The Marriage

I’ve got to talk about it sooner or later.

I was married to a man, when I was plenty old enough to know better and know myself. I married him because I was experimenting at the age of 23 and I was afraid to end up barefoot and pregnant with a bastard like every other woman in my family. We’re rednecks, hillbillies, white trash mountainfolk. A woman without children at my age is ludicrous (I’m 28 now.)

In my mind, at the time, it made sense. I promised him I loved him and I could live with finding a little female action now and then. (Ugh, that sounds so… unlike me.)

The problem was this girl. I fell in love with a drug addict while I was living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She came hard on the heels of two back-to-back abusive relationships with two transmen, and I was emotionally devastated by her. She was a tough, sweet little butch who wormed her way into me like a rotten apple. I have never suffered the way I suffered those few months, trying desperately to pull her out of her addiction, buying her everything but drugs, swallowing her emotional blackmail. Then… and this is the best part… she cheated on me. With my beloved little sister.

I was a maelstrom of utter devastation, hatred, and blind, undiluted pain.

I spent a couple of weeks going dead inside. Feeling desperate for a new partner, someone to get my mind off of her, off of the handsome transman who had threatened me with his knife, off of the equally as handsome transman who had threatened my sister. I was cut off from the queer community in the Great North, and I realized… all of my friends were men. I could try. It couldn’t be worse than this.

I picked an older man I worked with, who was polite and charming. I sent him a simple message that said “women are crazy. I’m done. Would you be my first guy?” You can imagine how he responded.

The first time was terrible. I cried. I had a panic attack. He didn’t wear a condom and I wasn’t on birth control. I panicked. I assumed he was wearing one. What was he thinking? What was I thinking? I went straight to Planned Parenthood and got the morning after pill, which, by the way, makes you sick as a dog. PIV sex was weird. It was sticky. I felt dirty. But he kept coming around, and I clung to him. It was a weird feeling. I had prided myself (much more than I thought) on being a “gold star lesbian.” A statement that makes me absolutely no different than anyone else, but made me feel pure, in a way. (In a way that my older lesbian community had strongly reinforced, but I digress.) After that first time, I felt filthy, but overwhelmingly sure that I was a ruined woman if I didn’t hang onto him. So I did. I had two years of confusing, taboo sex that was sometimes good because it was so taboo, but mostly it was scary and I started having after-sex panic attacks that, even now with my thoroughly female partner, I still deal with.

Thank God I didn’t get pregnant. Thank God I didn’t get any diseases.

The thing about my husband is that he wasn’t a good man, or a bad man, but rather just… a man. He lied a lot to me, he only put his hands on me once in anger. He was charming to my family, he let me do whatever I wanted. What can I say?

I grew more and more depressed. We became staunchly, horrifically religious after we married, which made it so much worse. I wanted to die. Then I wanted to kill myself. Then I obsessed over killing myself. Then I actually tried to kill myself. No one really knows why I drank as much as I did that one night, but I shouldn’t have woken up. I wanted to die.

So I finally left him. He threw me into a wall and fractured my collarbone the night I got drunk, which was perfect because it gave me a guilt-free excuse to leave him. He used to call me the “husband” in our relationship, he saw how depressed and hopeless I had become, but he was still surprised when I left him. I countered my guilt with pride. I was one step closer to being who I had left behind.

I know that you aren’t supposed to regret things, and I know I learned a great deal about myself in that marriage. But I still hate myself for marrying him. There’s still no excuse that satisfies me. I miss who I was before I met him. A. quiets these feelings, reminding me that, if not for him, we probably never would have met. I never would have met the girl that always makes me feel like I belong. That would have been the real tragedy.


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