2. I married the wrong person way too fast. Twice.
I logged into my bank’s website and navigated to my checking account. I remember it distinctly. There was about $800 left. That can’t be right.
I opened up the account details page and began scrolling through all the recent expenses. Cake. DJ. Decorations. Food. Tuxedos. The list went on and on. Then a big one. $7,500 on the wedding ring. All of it non-refundable.
I remember sitting back in my chair at work, wondering what I was doing. My divorce from my first wife had only been finalized six months before. I forced myself to breathe normally as I looked at a picture on my desk of me with my fiancé.
I barely knew her.
As fast as the thought came, I looked at the bank account, and I buried the thought again. This was the right move. We knew each other enough. I loved her. Everything was non-refundable. No reason to get cold feet now. It could work. It would work.
I sat further back in my chair and thought of my first wife. I knew her three months before we were engaged. Three months later we were married. The next six and a half years were hell.
I couldn’t help but think back to the events surrounding that wedding as well. I remember getting cold feet and wondering if it was the right decision. I remember seriously doubting it. I remember obscuring and hiding so many red flags. And, I remember that my Dad and Mom had already forked over so much money to pay for the danged thing that I could not cancel it. So, we moved forward. Just like I was now. The second time.
I closed the internet browser and forced myself to think of all the reasons this marriage was the right move for me to make. I forced myself to justify it, and rationalize it, and to actually believe that it was healthy and right. I didn’t know that I would lock myself in the bathroom on my wedding night and silently weep after finally allowing myself to admit that it was what it was… Two horny and lonely people who had tricked themselves into believing that what they had was strong and impermeable and worth committing their entire lives.
I tried to make it work with her. She tried to make it work with me. But in the end, it was one giant and colossal mistake that was doomed from the beginning, and that marriage ended only one year later. That year was a year of hell.
In those first weeks and months after the divorce, I had never felt so worthless as a human being. I had never felt so unintelligent and reckless. I had never felt like such a failure as a father.
The darkness consumed me as I questioned my very abilities to do anything healthy for me or my child then or in the future. How could anyone intelligent not have seen that coming? How could anyone with half a brain make such a big mistake not just once, but twice? How could anyone worth their salt at all fail so incredibly badly?
I didn’t know. I still don’t know.
What I do know is that that one big mistake changed my life forever. For the better.
I have been so much less reckless with my heart and my child’s heart ever since. Had I never made such a huge irreversible mistake, I can only guess where my view of women and dating and relationships would have taken me and how it never would have changed the way I looked at life and those with whom I shared it.
Certainly I would have continued believing that peace in one’s relationship is far more important than owning an authentic life. I would have continued fighting to believe things I never could believe simply to appease others. I would have continued to bury shameful parts of my past so that they would never adversely affect my present. I would have continued in my business mindset of money first, family second. And, I probably would have believed that that life was as good as it was ever going to get for me.
That was the path I was on.
Instead, I have moved forward in my life, dissecting and analyzing everything that led me to make such huge decisions so thoughtlessly. I let go of the religion I never believed in so that I would never again be trapped inside of it for the sake of a relationship. I felt such a heavy responsibility as a father for my mistakes that I have made every move possible to put my child first and be an involved and loving father. I have learned to balance work life and family life, even if it costs me money. I let myself finally accept myself as something other than straight. And, perhaps best of all, I am living a life that is true and authentic to me, which makes the ups and downs along the way so much better.
This is the path I am on.
It’s a happier path. A better path. A good path.
And, it’s because I made a couple of very big mistakes. Mistakes which I will always regret. Mistakes for which I will always be thankful.