After graduating from high school, my next task was to get moved in with Chad to the apartment he'd chosen for us. Looking back, I realize that is what happened. Chad chose it without consulting me on any level. The expectation was that we'd share the expenses equally, but evidently it didn't occur to him that I might have some input as to where we'd live.
I vaguely recall the feeling of having been ignored, but I quickly overlooked it, as this was my ticket out of Egypt, the land of no electricity, running water or cable! And so, the move went rather quickly. We moved to the part of town that Chad was familiar with, near where he'd grown up and began our 'adult' life together.
Our first order of business was to get the video game player up and running and commence playing Zelda at every available opportunity. Such a stimulating activity, don't you think? Aside from that we watched movies and worked and I honestly can't recall that we did much else.
Chad had a brother and sister-in-law who lived nearby and with relative ease, Christine and I connected. I used to spend endless hours at her kitchen bar chugging Coke, smoking and venting the frustration of Chad's and my relationship. Christine was a kind and listening ear, but didn't offer many solutions, due to the reality that the same issues were evident in her own marriage. But she did have some version of faith and that seemed enough to keep her committed to her marriage.
When it became painfully apparent that Chad and I were bored with one another, Chad introduced what he hoped would bring some renewal into our union. One night after work, he proudly dumped onto the kitchen table a video tape copy of bootleg pornography he'd acquired at the Swap Meet. "Let's watch this tonight before bed he suggested!!"
How the heck did I respond to that anyway? I honestly can't recall, except to say that watch we did and it had significant influence on our relationship. At any point, I might have said, "I'd rather not." But in reality, that wasn't the truth. I was a willing participant, whether I'd come up with the idea or not, I certainly didn't reject it. I became captive to a twisted need.
Pornography quickly became one of the primary entertainments of choice, informing our physical intimacy and poisoning our marriage and, I believe, our souls.
Somewhere along in there, Chad must have proposed and we planned a wedding, though my memory of that process is clouded. I've often thought how odd it is that I never had any pictures of the event that I can recall. There must have been some, but I don't recall who did them or what they were like.
What I most recall about that day is that just before I went through the double doors on my father's arm, I looked up at him and he said these words, "You don't have to do this you know." In that moment, I knew that I didn't want to. But I felt it was too late. I felt completely trapped. I couldn't let the guests down now.
We walked through that door and up that aisle and I said 'I do' to a this man when in fact, I really 'DIDN'T'.
As I write, I find myself wringing my hands a bit and grasping for words that will express the emotion behind them. I don't feel adequate to the that task. In hind sight, I can tell you that the young woman who promised herself to Chad was a shell of the woman that God created her to be. She was completely self-centered and yet somehow, also completely without any self-awareness.
The wedding itself had been hastily planned, poorly attended with little attention to detail. My own mother was completely un-involved. Chad's mother and sister-in-law must have done all the planning and if memory serves, just about the only people in attendance were Chad's family, my father and best friend from Texas and Lee. Looking back, I've wondered whether Chad's parents saw the handwriting on the wall and so they weren't interested in investing much in a marriage that they expected to fail. That's all speculation, but I can tell you that not much effort or money were put into the affair and that in itself may have been a bit of foreshadowing.
Our honeymoon was not. We drove back to the apartment together. There was nothing new and exciting about our marriage , save a snazzy red negligee. We'd already done the things that were meant to be set aside for marriage. The day to day grind began again as soon as the holiday's ended and we were right back to video games and pornography and scrapping about who left the cap off the toothpaste.
Not even two full months passed before it was over. We didn't agree on how to run the finances, our home or even what kinds of activities would be enjoyable. The lack of physical attraction that had existed from the very first date was trumping any relational intimacy which had grown over the course of our affair. Chad became increasingly interested in what he called adventurous sex and I felt increasingly violated. Until one day, the violation was that last one.
On that final day, I'd been visiting Christine and had gone home later than usual. Her husband was deployed to the crisis that was Desert Storm, so she was happy to have my company. We'd been discussing the difficulties Chad and I had been having but finally, she urged me to go home to my husband. As I recall, it was past 10:00 when I arrived home.
Chad was in bed and it was dark, by which circumstance I was relieved. It meant I could avoid interaction with the man I'd increasingly come to see as my nemesis. But when I got into the bed, Chad made it clear that he wasn't asleep. I tried to feign sleep but in the end, Chad wouldn't allow it. He pushed until I felt I'd been raped.
Had I said 'NO'? Had I made clear how I felt? Had I done anything that would let him know that I had gotten to that point? No, I really hadn't. I had just laid there passively, disengaged, simply waiting for it to be over. When Chad finished and fell asleep, I got up and began packing my things.
At some point Chad woke up and asked me what I was doing.
I told him I was leaving.
He was stunned.
I refused to talk to him about any of it. In my mind, I'd already tried and had gotten nowhere. I gathered an overnight bag and went back to Christine's house. My face was swollen from crying as she opened her door and I fell inside, begging for a place to sleep.
I wouldn't see Chad's face again for 3 years.
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