Oddly enough, I can remember exactly what I was doing 20 years ago today. It was a Monday. I was working part-time and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree at Westminster College of Salt Lake City. I finished class, then met up with my mom for lunch and to run errands. There were only five days left before my wedding.
We went to the ZCMI Center in downtown Salt Lake to find a pair of earrings and a pair of shoes to go with my dress. We ate lunch in the Tiffin Room in ZCMI. I didn’t each much because my stomach was in knots, but not for the obvious reasons.
My mom went through the motions of being happy and supportive, but she had expressed to me already that she thought I was making a mistake. I had awoken that morning thinking she might be right. But it was five days until the wedding – I couldn’t back out now. There were over 200 guests coming; my parents had spent more than $10,000 on the wedding, the dress, the church, the reception . . . it was too late to say I thought she might be right.
I couldn’t find a pair of earrings that I liked, so I decided to wear some that I already had. I just wouldn’t mention that they had been a gift from the last man I had been in love with. I had a matching necklace that my mom had given me when she that that this other man might be the one I would say yes to. I didn’t work out that way.
I found a pair of shoes – white with lace, pearl, and sequin trim. They were lovely, and fairly comfortable. We bought them at Payless, and I was thrilled that they cost less than $20, I felt as if I had already cost my family enough. My guilt doubled, my stress doubled, and I began to develop a migraine of epic proportions. I thanked my mother profusely as she dropped me off at the house I shared with my soon-to-be-future-ex-husband.
The house was quite and dark, so I took advantage of the situation and crawled in bed with a pillow covering my head. All except my nose, because I had to feel like I could breathe fresh air or I got horribly anxious on top of having a migraine.
I lay for hours, curled into the fetal position. When my fiance’ returned home from his part-time job, he apparently could tell that something was wrong. He left me sleeping. He fixed his own dinner and played with the cats until I dragged myself from the bed to get a glass of water.
I explained that I had a migraine. ‘Nuff said – he understood those, had even taken me to the emergency room once because of one. He left me to my own devices, which was the smarter thing to do. I went back to bed and slept until my alarm went off in the morning. I spent Tuesday with a migraine hang-over – that lethargic feeling of being off-balance and operating from the inside of a bubble.
I knew that what I was about to do was a mistake. I didn’t love this guy. I liked him a lot, and he was decent enough, but I didn’t love him. I pitied him, and that alone was enough to make me follow through on my promise to marry him. That migraine followed me through the rest of the week. And even though I managed to keep it at bay with pain drugs, it never really left. It was as if I were being constantly reminded of the mistake I was about to make, as if I were receiving a warning that I was willfully ignoring despite all the signs of impending doom.
Interestingly, the migraine lifted the morning of the wedding. As if it had surrendered, given up trying to help me and given in to the inevitability of my choice.