At twenty-three years old, I was already the mother of two. Newly separated from my abusive ex-fiancee, naive about life, love, and everything in between, and scared shitless of adulthood, I was a hot mess and desperate for safety and security. That’s when I met Him.
He was way out of my league, or so he seemed by appearance. Four years older, dark-featured, muscular, and charmingly intelligent – he was a hardworking guy who looked to have his shit together. At the very least, he had a handle on life unlike myself. He still lived at home with his mom, but she was sick and needed someone around to hold her accountable for her well-being, so I didn’t think too much of it. He played the part of the doting son perfectly. What girl wouldn’t want to be with a man who adores his mother and treats her with kid gloves? That’s the kind of endearing quality many had told me distinguished a good man from the rest.
It was all too good to be true, but I fell for him- hook, line, and sinker. Even after he revealed the blemishes of his past – an addiction to alcohol which led to some violent outbursts and landed him in jail several times – I believed him to be in full recovery and trusted in his sincere honesty. He even took me along to his AA meetings so I could see for myself that he was serious about keeping his head on straight and had learned from his mistakes.
About three months into our relationship, I fell gravely ill and ended up having to undergo emergency surgery in order to save my life. When I woke up after from the anesthesia, he was sitting by my hospital bed with a tiny ring box in his clenched hands. In it was a dainty little diamond ring. This Prince Charming of mine proceeded to tell me that after almost losing me, he knew I was The One he wanted to be with forever. Of course I said, “yes”. It was the perfect fairytale moment come to life and I was smitten.
After that, things began to unravel a little as his true colors began to peek through the veil of passion blanketing my judgement. He began drinking again. He began to show signs of aggression towards me when drunk. I realized he was too frequently popping pills from the bottle of anxiety medications always rattling in the pocket of his jeans; more than anyone could possibly need in one day or a doctor would ever prescribe for use. Yet, I was addicted to the idea of what this man had to offer when he stepped into my life and I blamed every red flag on his battle with addiction, since I knew it was a mental illness hard to treat on a long-term basis.
Considering the fact that I had a mental health diagnosis of my own, I didn’t want to be hypocritical and dump him over something he was born with the predisposition for. Even after he was arrested for drunk driving and faced the possibility of being sentenced to some serious jail time over the fact that he already had a criminal record and was on probation.
Instead, I went ahead and married this stranger barely six months after we met. In my naivety and desperation, I reasoned that we had the rest of our lives together to really get to know one another. That our souls had connected in a once-in-a-lifetime true love bond many don’t ever find over the course of their lifetimes. God, I had so much growing up left to do.
Here we are, eleven years later, still together, but barely holding on by a thread. Now in my mid-thirties, I have matured greatly and gained much wisdom from the journey to get to this point. There’s so much I have come to know and realize- about life, myself, my family, and my marriage… especially my marriage to my husband.
The man I married was not just a stranger in terms of me barely knowing him a short while before plunging into holy matrimony. He was a stranger in the sense that he was masquerading around with a mask, hiding himself from the rest of the world so he could manipulate and control with ease. I still don’t know all of what’s under his surface, as I’ve been played a fool this whole time, I fear.
It’s no wonder. I was the perfect victim for his narcopathic tendencies. Gullible, despondent, insecure, and oozing with co-dependency issues ripe for manipulating.
His addiction issues have never been healed. He has only traded one in for another in a vicious cycle that has no end. I do not know what our future will bring. If our future will keep us together or bring us to an end. There is no security I can rest assured with when I lay my head down for sleep each night. No way of knowing what this journey has in store. I cannot help someone who doesn’t want to help himself and I cannot blame myself for his lack of transparency.
Whatever happens will happen, but I will be stronger for it, nevertheless. Because if marrying this masked stranger has done any good at all, it is in the fact that I have learned to love myself, trust my own instinct and judgement, and accept the person I truly am and celebrate her for all that she’s worth. My marriage may be a sham in many ways, but I am as real as ever for it.
Something my husband should probably start taking notes on how to do.