I found APW soon after I got engaged. I stumbled upon it after Googling, “how to call off your wedding.”
I knew before he proposed that it wasn’t working. That voice deep inside—call it your sense of self, intuition, the Holy Spirit, whatever—you know what I’m talking about. That voice had been speaking to me in stern voices for some time. I was about to break it off when we got engaged. I sometimes wonder if the reason he proposed was because deep inside he knew, too, that I had doubts and he was trying to save it. I’ll never know the answer to that.
I wrote about this for APW in early 2012. The timing of it all couldn’t have been more dramatic; it was a month before our wedding when I told him I had doubts. The next day, I became very sick with what turned out to be a brain tumor. We had to cancel the wedding not just because I wasn’t sure, but because I physically couldn’t have made it though the ceremony we had planned. The summer felt like a living nightmare of fights and pain, both between the two of us and within myself. That November, I left.
Leaving turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
I remember trying to talk myself out of it. I would reason with that internal voice, tell it that really, couldn’t it see, we did belong together. We both loved to run trails, go to rockabilly concerts, and follow baseball. We were both mainly vegetarian, and writers. We had so much in common, I would argue with myself. He stood beside me through major illnesses.
Lesson learned: don’t do that. Don’t argue with yourself, when you know what you have to do but it’s hard and you don’t know how you’re going to pull if off or why, exactly, you feel like that’s the thing to do.
Because I didn’t take into account, when I made those arguments, that I also never felt completely relaxed around him. I obsessed over whether the house was clean enough for him when he got home. He got mad if my toenails weren’t painted and pretty, or if I talked to any of my old guy friends (or, for that matter, girlfriends that he didn’t approve of). I was embarrassed to tell him some of the music I listened to in the car by myself, for fear he would make fun of it. He made it clear that he didn’t like my family.
We fought over my career, and how he felt I needed to put our future family first and quit following my passion—something that rarely pays extremely well, but I could easily live on while putting money aside—for a job that made more money.
And so I found myself living what started to feel like a double life. I emailed my old guy friends and called them when he wasn’t home (nothing inappropriate, I just didn’t agree that I should cut them out of my life. Looking back, that should have been a sign). I visited my family in the Midwest by myself. I met girlfriends for lunch without him. I bought new tires for my car, even though he said I should sell my beloved Jeep Wrangler and buy something more practical and comfortable for him to ride in.
Sometimes when I remember that relationship I’m embarrassed. I mean, how could I be with someone who made me feel like I was walking on eggshells in my own house? But looking back, I see that he does have things in common with the man I would like to be my future husband—he’s responsible, funny, outdoorsy. He supported me through very, very tough times. But I’ve never regretted leaving. Not for one millisecond. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and the most difficult to execute.
Since then, other things have come up that I wasn’t sure how to handle, and I’ve started listening for that inner voice to tell me where to go, instead of just doing what’s comfortable. Last month, almost half the staff at my company was laid off. About the same time, my landlords told me I had to move out at the end of August.
So now I’m staying with relatives, looking for a new place to live, and looking for a new job (I was not one of the ones laid off, thank goodness, but that inner voice is telling me the company may not be so stable right now). I’m also thinking about going for it and starting my own business, without the backup support of a significant other (once Obamacare kicks in in January, and I can buy my own healthcare).
I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop a few months ago, next to a guy whom I totally hit it off with. He was tall, hot, adorable. We immediately clicked. I left before he did, and when I got home, about five minutes away, I had this feeling that I needed to go back and give him my number. So I did. He was still there. His smile was huge. We went out that night.
We dated for about a month, the first man I’d gone out with since my fiancé. While it didn’t work out, he was ridiculously lovely and made me feel better about myself than I had in ages. I’ll always be thankful I gave him my number that day, and to him for reminding me that there are men like that out there. Now, it’s on to the next adventure.
Photo by APW Sponsor Emily Takes Photos