Fifteen and Already a Wife

April 13th, 2007.

Part 1 of this story is here.

Part 2 of this story is here.

I promised my Mother I would get married on a Friday.

I was married by Monday afternoon.

Late Sunday night, my Mother drove us all to West Virginia to get the job done. My boyfriend’s Mother rode shotgun and my brother, my boyfriend, and I all crammed into the backseat. I wore a pair of jean shorts and a purple tie-dyed t-shirt. Not exactly the stuff weddings are made of, but that’s life.

The only time I smiled during the whole thing was right before the vows when the judge made us all raise our right hands and swear that my boyfriend and I were not of blood relation. Can anyone from West Virginia verify if this is proper procedure? Or was the judge just making a joke?

During the actual exchanging of vows, I bawled my little ass off. I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was just using the boy next to me. I was using him just like my Mother had used the men in her life, over the years. I just couldn’t get over the idea that this marriage was proof that I was just like her. So I stood before the judge with tears streaming from my eyes, cheeks red and swollen, and snot running freely from my nose.

I have never been a pretty crier.

When it was done, my new Mother-in-law tried to take a picture. I wouldn’t let her. I didn’t want photographic evidence of that day…although I do still have my old marriage license.

My new husband and I sat on a bench and waited for our parents to get some paperwork in order. When they were finished, my Mother waved my brother over to her side. I heard her tell him that they would be driving back alone. His sister and her new family would be renting a car.

She walked away from us without a word to me, without looking back, and with a gait that was both purposeful and brisk. The sound her shoes made as they clicked against the marble floor echoed throughout the room. I noticed her high heels. That day, they were black.

That was the last time I ever laid eyes on her.

Thus concludes what my friend would refer to as one of my good stories.

And now that I’ve told it, how do you feel? Do you want to shrink away from it? Close your eyes? Or perhaps you want to deny, deny, deny that it ever happened?

Do you want to ask me, ‘How can this possibly be true?’

A long, long time ago, I would have answered you with a shrug of the shoulders. I would have told you that if you met my Mother before I told this story, you would have liked her. She was pretty and smart and so very charming. You would have wanted to be her friend.

I would have also told you a truth about human nature. That is simply that people see what they want to see. Take, for example, the cop who visited my house that night long ago. He didn’t see my greasy hair. He didn’t see my cracked and bleeding lips. He didn’t see the funny way my clothes hung on my emaciated body or how too much movement made me dizzy. He didn’t see those things because he didn’t want to see them.

What he saw was a spoiled girl in a fancy sweater who was making up stories because she was on drugs. That’s what he wanted to see. He wanted to see this because no one on God’s green earth wants to believe it is possible for a Mother to hurt her child.

A long, long time ago I used to get into arguments with my friends. They would tell me that abused children don’t necessarily end up ruined.

They would say, “Just look at how you turned out, V!”

I always had to fight the urge to ball my hand up into a fist, slam it onto the table and scream, “YES! THAT’S EXACTLY MY POINT! LOOK HOW I TURNED OUT!”

But my friends would have only blinked at me, confused. When they look at me, they see a smart girl who toughed it out and eventually made a life for herself.

They don’t see the alcohol or the pills or the chronic insomnia. They don’t notice my obvious discomfort with physical affection or the way I tear up very suddenly sometimes for reasons unknown even to me. And that way I panic and claw at my face should anything even come close to covering my nose and mouth? Why, that’s just a funny little phobia!

People see what they want to see.

After my explanation, I would have asked you to fucking spare me the claims of what you would have done if you were in my position. I would have told you to kindly shut the fuck up when you insisted that you would have made someone believe you. You speak as an emotionally healthy, grown adult. You don’t speak as a scared little kid who has spent her life reaching out to people only to suffer the consequences when she was once again left alone with her abuser.

But now if you ask me, ‘How can this possibly be true?’ I won’t say any of those things.

Instead I’ll laugh and tell you, I told you so. I told you it would be too bitter to swallow! I told you it would be easier to treat it all like it was some made-up fantasy bullshit! I told you I wouldn’t mind if you looked at me with suspicion and distrust!

I didn’t write the story for you, anyway.

I wrote it for the teenage kid reading from a dark room somewhere who is nodding silently to himself. I hope it does his heart some good to read something real for a change and not that Good Will Hunting bullshit.

Good Will Hunting. What a fucking joke.

Should you ever meet one of the kids who read my story and nodded to himself, all I ask is that you be careful before you pat him on the head and tell him, “There, there.” Most of them fear your pity more than they fear facing what happened to them.

Before I end this and move on to discussing more lighthearted things, let me take a moment to discuss the permanent damage.

1. I very adamantly disagree with a legal system that gives any parent totalitarian control of a child at the exclusion of the other parent and all other adults. When a child is isolated from other adults, the adult in control loses all accountability. People like my Mother do what they do because the legal system treats them as if they were omniscient.

2. I cannot stand the sight, smell, or taste of goldfish crackers.

3. For the most part, I fucking hate cops.

Also, I ask that you not condemn me too much for believing in God for as long as I did. I want to believe in God because I want to believe in Hell.

Without Hell, my Mother will have gotten away with every bad thing she’s ever done.

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