Lies in the Attic

I was watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre. I began to think about when it became one of my favorite books. I was just about 12 years old. I identified with the young Jane. Bookish, didn’t belong anywhere really. One good friend. Losses. Abuse.

As I got older, the relationship between Jane and Rochester grew as my understanding of a love between a man and woman grew. Somewhere, deep inside, I wanted my Rochester. My man that would see beyond the girl who was still a bookish wall flower. The one to draw me out. The one to declare his love and how being separated from me would cause a heartbreak he’d never recover from. My innocent mind glossed over the mind games Rochester played on Jane. Of the three stages of the book, only one mattered. The one where they loved and were together.

By 18 years old I found my Rochester. Dark, strong and somewhat brooding. I just knew there was love sleeping inside of him. At first, it seemed like I was right. Here was a man (well, at 18 physically a man if not otherwise) loving me. Seeing beauty in me that nobody had seen before.

I was naive and didn’t see the tricks. That this type of man was often angry and entitled. I didn’t realize that if a man was dark and brooding, there was a reason for it. And as long as he kept that reason hidden in the attic, those around him would be affected by the visits of the specter he tried to lock away.

I’ve been injured by my Rochester’s attic secret. He’s kept secrets from me and himself. That doesn’t make them go away, just get crazier. That’s what brought the affairs on. A man who believed he could lock away secrets and take what he wanted. Childhood issues he can’t or won’t face. Some I knew, one I didn’t until at least a year after the second affair had ended. He was angry and snapped at me that others had had a hard life too. That others could forgive. He had. When he was six or seven a neighborhood teenage boy molested him for a few days. He kept it to himself until he was about 12 years old then told his mom. A year’s worth of therapy and he was fine and had forgiven the perpetrator. It was all in the past.

Except to me it wasn’t. It was one more secret in 15 years of secrets and lies. Again, years have passed and I don’t know any more than what I’ve shared here. I believe that a person who cannot talk about a wound still has healing to be done in that wound. Our son’s birthday was exactly a month before the second affair started. He turned the same age my husband was when he was molested. I believe it was a trigger. My Rochester refuses to see it. He’s keeping his blind spot.
Even if he’s right and my research into the long term effects of molestation are wrong, he has more issues from his childhood he’s never faced.

He’s wounded and crippled. I’m not Jane though. I didn’t find my support system and get validated. I don’t have the strength to nurse him back to a whole man who can see clearly. I have my own scars. Many he helped cause and even layered one over the other. Rochester can love me, but can he be whole enough to pull me out of the web he’s created?

I wanted my Rochester. I just never realized how true to form he would be when he pulled me from the shadows.

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Just the Facts Ma’am

NO.

I realized today that I just report the facts. No mean feat considering just the facts are so emotional too. I gloss over so much, even then it hurts.

My first d-day. Some would call it c-day. Confession over discovery. It’s a d-day to me. Devastating. Demoralizing. Dream-shattering. It was only a confession day because Sorry decided to force MrJJ’s hand. “Tell her or I’ll tell her in the most hurtful way possible.” What could hurt more than knowing your prince, your happily-ever-after, your man of honor loved someone else? That someone else was your friend?

I’ve written about it here before, that day. As I write it this time, iTunes has shuffled a song called “Friends and Love” into the playlist. I can’t even remember where it came from, it’s beautiful. Friends and love should be beautiful. This friend, this love…not beautiful.

Watching one of those spy movies recently, I was wondering why I triggered. The woman was trying to escape someone, going in and out of buildings. I’ve done that. Not life or death, but as it turned out, a part of me died that day.

I sat in the floor of my closet, crying.  I felt frumpy. She made me feel frumpy with her little comments, though I did not connect that until later. MrJJ stood over me, angry. What was my problem? Please, please let’s go out…but not with her. Just us two. Just this once, I begged.
We already invited her, she’s been having a hard time, you know that. You’re holding us up. It was a sneer, a disdain in the reply. I imagine that he also said they’d go without me and I bustled, but that might not be the truth. It would fit with the whole picture.

We went to Denny’s. I can’t remember ordering. I can’t remember anything but sitting next to the window, the morning sun streaming in. I think MrJJ sat next to me, but I couldn’t swear to it. There was some movement under the table. The wait for the food was forever, each moment a torment as we all just sat there. I don’t think I talked, all my memories come later. The movement under the table clicked something in me and I got up and left.

