Like most military couples we got married way too early. I was young, he was young. Maybe if we were older we could have prevented what happened.
It seemed special and romantic at the time, almost like an American tradition even. We got engaged nine months after we met and I moved across the country with him to a different base. We got married in our new city two months later without almost anything I’d dreamed of as a child. No big church wedding, no beautiful decorations, just a cheap wedding dress and about 30 of our friends and family. I told myself I was fine with that sacrifice at the time, but it always ate at me. I wish we would have been free to use our own natural timing when deciding when to get married and then had the time for me to plan a real wedding.
Ours was so small it didn’t even feel real.
Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for this, I could have broken off the engagement when I realized I would never get the wedding of my dreams but I stuck with him, because that is what you are supposed to do. Love conquers all. It’s silly to be emotionally upset about a wedding. So I pressed on.
We made vows and he didn’t keep them. He loved me but he didn’t honor me. How could he? He barely noticed me. That’s what drove me to it. I cheated on him while he was deployed, while he was serving our country, blah blah blah. It’s all I ever heard about, honestly. When he was home, that’s all anyone wanted to talk about, his career. When he was gone, it was even worse. He was always the hero. Even though I took care of everything in our lives it was always, always about him.
Do you know what that’s like? To be completely invisible in your own life? It’s like that scene in The Holiday when Kate Winslet’s character realizes you’re supposed to be the lead character in your own life. View me as harshly as you want to, but unless you’ve really been in this position, and your identity has been eradicated, you don’t know how it feels.
How many people would be understanding if instead of being deployed he was a workaholic career woman? And the end of the day the cause of feeling like your relationship is frigid and loveless is irrelevant when the result is the same — feeling undesired and alone.
I worked on our relationship. I really did. I wrote emails, long emails that didn’t mention all the tedious details of keeping our lives together while he was away and I had my own job to go to. I didn’t tell him about the bills or the leaking roof and the worry about the cost to fix it. I sang his praises, I told him he was brave and that I couldn’t wait to see him. I prayed for him and for me to not feel so unloved and alone. But it never worked. I was married, but I was more alone than ever.
So, that’s why when I met a man who saw me I was swept away. He was medicine to me. He made me remember that it wasn’t always this way. At one point in time I really did feel alive. I had fun. People wanted to talk to me and not just to ask about my husband.
That’s all there is to it. I was in love with my husband until it cost me my whole self, and then I met a man who gave it back to me. I feel whole again and I’m sorry, but I’m not turning back. I’m going to leave my husband for him one day and we’re going to move away from this place where everyone knows me as so and so’s wife and we’ll just be another normal, boring couple.
It wasn’t the distance. It wasn’t that my husband was gone for so long. It was that he took my identity from me. He made me into His Wife instead of my own person. My husband is a great man and at the end of the day, I just couldn’t make the sacrifice I needed to make to be his wife. I’m not sure I’d hope any woman could lose herself so completely, and be okay with that.