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Touched for the Very First Time

sparklers

The first time with my fiance, I just knew it.

With vivid clarity, I remember the exact moment I knew I should back out of my wedding. I was twenty-three. I’d known my betrothed for six weeks when he proposed. He wanted to be in the ministry. Came from a good family. And, he was a pretty, pretty boy.

But, I can see his face contort when he screamed at me the first time. His voice still pings around my memory, along with the crunch as he plowed the car into the grassy shoulder.

And turned.

And erupted.

I dismissed it. People had tempers, right? Sometimes they lost it. So what.

But a whisper scratched through my heartbeat. Callitoffcallitoffcallitoff. Youshouldcallitoff. Now.

Imagining what people would think if I gave up, how they would make fun, was fingernails and chalk. I heard my early warnings screeching underneath the escalating noise of five married years of my life.

Half a decade.

Gone.

The first time you know.

You know.

This post is part of the series “My First Times.” To read the first post in the series, click here: http://andrawatkins.com/2013/07/15/theres-no-time-like-the-first-time/ To read the second post, click here: http://andrawatkins.com/2013/07/16/the-first-times-the-charm/ To read the third post, click here: http://andrawatkins.com/2013/07/17/love-at-first-bite/

Will I write about my first time? You’ll have to read the rest of the series to find out.

99 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow Andra! Very powerful, very sad. How many people go through this. Times like this that you wish you could turn back the clock and start over, remake those decisions and worry less about what others may say or think. It may feel like half a decade wasted, but I do think that good can come from experiences like this. You learn about life, about yourself, about how to handle things that may still come your way. And I think you are a stronger person for it. Very well written!

    July 18, 2013
    • Lots of good has come from this experience, Reinhardt. I’m glad I had it and wouldn’t trade it, but I am glad I got out of it.

      July 18, 2013
  2. Not nice, not nice at all. He probably suited the ministry. I was beaten black and blue by Jesuit priests at my boarding school. I think an uncontrollable temper is obligatory.

    July 18, 2013
    • I am a very different person now, and I like to think he is, too.

      July 18, 2013
  3. I remember that feeling, many years ago… and the equal and opposite feeling when it all went wrong 3 years ago. And the feeling of it coming full circle a few months ago. Ah, the circle of life.

    July 18, 2013
    • It’s hard sometimes to think about the voices we heed. We hear them all in hindsight, don’t we?

      July 18, 2013
      • Yep. Big style… hindsight is a wonderful thing

        July 18, 2013
  4. grrrrrr………

    Photo, where?

    July 18, 2013
    • This photo is from the past July 4. I love sparklers, and we were running in the yard with them.

      July 18, 2013
  5. Human skins never appeared so ugly as when stretched in anger. Good choice. I know.

    July 18, 2013
  6. Was having this discussion with a friend on Tuesday. She was telling me about her first marriage, how she knew it was the wrong thing to do – a bad relationship, and how it resulted in her just losing so many years of her life. Sad. We need to listen to those voices in our heads sometimes.

    July 18, 2013
    • I try not to think about it as lost years, though it is hard for me not to look back on the entirety of my twenties and feel that way. I spent the whole decade molding myself to the wishes of unsuitable men, when I could’ve been figuring myself out.

      July 18, 2013
  7. I kinda know what it feels like..I was married for 6 years…then I had to walk out..for his sake as well as mine. It’s all good though…it chalks up to something significant and not wasted…that’s what I hold on to :)

    July 18, 2013
  8. I remember at age 20 putting on my wedding dress and crying. Everyone thought I was crying because I was happy. I was crying because I knew what I was about to do was wrong. Because I suspected I was pregnant. Keep in mind this was 35 years ago and attitudes were very different here in the Bible Belt back then. Oh how I wish I had listened to my gut and my tears. The heartache I could have saved myself. And the yelling that turned into hitting. Wow. I Avnet thought about any of this in a very long time.

    July 18, 2013
    • We’ve both come a long way from the girls we were, Pamela. I’m proud of who I am now. I suspect you are proud of who you’ve become, too.

      July 18, 2013
  9. Ray #

    I just left my marriage of 20 years… (together 23 years) and can totally relate here. I knew over a DECADE ago the marriage was doomed. The more I look back the more I now know I should’ve never walked down the aisle. But that’s the past. It’s out of my control. The future is mine and it’s WIDE OPEN… Hope you find the same.

