I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I knew what love was. What it meant to love and be loved.
I met him when we were just 17 years old. He was the dairy stock boy at the local Albertsons and I was the new bagger.
Our friendship blossomed between stocking the dairy, aisle cleanups, bottle counts and cardboard recycling, but we didn’t notice and we didn’t mind.
Date nights, picnics in the park, movies, family time saw our friendship turn into a deeper relationship. We were innocent. Naïve. We fell in love.
Two years later, we got caught up in the idea of marriage when his cousin married his high school sweetheart. He gave me a promise ring when we got home and we agreed that we were going to be married.
My parents weren’t fans. I looked back years later and understood, but that didn’t stop us from moving forward in the moment.
We were in love. You can’t argue with love. Or can you?
Two months after turning 19 we married. He was my husband and I was his wife. Wow, we had no idea what that truly meant. Marriage and a wedding are two different things. In high school, we were taught how to plan our wedding and dream about how many kids we want, careers, money and all the trappings that we think are important.
No one ever tells you how to communicate with your husband or your wife. There is no rule book. They don’t teach you how to support and stand up for each other. You never hear how to overcome fears. There is no mental or emotional training to prepare you for marriage.
We were never truly taught how to create a deep unbreakable bond and partnership.
So we failed like so many others. We lost our way. We made mistakes. It wasn’t just his fault. It was our fault. We let ourselves down. He may have made the one bad decision that pushed us over the edge.
What did we do or not do that led to our demise?
He wasn’t abusive. He was kind. He was funny. He was nerdy. He had a great family. Somewhere, somehow one day he made a decision that he was done with us. He wanted something different. He didn’t want me. It hurt. It fucking sucked. I thought all of my dreams were dashed and broken. I felt unwanted. I felt unloved. I wanted retaliation, but I didn’t have the energy or deep desire to pursue it. In the end, I wanted out.
I found my voice.
If you don’t want me then I don’t want to be involved with someone who doesn’t want me.
I was 25.
I was lost.
I had no idea who I was.
I had no idea what I wanted.
I had no idea who I wanted to be.
I remember sitting on the bed one night and saying out loud, “Who is Lany?”
Who was I?
I was a 25 year old woman, working 60+ hours a week in a career I hated, supporting a lifestyle I didn’t want with a husband who didn’t want me.
Talk about ego crushing.
I had wanted to start my own business 4-6 months before the shit hit the fan and boy was he adamantly against it. I had inadvertently become the bread winner and walking away from 6 figures a year in income is nothing to shake a stick at. So, I acquiesced and stayed in the job I despised.
Once I came to the realization that I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want me I felt free. It became an opportunity to find myself. To learn about who I was, what I wanted, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be.
Those realizations didn’t happen overnight. They happened over years.
This was the catalyst.
This was the beginning.
3 months after he asked for a divorce we separated our assets and I started my own business. It was the beginning of a new journey. A new path. A new experience.
So many doors to open.
Do I regret getting married so young?
Would I do it again?
But I know that the path I have chosen to walk down is one of my choosing. I chose to defy my family’s wishes and not wait. I chose to get married to the man I thought I loved. I truly do believe that I loved him. It’s not the love I have today, but it was the love I knew and was able to give then.
To this day, I still refuse to speak ill of him. He was my first love. We fucked it up. We’ve grown up and I am sure that we are each better for it.
The best thing that came out of that marriage is a beautiful, lifelong friendship with his mother. There is always a silver lining.