I married for the first time in 1984, six months after my high school graduation ceremony. I was only 18 years old and no, I was not pregnant. I had just lost my best friend to a car crash and I was afraid of losing the one person I loved. It was a huge mistake.
My dad’s hopes and dreams were to have me go to college. In fact, I was awarded a scholarship to a great college for law. When my friend passed I just felt lost and didn’t think I could go through college alone. I also had never lived away from mommy and daddy. I never had my own checking account or had any responsibility as an adult. The only responsibility I had was to make certain my 1976 Rally Sport Camaro car payment of $46.00 was paid on time at our local bank.
The man I married was four years older than myself. He was 21 and I was 17. He had already graduated from the same high school, went to boot camp for the Army and held a full time job. While he did still live at home with his parents, he was on his own. Our wedding was the full blown 500 people Catholic Polish wedding. I was a virgin when I met my new husband — he was my first and he was very proud of that and I was equally proud to walk down the aisle in my white dress.
Our marriage started to fall apart shortly after the wedding. I had never been on my own before and had no idea how to take care of a household. Within a few months I was pregnant with our first child. I had just turned 19 and was working as a nurse’s assistant at a nursing home. I lifted a patient and started spotting and I knew this was dangerous. I told my husband I could no longer work and he was not happy. We were not poor but needed two incomes to keep us afloat.
I went back to work shortly after my daughter was born. I landed a job at a National Insurance agency as a biller. The pay was wonderful and I was able to carpool with a family who also worked there that lived in our town. I worked day shift and my husband started working the third shift at his factory job. We barely saw each other and we were like ships passing in the night. I was such a young mother and had horrible time between the baby’s crying and working — my nerves were shot. My mom came over to our house to help me out and when she didn’t I was always over at her house. I could not disconnect from the child I still was.
Our second daughter was born three-and-a-half years later. Here I was with two children and under the age of 25 while most of my friends were just getting married or single. I saw the lives they had and wanted that too. I never got to attend college or hang out late at night with my friends. It was my choice to get married and be a mother, and I thought that’s what I wanted, but inside I was dying of depression. I wanted a life, I wanted something else. I wanted away from this man who I felt had his finger on my life and was denying me the happiness I so needed.
The state of our marriage wasn’t my husband’s fault — he basically had to raise me into adulthood. But as I grew and became more independent I had the perception (which was totally wrong) that he never listened to me. I started telling him I was unhappy, while he was trying everything he could to hold us together. In 1993 I told him we were done, that I wanted out. I was attending college to be a nurse and saw a path to my new life. He cried and went to all my friends to get me back. I kicked him in the heart and said “no.”
It took me several years to approach him after we had both remarried and moved on. I apologized to him for my lack of maturity and the life I took away from him. I am sure he is grateful we didn’t remain together, however he didn’t deserve the pain I caused. I am glad now we are friends, parents, and now grandparents.
Looking back, I have no regrets marrying him, I just think I should have waited. He told me when I left no one would ever love me like he did — and a part of me believes even today that might be true.
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