    July 18, 2013
    • Ray, I have been married to my soul mate for almost a decade. So it all turned out in the end. I wish the same for you.

      July 18, 2013
      • Ray #

        Thanks Andra… I’ll find her. Or I’ll let HER find me. No rush. I get to be picky now. Will NEVER settle again. I’m glad you found your soul mate. Everyone has one.

        July 18, 2013
  10. alice #

    Atleast you were brave enough to walk out, no matter how long it took you. And it made you wiser and more resilient, so half a decade not lost, but in the forgery – making you stronger, making you who you are right now…

    July 18, 2013
    • alice #

      I believe the correct word is FORGE. Sorry, it is early.

      July 18, 2013
    • I don’t feel very strong right now. I know I am strong right now, but I don’t feel it.

      July 18, 2013
  11. alice #

    Love the photo.

    July 18, 2013
  12. If only we learned to honor that whisper within . . . oh, what heartaches we could avoid. Glad you made it OUT.

    July 18, 2013
    • We almost never understand that when we’re young, though.

      July 18, 2013
  13. Part of growing up seems to be learning to listen to our guts more. I wish I had more myself. Your writing really pulls me in and hurts my heart. Absolutely amazing. Thank you for your purity in your writing.

    July 18, 2013
    • Shannon, it is still hard to know sometimes when my gut is whispering a warning and when I am just afraid of taking a leap. I’ve always gotten the two confused.

      July 18, 2013
  14. Oh, yes you do know. Your words make my heart ache, Andra. As someone above said, at least you got out. That’s the important thing.

    I knew going into my marriage that it was not something that would last, but had foresight enough to insist we marry in the States. Had I not, I would only just be eligible for divorce three years ago, according to Irish law.

    July 18, 2013
    • I’m glad you got out, too, and got the man child to boot. :)

      July 18, 2013
      • Yep – he took all the pictures, but I got the kid – I totally got the better end of the deal! :-)

        July 18, 2013
  15. Poets & Writers tossed out an interesting poetry prompt today:

    Poetry, like life, is about making decisions. Write a poem to the person you may have become had you made an important life decision differently. Remember, this version of you is also vulnerable to the whims of an indifferent universe, so you’re merely making an educated guess as to your doppelgänger’s outcome. Craft your poem with respect. You’re writing to you.

    It’s a terrific jumping off point for the “what ifs.” What if you hadn’t married him, then? Would you have been as appreciative of MTM when he came along?

    July 18, 2013
    • I’ve never wanted to think through that outcome, Nancy, because I would not change one thing I’ve done if it meant I would not meet MTM.

      July 18, 2013
  16. mrssugarbears is right. Learning to listen to these voices is an essential part of growing up. We are taught to care about what others think. It’s part of what keeps us “in line” and aculturated to our norms. But there are times when we learn that the norms are wrongs. And we ought to listen to the still small voice. You did. And you have made so much with the life you have received. And this is a chilling, and honest post. From the core. And I love it.

    July 18, 2013
    • It is still a struggle not to care what others think, to define myself on the basis of how much I’ve done, rather than outcomes.

      July 18, 2013
  17. yes!

    July 18, 2013
  18. If only we had the wisdom of age in our youth.

    July 18, 2013
    • I might’ve taken over the world, Lou. (I don’t know how good that would be for everyone…..)

      July 18, 2013
  19. omtatjuan #

    It starts with the yell. Thank God you got out when you did. No one should feel they need to take that stuff.

    July 18, 2013
    • I think if I ever let him hit me, I never would’ve been able to end it. The verbal and psychological stuff is hard enough, but the physical adds a whole new dimension of fear.

      July 18, 2013
  20. tarakianwarrior #

    Gut wrenching. The inner voice must be listened to, and it’s a shame that as children we learn to push that inner voice down…down….down until it’s but a mere whisper.

    July 18, 2013
    • I know.

      I saw your FB comment about how upset you got over another blog comment today. I am sorry some people feel like their blogs are platforms to spew their opinions to adoring people who will only agree with them. I hope you have never felt that way here. I don’t care whether anyone agrees with me, but I require everyone to be respectful. You should never cry all morning from rudeness on a blog.

