Revisiting these emotions and memories has been scary for me. Thinking back to how much I loved the Bouncer and then realizing that I already know the ending to the story has brought me to tears many a times. Having these words flow out of me into the screen for anyone (even though the audience is not that large) to read has caused me pause. Remembering and reliving these events makes one raw all over again like a scar that has healed on the surface and then gets busted open. Even though it has healed - its still a tender scar once opened.
After the meeting in my paren'ts kitchen where we announced that we were going to get married, the next few days were tenacious. My mother played the part of the grieving, wounded mother of the bride and my father went about his life in his silent, seething anger. I didn't understand then how hurt they were - not only because of the pregnancy, but because they already fully understood the implications of the reality before me as well as the losses and concessions that were going to come upon me. I also know now that they feared what The Bouncer was really like underneath his profession of undying love for me and our baby. It's only now as a parentt of two older daughters that I have a more clear understanding of how parents view their children's future and how much hope and expectation is wrapped up in those dreams. The hopes that they held for my education and my future died that day in the kitchen. My parent's behavior is understandable but was undeniably damaging to me. I wished for so long that they had found a way to express their anger without withholding their love from me and having their actions be punitive. The main focus was to make sure that I experienced consequences because I seemed to have invited them upon myself by getting involved and becoming pregnant. They made assumptions about me without ever asking for clarification. They never made sure that I understood that their love for me never changed. Perhaps their love for me had changed? I felt so alone and against them. They couldn't identify that this was what was happening and its only in hindsight and life experiences (and 10 years of therapy) that I've been able to recognize what happened that day. It was wrong but I know what happened and why. Those next few weeks were lessons in tolerance and living out the words that I can still hear coming my grandmother's mouth, "You made your bed, now lay in it."
I have caught myself getting trapped in the fear that my older daughters don't have an understanding about my feelings for them. I have tried not to repeat the choices and mistakes that my parents made with me. I have tried to love them differently based on years of therapy and choices. Do I parent my kids right? Am I a failure as their mother? Do they think that I just gave up? Do they fully comprehend that I would go to the ends of the earth and back for them? I'm sure they might agree between themselves that there have been times when I have failed miserably - I worry alot that I have failed them miserably - but I'm doing just what my mother and father did - the best I can at the time with what I have to work with.
The next fews weeks were filled with activity and adjustments. We set a wedding date for the end of November because that coordinated with the end of the quarter at school and I could finish out my duties and responsibilities as Resident Assistant. Once the word got out that I was pregnant and we got into planning a wedding and me continuing on with my schoolwork, the stress seemed to lighten. I was still dealing with pockets of problems here and there. For weeks, I had been burdened with unrelenting morning sickness. It wasn't uncommon for me to roll over upon waking and vomit into a bucket that I kept by the bed. My poor roommate got so used to it that she could eat her pnut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast each morning without being phased that I was on the other side of the room being sick. I'd ride down the road holding a cup that I often used. That was one of the unpleasantries of early pregnancy.
I was given a budget of only $500 for the entire wedding. My mother's friends and first cousins offered to do the food for the reception and it was clear to me that I had no say in the decisions. My soon to be mother in law made a huge stink about the invitations (which my parents didn't want to pay for) and when told that we weren't going to have invitations, proceeded to go and order what she wanted and send them out to all her friends. She didn't include my parent's names on the invitation. That was the first of her retaliations. The positive thing about her renegade behavior is that we received dozens upon dozens of wonderful wedding gifts from those people who received invitations. There was one shower. It was from my mother's first cousins (there were about 50 of them). I remember being instructed to not talk about the pregnancy and so I didn't. That was the recurring theme of those weeks. I borrowed a wedding dress from one of my grandmother's neighbors - and it was beautiful. We chose a local florist. I was able to choose what I wanted I think because when we went to pick them out, the florist said, "We let the bride choose, not the family. This is her wedding, not everyone elses." She had no idea how liberating that was to me. She also had no idea of the circumstances surrounding the wedding.
I remember when finals were over and I stood in the empty dorm room that the room mate and I had shared. I was attentive and mindful to the rush of emotions of the previous few years playing out in my head and how I had actually arrived at this moment. I knew my life would change; it already had. I was planning to come right back in January for the next quarter. I would just be commuting to campus from our apartment in Savannah. I remember silently asking God to protect me in whatever was coming. I just didn't know how important that prayer would become or how often I would pray those words.
I gently closed the door of that dorm room and left for the final time.