The town wasn’t built up in that area yet. The black roads and drying fields yawned ahead of me. Everything seemed too bright to have shape.  I hurried away, tears blurring things even more. Half a block down, I see they have gotten in the Jeep to follow me. I ducked into a Hardees, only to be told I’m sorry, we’re closed for renovation. I look down at what looks like a Carl’s Jr. star. Huge and waiting to be hung. I was confused- those are from when I lived in California as a child, not here in rural NC. I stumbled out of the door and walked as fast as I could to the next building. A hotel.

The confused faces of the staff blurred past me as I rushed upstairs, down the hall. I wanted to hide, there was nowhere to hide, just the maroon carpet and shut door. So I went down the other stairs, two flights of stark tan walls and stairs. I couldn’t even find an ice machine to hide behind. I rushed out, hoping MrJJ and Sorry were looking somewhere else.

There they were, in the parking lot. I ran to the back of the hotel, hoping to escape there. The deep and wide ditch stopped me. There was nothing but a wide dying field ahead of me. No cover. As I teetered on the edge of the ditch, MrJJ came to me, pulled me to him and hugged me. Kissed the top of my head. Promised me he loved me and it would all be ok.

I peeked over his shoulder and Sorry glowering, arms crossed and, despite my gut feelings, my head wondered why? Why?

MrJJ walked me to the Jeep, put me in, buckled me up and I leaned my head against the window, crying. When we pulled into our apartments, I begged him to drop her off at home. She couldn’t stay here. Of course she wasn’t staying, he said, I’m dropping her off. Then do it, don’t leave me alone. Don’t worry, I’ll be right back, I love you.

It felt like forever. This was before cell phones were ubiquitous. No choice but to wait. I don’t know why I didn’t call her house. I finally couldn’t take the torture. I gather all the pills in the house and some wine coolers. I got into my car, intending to drive down a long country road, take the pills with coolers and stuff the tailpipe of the car. Let someone find me, just let the pain go away. I got to the nearby community college and suddenly felt I had to turn around.

It turns out that they were there, in a gazebo. Thought I had seen them. That’s the only reason MrJJ came home soon after I got home. The rest…well, i can be read here.

I was left to die or not. I can feel the summer day almost like you can feel Maximus’ hand over the field in Gladiator. The same colors, same surreal reality.  Five days before my birthday and I’m left behind like the leftover filled Styrofoam boxes from Denny’s. By the time my birthday rolled around, celebrating my life was as unwanted as those leftovers. I was closer to death, slowly dying. I can see the wires protruding from the new Hardee’s sign. I can feel a blur of diners around me in Denny’s.

This happened June 19, 1999. We buried it all almost immediately. The last year of a millennium, and here we are on the cusp of a new decade in the new millennium and I can still remember. Even buried, it was STILL there.  If it won’t go away, how do I move away from it. I can’t randomly delete it. Those feelings, they come back. It’s a PTSD thing. The first time I saw a Hardee’s after the second affair came to light, I triggered. I didn’t know what it is, or what it was called at the time, but it was there.
Now I’m supposed to recover? HOW? How do you forget when you’ve tried so hard and it WON’T GO AWAY?  How do you heal sleeping next to the person who hurt you, let you hurt but won’t let you go- and won’t help you fight the demons he gave birth to in your dreams, in your life?

The Curtain Opens…a New Day Dawns…

Well, you would think so, right?  We’re still young, just pushing into our mid-20’s.  MrJJ has the job that will open up doors and windows and bring us into the world of fresh air.  We’ve rededicated our lives to each other and Christ.

Yes, the curtain opens.  Sorry and her husband Jerk are out of our lives.  MrJJ is a few states away training for his new job.  But he comes home every chance he gets.  Even through Hurricane Floyd.  His school was evacuated, he was supposed to go west.  He came north to be with me.  Water was riding high over the headlights of my little Dodge Neon.  He still drove on and stayed with me through the aftermath of no drinking water, no power, nothing.

In those early weeks of September, Sorry paged MrJJ’s pager, only I had it.  I wore it in case my friend Olive went into labor.  She had her baby right around that time.  Seeing baby Beauty was the first time I ever had baby fever.  MrJJ and I discussed it and decided to ‘stop preventing’.  We weren’t trying, but we would accept a child if God chose to give one to us.  By Halloween I knew I was pregnant.  I kept it in until MrJJ could come home.

I had obeyed MrJJ and Pastor G.  I did my best to stuff those feelings of pain and mistrust.  It came out with my pregnancy announcement to MrJJ though.

