Not the typical perspective from a normal woman who marries her supposed best friend, huh? However, there are many implications involved here. This was the day I learned many things about myself, it was a beginning, not of something good, but a beginning that would eventually lead me to where I am today.
My boyfriend at the time, let’s call him “John”, was head over heals for me, or at least, that’s what he claimed. We were dating for about a year and when I turned 21 years old, I found out that I was going to be a mother for the first time 8 months later. As common as that was, I still had a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I grew up in a rather traditional Catholic home. As the eldest of my parent’s four children, I was the one who was expected to lead by example. In high school, I had excellent grades, in college, I was seemingly having an easy time passing my courses. If I wasn’t in school, I was at work, and I had never been to a dance club ever. For goodness sakes, when I was dating John, I still had a curfew of 10 pm (at 20 years old).
My mom, oh bless her soul, always had the typical judgmental remarks of a girl who would get knocked up before she got married: “What a disgrace, I knew that girl was trouble” and different variations thereof. Her expectation of me was far beyond what I could imagine.
So HOW was I going to tell her, that her “EXEMPLARY” daughter got knocked up? How could I look her in the face knowing that I had disappointed her?
I no longer had the little light in my eyes that hoped for a good future. I lost so much weight, my face was sunken. Everyone wondered if I was okay, but no one knew, deep in my soul, I was so disappointed in myself and my choices, so much so, that my depressive state was reflected on my body.
I held off on telling her or anyone, besides John, until I was about 5 months into the pregnancy. I was rather small and began to wear loose clothes so that no one would notice my growing belly bump. It worked. No one knew that I was pregnant, but everyone knew there was something wrong with me, especially my mom.
I could not keep this secret forever, my growing belly would not allow it. I lived with my parents and someone was bound to notice it eventually. John and I agreed that we would tell my parents together. I could not do it alone, my tears would not allow it.
We sat my mom down on the couch, making sure that no one else was in the house. I didn’t know where or how to begin. I only got one word out “Mami…” and tears began to roll down my eyes. I couldn’t tell her. John had to finish my sentence.
“Dayna’s going to have a baby”
His voice reverberated around the room and it was followed by a silence that lasted what seemed like hours. No one said a word, I couldn’t help my whimpering as I looked down at the ground, until I heard a sniffle and I looked up.
It was my mother and she was crying. Now, my mom isn’t one to cry. She is a strong-willed Hispanic woman with a character tougher than any marine I can think of; to see that tear stream down her face broke me.
The woman who I looked up to, who I wanted to mirror in her drive and determination was so disappointed in me, that she could not speak. She only spoke a few words after the news was given to her:
You two have to get married.
And she did not speak to me again until 3 weeks later when she and my dad argued about whether marriage was the best option.
The beans were spilled and both of my parents knew. Now, it’s important to note my dad’s reaction as well since it will be crucial to my dilemna. His reaction to the news of his oldest daughter becoming a mother was not what I expected.
The way we decided to tell my father was in the same fashion as how we told my mother. I couldn’t stand the embarrassment of sitting in the same room as my dad to tell him about what I had done and once again, I couldn’t speak.
So John did the honors and told my dad what had happened.
I remember my dad just repeating towards JOhn “But you promised that you would respect her”. He didn’t have any tears in his eyes, he had a stern look in his face, not towards me, but towards John. He was afraid that John might leave and not take responsibility of being a man.
With me, however, my dad was completely different, not in a bad way. He was more understanding and he realized that I was going through an extremely violent emotional rollercoaster. Emotions were heightened to new limits because of the pregnancy: I was depressed because my mother was disappointed in me, stressed because I needed to find a chapel to marry us and finding an apartment to live in, angry because I couldn’t handle all it.
The day before I was supposed to get married, my dad approached me. I was sitting at the dining table just looking out into space in deep thought about the events that were about to take place.
“You don’t have to get married, you know. You can stay here with us. We can help you with the baby”
My dad’s words were so kind and so sincere. I could not help but tear up. Finally, someone who understood that I did not want to get married even if I was “in love” with John.
My mother didn’t see it that way though. How could I possibly stay at home? According to her, my dad was being ridiculous. I had to get married because I, too, need to be made responsible for my mistakes.
