“This has been difficult, but I think I am finally ready.
June 8th 2019… was meant to be the happiest day of my life. The day I would marry my best friend, soulmate, my person. I wanted to wake up giddy and nervous, excited to see the man of my dreams at the end of the aisle. I yearned to be swept off my feet by him and begin a new adventure amidst a celebration with loved ones. I was ready.
But none of that happened. I called off the wedding 3 weeks before the date. The man I had fallen in love with was not the man I could call my husband. And it has shaken my character to its very core. The life I so desperately wanted to live with him was never going to exist. Our marriage would not be peaceful, supportive, and loving and it took 4 years for me to realize that this man was not right for me.
I chose a man that made me feel special, but he did not make me feel valued. When I first took notice of him, I was 16 years old and completely infatuated. For two years, I believed nothing would come of it. But on June 8th, 2015 we went on our first date and I was smitten. I felt like I had been picked out of the crowd; I was the lucky winner of a long sought-after prize. And when red flags began to appear, I willfully ignored all of them. Ultimatums began right away. I started my freshman year of college in Reno but drove back to Sacramento every weekend to see him. He had told me he wouldn’t do long-distance, so I kept jobs close to his home and worked on the weekends. Every week, I would go to class and finish all my homework in Reno, then drive 2.5 hours over the mountains to work my shifts and see him. I would clean his home and buy our groceries. I would meal prep all our lunches for the week as well as any miscellaneous tasks that he asked of me. He would become very angry if I forgot little things, so I tried my best to do everything to his specifications. I wanted to prove how serious I was.
He gave more ultimatums. He wanted to know who I was hanging out with and where I was at all times while away at school. If I did not answer my phone right away, he would immediately interrogate me. He would become greatly upset if I chose to see my family for a night rather than be with him. When I wasn’t at school or at work, I was rushing to finish the household duties. Sometimes he would come home early from work, and I would be thrown in a panic to finish everything quickly. If dinner wasn’t ready on time, then it was me being selfish and lazy with my time. I was constantly told I was not doing enough; that I obviously didn’t care enough if I couldn’t pay attention to these small details.
This was my entire undergrad experience. For three years. No Saturday night football games, no parties with friends, no extracurriculars (like marching band!) or clubs. If I did make friends, they were far and few between. Shout out to those of you in the dorms and in my classes, who made an effort to show me kindness and friendship even when half my life was spent in another state. Shout out to two of my closest Reno friends who won’t see this post because my ex told me to cut them out of my life. At the time, I saw it all as I sacrifice for a man that I desperately loved and wanted to prove my loyalty.
Slowly, I became more and more isolated. And had also lost me along the way. I became so caught up in pleasing him, that I lessened my own wants and desires. When I graduated in 2018, my fate was sealed as I fully moved into the home, I had been caring for the past 3 years. His hold on me was even tighter. I was looking forward to having more time for friends and family, but that never happened. I was hoping he would be happier now that he had more time with me, but it still was not enough for him. I was housebound even as I continued to work, take classes at the local community college, and volunteer at the hospital.
His proposal was my long-awaited goal. I had done it! I was finally enough to earn a place as his wife! It felt amazing to wear my beautiful engagement ring and call him my fiancé. I was so proud of us. We were accomplishing our goals: beautiful home, awesome church, a great gym, well-paying job for him and aspirations of grad school for me. But I was still crumbling on the inside. We were seeing his family 2-3x a week, whereas my family was reserved for a few times a year during the holidays or a birthday here and there. He was still nitpicking at my household duties, often arguing with me until I broke down in tears. He would berate me over study time, telling me I wasn’t working hard enough for grad school. His mother would see my puffy red eyes and my quiet demeanor; I later learned she knew what was going on but wrote it off as emotional immaturity, not the actual emotional abuse her son was dishing out. My life was so perfect on the outside, but inside the depression was beginning to consume me.
There was no say in my own life anymore. If we had fun, it was on his terms. And all of my spare time was meant to be spent working. Even wedding planning became a point of contingency. My family wanted to help, but he would set time regulations on everything. If we took too long with a particular task, then I was immediately in trouble for being negligent and disrespectful of his time. I was walking a very narrow line with no room for deviation. As some would say, it was his way or the highway.
Without getting into the details, a particular fight had gone too far. This had happened before, but the darkness I felt this time was more than I could bare. I wanted to end it. I had spent 4 years being told I wasn’t good enough and I came to believe that I never would be. I had escaped the house through the second story window and was heading to the Foresthill Bridge, where we had shot our engagement photos. Thankfully, my dad and sister talked me down. It was the scariest day of my life and I never want to feel that way again.
So now… the new adventure begins. One that I did not want to face. I wanted to be happily married to the man of my dreams. A part of me still does. But I can’t look back now. I still have goals and aspirations; I still want to get accepted into grad school and achieve my dream career. I have to learn to find value in myself now. I have to hold my head high even on the days that I feel my worst. I have the most amazing support system; I literally wouldn’t be here without all of them. I am still healing. I have outbursts of anger and sadness and I am trying to wade through it all with two jobs to put me back on my feet. I have learned what it means to set boundaries and what I cannot tolerate in a relationship. I have grown tremendously from this experience but there is still more growing to do.
Now, June 8th, 2019 was the day I put my wedding dress on and continued my story. I felt beautiful that day and a HUGE thank you to our would-be wedding photographer who supported me and pumped me up through this whole shoot (IG: @chelseydaniel) You captured my triumph over this horrible experience. Thank you to my family that threw me the party after the shoot and thank you to those who sent loving messages. And thank you to my big sister, my would-be maid of honor for seeing my heart and soul in all its ugly mess and still loving and supporting me through it. Thank you to everyone who has held me while I ugly cried, every person who has listened to my story, and everyone who actually read through this whole thing.
To all the women out there, no one is worth sacrificing what you hold dear. It doesn’t matter if he is good-looking or willing to spend money on you or promises you the whole world; if he does not show you respect now, then he never will. Love is blind. Your family and your friends will see the red flags before you are willing to accept them. Listen to them. Listen to yourself. Every person is deserving of a love that sets their soul on fire, as well as provides a place to rest when weary. This world is harsh sometimes, so hold onto those who are kind to you. For now, I will be focusing on myself, my goals, my faith, and my family and friends. I might be ready to get married again… someday, but not today.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chandley Brelsford, 22, of California. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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