“Are you sure I am the only one you want forever?”

MrJJ was puzzled and defensive, “Of course!”

“Well, too bad, someone else is going to be in our marriage.  A little boy or girl.”

MrJJ was over the moon.  Bought a little moose for the baby.  Started talking names.  He graduated soon after that and began working in VA.  He had to live with relatives and commute until we had a home.  My father-in-law still has many of our possessions from that time, including the boot camp letters.  He says no, but I saw a few the last time we visited his house.  Sorry for the tangent, but I feel enough of my life has been taken between being a military brat and having divorced parents.  He’s just one more on the pile.

MrJJ wanted the best home for his family that he could afford.  I just wanted to be with him.  I gave up driving up there to find a home and left it to him.  We wouldn’t agree anyway.  By December we had a home and were just waiting for all the paperwork to go through.  I had also found a job near MrJJ’s at a federal daycare.  Daycare hours, school teacher pay.  Perfect for our fledgling family.

I spent New Years Eve ’99 babysitting and rubbing my still tiny belly.  I had lost about 30 pounds in the aftermath of the summer of ’99 and was feeling good for the most part.  There was still this nagging sadness, but I did my best to concentrate on the future and pushed it aside.  I talked to MrJJ on the phone, he was working too.  He asked what I was doing, I said I was in bed with a guy, the little boy I was babysitting.  He had been afraid of all the noise.  And so rang in the year Y2K.  This century had to be better than the last, right?

The next day I moved up to live with MrJJ in a motel while we waited for our house.  I began my job and was initiated into the Washington DC mixing bowl traffic.  We did travel back to NC in that first month for a funeral.  MrJJ’s paternal grandfather had died.  Even in her mourning, his grandmother managed to ‘joke’ that MrJJ wasn’t the father of my baby.  I bristled at the implication and could almost see some respect for MrJJ drop away as he said nothing.

We moved into our first home.  It was a sweet little townhouse in the far ‘burbs of DC.  We began nesting and planning our future as a little family with so much promise.  The problem is, you can live in a new house with fresh paint and throw the curtains open to a new day.  But if there’s a body under the rug, it’s eventually going to stink.

Finally- I can Relax! Sort of.

I was in my first year of teaching. MrJJ initially was in basic law enforcement training but got a job as soon as we graduated. One day he came home with a dinner invite from one of his co-workers. I was thrilled. His instructor had given a speech at graduation on how important it was to make friends with fellow cops. After all, the job was stressful and only other cops knew what it was like.

We all hit it off right away. There was never an awkward pause. Soon, we began going out to dinner with them, they hung out at our place, we hung out at theirs. Yes, Jerk (the husband) and Sorry (the wife) were a lot of fun to be with. There were awkward moments though. Like one night we were watching a movie at their house. There was a new movie we hadn’t seen yet, but Jerk and Sorry insisted on watching “Wild Things”. When the threesome part came on, I felt uncomfortable with the look Jerk gave me. After the movie ended, Jerk talked about Sorry making out with a female co-worker while they thought he was asleep on the couch. She laughed and told him she knew he was awake, just like he had been awake for the lap dance she bought him…and she ended up making out with the stripper. Another time they invited us to go to Hedonism II with them. MrJJ said it wasn’t likely, we had other vacation destinations to save up for. It was after that he described the place and told me it made him uncomfortable. He thought maybe they wanted more of the friendship than we did. Jerk had told him some stories, guy talk. MrJJ didn’t want me involved with that.

For the first time in my life I had next to no worries. There were no money problems. I was in love with my husband more than ever- look what we had survived. Not every couple can stop abuse, even the ‘small’ abuse MrJJ dished out to me. My biggest stress was teaching and an extremely overbearing mentor. But that soon ended. It was summer and I was free. Except my classes of course. I had graduated w/ a BA in my field and needed a few more courses to get my teaching license.

But the fun continued. Except for Jerk and Sorry They were having problems. They had been married less than a year, in fact, they had just come back from a delayed honeymoon right before we started hanging out. Hedonism II. MrJJ knew of it, but the significance was lost on me. But now, less than two years into their entire relationship, Sorry was dissatisfied. I remember us hiding out in her closet while she told me she wasn’t sure if she loved Jerk She lost that ‘fairy tale feeling’ and missed it. I assured her it comes and goes. Hold on, it will come back. Marriage is full of hills and valleys. Why, look at MrJJ and myself. We just got over a deep valley. Now, I loved him more than ever before. Sorry just needed to share her feelings with Jerk. Communication was a must. She replied, “I just want what you have.” I sighed. She didn’t get it. What I was having now wouldn’t last forever. It comes and goes.

