So like many of you around the world I tuned in this morning to watch Prince William marry Kate. I loved everything about the wedding. Watching the guests arrive with excitement, their parents beam with pride, and Williams look of adornment as he first caught a glimpse of Kate for the first time. The way the two of them gazed into one another's eyes was magical. The way William continued to glimpse at Kate and give her a wink letting her know everything was going to be OK made me long for a moment like that.
I have been married once before. When I was 19 I married a man I knew as a kid growing up, but never as a man/woman. I was in love with the idea of love. I was in love with the ideas of a family, a home, a man who adored me beyond words, a man who would protect me from all things wrong in this world. I wanted a sense of belonging, safety and security. What I got was all but those things. I married a man that was emotionally, financially, and eventually physically abusive.
I struggled to make sense of it all for 5 years. I thought this was what a marriage was, the man controls everything and the woman stays home and bears children. My family was aware of the stress I was under, aware of his behavior, yet no one said "get out now!" It wasn't until I was in the Emergency Room (for other reasons) that I realized what I was participating in was not OK. Up on a wall of pamphlets I noticed the Violence wheel. It depicted all the ways a person could be abused: financially, emotionally, physically, sexually... I was flabbergasted at what I read. I had always thought abuse was purely physical or sexual. I was in the midst of something more traumatizing; emotional abuse. For 5 years I was bullied, controlled, and criticized by the one person who swore in front of 200 guests to protect me from all things hurtful.
I had lied to family and friends about holes in the wall from punches that thankfully missed me. I covered up the insults and verbal attacks with a smile. I hid the financial control by making excuses. I pretended I was happy for 5 years so well that I eventually believed it myself.
Thankfully I was able to see that the way I was being treated was never acceptable for any person, and I left the relationship. I taunting, harassment, verbal abuse, and threats lasted for 8 years after that. The only times I got relief was when he would push too far and an Order for Protection could be put back into place. Currently I have a permanent order in place making things much quieter and giving more room for recovery.
Since the divorce 11 years ago I have been engaged twice. Once to to my attacker and once to a man who loved me, but I never loved back. I agreed to both of them out of a yearning for that "Whit Picket Fence" dream. I wanted to be like everyone else, a home, a dog, and 2 kids playing in the yard. I wanted the fancy wedding with all the pomp and circumstance a princess deserves. Honestly, I was never in love with either men. I wanted the idea of them. Instead of accepting either of them for who they are I struggled to make them into what I needed. Being alone was far more frightening than being married to an abuser. Thankfully for myself and both those men I did not follow through, although it caused an attack from one and heartache for the other.
Still single I morn for the adoring glance from across the room, the kind-gentle-loving touch, wink letting me know everything was going to be OK. I cry because I don't know if I will ever find that person who loves me unconditionally and I love them back. I am sad because I fear I will not be able to shop for a wedding gown and daydream about the man standing at the end of the aisle. I desperately work on saving myself so that one day I can be with a loving man and love him not because I need him, but need him because I love him.