Friday, March 13, 2020

Highlands, NC: The Beginning Of The End

There was a very distinct dividing line in our engagement: before the trip to Highlands, NC and after the trip to Highlands, NC. I really do believe in the cause and effect reaction, and once something is set into motion it is hard to stop. I often wonder if we had gotten engaged after his  North Carolina trip would things have turned out differently? Would we have continued down this blissfully happy path we were on? Can a five day trip alone in the mountains with your parents really change you that much or did they just remind him of the person they raised and were able to bring out that hidden side of him?
We had waited so long to get engaged and there was such a build up of anticipation; it was like finally being able to pop a bottle of the best champagne in the world and let all the happiness and hopes for the future together finally erupt. On the night he proposed I turned around to the sight of him holding out a ring, my breath caught in my chest as I watched him get down on one knee and ask me to marry him. I said 'yes!' to a future with this person who I loved so much, who felt like home. It was the best feeling in the world - I was going to get to spend the rest of my life with you. The best adventure in the world just laying ahead of us; ours for the taking. 

For a week and a half we celebrated, we were over the moon excited. You went around telling everyone "I can't believe she said 'yes'. I do not deserve her". For a week and a half we were perfect in the eyes of each other, we couldn't wait to tell people the news - that we were engaged! 

We went to brunch with my parents to celebrate, where they told you they were excited to have you as part of the family and cheered to the future ahead. We went over to your parents house to celebrate with them later that day; where of course, your mother informed me that she had already seen the engagement ring and that if it were any bigger it would be too big, and that it was really almost too big as it was (if out of curiosity you would like to view the ring... my ex fiancĂ© sold it to a jeweler who currently has it for sale on eBay... I don't think he even waited two weeks to get rid of it...). We were floating on clouds so high that that visit with your parents didn't even bring us down a centimeter. 

We went to dinner a few nights before you were supposed to go out of town. We talked about the wedding; we decided that we would get married at the chapel in Seaside, FL and have a black tie in-town wedding reception a month or so after we were married. You were ecstatic about how easy it was to make the decision. Then came time for the trip to Highlands, NC with you parents...

What was said on that trip to have you come back with such a different demeanor? I really do believe so many of the answers to all the 'whys' I have lay in this trip... 

When you came back from Highlands, you wanted your dad to be your best man, your sister to be a reader, and you wanted to have a casual in-town reception so people could wear blue jeans... how many times have you ever seen me wear blue jeans? I was perfectly agreeable to your dad and sister being in the wedding, but did you take into concentration how hard it would have been for me to walk down an isle with your dad standing beside you after all the hurtful comments your family had made to me over the years?

You came back from your trip acting as your parent's guard dog; you were protecting people who didn't need protection. You wouldn't buy my sister and her new husband a wedding gift, (claiming you a had a year to get them a gift), you refused to wish my sister happy birthday, you refused to return my dad's call even after I told you he had called and left you a message. You didn't do these things, because you were "drawing lines" you were "setting boundaries". All the sudden you wanted nothing to do with my family. You were setting boundaries with the wrong people. Even if my family did require lines of boundaries to be drawn, it was my place to do that, not yours. 

You came back with the attitude that marriage is a burden, that most women are awful people, paranoid about my family's involvement in our marriage, and overly critical of me. 

What was said in Highlands, NC to make you come back with such a different attitude? My parent's aren't involved in my sister's marriage and they weren't involved in our relationship - why would they be overly involved in our marriage? Why was marriage all the sudden a burden instead of this exciting new adventure? And why was everything I did all the sudden wrong?

That trip was the beginning of the end. Oh how I bet your mother hated it when you told them "I can't believe she said 'yes'. I don't deserve her" - I never heard you utter those words again after that trip. Instead I heard about everything that I'm not and you became paranoid about things you really had no reason to be worried about. 

Game, set, match; congratulations, Mary, you finally won. After years of taking digs at me, saying things in an attempt to run me off, and messaging me and telling me in person that your son's spirit was broken by a previous relationship and that you just didn't know if he could ever get over such a "soul crushing experience", and clamming the only remedy for him to mend was to just spend time with his family so he could 'heal'. Well, congratulations, you finally won; you even gloated about it on facebook the night he told you the engagement had been broken off, posting: "02.02.2020. Backwards and forwards, it has been an awesome day of fresh starts! Woohoo! This is going to be a great year!"

A wedge was driven between us after that trip. We stopped working as team and started working against each other. After finding out about the blue jean in-town reception I no longer wanted a destination wedding, I wanted it all to be in town. The wedding became an issue. You became an issue. My family became an issue, I became an issue, everything that had once been so exciting became an issue. 

I hope you enjoy your victory knowing that you played a part in taking something away from your son that at one point in time made him so happy. If I saw you out in public I wouldn't know weather to thank you for going ahead and bring out that side of your son that probably would have come out eventually, confront you about a few issues, or simply ignore you. 