Soon after though, I noticed her giving MrJJ looks. She expected him to react to her the same way he reacted to me. She’d dress in clothes that showed her to advantage, then point it out. For instance, once after I confided in her that I was self conscious about my upper arms and so avoided sleeveless shirts and dresses, she wore a white tank top the next time we met. It showed off her tan skin to advantage. She also asked if she should follow Jerk’s request and put her crochet white sweater over it, as without her bra her nipples were almost visible.

As for MrJJ, he was pulling away from me.

We’d go out and I’d think MrJJ’s friendliness was too close to flirting. I’d get upset, Sorry would comfort and support me. Soon, MrJJ and I began fighting about all sorts of things. Sorry would support me, tell me I wasn’t blowing things out of proportion. One night, MrJJ decided to spend the night at Sorry and Jerk’s house. I wanted to beg him to stay but Sorry told me if I accepted his treatment of me, she’d tell him off herself.

One night she called us, freaking out that she heard a noise. Apparently the gun she had, the phone that could have called 911 instead of us, the Rottweiler…that wasn’t enough protection. She insisted my husband come to check it out. I came with, staying on the phone until we were out of range. MrJJ went into the house alone and came out after about 15 minutes. It was nothing.

During all of this, we would still go out, with one exception. We’d go while Jerk was on his shift. Sorry didn’t seem to mind being a third wheel. We played tennis together, Sorry pouting in the backseat of my car as the Bryan Adams song “Run to You” played on the radio. I thought she was crying over her marriage. I felt sorry for her and hoped we’d have fun. When it came time to play, I became disgruntled because Sorry kept mocking my tennis playing skills. I was there to have fun and it was not fun for me at all. At least she had her high spirits back though.

One ridiculous moment happened at Olive Garden.  MrJJ said something about how he liked the olives in the salad although he always picked the soup instead.  I was teasing him and said, “You can’t have mine, you want one, eat some salad.”  Sorry jumped in, “He can have mine!”  I kind of looked at her and said, “No, I’m his wife, if he wants an olive, he can have mine.”  She insisted and gave him her olive.  Weird and stupid I know, but that’s the kind of thing that even in the moment you think, “What’s going on here?”

One night we went to the local sandwich-brew joint, Sorry was pouting in the backseat the whole way. When we got home, MrJJ pulled out his telescope. He was showing Sorry the stars. I asked to see them too and he backed away. I tried to look but was too short. I moved away as he guided Sorry to the telescope. I sat on the curb, trying not to look at my husband standing behind my friend, looking at the stars together. I couldn’t even tell you how long it was, just that they didn’t notice when I went inside. I told myself it was nothing. Even if my friend had a crush on my husband, I could trust him.

Soon after that, MrJJ picked another fight. Again, he went to spend the night at Sorry and Jerk’s house. This time though, Jerk was at work. I sat at home crying. I finally decided to fight. I went to their house. I pounded on the door and insisted on seeing MrJJ right away. She led me to the upstairs guest room. I scanned the room, relieved to only see MrJJ cleaning his gear for the next day’s shift. I got on my knees, clinging to his. I begged him to come home and talk. He coldly refused. I reluctantly left, Sorry shutting the door firmly behind me.

I found another note to his high school teacher. She had long been a sore point for me. Always the “What If” woman. I held back though. I had been jealous for too long. I was taking a psych class and my project was to change my behavior for two weeks. I did it. I kept calm. I was proud of myself. I wanted to make myself better for our marriage. I wanted a husband that wanted to be with me. After all, less than two months ago we were in love like newlyweds, right? It could happen again. If I was just good enough. If I just held my temper.

My Failings

Our marriage limped along.  I didn’t feel safe to be vulnerable.  I tested MrJJ by refusing to clean, wanting to see what it took for him to pitch in.  I would push and push and push, wanting to see emotion from him.  There wasn’t the love there used to be.  It was either nothing or anger.

I began to get involved with an online role play community.  I had a few flirtations that made me feel better some.  I reasoned MrJJ said it was ok, right?  It did make me feel stronger.  People saw me, just me and liked me.  I felt like I wasn’t pretending online, but now I know I probably was.  At least some, everyone does.  I thought then that I was being genuine where I wasn’t safe with my own husband.

