I laugh to myself sometimes when I get told of the great example that my husband and I are, the great hope that we offer for #relationshipgoals and the appreciation for the pure and deep friendship that we have with each other...not because I don't appreciate it, believe it or see it but because It took us a long time to get here and we had to fight many battles to find each other. We met broken and bloody from battle after battle and we burned our lives to the ground and rebuilt them in each others arms. THIS IS A TRUE, MESSY AND POWERFUL LOVE STORY that has never been shared like this before. It is my prayer that our story will inspire you in your search for love whether it is in the person next to you or in the person unknown.
DISCLAIMER: As I share scenes from my love story that I have NEVER shared publicly before I just want to warn you that this is NOT a pretty love story. It has a lot of ugly and it gets WAY worse before it gets better. There were many hearts broken and many victims of my battles for love. There is nothing that you can say about me and my love story that I have not already said to myself. I know who I am, I know where I am and I know that the love that I have now is the truest and greatest love that I will ever hope to experience...you don't have to understand it or agree with it. It is mine and mine alone.
*no names will be shared and this is only ONE side, my side of the story.
Part 1 of a 4 part series...
I grew up in an idyllic home in Utah. I had amazing parents, a perfect little brick home and a close and loving relationship with my siblings. We were truly all friends. We would sit at our kitchen table for endless hours and discuss our life, friends, relationships, punishments, God and more.
I grew up in a strong Mormon (read more here) home with very specific beliefs on Eternal Marriage and what that meant. I grew up KNOWING that if I did everything that I should and I married a certain boy that believed the same that I did that we would fall in love, get married and be a family through the eternities.
There was NO conversation on what would actually happen if you did all those things and then the honeymoon ends and the entire married becomes a sham, a fake, and that we continue on pretending that we have it all figured out and that we will be ok.
Lets be honest....this conversation isn't talked about much ANYWHERE. No one knows how to prepare for this scenario and lets be honest...no one goes into marriage thinking they are going to get divorced!
Unfortunately for many, more than I even want to know about, this is the fate of a relationship.
And for me it happened more than once.
I want to start this series by saying that I LOVE love. Despite the horrible and painful relationships that I have endured I am an optimist when it comes to love. I believe in love and marriage and Eternal Family and passion and commitment and a partnership!
After I graduated High School I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do. All I knew as an 18 year old was that from the time that I was very young the goal for a righteous young woman was to get married as soon as the opportunity was presented.
I made the decision to start at Utah Valley University, then it was still UVCC, and decided ironically enough to study Family Relations.
My older brother Todd and many of his friends were attending the semester that I started. I really appreciated their "willingness" to let a young, stupid "little sister" tag along with them to the school activities, dances etc. I didn't know anyone and had very little as far as friends that came out of High School with me.
That is where I met him. In this group of young men that looked out for me.
I fell in love immediately. Well, let me rephrase that. I fell in love for the level that I could understand at that time. And for all I knew it was the only love that existed. It was young, and a great first for me. It was innocent and exciting and it was about us. We were happy and excited for the possibility of the future...not understanding in any way the burden and consequence that comes with being so blind to our own hearts, our own true passion, and to our own path. We were on a path that was laid out for us. We were on a path that we were told would bring us the perfect joy and happiness.
And why wouldn't we believe that. We had been a witness to it our entire life. We would never doubt, we would never ask questions and we would never speak out against it.
We were married in August 1999. I was 19.
It was a beautiful wedding. The perfect temple, the perfect backyard reception with all the right people and all the right perceptions. We put on a beautiful show. We did love each other then. In that moment we loved each other.
One day later we drove to our honeymoon in Las Vegas. He drank and gambled and I sat in the room. We played a little, wandered around, slept, had a little sex and drove home. It was just as it was supposed to be.
The most interesting part of the honeymoon came on the drive home. We started talking deeply about religion and our personal take on the church that we born and raised to believe in. Never having really experienced anything in my life I very much lived off of borrowed testimony. I only knew what I was told and I had never truly discovered anything for myself.
He shared with me that he never really believed and that all his life he was following blindly. When he was sent home early from his mission he knew that he would never go back to finish serving his time and that he never felt the same.
We never set foot in a church again as a couple unless there was a family event taking place. The last time we walked into a church together was to mourn the death a dear friend that overdosed on prescription pills. We were separated at the time and after Todd's death, we died as well and that was it. He filed a few months later.
As I watched my husband struggle more and more with the internal conflict of what he wanted and what he didn't want I found myself caught up in the "support" of it all. I wanted to stand by him and support him. I was young and he was my husband. I knew that I should "stand by my man" and I knew that he wouldn't allow me to be in any type of danger.
He opened my mind to consider other possibilities, he opened my mind to ask and question and to call people out. We learned quickly that it made family and friends deeply uncomfortable when we questioned everything that we were supposed to believe.
I had my first drink with him. Jack and coke. I was 20.
We lived our life in secret. We pretended to be something completely different. We would get together with friends and drink and party and lie to our family about what we were doing. It is impossible to live like this without people finding out....true colors always come out!
I was working for a small film production company in Salt Lake City. We worked with big corporate companies. There were rich and important men that would come in our doors and I was getting a lot of attention.
I started to go out to drink with groups from work. I started to spend less time with my husband and more time at a bar. We started to live completely different lives while still trying to maintain this image that we were going to have the "American Dream".
On the outside we were a happy and healthy couple. We were building our first home and we were talking about having a family. We always showed up to family events, we participated in local activities, we never missed the men's league basketball games.
We were barely sleeping in the same bed. We weren't having sex and we didn't have anything to talk about.
On the evening September 11, 2001 after we both got home from work we sat in the same bed for the first time in months. We watched in horror at what was happening, getting updates that were coming in from the day, having conversation about what had brought our nation to its knees and shed tears over the loss of so many.
I remember thinking how short life was. I remember thinking that maybe just maybe I didn't need more, I just needed home and family and that life was so precious. I remember thinking that we could put our differences aside and come back together and fix everything that was wrong with our relationship.
A month later I was back home at my parents house. Our world was brought down, our secrets were out. We were no longer the image of a happy and healthy couple. We were broken. We broke each other.
At 19 I married for love, for eternal marriage, for a life that was planned for me my entire life. They never tell you what happens after the wedding. I thought if I did everything leading up to the wedding, if I had the perfect wedding that automatically my marriage would be set. No one teaches you what happens in the after math. I was not prepared at such a young age to stand for what I believed in, I didn't even know what that was.
Before I reached my 22nd birthday, just shy of 2 and a half years of marriage, I was getting divorced.....
Part 2 will continue on Monday February 8, 2016.