I hope you enjoy having your 'golden boy' all to yourself, knowing that in some capacity (as small as it might be) you played a role in the demise of a relationship, that for so long provided two people with so much happiness. 

I once had someone tell me "He's like the prodigal son, no one has ever been good enough for him or his family". In response to the broken engagement and what people know of it, I have sense had others tell me that it sounds like you were jealous and/or threatened by me. Maybe that's true, but knowing you on the personal level I do, I just think you are an insecure person, who allowed life to make you bitter, who resents people that you view as having things too 'easy', and wishes ill of the kind and optimistic, for the simple fact that they have something you lack - a heart that has not been allowed to turn hard and the ability to allow themselves to experience true happiness and joy.
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Why?

I was thinking about you the other night; it took every ounce of willpower I possess to not text you and ask you why? Why did things get to the point they did? Why could we no longer work as a team? Why did you become so critical of me? Why did I all the sudden have to be the voice of reason when you are almost ten years older than I am? Why could we no longer have a productive conversation? Why did you start to only listen to argue instead of listen to understand? Why did we spend over two years of our lives together talking about getting engaged only to have such an undesired outcome? Why did things change so much after we got engaged? Why?
There are so many whys that I know I will never have the answers to, and I know that at some point I am going to have to leave all these whys in the past to move forward into a future that no longer includes you. For right now though I am surrounded by all these 'whys' and the sadness that it brings me when I think about the future we had dreamed up together, that will now never happen. 

We picked out a house together, we picked out furniture together, we pick out dishes, glasses, silverware, cookware, shower curtains, we even picked out something so small as pot holders together. We talked about the future we were going to have, we talked about all the places we wanted visit, we talked about what our children might be like, we argued about what we were going to name the second dog we planned on getting. We had even started a few Christmas traditions of our own. Why did all this togetherness stop shortly after we got engaged?

Was it because it was too overwhelming for you? Was it because you no longer loved me? Or did you simply revel a side of yourself you hadn't before? I am inclined to think it is the latter of the three.

By now we should have our guest list finalized, our save the dates and wedding invitations picked out, a few fun things planned between now and the wedding, and counting down the months till we get to say 'I do'. Instead, we are now walking down two separate paths, away from the future that we were once so excited about.

I used to think it was like magic, that out of all the people in the world I met you. I met someone that I loved more than myself, someone I thought accepted me for me, someone I could spend hours talking to or just sitting in a comfortable silence watching a movie or reading a book, someone who could make me laugh no mater how sad, upset, or angry I was, someone who was always the brightest spot of my day, good or bad. 

Why did things change so much after we got engaged? Why did you act so different after we got engaged? I wish I knew the answers to all these question and I wish so desperately that things could have been different, that we could have stayed the same, that you would have remained the same person you had always been. 

I am slowly letting go of all the could have beens and all the what might have beens. It's like watching magic dust slowly slip out of my hands and float off into the distance. I'm starting to come to the realization that our love was like fool's gold; on the outside it looked like the real thing, but the more you dug, the more apparent the reality of the situation became. And I am not saying that love did not exist between us, but it wasn't that once in a lifetime type of love that was meant to last. I have to believe there is someone else out there, that there is that once in a lifetime person waiting for me. And I hope there is someone waiting for you too, because I hate the idea of you being alone; I only hope they never meet the side you I met after we got engaged.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Salt Of The Earth

Have you ever met someone who described themselves as being funny, and keeps trying to convince you that they are in fact a funny person? I learned the hard way that people who describe themselves as being 'nice' are kind of like the people who try to convince you they are funny. If a person is really funny they will make you laugh, they don't have to tell you that they are funny. If a person is really nice you will be able to witness the sincerity behind their actions and will feel like the kindness they have shown you is a bridge to a possible friendship.
Before I ever met my ex-fiance's parents I corresponded with his mother over Facebook. In the message she sent me, instead of saying the usual, 'we're looking forward to meeting you' (or something along those lines) she told me "we're just down to earth, salt of the earth people". In the moment it struck me as an odd thing to say, because people don't usually describe themselves as being 'salt of the earth people' - it usually comes from someone else and is meant as a high compliment; it's not usually used as an expression to elevated oneself in the eyes of someone else. That should have been my first red flag... 

The first time I met his parents I actually found myself sitting across the table with this feeling of empathy for his mother and thinking to myself, "this person has had an unusually hard life". She told me about how her mother passed away, how back in the day the other parents at her son's high school weren't 'accepting' of her because of her social standing (which again, this was something else I thought sounded odd, knowing the high school her son went to), and other hardships she had faced throughout her life. 

For a long while after that first introduction, anything his family said or did that could otherwise be viewed as mean or petty I would just chalk it up to the fact that they haven't had the easiest life and they are just projecting their own insecurities. As true as that mindset I took on probably is, over time having someone's family make needling remarks and being critical can be wearing. 

