When I was twenty years old, I married a man who was six months younger than me. Over the course of our nine-month marriage, I learned that he had lied to me about just about everything.
He hadn’t quit smoking, cigarettes or marijuana. He didn’t want to go to college. He thought my going to college was a waste of time. He never wanted to live in New York City, my lifelong dream. When he turned twenty-one, he planned to drink often and go to strip clubs. He stayed up many nights until 3 or 4am playing video games. He seemed to be addicted to everything but me. And that was just the beginning.
Shortly before we got a divorce, he told me, “I pretended to be someone else because I knew you’d never marry who I really am.”
And he was right.
After the divorce, I questioned everything.
When he cried at our wedding, was it because he knew he was lying to me? Did he ever love me? Was anything real? Could I ever trust another man?
I created vows to protect myself:
I will never marry a man even one day younger than me.
I will never marry a man who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs.
I will never marry a man who plays video games.
I sometimes vowed I would never get married again, never trust another man.
I actively sprayed “anti-boy” spray on myself as a coat of armor.
Two years later, I graduated college and moved to Georgia to work as a performer at Wild Adventures Theme Park. Within two weeks of arriving, three guys in the entertainment department “proposed” to me. They were all done “in fun”, but they registered as threats to my very broken heart.
Men could not be trusted.
Throughout the next year, I became good friends with one of the proposing offenders. He was four years younger than me and had been deeply hurt by his previous girlfriend who had cheated on him.
Neither of us was interested in a relationship, which was perfect.
As I got to know him, I found out he had been a druggie in high school. His dad had been addicted to drugs and died from an infection caused by a dirty needle.
Under no circumstances was this guy a threat, because everything about him was in direct violation of my vows.
He slipped in under the radar.
As we got to know each other, he poured grace and kindness over my shame from having been married. I thought no respectable man would ever find me appealing. I was damaged goods.
We became good friends and even decided to exchange journals with one another.
His journal had been kept across a several-year span, including entries about and drawings of his ex-girlfriend. Even as I read it, my wounded heart couldn’t help but wonder if he had written all of this as a ruse. I couldn’t trust a man to be honest with me.
I had seen, and now read, the consistency of who he said he was, and my heart began to soften and heal. He was far from perfect, but he was honest.
I had to face the vows I had made.
This man was four years younger than me.
He had smoked and done drugs AND his father was an addict.
On the upside, he didn’t play video games!
In an effort to keep myself from getting hurt again, I had almost missed an opportunity to heal, to love, to be loved.
Thankfully I didn’t miss it. This proposing offender gave me a proper proposal on a cruise ship in May 2004, and we were married that December. Sixteen years later, my heart still has a hard time trusting “men”, but I’m thankful I can trust this one.