Next week my Husband and I will celebrate seven years of marriage. Despite wanting to strangle him at times, I do love the man. Another friend of mine is celebrating her wedding anniversary soon too. We chatted about what we remembered.
I was in school trying to plan a wedding with a zero budget. My family is so dysfunctional that I drove myself crazy imagining the "what if" scenarios. My husband's family is huge. His dad is one of nine and his mom is one of four. There are second cousins and third cousins twice removed all over. Throw in a small town and the invite list became huge, on his side anyway. On my side there were invitations but I knew only 10% would probably show.
I threw myself into the details and tried not to worry about the "personal" side of things. Husband's elderly uncle (retired pastor) would marry us. A cousin handled the refreshments. An Aunt did the wedding cake. Another cousin did the flowers. The only thing I threw myself into was choosing my dress. Out of the entire wedding, that is the only thing I really had any emotion and feelings about. It was a beautiful dress with a cathedral length train.
I wasn't like most other girls. I hadn't played weddings with my Barbie dolls or dreamed about my wedding day all my life. I had no expectations. The only wish I had was that no one would make a scene, stand up and object, or get drunk.
We had the reception out in the fellowship hall. No dancing. Just punch and finger foods. A typical country small-town reception. Then my mom and her husband hosted an "after-party" at the hotel where they were staying. There we had a full meal, music, alcohol and a party.
When I try to remember how it came to be that Toilet would escort me down the aisle and give me away, I get a wave of panic and blackness. Best not to go there. I think I just fell into it. Everyone assumed he would. I guess I had played the "perfect little family" card too well. At that time, my Sister was the black sheep who was living on her own (had been since age 16) and not having contact with anyone. Mom did a great job of alienating us from one another. Sister made it clear that she would not come if Toilet was there. It was far easier to explain her absence than Toilet's absence, and so that's the way it went. I couldn't handle the "why" questions if I had done things differently.
I was numb during the rehearsal and wedding. I threw all my attention into the details and managing them. Friends who knew a tiny bit about my childhood were outraged I would let Toilet be the one to give me away. One friend has distanced herself from me. She pulled me aside and said "I'm disappointed that he is here." We've not talked much since. Others asked about my Sister and how dare she stay away on this day. Really, I was glad she wasn't there. I missed her horribly, but I didn't want her around Toilet. I still had that need to protect her.
(what a conflict - not want Sister there in order to keep her safe, but let this same man walk me down the aisle.)
My biological father was not invited but I was terrified he would show up. I worried someone would ask too many questions about my sister. When we took wedding pictures, the photographer kept saying "your parents" and "your dad to put his arm around your shoulders" and "you look just like your father." Only it was Toilet playing the role of my father.
All of this overshadowed my wonderful day. I dissociated during the ceremony. When it was over, I was so out of it, that I almost forgot to kiss my new husband before walking out of the church. That prompted a bit of a laugh from the crowd. I cried on my honeymoon - not because of romance, but because I had no idea what on earth I had gotten myself into. How dare I think I was good enough to marry this man? What on earth was I thinking when I thought I could actually be a wife to someone? I was far too messed up to be with anyone other than myself.
It makes me feel a bit better to have friends tell me they don't remember much of their wedding either - all a blur because of stress and excitement. And my marriage, despite the rocky wedding memories, has lasted and is stronger than ever. I think that is much more important than some photographs and memories. When I look at the photos of my wedding day, I do see a smiling happy face. And I can connect with flashes of joy and happiness. So there are some good memories there too.
I told my Husband that on our 25th anniversary, we are renewing our vows. And this time the wedding will be done MY way with who I want there. And this year, I want to go out to eat with my husband (while Sister watches our daughter) and have a nice, quiet, romantic meal, remembering how God brought us together and how far we'll come. I will rest secure knowing that I am on vacation with my SISTER and her beautiful family, that Toilet is 500 some miles away and that he has never laid eyes on my child or any of my nephews or niece. They are safe.