I first got married when I was 18 years old – young, impetuous, truly blind to all that life may have had to offer me. I was in love – or at least in love with the idea of love and all that it entailed – and could see nothing else. I was also four months pregnant. We’d got engaged the previous October, had booked our wedding for the following June, but in February I fell pregnant. So my future was already set: I was going to be a wife and mother, and that was that.
With the gift of hindsight it is so easy for me to see that I was lost and floundering in an adult world I didn’t yet feel I belonged to, simply playing at being grown up. I had far too little life experience at that point to be able to make any such momentous life-changing decision with any real concept of what I was doing. But I did it anyway.
In my memory of that first wedding day one particularly ominous now-or-never moment stands out for me, above and beyond all others, that even at the time I remember feeling was somehow defining. Everyone else was already waiting at the church for us to arrive, and my dad and I were in the bridal car – just us and the limo chauffeur – when about half way along the road to the church, we came across road-works with temporary traffic lights. The light was on red, and the car stopped, and suddenly in that single moment it felt like an omen – I knew with blinding clarity that I really didn’t want to be going through with this marriage.
I remember saying to dad – I don’t want to do this – and my dad, understandably thinking it was just last minute nerves, reassured me, and the moment passed. We continued on our way, and I got married as planned. But the marriage was never really destined for success – we were both far too young, far too different as people – and despite my best efforts to make the best of a bad job it ended – badly – only a few years later. Unfortunately, the devastating nuclear fallout radiating from that explosive relationship remains potentially damaging for me, even today…
So sometimes I think – what if I hadn’t gone through with that marriage on that fateful day? What if I’d been stronger, had known my own mind better, had understood the consequences of ignoring these gut-reaction life-messages that hit us with force every now and again? My life would definitely have been different, but not necessarily better, and much of what is most precious to me now would be missing.
Already pregnant, I would have had my son whatever happened, but not to have had my two precious daughters just exactly as they are is absolutely inconceivable. And not to have lived all of my life exactly as I have done may also have irrevocably altered the course of my children’s lives so that they might never have met their partners, and so never have had their children, my beautiful grandchildren…
And so the way I look at it, it is the accumulation of all of my life experiences in their entirety that has made me who I am now, and so it is impossible for me to imagine anything different. I cannot regret a marriage – however emotionally destructive it turned out to be – that also created the most precious people in my universe. We are all where we are – no more, no less – and I for one am extremely grateful for all of it, just as it is 🙂