With two kids and an addict for a husband, she persevered until their marriage was no longer a mistake.
I have always been told to look at mistakes as stepping stones in life. They are lessons waiting to be learned, reminders of character flaws needing to be worked on, and warning signs that we are on the wrong path.
Most times when people screw-up it is over something rather trivial and can be moved on from quickly with little repercussion. Other times, shit is so jacked up there’ll be hell to pay for a long while thereafter.
Then there’s that one rare kind of wayward mistake which causes trouble out of the starting gate, but given enough time, the path will come full circle and reveal a hidden gift of sorts–a gift that is positive and life-changing, which opens doors to a life one may very well not have known they even wanted.
Thus is the case for me. I made what was thought to be the biggest mistake of my life ten and a half years ago. I met and married my husband within six months. I was 24. He was 28. While a whirlwind marriage is not necessarily a mistake standing alone, it is the circumstances of the marriage which led everyone around us to shake their heads in disbelief and whisper, “it’s never going to work for them. They’ll be divorced before the ink is dry,” behind our backs. I continuously swallowed my own regurgitated doubts down like a shot of Tequila for the first few years, in all honesty.
You see, my husband was battling an addiction unbeknownst to me when I met him. He was in some serious end of the minor level legal troubles I turned a blind eye to the cause of, when we made the decision to tie the knot shotgun style the very next week. There was a slim, but possible, chance that he would get some small jail time, up to six months. I was a semi-newly single mother to two young boys, only one and two years old when we met. At the time, their biological father had legally kidnapped them until our custody hearing where he was going to lose his parental rights.
It was a highly emotional and vulnerable time in my life.
My own blood relatives had betrayed my trust to help my ex, still under the guise he fronted that the courts were about to reveal. My soon-to-be husband, however, stepped up to the plate to be my advocate, my confidante, and my advisor – seeing me through until the courts ordered my babies eagerly anticipated return. No one else wanted the job. The whole while he respected my vulnerability and took things slow on an intimate level. It was easy not to see his own inner demons. By the time he had gotten into his trouble, the boys were back and he had begun building a relationship with us as a family. I wanted to return the gratitude I felt for him standing by me in my time of need, so it was only natural to see him through his own.
It was during the week we decided to put our marriage plan into action that I started seeing the warning signs I had been obvious to before. He got drunker than ever before and got into a verbal confrontation with my father, with whom I was living with. He then became very hostile towards me and volatile with himself before passing out. I also took stock of the medicine bottle kept guarded in his pants pocket like a religious relic.
But his loyalty and gentlemen-like qualities rang loudly to the mom juggling two little ones, a full-time job, and the responsibilities of providing a good life for them. Truly so because when he wasn’t pushing his intoxication limits, he was proving to be a dedicated provider and excellent caregiver.
I decided that the benefits to having secured a husband outweighed the cons of his problems we were facing in the moment. I didn’t know him well enough to realize this was part of a long list of patterned behavior throughout his addiction history. That only came to light after we were married–I went to the altar lost in the fantasy I created to convince myself I was doing the right thing.
For the next few years, my decision to marry him came back to haunt me tenfold. His addiction complicated things more than they already were, creating new struggles on top of the ones we already had. I made even more mistakes trying to fix the giant one I thought I had ruined my whole life with. I destroyed relationships with good friends, lost a really good job, and failed to provide the very best for my children trying to help him help himself.
It took my husband hitting rock bottom four years into our chaotic marriage, but he finally made the decision to get clean and stay clean from all his substances–alcohol and narcotics. And that’s when the magic started to occur. The relationship I thought was doomed from the get go, plagued heavily with naivety and resignation, dysfunction and trauma, suddenly turned around.
We came together closer than ever before, committed to growing our family as we should have from the beginning. My husband embraced his role as husband and father, giving me the greatest treasure I could dream of–unconditional love.
Six years later, I can say that it was worth every ounce of struggle we went through getting to where we’re at.
That mistake I made had turned into the best thing of my life and forever changed me in ways I would never have imagined the night I met my soul mate at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I think it was mostly due to the fact that we jumped the gun so early on which has held us together so long. We have had to learn everything as we go, always having something new to discover about each other which fuels the understanding we need to move to the next chapter. We also had a lot to prove, and it’s no secret to those who know us that we both are gung ho on some friendly competition. I know it’s also because my husband is a truly wonderful man with a heart bigger than his brain. He would walk over fire and carry he weight of the world on his shoulders to do right by our children.
His sons know no other father and they couldn’t be any more blessed that it’s him.
Who would ever know looking at us now that our road to the greatest riches in life was paved by the worst mistake we both could have made at the time? Life is mysterious. It catches you off guard and tortures you with uncertainty and malady. Every so often, though, it will sneak up when you least expect it and drop a hidden treasure in your lap.
I’ll always cherish the value of the biggest mistake I ever made in life–my marriage.
Photo: Brad Hammonds/Flickr
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