Thursday, July 2, 2009

Celebrating Freedom

This weekend is the 4th of July. As most of you know, it's my favorite holiday. But that's not the only thing I'm celebrating this week. No, today marks the 4-year anniversary of my un-wedding day... I don't even know where to begin. It's somewhat of a hilarious story, rich in intrigue and a lot of "what the...?!". Let me just start by saying: I AM SO GLAD PEOPLE (i.e., me) CAN CHANGE.

About 4 1/2 years ago, I was ramping up to start my last semester of college, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Through a strange twist of whatever, I had ended up living by myself. I was feeling lonely and vulnerable. It was the holiday season, and while I had a wonderful family not too far away, it was kind of depressing to come home to an empty house in the bleak winter. (Note: this is in no way justification for what comes up next...)

At that time, I had been dabbling in the world of Internet dating--which, now having the hindsight I do, I would not recommend--and I came across an interesting guy. 'Interesting' is the only word to describe him, really. We chatted all night one night and I figured that meant love. I mean, a guy is interested by my profile and wants to talk with me? Score. I had made it through a year and a half of living in Utah's biggest dating pool and hadn't gotten a ring on my finger yet. Read: I was desperate. For some reason, I had gotten it through my head that if I made it through college unmarried, I would have been a failure.

So here I was, chatting with this guy (whose profile picture wasn't half bad) and feeling like we connected. We agreed to chat the next night, too. You know, it was kind of nice to have something to look forward to the next day. I was a little wary, only having known this guy via the Internet, but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and gloss over their flaws. But we ended up chatting for another long night, at which point he saw fit to tell me something about how we were destined to be together. I fell. Hard. A guy who was interested in me! For ME! It was fate!! He wanted more pictures; I sent them. He wanted to meet in person; I planned a trip to California. It seemed like everything was falling into place in happy little Annie world.

We'll fast forward a little many (now embarrassing) things happened in the next couple months. Now that I can look back at it and see how ridiculous I was, I can chuckle and be so grateful that I dodged that bullet. Here are some of our adventures:

* My parents and sister came with me to California to meet him. Oh what a trip...I'm so grateful for a father who was willing to help me see something through, even though I'm sure he was afraid for my total well-being. Seriously. Kudos to him. On this trip, I discovered that this guy had a horrible car, horrible job, was mean to his mother, and didn't respect me like he should. But there I was, kissing him. And wearing a fake engagement ring. Man, the blinders were on... He even gave me his letterman jacket.

* We got a joint phone plan. Hey, free talking time whenever we wanted. I would text him from work, he would call and leave me sappy voicemails. Honestly, though, we didn't know ANYTHING about each other.

* He came to visit me for Valentine's Day...I paid for half his plane ticket. (Stupid, so stupid!) We went and took pictures at Temple Square. He thought we should use them for our engagement photos. Looking at those pictures, he had a little head and we looked so weird sitting next to each other! I wish I still had them for a little show-and-tell... Also for Valentine's Day, we went and visited his sister who lives in Utah. And we all went out to dinner. The original plan was to go to Chuck-A-Rama, but who knew it would be so busy on Valentine's Day? So we ended up at...Beto's. Romantic, eh?

* I was planning on putting him through school. I was graduating that following Spring, so it worked out perfectly, that I would just work and he'd go to school, and I would fund it all. Problem: he wanted children right away. Even bigger problem: I wasn't going to say no to this plan because I wanted so badly for him to love me that I was willing to sacrifice my entire existence and all of my sanity.

My friends hated him. They wouldn't tell me at the time because they really wanted to be supportive of me, but now we joke and laugh (and shudder) about how close I came to ruining my life that year. My boss at the time even met him and told me later that he was so angry about the one small interaction they had. My mom cried herself to sleep nightly, afraid that I would be throwing away a good future. And you know what? They were all right. He was not for me. I would like to think that I would have grown up and figured out how smothering and horrible he was on my own...I'm just glad I didn't have to find that out. I can just about guarantee that I would be a divorcee by now if I'd gone through with it.

He didn't want to leave California and move to Utah to be near me. Does anyone see a problem with this? There was some sort of lame excuse about him being able to move up in the company where he worked--mind you, it was a car dealership. His job? Driving the shuttle van and washing cars. Sounds like you got your life all lined up there, buddy. I told him I'd find him a job here. He told me that I should leave my good job (that was turning to full time after I graduated) and go be with him there. "If you love me, you'll do it." Ugh. That's one of the worst phrases in human history. Don't be manipulative like that.

People, this guy was an IDIOT. I make it a point not to bash people on this blog, but I'm trying to prove a point here: don't be afraid to be yourself and find someone who will love you for that. He would always ask me how much weight I was going to lose before the wedding. His wardrobe consisted of bad t-shirts and board shorts--his excuse? "I'm from California. I like to surf." Do you surf every day?! He hadn't done any school. His favorite movie was The Skulls (Lacy likes to remind me of that whenever we get talking about this). He considered himself an artist, but his drawings were hideously awful. Everything had to be his way. He would even tell me how to dress and what I should think.

