On the evening of my engagement, I ended up at a friend’s house for an impromptu celebration, sans my new fiancé. At some point, I headed out front for a smoke, answering a call from my future husband between drags. No sooner had I hung up than I found myself trembling, my head in my hands, with one terrifying thought running through it …
What the hell was I getting myself into?
My husband was a nice enough guy, surprisingly smart, with an infectious laugh that made you giggle right alongside him. He was also a chronic user of marijuana, which wouldn’t have been a problem except it made him incapable of holding down a minimum-wage job. During the short tenure of our marriage, he must have worked at three or four different pubs, waiting tables or cooking fries. He never lasted more than a few months before he was fired, once for leaving the sink on and flooding the kitchen.
His stoner tendencies aside, he really was a decent man, which is probably why I ended up marrying him. I felt bad and didn’t want to hurt him; I didn’t have any “good” reasons for not wanting to go through with it. On my wedding day, my mom asked, “Do you really want to do this?” She laughed, thinking it was the traditional thing to do, to jokingly give the bride a chance to run away from it all.
“It’s too late to back out now,” I responded wistfully.
There were fleeting moments of happiness during our coupling, or at least feelings of comfort. My unyielding hesitations aside, though, there were real signs this whole thing was destined for divorce. A trip to CVS for the morning-after pill less than a week after our nuptials was the first hint. He was aghast I wouldn’t consider the notion of becoming pregnant with his child — after all, we were married — but I shrugged it off, telling him we simply couldn’t afford to start a family and it was best to wait until we were more financially secure.
My downright refusal to change my last name was another warning. Even forgetting we had the same first name (albeit spelled differently), I just couldn’t fathom the idea of sharing his surname when I knew, deep down, our marriage wouldn’t last. Outwardly, I clung to my feminist ideals and loudly rebelled against the notion of “giving up my own identity,” but inside I knew — I didn’t want to be linked to this man any more than I already was.
Less than eight months after our union began, I finally came clean (well, sort of). As a literal tornado raged outside our tiny apartment in the middle of the night, I told him we were over. Still ravaged by guilt, I couldn’t bring myself to admit the truth — that I didn’t love him, and probably never did — so I said the first thing that popped into my head. I explained that we couldn’t stay married because I was gay.
It was no secret I had long identified as bisexual, but in my mind, declaring I had taken the train straight to Gay Town meant it was impossible for our marriage to continue. I’ve always felt remorseful about the lie, but I was desperate to put the blame on myself so he wouldn’t feel less than. I realize what a ridiculous notion that sounds like, but the blame I felt over ending a marriage, with what seemed like no good reason, was real.
As difficult as it was to become a 25-year-old divorcee, it was the absolute best decision I could make. I don’t regret the marriage itself, either. I learned a lot about what I really wanted in a relationship and promised myself I would never again silence my own voice to ensure someone else’s comfort. I would never again make a decision rooted in fear of speaking my truth, even if it had the potential to hurt someone else.
But what happened next was the best part. Soon after the breakup, I temporarily moved in with a former coworker who has since become my best friend and partner in crime. I met someone new just a couple of months later, and we’ve been together for nearly eight years now.
In fact, we’re getting married this October.
And I’m definitely taking her last name.