Friday, November 9, 2012

Tammy Wynette Was Wrong


I didn’t forget about Blogger Idol this week.  I’m still happily playing along with the home link-ups.  This week, Blogger Idol presented us with the following challenge: “Every decision we make changes the outcome of our life. This week's assignment theme is ‘There once was a chance I didn't take.’ You have to write about a chance that you regret not taking, or a chance that you had, that you didn't take, that may have turned your life in a totally different direction.”

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“You need to leave him,” my mother matter-of-factly stated on the other end of the telephone line.

“But mom, he needs me,” I replied.  I believed this with every inch of my being.  He needed me at his side.  I couldn’t leave him alone in such a state – so physically and mentally weak and exhausted. 

“You need to make yourself the priority,” she returned.  “He took advantage of you.”

“I know he did.  I know,” while I acknowledged this truth, I continued on, “but he’s clearly ill.  I don’t think he meant to hurt me.  I think he must be sorry for what he did, or he wouldn’t have gone to such extremes.  I married him.  Marriage means something to me.  It’s a commitment, and I can’t just walk away.”

“You can walk away,” she countered, “and you need to.  You can’t justify staying based on the sanctity of marriage.  Your marriage is a lie, Angela.”

Damn. There it was.  She didn’t dance around it; she pummeled me in the face with this brutal reality like she was throwing an upper right cut.

It was a lie.  I didn’t know the man I married.  I don’t think anyone really knew him, his own self included.  He was confused and mentally ill and his life was so out of control that while I had this discussion with my mother, he was lying on a hospital bed in the intensive care unit after a serious suicide attempt.

It was only a few months into my marriage when I discovered much of what had been hidden from me.  The lying, cheating, and stealing were all spelled out in what he had intended to be his final farewell, a letter that was handed to me by one of the emergency responders on the scene. 

The man I married didn’t exist.  He was a kind, considerate, honest man.  The man who I was committed to now was deceitful and selfish. I could have chosen an annulment, and I should have chosen an annulment.  I had been wronged, but I did what I believed to be right at the time. 

I didn’t listen to my mother.  Rather, I took the advice of country crooner Tammy Wynette and I stood by my man.  I gave him my all, through more lies, fights, personal struggles with depression, and his abuse.  In giving him my all, I lost myself.  I’m sorry I lost myself.

If I had listened to my mother, I could have truly lived.  I could have enjoyed my friends and my family, instead he did his damndest to isolate and alienate me from the folks I loved, leaving me feeling alone and dependent upon him.  I could have enjoyed ages twenty-two and twenty-three, living young, wild and free.  I could have known my worth and continued to love myself.

If I had walked away sooner, I wouldn’t have had to fight so damn hard to regain my identity and accept myself again.  I could have avoided the battle to rebuild a strong self-concept.  But, I punched, I kicked, I built mental muscle until I got her back – I got me back.  I am stronger now. I am better.  I am resilient. 

Regardless, these were gifts I gave to myself – they didn’t simply come from the struggle of an abusive marriage.  When I look in the rearview mirror, those years were just a detour and I’m still right where I belong now. 

I could say I should have listened to my mother.  I could say Tammy Wynette was wrong, and I wish I had never heard that song.  However, it’s my own voice I needed to hear.  I will never let anyone hush her ever again. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Love your last line and that "I built mental muscle" phrase. It's so hard to know in the moment whether you're being determined and loyal, or just foolish. Often only time shows which one.

    I posted my Liebster award - thank you!

    ReplyDelete