The Cheese Stands Alone

Mother's Dress

I will soon celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary.

Funny thing is, I swore from as far back as I can remember that I would never marry. I referred to my husband for years as my “first” husband to make light of the fact that I was truly married to this man. Don’t get me wrong, Rick is the most amazingly loving and supportive spouse any woman could ask for. But let me give you some background.

Me, age 4, kindergarten, Mrs. Wellerman’s Class: We are playing the Farmer in the Dell, singing, dancing and all is well, UNTIL… the farmer takes a wife! Yup, an innocent, blond-haired young man — whose name will be changed more so because I have forgotten it than to protect the innocent; we shall call him Billy — walks up and grasps my hand when the farmer takes a wife. I respond in a bit of a crazed manner: I pull my hand away, begin crying and emphatically state, “No, no, no you can’t make me marry you! I won’t marry anyone! I don’t want to be anyone’s wife! Why can’t I just be the cheese? The cheese stands alone! Just let me be the cheese!”

Needless to say a parent/teacher conference followed a trip to the school psychologist.

Seems a bit over the top, but it’s a true story. (And Billy, if you’re out there, really it wasn’t about you. Sorry if there was any lasting damage.)

I did not have very good role models for a healthy marital relationship. I am fond of saying every family has its own brand of crazy — you are just used to yours. My family’s particular brand of crazy involved unhealthy relationships. I knew from early on I wanted no part of it. It never occurred to me to change the behavior, to make better choices. At 4 I only knew avoidance was an option. I signed up for that.

Me, age 21: Aunt “L” asks “When are you going to get married?” My response: “Why do I need to get married? I already have a husband. Three of them actually, they just aren’t mine.”

Yeah, that was me; the other woman, x3. What is the best way to avoid a real committed relationship? Pick men who are unavailable (M, R, & J; I apologize to you and the people in your lives who were affected by our decisions.)

Me, age 28: “Can’t we just live together?” I asked. Rick: “Um, NO.”

I didn’t sign on with reckless abandon. I signed on because he would not have it any other way. I made a tough decision and committed to it. I am not saying I went along with it easily or even readily. My family and friends made provisions to keep me from bolting on my wedding day. Serious provisions.

Today I am 46 years old, married 20 years and I happy; truly, unequivocally happy. Blissed out if you will. Through my life I made choices that served me at the time, made choices that may have hurt others. I am sorry for any pain I caused. But I am the sum of my experiences and I would not be as grateful for my life without those experiences.

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