Once upon a delusion, I desperately chased the “American” dream: The nuclear household with the husband working, the mother home with the kids, in some dystopian illusion from 1950. I thought that my life would be perfect only after I got a husband, got the home, and had the kids. With complete dedication to that dream and in complete denial of anything that could tarnish it; I got pretty far.
My high school was a societal bubble of very different economic, athletic and academic classes. Rich, athletic, and/or rich academic types dominated the school. Low income misfits, stoners, and goths were very few and far between. I didn’t really fit in to any group, but most glaringly not with the rich, athletic, or academic types. In high school, I never did anything impressive. I spent my time day dreaming of the perfect relationship, listening to music to drown everything else out, self-destructing in defiance and rage, or looking for someone to solve all my problems. There was so much angst and pessimism running rampant inside my head; not like in college.
College was a strange new world of seemingly limitless possibility. I found my passion for research and writing, and I was published for the first time. Finally, after relying on myself to pay for college, I graduated Manga Cum Loude with other academic honors. My future seemed bright, but it felt uncertain and terrifying.
I moved out from my childhood home, got engaged after an annoyingly long three year relationship, planned a decent wedding on a tiny budget, got married to the high school “sweet” heart I never knew I had, worked two jobs, managed to buy a small condo in a nice neighborhood, and bought the shiny new car. None of it got me to that happy dystopia I was chasing. In fact, I was completely miserable.
The relationship with my husband began to strain even before getting married. I ignored every warning sign. We fought a lot, and I hated it. After a few years of marriage, I was ready to leave. I was over the idea of having kids to fix everything, but I realize it too late. I wound up pregnant two weeks after making a firm plan to leave. I had even restarted taking my birth control. So, I stayed. Why? Because of a sworn upon promise, “the relationship [would] change. He [would] change.” He did not.
I should have left long ago. I was too busy enjoying being pregnant and learning how to care for a tiny human being. In a daze from lack of sleep, I was too drained to notice the miserable dynamics of our relationship were recurring with new gusto. We had a beautiful son. I could tune out the rest… for a while.