By this time I had quit my first daycare.  It was too stressful.  A friend convinced me to apply at the Christian daycare down the road.  I started working there in ’95.  I was surrounded- mostly- by people who were caring.  Who saw something in me.  When MrJJ came to pick me up, he was cheerful and outgoing.  They adored him, laughed with him.  I was fake though.  Work was an escape, school was an escape and soon my online friends became an escape.

Emboldened by the feeling that I wasn’t a worthless bitch, I began to insist that “something” be done.  MrJJ at first declared that it was financial pressures and so our problems would eventually go away when we were financially secure.  Eventually it became, “It’s your fault, you make me do it because you are such a bitch.”  I started researching divorce in our state.  I discovered we would have to have one year of separation before dissolution was granted.  One year?  They should have required a one year wait before the marriage, that would prevent problems!

MrJJ didn’t realize anything was wrong.  He went away the summer of ’97 for training.  He sent me gifts for my birthday but to me they were things you would send a sister, not a wife you loved.  He remained distant, argumentative.  So finally, one day I told him on the phone that we needed to separate.  That we would use the one year as a deadline and if he didn’t stop physically hurting me, we’d get divorced.  No more putting things off.

When MrJJ came home from training, he told me he’d leave, but if he left it would be forever.  He didn’t see how we could work on things while we were apart.  I didn’t see how we could work on things together when we failed so miserably to date.  So he left.  I didn’t hear from him at all.

I had some friends come visit.  One put it off, he was supposed to come with my female friend as they lived nearby.  He claimed his work schedule prevented him.  So when Creep finally came, it was just the two of us.  When we were alone and kissed, it felt wrong.  I felt obligated though, as though I had led him on and thus couldn’t say no.

We had sex.  It was shameful fumbling.  He couldn’t maintain an erection and never ‘finished’.  I died a little inside.  I thought it would make me feel better.  MrJJ had told me he had made out w/ another woman after I told him I wanted to separate.   I took that and his refusal to talk after he left as extreme rejection.  I convinced myself that the obligation I felt to have sex with Creep  was more than it was.  But it was really just a girl trying to find worth somewhere because she felt worthless inside.  It backfired.

I kept up the act though, acted like I was enjoying Creep’s company.  We started making cookies and watching a movie.  There was a knock at the door.  A glowering MrJJ stood in the threshold.  I went for a walk with him, assured him Creep was just a friend who had come at the wrong time.  I was amazed that of all days, MrJJ comes back in my life that day.  It had been weeks, months since MrJJ had contacted me.  This was a Sign.

When I got back, Creep nervously said he should probably leave.  He paid to have his flight switched to as early as possible.  Relieved to have him gone and resentful that he would run when he feared MrJJ would beat me, I offered to drive him to the airport as soon as possible.  I began falling asleep at the wheel.  I got a hotel room halfway there.  We slept with a pillow between us that I had wordlessly placed there and Creep just accepted.  I dropped him off at the airport and sped home.

Working it Out

Our first year of marriage I started out working nearly full time in a fabric store.  One of my classes had a practical requirement, so I had to fit in some hours volunteering at a local daycare.  By the end of the semester, that became a full time job for me and I was able to quit the fabric store.

One day, for some reason after we had been married about six months, I logged onto MrJJ’s email account.  I found a completely empty inbox.  The sent box contained at least one message.  One message is all I needed to read.  It was to some woman.  It  read: I love you @>—->——-

For those that don’t know, the last thing is an internet version of a rose.  I can’t even remember if there were other emails, I just remember changing his password and logging off. My heart plummeted.  Even just typing this out, my stomach is in knots.  I had to go to work, while there I vented  to a friend.  She agreed I needed to confront.  When I came home, I stormed into the apartment.  MrJJ was shocked.  He said it was nothing, just someone he met in a chat room.  It was a game, she wasn’t real to him.  He had no problem with me monitoring his emails or ending it.

She became real when he got a picture and card from her a couple of weeks later.  She had discovered where he worked and sent it there.  It freaked him out.

But the lesson I learned was that my newlywed husband didn’t love me.  He couldn’t, or he wouldn’t have been able to betray me like that, right?  I also learned that he thought internet flirtations were ok as long as they were online.

