Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three's a crowd: A love note to Kenny

This is sooo not the story I intended to tell when I started this blog post today. It was supposed to be something amusing about the arrival of two ex-boyfriends in my apartment at the same time one afternoon. But I guess maybe next time...

The story coming out is entirely different, but here goes.

I didn't get married until I was 32. I was slightly commitment phobic. Slightly. But that gave me sixteen years of dating experience, although I picked up some scrapes and bruises along the way. In those years, I managed to find myself in a few different relationships which is where most of the bruises came from. My average was eight months: six months to decide it wasn't working and two to make sure before I bailed. Whatever my reason for leaving, it usually had something to do with a scar I had picked up from a relationship before. I'm a pretty emotionally even-keeled person but that doesn't protect against from hurt all the time, so I gathered a little more baggage as time wore on. I couldn't deal with being crowded, or having a voice raised to me, or not being a priority, or feeling like I couldn't count on someone. Each relationship was connected to a previous one that had taught me what to duck and avoid. Each old boyfriend cast a little shadow on the current one and I kept a careful lookout so I could bob and weave around the danger spots. When things ended each time, there wasn't usually a lot of drama. Just the knowledge that I couldn't stay and so I left, hopefully having answered questions but not always. But I did my best.

Then I met my husband. From our first date to our wedding day, it was six months. Part of that was because my mother's health prognosis dictated we had to move the wedding day up three months. But the main reason was because...I just knew. Kenny was the one for me. I'd never had that experience before but there was a calmness with him, a peace I never knew anywhere else. We laughed harder together than I ever had with anyone, but we had a stillness I had never experienced, too. I was a little nervous about having only a three month engagement, but it felt right. I didn't feel the need to wait and see, with one eye on the exit in case I picked up another bruise. There was some craziness in my family's life right then, so we didn't really expend a lot of time debriefing each other on relationship histories and learning each other's triggers and patterns. Right from the start, I knew everything I needed to know about Kenny. We just leapt.

So our wedding day dawned. Since we were both "older" when we married and we had so many friends and family that had been cheering for us to find each other for so long, there were a lot of invitations to send and a big reception to celebrate. One of my guests was an old friend, "Tyler." I knew him because his older brother was one of my relationship casualties after we dated for several months. That one had always kind of bugged me because I made the decision to leave, but not necessarily on my terms. Being the control freak I am, that had nagged at me for a long time before I just dropped it and moved on. But Tyler and I stayed friends. I set him up with girlfriends of mine on blind dates and we stayed in touch, so naturally I sent him an invitation. I just didn't expect him to show up with his brother, my ex, in tow. It was totally unlike Tyler, but exactly like my ex, "Kyle," who always liked to toss stones in quiet ponds to watch the effect.

And here he was in my peaceful pond, splashing. I smiled as I greeted him, introduced him to my husband who knew the name and wasn't happy, and I inwardly seethed. How dare he? What incredible gall, to turn even my wedding day into one of his games. I had no problem running into him when were out and about and our social orbits occasionally coincided, but this was an invasion, plain and simple. The easiest way to beat Kyle is to not react, so I didn't. I just stood there in my wedding gown, still smiling and then moved on to other, welcome, guests.

The evening ended, we left for our honeymoon, and I reflected that it had been a 99% beautiful day. Except that Kyle kept intruding on my honeymoon because I would find myself getting so irritated by him being there at the reception. I'm the type of person that will address a problem when and where it happens, speaking my mind, communicating my concerns and resolving them because if I don't, I stew over the missed opportunity, or in Kyle's case, the chance to make him leave, to give him the verbal tongue lashing he deserved for showing up.

It's not like it was haunting me the whole time we were in Hawaii, but every now and then I would feel a little flash of irritation and my temper would simmer again for a while.

But then I caught myself one afternoon, distracted by thoughts of that instead of enjoying the moment I was in and I realized that I had inadvertantly allowed Kyle to join our honeymoon. The speed of my and Kenny's courtship and engagement hadn't given me the time I needed to work out and shed the shadow from previous boyfriends that I usually needed. And I was frustrated...until I realized a simple truth. There was simply no room in my marriage for anyone except me and Kenny and our children. And if Kyle was there, it was because I hadn't expressed myself clearly enough that he should go.

I made a conscious decision in that moment to uninvite him from any part of my life, period. I walked away the first time when were dating because it wasn't right for me and there was even less of a reason for him to be hanging around now, even in memory. And by the third day of our Hawaii vacation, he was gone. So were my frustration and should-have-saids and should-have-dones. I waved him away because three was most definitely a crowd. The last several days in Hawaii were just about me and Kenny, the way it was always meant to be. It was beautiful and quiet, and two was perfect company. It's an important lesson. I've never allowed previous relationships to intrude since. The second I recognize the shadow of an unwanted guest hanging around, I send him on his way immediately, which ever guest it might be. They're not always the same. But my reality is always the same. Which is that Kenny is all I will ever need. That's why I picked him forever.

This post is part of Soap Opera Sunday: Three is a crowd hosted through Heather of the EO's blog.


Brillig said...

Fantastic story! I love that you mentally sent him packing!

(Did you know that your link isn't working on Heather's Mr. Linky? Fortunately, I knew how to find you. :-D)

Lisa said...

Oh! What a jerk. I'm glad you let that go, but I think I'm having all those same thoughts you were for the first few days of your honeymoon!

This reminds me a bit of Charrette's SOS post, with the strange third wheel on the honeymoon.

(BTW- you started a comment on my blog with "You know in Goonies where" Guess what? I've never seen it! Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about that.)

laurie, thatsthewayitis said...

Beautiful story, beautifully written. I am so happy for you that you found Kenny; the others were just square pegs.

Your (Melanie's that is) Beloved Husband said...

I love you, too.

...and I want to punch that guy in the mouth.

Brillig said...

HAHAHAHA. Your hubby's comment rocks.

Kimberly said...

That was amazing, Melanie. Gave me the shivers a bit, actually, imagining how it would feel to have an ex show up at the wedding reception. Yeurgh.

Emily said...

Melanie, you should check out this website to sell your material! You are great writer and there are lots of magazines out there looking for material! This site helps the right magazines find you. Really, you should check it out. Great story and insight.

Heather of the EO said...

Sometimes when you're describing yourself, I start to wonder why you're describing ME and I get all confused. Until I realize that you're very similar to me and then I just think it's very cool to find kindred spirits in the blogosphere.
I love this story. We didn't get married until I was 29 and I had LOTS of relationships/experiences too. One of them is eerily similar to this one. You told this story and the lesson in it so well!
Thank you, :)

charrette said...

Sounds like 6 months was your magic number.
I LOVE the way you describe how you just KNEW your husband was the one. You might just as well have been describing me and my husband. Nothing like the fun, the laughter, underscored by that keen sense of rightness, that peace.

Great lesson, great post.

Alison Wonderland said...

Great lesson learned. There are lots of things that we need to uninvite from our marriages, not just ex-boyfriends, and I love how you put the whole idea.