Seeing them bicker back and forth tore me apart. I wanted to make things right with my mom, so I had to marry John, but deep in my heart I knew that John was not going to be the person I spend the rest of my life with.
Marriage was the only way this can be fixed, end of story.
The day that I got married, I remember each and every negative feeling.
I hated that I was going to get married because I was pregnant. I hated that my mom was angry with me, I hated that nobody was happy for me. I hated the fact that my family and my husband’s family were never going to get along. I hated that I wasn’t living out my envisioned wedding. I hated the ceremony. I hated that I could not run away and most of all, I hated that I faked my smile.
That day was the most painfully awkward day I could have ever endured.
My family was there and John’s family was there. The tension here is that my family was Catholic and his family was Jehovah’s Witnesses. Neither family on either side wanted this to happen, but it needed to happen because it was “the right thing to do”.
Before the ceremony, the photographer (John’s cousin), was capturing the moments. I hated that she was capturing those moments because I knew that they were going to remind me of how I felt that day. Helpless – because I couldn’t run away.
When it was my turn to walk down the isle. Those tears started running down my face as it turned red with embarrassment. I avoided the gaze of everyone there, especially John’s.
This day was a day where I did everything I could to hold it together. Walking down that short isle I knew that I should have turned away. I knew that when the lady officiating the wedding asked if I took John to be my lawfully wedded husband, I should have said no. Not because he was a bad person, but because I knew I was not ready.
That day I did everything everyone else wanted me to. I listened to my mother because it was “the right thing to do” and I needed to “assume my responsibility”. I listened to John because he said he was going to take care of me. I listened to John’s parents because they, too, thought it was right. I listened to the photographer when she told me to smile because a wedding is a joyous occasion.
I listened to everyone that day, everyone, except the one person that mattered, you guessed it, me. I went along with everything, tears in eyes and all.
I was so upset with myself that day because I did not have the courage to stand up for myself. I was too kind to hurt anyone’s feelings. I was too worried about what others thought of me. I was too ashamed to admit that I had made a mistake. I was too embarrassed to say that I did not want to get married.
It was a nightmare.
Do you, take John to be your lawfully wedded husband? My response, an answer that I almost immediately regretted…. I do.
And She Lived Un-Happily Ever After
So, what happened after the wedding day. I was just grateful that the day was over. I could go back to my new apartment with my new husband and live life, I guess. Even though I had felt like mine had just ended.
Or Did She?
Today, I can say that I am happily divorced with a gorgeous fun-loving daughter. I overcame many tribulations while married and although I’d like to go into my marriage, that will be a topic for another day.
Now, I promised that I would be one to share positivity and good vibes and let’s be honest here, this story isn’t much of a spirit lifter. However, my perspective of that day has changed.
I am grateful that I experienced those upsetting moments because I learned a few valuable lessons that I still repeat to myself to this day:
- Trust your instinct. If something is not sitting right with you, trust it.
- You are HUMAN and part of that comes with being flawed. You will make mistakes, but that does not justify you emotionally beating yourself for doing so. Mistakes are learning experiences.
- So with rule number 2: FACE your mistakes on your terms. Take responsibility for what you have done wrong and find a solution that will lead you to mental clarity.
- The people you love will always mean well for you. Their advice is out of love for you, mind what they say; but remember that no one knows what is best for you more than YOU.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Who cares what people will say. Critics are only but a dime a dozen and you, my dear girl, have got so much more than just a dime.
Had I not experienced this beginning of what I will now call “The Build Up” I still would have been a girl afraid to disappoint.
I go back to that moment and I relive it when I don’t want to say something to avoid further conflict, when I am afraid of what someone might think and most importantly, when I have made a mistake.
So yes, my wedding day might have been the worst day of my life because I was afraid of what could have happened if I had stopped the wedding, but my character is so much stronger now because of it.
So I leave you with this:
Not every moment in your life will be sunshine. There will be cloudy, rainy days, you will forget your umbrella, and you will get wet; but that will remind you to never forget your umbrella ever again. You might endure difficult and uncomfortable situations, but you will become a better person because of it.
Until next time,