Slowly, I could feel him pulling away after a couple months of being 'engaged.' He hadn't bought me a ring, and he would yell at me any time I would talk about the future. He bandied the word 'stupid' about when he was addressing me. And I felt stupid. I should have known better, but I am the type of person who tries to fix problems instead of just dumping a relationship, so I figured I just need to work harder at it. So I tried. And it got worse. Lots of tears... lots of self-esteem down the drain...

I didn't love him. I loved the idea of him. During one of our phone conversations, he said, "You don't even know yourself." OUCH. So I sat down and made lists (it's what I do...) about who I was and goals I had and reasons I thought I wanted to be with him. I thought I had solved our relationship issues. I remember one night when he said, "What would you do if I said I didn't want to do this?" Silly me, I thought this was a hypothetical question, but I answered, "I wouldn't make you do it. It wouldn't be worth it." And it was a downward spiral from there. He stopped returning my calls. He stopped saying 'I love you.' When we did speak, it was very hostile and put me on edge.

Ultimately, he ended up breaking things off. And he did it in a particularly cruel way: over a voicemail that said, "Don't you understand English? It's OVER!!" I was devastated the first couple days. I packed up a box of his things and sent it back to him, called the temple and cancelled our wedding appointment (July 2, 2005), and just called my sister and cried. My family was so supportive as I was dealing with this blow; my dad came and took me to dinner and spoke very wisely about some of his heartache. Everyone in my ward was so kind, especially when I had to say to them, "Oh no, I'm not getting married anymore." After awhile, I was able to laugh and say, "No! It's a good thing!" And I truly believed that.

It really doesn't take long to move on from something so bad for you. It's like after you've been sick and you haven't been able to eat, you have to ease back into normal diet routines, but you're just so grateful you can eat again. I felt like I had been given a new chance at dating and finding someone who wouldn't try to control me or belittle me.

Since then, I know little to nothing of his whereabouts. What I do know is that he ended up getting married after all. To a girl who was a reformed stripper. And after figuring out the timeline of how things went down for the two of them, it is quite possible that he was dating her while he was engaged to me. I have so many words for him at this point...but this is a clean blog post, so I will refrain. :)

I learned so much about life and about myself from this experience. I know people say that all experiences will help you grow, but I didn't see how that was possible at the time. I see 'old me,' though, and I realize how far I've come from there. Firstly, I'd just like to say: being single is awesome. I've learned that I can be comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing, being independent. Next, I now know that I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be with someone who is horrible. No matter what, I will never be so desperate again as to choose a guy who makes me feel like dirt. Life is definitely too short to be with someone who doesn't appreciate me. While the whole story is horribly embarrassing, at least I can say that I am in a much better place now.

And so as I go to sleep in my bed tonight--alone--I will smile...because I didn't get married.

If you've made it this far, here's a clip that might help with a visual for this guy...Lacy says my ex-fiance reminds her of Eddie, Chandler's crazy temporary roommate on Friends. The laugh is creepily reminiscent of his... Enjoy. :)

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Blogger Erika said...

Oh my gosh, Annie, I completely forgot about that whole thing!! And it was interesting to read about it again, I hadn't heard some of that stuff. What a jerk, I can't believe how awful he treated you. I still laugh that he married a reformed stripper though, ah, and that could have been you. No I really think if he didn't break up with you you'd have come to your senses before getting married!

July 2, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Blogger Adrianne Miller said...

It's over!!!!! He apparently didn't know you were getting an English degree. I will never forget his small head and his board shorts.

July 2, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Blogger kate. said...

That is one of the best blog posts I've ever read. You're awesome Annie! and...though I did not meet "Eddie" I'm sure I would have hated him and you are definitely better off.

Since you love being single, I think we should hang out more. Deal? deal.

July 2, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Blogger Lindsay said...

Whoa! You totally dodged not only a bullet, but a whole magazine of ammo and maybe even a tank. It can be hard sometimes when you're single and someone shows interest. I once dated a guy for a month because I was more into the idea of a relationship than I was into him. I'm glad that you are intelligent and you have a good (normal sized) head on your shoulders.

July 2, 2009 at 7:14 PM

Blogger Ann said...

This is one of those stories you can continue to hear again and again and again and it never ceases to amaze/frighten/insight laughter.

Oh Annie. We love you.
(I posted this on Lacy's blog and decided it needed to be posted on yours, too) :)

And oh Lacy. I will continue to let you pay for my lunches if I can sit and listen to your hilarity. ;)

July 10, 2009 at 4:40 PM


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