      July 18, 2013
      • tarakianwarrior #

        Yours was the first blog I ever read, it’s the first blog I ever commented on. You spoiled me, and now I realize even more how wonderful it is in your blog community.

        I think the hardest part is to have your words misconstrued (I know you can understand that one) and have them put evil into it, and then basically spit on you with ugly, ugly words. People never convince you of their point of view when they spew vitriol and hatred.

        July 19, 2013
  21. Oh, Andra. As hard as that was, you were so right to call it off. That was an early indication of what would happen later. My boyfriend and I had talked about getting married, when the phone rang. He answered it, but I could tell that a woman was on the other line. You know how guys’ voices change when they’re talking to a woman. When he got off the phone, I asked him who it was. He told me it was none of my business. Well, at that moment I knew he would cheat on me. I broke it off.

    July 18, 2013
    • I didn’t call it off, until five years later when I got a divorce……..which is another long, long saga of a story. I’m glad to know someone who listened to that voice and did the right thing early.

      July 18, 2013
  22. And the longer in, the harder it becomes to listen to that whisper. I’m so glad you had the courage to DO IT. That’s hard. And it’s brave. And I love you with all my heart for it. (Well, among other things.) (Platonically, of course. MTM need not feel threatened.)

    July 18, 2013
  23. Woof. Good for you, Andra. I think so many women have these moments, but don’t always listen to that voice like you did.

    July 18, 2013
  24. Oh, Andra. The thought of someone hurting you…brings ME pain. You truly are an amazing woman and I mean that with all my heart. Talk about strength! I try so hard to be that voice of reason to my kids and sometimes they listen, but they think like we did at that age. That they are invincible and know what they are doing. I think about my niece and how far gone she is and how she is not at all capable of listening to that voice she hears coming from herself or others. xo

    July 18, 2013
    • Maria, that’s exactly what I thought. I knew what I was doing. I was in love. Blah blah blah. It all turned out well in the end, and I am a richer person for the experience.

      July 18, 2013
  25. You did the right thing – it took time but you acted – so many don’t.

    July 18, 2013
    • I know, Jim. Those situations always make my heart bleed.

      July 18, 2013
  26. I couldn’t agree more. When you know you know. I tend to be the one also waiting too long Juuuuuuuuuuuust to make sure I am not making a mistake. The mistake I made was not acting on my gut instinct (and huge flame red flags) sooner. Going to read the rest!!

    July 18, 2013
  27. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Dan had the same experience. He knew he shouldn’t walk down that aisle but no one told him it would be ok to back out. Seven years (and a child) later, he took that step. Thank goodness because it eventually brought him to me. You and I are lucky gals to have such wonderful, caring men who love us.

    July 18, 2013
    • You are a very lucky woman, Jill. I am so glad you have Dan to take care of you and pray every day that you are getting stronger and stronger.

      July 18, 2013
  28. I nominated you for a few blog awards ;)

    http://kristyfgillespie.com/2013/07/18/blog-awards/

    July 18, 2013
  29. For some, intuition takes a longer time to trust. It’s good to know you’re no longer in that situation though.

    July 18, 2013
    • Until one finds herself in the situation she is now in (not in love, but in other things), and says, “You listened to that voice WHY???????”

      July 18, 2013
  30. It doesn’t feel appropriate to press the “Like” button because I don’t like that what you described happened. But I pressed it because I admire your ability and talent for being able to convey such memories with such power that it is impossible to read the words and forget, only possible to read them and think.

    July 18, 2013
  31. All I can possibly say would be hindsight, Andra. You are in the right place with the right man now, a very good thing, and, as I can see from your replies, grew from the experience. If only every woman, and man for that matter, could grow as you have. You know what? I’m proud of you.

    July 18, 2013
  32. I did two stints of fifteen years each until I found the right person. This is the important part (finding the right person)

    July 18, 2013
  33. I remember that little voice and I had the great fortune to actually LISTEN to it. When I discussed my misgivings to others they just chalked it off to “cold feet” and told me I’d get over it. Well, it got down to 3 weeks before the wedding and my little voice became a loud booming voice. I was losing my hair and my sanity because Tom WAS a really nice guy, etc, etc. I just knew in my gut that I was marrying him for the wrong reasons (security, friendship, he was a great father-figure, blah, blah, blah…just not love). I ended up having to call up every person who received a wedding invitation and “un-invite” them. It was hard, but boy am I glad I did it then rather than X years later. Needless to say, Steve was not too broken up about the dissolution of my impending nuptials. He said he’d already been mentally planning some sort of “The Graduate” ending for us. :D

    July 18, 2013
    • Oh my. I can’t even fathom you with anyone but Steve. I’m glad you did the right thing for you both, because you never would’ve been happy with anyone else.