As more time went on the harder taking the comments became. I started to think to myself, "why are these people so mean to me? what have I ever done to them?". I also started to reflect on the fact that everyone faces some sort of hardship in their lives, some more than others, and people do carry hardships differently. But at the end of the day does facing a hardship and coming out the other side give you a free pass to be so carless with other people's feelings? Especially when you have had blessings in your life, like finding love, a certain amount of success, being blessed with two children and a grandchild, like his parents had.

Over the years it became more and more obvious that these people chose to dwell on the things that didn't work out, because those things started to become the reason why various future endeavors didn't work out, why everything was some how and in some way anyone else's fault but their own. 

Before we got engaged my ex fiancĂ© would do his best to take up for me when he witnessed things take place that he viewed as out of line or comments that might hurt my feelings. After we got engaged though... I was just like the parents at his old high school, like the school his mother got fired from, like the people from work - the problem was not them, the problem had become me. He started to choose his family over me, defended the unkind comments they made, and like all the other times throughout his parent's life, whenever there was a problem it was always the other person, and in this scenario it was me; I was viewed as the problem. I was left standing alone, while the person who was supposed to be my partner chose to stand with his family. 

This situation became all the more frustrating to me when other people felt the need to warn me and my family about his parents. Saying such things as "he's a nice guy, but his mom is not nice to nice women", "his parents gave weird dating advice back in the day. I hope they give better marriage advice.", "his parents aren't socially aware and dominate conversations." and so on. How could other people recognize these things about his parents, but he either couldn't or didn't want to acknowledge that these issues existed? How could he side with them when I was supposed to be his future wife? I mean, the very idea that I would get offended about someone saying something insulting about my family (who his parents never met) or making such effortlessly mean comments towards me. 

The conclusion I came to is that these people did raise this person, and did instill in him their values, beliefs, and views; some of which unfortunately stuck, and maybe that is why after we got engaged he began to side with his parents. It was the first time I had ever witness a set of parents who were threatened by their own child's success and worried that his success would pull him away from them. They wanted to pull him down to a level of mediocrity. To them I was the last nail in his coffin.

If you are dating or are engaged to someone with a mother who is difficult/mean, in my experience that will only increase with time; the knife will become sharper, and the cuts more hurtful, more precise, and more discrete. But that is for another time, because his mom, with her many nicknames she invented for me, has earned a post entirely dedicated to herself.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

From Happily Ever After To Not

I was once engaged to a person who felt like home when I hugged him, who's company made me feel at ease, and who I thought truly loved me... till we got engaged. Sometimes it takes getting to a certain point in a relationship to truly find out who your significant other really is. For me it took being engaged; things were completely perfect and blissful, for a week and a half...
For six months I kept hoping beyond hope that this sweet, funny, caring, loving, charismatic individual that I had fallen in love with would return. But instead, in his place was a person I struggled to recognize. A person who no longer stood up for me, who had to be right no mater the cost, who was overly critical, who wanted nothing to do with my friends or family, who was no longer willing to compromise or work as a team, and someone who could just be so cruel and moody at times.

Everyone keeps saying, "well at least he showed you who he really is before you got married". There is a lot of truth to that statement, but all it really means is something you didn't want to happen, happened, and at times it is just so terribly heartbreaking, frustrating, and madding that I can hardly breath, and other times I feel this enormous wave of relief and a sense that I have my life back. 

As you have probably guessed by now, I broke off the engagement. After months of hoping and wishing for this version of this person I loved to return, and trying everything I could to reach him; even suggesting couples therapy at one point, which of course, he refused to go to, I finally reached my breaking point one night at dinner and broke it off in a fit of anger. 

We had decided to eat out that night. While waiting for the check to come he began to complain about my family (who he never saw), took up for his mother (who had always made such mean remarks to me) when I referenced a couple hurtful things his mother had said to me, as a way to demonstrate that other people's families can be difficult and you have to make the effort for the sake of your significant other. Then he finally said the thing that completely pushed me over the edge, "as things stand I never want to spend another holiday with your family". And that moment was it for me, that was my breaking point. I pulled the engagement ring off my finger, slammed it down on the counter, said "we're done", walked out of the restaurant, and haven't seen him since. 

That was about a month and a half ago... I have another blog that is a creative outlet turned business, and writing has always been a form of therapy for me, so I thought I would start this blog as a way to help me work through the journey of having a broken engagement. And yes, writing it down in a journal would probably serve a similar purpose, but I really do believe that broken engagements are more common than we are lead to believe, and maybe a few people who went through/are going through a similar situation, will somehow stumble upon this blog and not feel so alone in their journey. 

Plus, there is something about putting it out there that takes some of the embarrassment out of the situation. I know I shouldn't feel embarrassed, I know that I stuck with it as long as I could and that I tried everything possible to make it work, to get things back to like they were, to reach that side of him that I love, but despite all of that, I do feel a little embarrassed about the situation. I know I am lucky to no longer be in that situation, I know I am lucky to have seen that side of him before we said 'I do', but I feel embarrassed that I didn't see any signs that that other side of him existed before we got engage, and at times I honestly feel like the whole situation was a failure, that I failed, but more on that another time...