My gold glitter Sperry’s were the most exciting part of the day we decided to get married. There was no ring, no tears of joy, no celebration. It started in a tall, gray office building rising high above the streets of Philadelphia, with a lawyer telling us that my Canadian born boyfriend of two years had been denied his permanent residency. We debated the option of appeals, the cost, the exhausting process, and the chance of further denial. My boyfriend looked at the lawyer and asked, “Well, what if we were to get married?” The lawyer, markedly more relieved by this option, spelled out the exact steps we would need to follow.
We left the office that day and discussed our options, but really, was there an option? We had been living together for one year, dating for two, and surely this was coming eventually. Although my boyfriend agreed to my request for a traditional wedding and reception, I still had to ask, “When was this going to happen without being denied your green card?” Barely glancing my way as we walked down the sidewalk, he casually answered he was thinking of proposing in six months to a year. I remember thinking, and even saying aloud to him:
“This isn’t the way I thought this would happen.”
My gut was speaking to me, but I failed to listen. It spoke again about two months later, and again I ignored it. “I’m afraid we did this for the wrong reasons.” I carried on as our relationship deteriorated, assuming that our problems and fights were normal leading up to a wedding. I thought all would be well once we could settle into our life together after my dream wedding.
When we decided to get married, I did love him. I was happy, and I told myself that this was surely going to happen eventually, so why not a little ahead of schedule? Intellectually, I told myself what I needed to hear. But emotionally, something wasn’t right. I was too busy “being a bride” to hear what my intuition was screaming. The date was set, my Vera Wang dress hung patiently in my closet, and the gorgeous stone church had been reserved so I swept my feelings under the rug and never addressed them.
I believe that innately we know what is best for us. Just like we know when we need to sleep or eat, or we feel that flutter inside us after we’ve turned down a dangerous street, we also know when our emotional wellbeing is at risk. I failed to listen, but eventually I couldn’t deny that deep down I wasn’t happy, that this marriage wasn’t right for me, and that it had happened too soon. Ten months after our wedding I started to listen, and what I heard was loud, strong, and powerful. It was me, a side of me I hadn’t listened to in a long time. I spoke to my husband about my feelings but I never felt heard; instead of helping me address my concerns he simply told me that life was hard and I wouldn’t get what I wanted. It took me four months of sleeping in the spare room to gain the courage to move out and an additional four months to file for divorce.
Everyday I’m learning; I’m learning to listen to myself, to ask whether I want to do something or whether I think I “should.” I’m learning that I didn’t fail, that real failure would have been staying in a relationship that I had to convince myself was right for me. I’m learning that when I follow what feels good, I am almost never wrong in making the right choice for me. I am learning that there is a huge reward in making difficult choices; the reward is possibility, the unknown. Each day has the possibility to lead me towards the most fulfilling life I can create for myself. My journey is far from over but I know I am on the right path. I know because that little voice that guided me through my toughest and darkest days is quiet now. There is peace inside me.
Adrienne began her blog WTF to help her choose a career path, ultimately discovering more about her personal relationships than her professional goals. She is passionate about figure skating, early childhood education, and saying YES to yourself. You can find her in Philadelphia discovering coffee shops and petting all the puppies.