I further felt  devalued when I found a letter he wrote to his ‘crush teacher’.  You know, the young teacher in high school that the guys all have a thing for?  J.W. was that teacher and apparently nearly had an inappropriate encounter with MrJJ while he was in school.  MrJJ kept in contact with her now and then.  This particular letter detailed all of his accomplishments.  And, on the back of page two, two small sentences.  “I also got married this year.  You’d like her, she’s nice.”  I was a foot note in his life.  Yet I loved him desperately.

Our relationship, our marriage, became me feeling unloved.  Like I had to earn the love.  Then resentment would build up and I’d blow up at MrJJ  I have a quick mind when it comes to words and I can be very caustic.  MrJJ would feel left behind, confused, attacked.  He’d lash out physically.  He’d shove me, grab me, pull me.  On two occasions he lifted me off the ground by the neck.  I never called it abuse.  An abused wife had bruises and broken bones.

It became my fault.  I’m a bitch, I’m a nag, I’m too controlling.  I accepted it.  I have always been harder on myself than anyone else.  I was a combination of the proud, independent woman I had always dreamed of being when my stepmother was controlling me, and the weak girl-woman that so desperately wanted her husband’s love.  I resented it, I held it in and lashed out about other things.  I kept the core of who I was secret and protected.

Those Wedding Bell Blues

MrJJ and I were living together for less than a year when we decided it was time to get married. People asked why we didn’t wait until we graduated, had our diplomas in hand? We replied- what did one pieces of paper (the diploma) have to do with another (the marriage license)? Perhaps those well meaning people should have recommended some pre-marital counseling or even a delay of just another year. Although, at 20 years, we knew everything so any advice would have likely been ignored anyhow. After all, that had been the plan since the first months of dating, and we were nearing two years.  We chose the Friday after our dating anniversary, that fell on a Monday that year.

We had so little money, we decided to just do a Justice of the Peace wedding. We thought it was the marriage that mattered, not the wedding. So we told our families. My dad wanted to fly cross country, but I told him not to bother for a simple JoP ceremony, we’d renew our vows in a few years when we graduated and had money. MrJJ’s dad railed, accusing me of marrying him for his money. Huh? I was supporting the both of us working in a fabric store while going to school full time! MrJJ’s mom decided on the day of the wedding not to come because it was raining and she didn’t want to drive the two hours in the rain. We did have witnesses, some people who decided it was worth their time. MrJJ’s uncle and his wife braved the drive, our best friends from college (a couple we are still friends with), and our neighbor and her boyfriend.

I wore a dress the neighbor gave me, it was a simple white cotton with some seed beading on the bodice. That was something borrowed and old. From the fabric store I got discounted lace and blue ribbon and wove them together, trimming the skirt. That was something new and blue. MrJJ wore his USMC dress blues.

We drove to the JoP, we had tried to make an appointment but we were told to just come in. There was someone before us. Some guy in cuffs, sitting with his head bowed. I noted he had some white crusty stuff in his hair and wondered where it came from. The JoP came out and asked who was next. They indicated the cuffed man. Looking at him, then us, the JoP said, “You’re not going anywhere, let’s let this nice couple in.”

Once we shuffled into his small office, the JoP had MrJJ and I stand together and hold hands while we repeated the vows after him. I had eyes only for MrJJ. I have no idea what everyone else was doing, where they were standing. MrJJ.’s uncle was supposed to take pictures with my camera, but didn’t know how to use it. Only one came out, of MrJJ.’s chest. So all I have are the memories of that day. I remember my hands shaking as I put the ring on MrJJ.’s finger. When it stuck a little at the knuckle, I fretted that it was a bad omen.

Vows said, kisses exchanged, the JoP pronounced us married. He declared, “This is a marriage that is going to last. Never have I had such a nice young couple that took the time to dress up. It shows you value this marriage.” Many times over the years I have felt an irrational obligation to live up to those words.

MrJJ.’s uncle insisted on taking us all out to eat.  At a place with actual table cloths.  We went out to a nice Chinese restaurant we had never been to before.  When we returned to our apartment, MrJJ.’s uncle and wife left us with a large family Bible and money to get started.  Our friends stayed for a bit, having cake and toasting us.  They left and we had our first night together.  MrJJ had been calling me Mrs. from early on, but now it was reality.

To me, the most special moment of that day was that night, in the dark.  At one point there was an electrical current that flowed though me.  It honestly felt like God’s blessing.  Like we were finally on the right path.  When I mentioned it to MrJJ, it turns out he had felt the same surge.

And so began our married life.  We had the weekend, then returned to school on Monday and I returned to work.  Reality began.

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