The “M” Word
You get another wedding invitation in the mail, this time from a friend you’ve barely kept in touch with from high school. And you realize that this couple, like so many of the others that have gotten married recently, has been together for less time than the two of you. And it stings, but not in the way that everyone thinks it does. It stings because it is just another reminder of what you are being pulled toward, and what is expected of you, no matter how much you fight it.
For most of your life, you have been stubbornly against certain things, and getting married is one of them. It’s not hard for that seed of marital doubt to sprout when you’re six years old, and your parents get in such a big fight right in front of you and your father grabs your cereal bowl, just filled with your favorite combination of Cheerios, Rice Krispies and milk, and flings it across the room, where it hits the wall and shatters into a thousand tiny plastic pieces right next to your mother’s head. This seed continues to grow when you’re fourteen and your mother asks you to take the dirty clothes out of your father’s suitcase that he’s just brought back from a business trip, and you find an empty box of condoms wrapped up inside his dress shirts. It becomes a full-on part of your identity by the time they eventually divorce when you’re twenty, after three attempted separations, and when you finally give yourself permission to scream at them, at both of them, for messing up and being selfish and childish and how could they do this to us for all of these years, and your mother cries and cries, and your father’s only reaction is to sit in the garage the next day with the car running until you notice that he’s missing and the neighbors notice the smoke. And by the time you’re thirty, and it’s been almost ten years and your mother’s alimony is running out and she needs you to survive because of the career and the life that she gave up for him, that she says she gave up for us…by then, it’s so ingrained in your psyche that you can’t imagine being any other way.
So you spend your life watching girls walk down that aisle, smiling on the outside, but clucking silently on the inside. You don’t know what you are in for, you think, but I do.
But. (Of course there is a but.)
After a while, your resolve starts to wear down. You see your friends getting married, and lo and behold, they look nothing like your parents. Maybe some of them will turn out that way, but they don’t look like it. Not yet, anyway.
And so, people keep on asking you when you will get married, and you say, “At some point, but I don’t really care when,” which is true, in a way, because you know he wants to get married, and you want to be with him forever, which is a sentence you never thought you’d say. But the thought of it still scares you, in a way you don’t want to admit. You know that the way you were raised, the way you fight, the way you think, was shaped by people who couldn’t make it work. And what if that rubbed off on you? What if, just like them, you could never make it work either? What if one day, you end up like your mother, old and alone and dependent? What if that, rather than the marital bliss that you see all around you, is really where you are meant to end up?
He says, I won’t let that happen.
But you can’t help but think, what does he know.
No Tumblr post has ever resonated as strongly with me as this one has.