trying to fill a void of some sort and technically finding love in all the wrong places. R messaged me on MySpace. (For those of you unaware, MySpace was pretty much the coolest social media site ever, mostly because it was during the dark ages of the interwebs before Facebook.) We started chatting and decided to meet up for a drink. We enjoyed each other’s company so much, we started seeing each other regularly.
Not too long after we started dating, R proposed to me. I was giddy in love and thought it was a great idea. At the time, I had never loved anyone as much as I loved him; we understood each other on a level I never experienced before. I truly felt he was my soulmate.
Blinded by Love
We moved forward with the wedding plans despite some family and friends’ disapproval. They weren’t completely ecstatic about my fast-track marriage. There were concerns and red flags I was blind to: he experienced an unstable childhood and had a much more immature mindset than me, and because of those factors, he was extremely bad at holding down any good job.
But I threw caution to the wind believing those were all things we (or I) could work on in time, throughout our marriage. So what if he was a fixer-upper? I wasn’t convinced all those concerns needed fixing before we started life together. We rushed through our "get to know you" stage and were quickly married. With everything I had been through in life prior to meeting R, I was finally doing it right.
Or so I thought.
We truly enjoyed our first year of marriage; it was the best year. We got along well, had way more agreements than disagreements, went out together often, and both of us held down fairly good jobs. Overall, we managed to have a comfortable life, even for our early 20s.
Starting to Crack
During our second year of marriage (third year being together), R lost his job. It was a hard time that continued to get harder. We filed for unemployment, but it only lasted so long. He had a really hard time finding work. And while I would never say he deliberately chose to not work, his unemployment lasted over two years! It put a ton of responsibly on me; I had to carry the weight of all our bills, endeavors, groceries, etc.
R struggled with depression throughout his life, but this was something I was unaware of, especially since we jumped into marriage so quickly. Staying at home, unemployed and almost unproductive didn’t help at all. He would contribute around the house sometimes, but his depression was getting the best of him. I continued working hard, trying anything to make ends meet. I was even donating plasma twice a week for extra cash.
This was a lot of stress for such a young couple, and most of the time, I did not feel like I was being heard. My concerns about our inability to afford everyday necessities fell on deaf ears. I felt very alone in my marriage. It was in these moments when I felt so stupid for not listening to those red flag conversations from my friends and family. But he wasn’t the only factor. When things aren’t going well, I have a knack for self-destructing and making things worse.
When R finally got a part-time job making next to nothing, I thought something was better than nothing. But all those feelings of neglect and abandonment from the past two years stayed with me, even though our situation had gotten a little better. I looked for validation everywhere but home, while R dealt with demons from his childhood that affected our sexual relationship.
We had talked many times, trying to improve our relationship, but nothing ever seemed to change. He had finally gotten a job, and how did I repay him? I had a five-month affair with a high-profile client. That’s how.
Like every dark secret, the affair and all its ugliness eventually came into the light. We started seeing our pre-marital counselors again. During this time, R said he was quitting his job to start a new one, but that job never came. We were back in the cycle—the cycle of one of us being unproductive and not caring to improve, and the other slowly dying while simultaneously trying to keep it all above water and going into self-destruct mode, making it all worse. The counseling didn’t help. I didn’t trust that R was looking for work, trying to be a contributor to society, or actually wanting to work toward a healthier marriage; he didn’t trust that I wasn’t fucking every guy I worked with. I continued reminding him that he wasn’t a man, and he repeatedly declared that I was nothing but good on my back.
Quite a few things came to a head during our last year of marriage. I started drinking a lot more than I should have. I chose to work all the time, and I was salaried, so there wasn’t even a financial benefit. I no longer wanted to be home. Home was the harbor of sickly-layered lies and awful verbal abuse.
There were so many broken bridges of trust. My suggested separation turned into a divorce request. We ended our relationship knowing we were completely toxic to one another.
Neither of us went into marriage thinking this would be the end result. I don’t believe we intentionally woke up saying we were going to hurt deepest the person we loved the most. We abandoned ship, set it on fire, and left the other person in the burning debris to deal with it.
Picking Up the Pieces
When two people continually hurt each other, when you can’t seem to put the other first, when you go to all efforts to fix the situation and it only gets worse, divorce feels like your only option. It definitely was my only option. This fact alone was painful. I never wanted this; I never wanted to fail so hard at something I wanted so badly. I felt the shame of my choices. We just couldn’t seem to wholly forgive the other.
Five months after filing divorce, we were considered single by the state of Arizona. R did not attend any court hearings, including our final hearing. He was in much more denial about how bad our relationship truly was. I had to let him go. We have not spoken since.
We didn’t have any children together, which was a blessing in disguise. I knew in order to move on and truly live happily, I would have to forgive—forgive him and myself.
I had to let go of that period in my life and learn everything I possibly could to not repeat history. But I would never take it back. As painful and as awful as it ended, it didn’t start that way. We were two kids who screwed up badly, badly enough for it to be non-repairable. He was my first love—a love who taught me what true love is and what it is not.
My story is proof sometimes when a relationship ends, it doesn’t necessarily mean the couple stopped loving each other. For us, it meant we stopped hurting each other. And that has made all the difference in my life.