Thirty-one years ago today, I married my first husband, my kids dad. Back then, I was so young, so naive, so in love and happy and yes, probably a bit stupid. I honestly thought that love could conquer all. Honestly. I believed that everything would turn out just fine, if I could be a good wife. We had dated for six weeks. I hadn't known him before that, I had only met him at that time. He was ten years older than I, and because of that, our relationship took on a bit of a parent-child tone. I did not know much about the world, he said and acted as though he did, and I believed him. I believed every word he ever uttered. Every one. It didn't take long before I began to understand that he was not always an honest person. When we met, when he told me his age, he lied. He only lied about two years, but he lied nonetheless. It was a couple of years before I learned the truth. I never really understood that lie - but when he was caught, he thought it was so funny. I laughed too, but I was beginning to see that a liar is a liar is a liar. Just before our wedding, he called me and asked to come over...I could tell it was bad. After a long, drawn-out, dramatic "meeting", he told me he had cancer and was dying. He wanted to call off the wedding, how fair would that be to me? Me, being the young, starry-eyed, stupid one, wanted to move the date of the wedding up, so that's what we did. If he was going to die, then I was going to make the last of his days happy. Oh, that cancer? Never materialized, by the way. A lie. That one was a bit harder to overlook and forgive, but I managed. It was incredibly difficult to explain it to family and friends and I see now, as I look back on it, that it's no wonder that my family had a difficult time liking him. He lied about his past, his finances, his education. In fact, there was little that was the actual truth. And yet, I stayed. I loved him. I could say it was that simple, but it never is, is it? I became a mother 362 days after we married. He was a most wonderful daddy. Seriously. If he could have actually had the babies, he would have. He was at his happiest when we had babies and little ones, and we had three. That took up most of our time. He loved me. There is not a doubt in my mind then, or now. There were the most special of times over the years. And when they were good, they were just...wonderful. I was at my happiest in my whole life when the kids were little and we were together and he was happy. But keeping him happy became harder and harder to do. He had a bad, bad temper. No, he never ever took it out on me or the kids. Never---I would never have stood for that, and even though it doesn't sound like it, he knew that when I had drawn the line, that I meant it. So no, never a hand laid on any of us in anger. However, our possessions were fair game. At times, I would push his buttons by claiming my own right to have something - anything - my way. And that's when it would hit the fan. Things got broken, lots of them. Stereo...kicked in. Vehicles....kicked and punched and dented. He often would break or tear up his own legs, feet, toes, hands...doing damage to inanimate objects. Those were the worst times for me, I would do anything to make and keep him happy. My walk on eggshells began the day we married, and continued for all those years. He had big dreams, huge. But never enough ambition to make them come true. I didn't know back then, that a person had to make things happen. Like him, or maybe because of him, I believed that luck brought on fortune and happiness. And he was always down on his luck. He lacked any and all ambition. He was a thinker, not a doer and I thought that was normal.
However, over those years, I did realize that someone had to make the living, someone had to better themselves for our family, someone had to do something. It was apparent, and disappointing to me that that person would not be him. So, eggshell dancer or not, I began to focus my attention on bettering ME so that we could have something. I did it for us...all of us. It was not in my head to do it for any other reason. I was young then, and strong and capable. And although many other reasons and things came into play here, he could not take it. That ultimately was the reason for our break up. I no longer wanted to live on his dreams. We saw the whole country when we were together...but everything we owned was always in the U-Haul behind us. He moved us every damned place, and I would always go, because after all, that's what a good wife does. Once I put down roots where my family was, and began a slow descent upward, that was it. Looking back, it's so easy to see that he had zero self-esteem and zero self-control and zero skills on how to achieve anything in life. He thought that to keep something he loved and wanted, it had to be controlled. I tried over and over again to prove that wasn't right. He never caught on. It ended badly. Really, really badly. I kept my mouth shut and kept on. But I learned. Am I sorry? Not on your life. My best days were spent with him. I loved him. I still love him. He is the father of my three beautiful children. I can't say what he has become but I know what he once was. The love of my life.