This year, 2018, marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding to W. As part of the celebration, I will be documenting our relationship from the proposal up to the wedding, and each year up to our 10th anniversary.
The year was 2011…*sigh*
It’s hard to start this post knowing there is no redeeming quality for this particular moment of our history. You’d think that our tenth year together would be full of celebration and new beginnings, but it was overshadowed by the emotional and physical losses we sustained. The realities of being an adult slowly started to sink in. Our thirties would prove to be a hellish road paved with good intentions.
Around midnight on January 2nd I got a call from one of my Washirican friends. There had been a fire, an extremely unusual event in Puerto Rico where houses are not made out of wood. Two of our closest friends were in the hospital fighting for their lives due to third degree burns. My friend’s uncle had decided to attack his family in cold blood and doused them with accelerant before lighting them up. They succumbed to their injuries a few days later. (See I lost a friend on New Year’s Day) It was a damning blow for W who couldn’t begin to comprehend why the good die young. Shock set in quickly as well as panic. Why them? Why now? We cried. We scrambled to put together a memorial. It was such a harrowing and humbling experience. How do you mend broken hearts after such a senseless tragedy?
The feeling of loss and powerlessness stayed with us throughout the year. The tone it set was not only gruesome but unnerving. The fragility of life was too hard to bear. We kept chugging along with the grief still inside our hearts, weighing us down. We had lost hope of becoming parents after years of treatments and tests. Now we had lost the joy of living vicariously through the beautiful people we laid to rest. The grief built up needed to go somewhere so I redirected the energy into planning my birthday. For YEARS I had told W I wanted to go all out for the big 3-0 but W was not having it. He just up and quit being present. He didn’t care about much. Depression set in hard and I missed the signs because he tends to drink his feelings. Drunken rage became a staple of his character. I cut him some slack so he could find his own way. He never did.
I settled for a modest trip to Chicago to see the Bulls and MVP Derrick Rose play against W’s beloved Phoenix Suns with Steve Nash at the United Center. The thought of cheering up this bleak year drove the compromise. As part of the bargain, which came with row 8 court side seats, he agreed to coordinate getting my name up on the Jumbotron during the birthday announcement section. I even Googled and provided him instructions to execute the plan to ensure success. Believe me, I had high hopes he would come through for me but for some reason he thought he could skip this step and not feel my wrath. The game ended and so did my patience. His indifference to my outrage was chilling. “I didn’t do it. Who cares about getting their name up there anywhere?” Me. I cared. I wanted to create a happy moment, a memory, which like the child had been denied to me for some cruel sick reason. I closed up. Stayed home and brooded.
My sister decided to fly in from wherever she was living to calm me down. I was about to divorce W. This had been the last straw. We lost a kid. We lost our friends. All I needed was reassurance that I was worth celebrating; that my life mattered. I felt like a loser. If my own husband didn’t care enough to do this one tiny thing to make me happy what f@%!$ reason did I have to stay with him. His unapologetic nature wasn’t just disrespectful or rude, it was an unmistakable trend. He gambled I would still love him because of the commitment and he started pulling back on his responsibilities because of the emotional turmoil. I was livid that I had to make the choice love him despite his a-hole behavior because of the obligations imposed on us by marriage. Truth be told it took me 5+ years to get over this incident and the see it in a new light. Why? He turned his contempt into a DUI.
The Driving Under the Influence arrest and subsequent trial and sentencing chapter of our lives spilled into Year 4. A cop stopped him in my car about 3/4 of a mile away from our home because he was speeding. W followed all the rules, passed the field sobriety test, and blew a .149 blood alcohol level. The officer called a second sheriff patrol to take my sister-in-law home where I was waiting for them to return from the local Applebee’s bar. The car was impounded. My husband was hauled to county jail and given an orange jumpsuit to put the fear of the law in him. Thankfully, there are 24 hr bail bond locations near the area and I was able to locate one in the wee hours of the morning to spring him out. I was livid. His 30th birthday was right around the corner… ugh!
We pretended for about two weeks that W didn’t have a problem. The law firm moved heaven and earth to portray a picture that would result in favorable treatment. The fact that he is handsome, tall, an engineer and caucasian (he inherited his mother’s Spanish white complexion) helped get leniency. He wasn’t convicted of DUI but of a lesser offense of reckless endangerment. This would make adopting difficult, another thing W didn’t want to do anyways, but we smiled and came up with creative ways to say why we avoided pursuing this option. I challenged myself to live up to the wedding vows: for better or worse. It was a struggle but I am glad I stayed in the relationship.
All went relatively smoothly until W’s license was suspended shortly before leaving for Puerto Rico. Life was asking me to sacrifice my time to drive W around. I was in control in a weird way. W worked 30 miles away so he had to learn to ride the bus. It wasn’t a happy or ideal time but the strife did push us a bit closer together. His drinking wasn’t in check and it wouldn’t be for a few more years. We made what we had work, contempt, guilt and shame aside. W decided not to tell his family to spare them the embarrassment. Unfortunately for him I wasn’t willing to keep it a complete secret since his actions came with great consequences and liability that applied to me as his bride. Finding an insurance company that covered him turned out to be easier than expected. Getting the original insurer’s cancellation of coverage wasn’t.
The events made me want to design a time machine and perform a course correction. Damaged goods. That’s what we were. Not a wonder that people kept their distance; they were shielding themselves from surviving the effects and aftermath of Enginerdquake. How did we end up here? And most importantly, where do we go from here?
Stay tuned for Marriage: Year 4.
For another take of the year’s events, check out 2011: The Year That Made Me Wish Time Machines Were Real.