      July 18, 2013
  34. I didn’t heed them either…twice.

    ~hugs~

    July 18, 2013
    • Thanks for the hug. I hope you are in a better place now.

      July 19, 2013
  35. I have had this experience before, with another sort of situation – hell, I think we all have. It’s both a terrible and reawakening experience all at the same time. From the shadows comes the light.

    I love the way you wrote this. Thank you, as always, for writing such interesting posts.

    July 18, 2013
    • It is good to remember what this felt like from time to time, to remind me to listen smarter today.

      July 19, 2013
  36. My goodness, but this hurts my heart for you. I certainly know what it means to have made bad decisions because I didn’t listen to my intuition, but it’s true that some decisions leave more scars than others. I’ve known entirely too many friends who stayed for decades, Andra. It took great bravery to finally leave. That’s the most important thing. ox

    July 19, 2013
    • It was hard at the time. Again, I worried about what people would think.

      July 19, 2013
      • There was an era when kids, particularly female kids, were indoctrinated to conduct themselves according to what “people will think.” When I finally walked away, long after I knew I should (the two little ones in tow being most of the good that came from the union), I STILL worried for awhile about what people would think. But I had grown, and continued to learn and grow stronger, because of that time in my life. The happier marriage didn’t last nearly enough years, but I DID have it because by then I knew what I didn’t want or need and had learned to listen to that little voice inside. :)

        July 19, 2013
      • You are so wise, Karen. I never would’ve chosen what I have now were it not for the experiences that led up to it.

        July 19, 2013
  37. This was painful to read, and not because of the quality of writing, which was top notch as usual, but rather because I’ve watched both sides of that marriage unfold in the lives of people close to me — I’ve watched a young man with a wicked temper lose everything because he couldn’t control his temper, and I’ve watched a young woman who was convinced he would change give him too much of her life and time. These are hard lessons to learn, but I hope that they make people stronger once they’ve learned how to walk away from them. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Andra.

    July 19, 2013
    • It must be a hard thing to watch. I can only imagine what I put people through.

      July 19, 2013
  38. What the hellfire did you say to that poor, poor god-fearing boy that crashed his car (singing: I don’t care! I love it!)

    July 19, 2013
  39. July 20, 2013
  40. So very true! I have kicked myself for not following my instincts or first impressions, even of men. I am proud of you as a young woman making that difficult decision! This will, hopefully, be words that will haunt and help someone reading this. After all, we all hope to make a difference with our stories. It is a good one! Take care, Robin

    July 20, 2013
  41. Profound words of wisdom Andra because you are right: the first time you do know. The second and third times you know as well. Thanks for being so open and honest in your sharing. Great post written from the heart.

    July 21, 2013
    • Gale, thanks for reading and commenting. It is scary to share posts like this one, and comments like yours make it worth it.

      July 21, 2013
  42. I did that when I was 18 but my two beautiful daughters were a result of the marriage so good did come from it. The second marriage I made a list of what I wanted from a mate and thought I had it right. OOPs after we married he was not the same person I had known for over 2 years. I stuck it out for 16 years because I didn’t want to fail again. Now in my third relationship I am beginning to think I might be better of alone because I just don’t pick the right ones. I love life and am thinking its okay to be single and maybe better to be single than with someone who doesn’t make you feel loved. Good thing I love me and so does my family.

    July 22, 2013
    • The hardest thing about marriage is how much we have to trust the other person. At least, I think that makes it hard.

      July 23, 2013
      • I think what makes relationships hard is I don’t speak man. It seems like a foreign language to me. Still working on it though. Never give up

        July 27, 2013
      • Here’s to finding the man who is fluent in woman. I know there are some out there.

        July 27, 2013
  43. Lessons are often hard and demanding. And we cannot figure out why we have to learn life the hard way. If only we would listen to our spirit, our guide, our conscience, the first time it warns us. But we don’t. And we learn. I am glad you are in a better place now.

    July 28, 2013

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