I am not happy.
I’ve always been known as a cheery person, always smiling and making everyone else laugh. But I realized recently that I’m not happy and I haven’t been in a while. Now I’m trying to retrace my steps to figure out where my happiness went. I want that shit back.
I left my parents’ house at 19 and married a man I barely knew. I was trying to prove a point at the time. I was so fucking stubborn and I’m sitting here 13 years later trying really hard not to regret a lot of my decisions since then.
I come from a traditional, Muslim household. My father is old-fashioned and over-protective. My mother is a devout, God-fearing woman. Since I’m the eldest of three girls, my parents were hardest on me and stricter with me than with my sisters.
I was 19 when I met him. I’d never dated a Puerto Rican before. I had a thing for Dominican guys and black guys. He was eight years older than me, an ex-convict with three kids from two prior relationships. He had a shitty job, no apartment or car. I sometimes wonder what I saw in him. I had lost my virginity two years prior and had become very sexually active. Sex with him was great. Better than I’d had with any of the three previous guys I’d slept with. Then again, he was older than any of the other guys I’d been with. He was 27. He knew just how to turn me on and he always made sure I orgasmed before he did. Sometimes he’d make me orgasm more than once. I was hooked. To him? To the sex? I was hooked.
Sex. The anticipation, the rush, the satisfaction. I loved it. I was such a sexual person.
We didn’t talk about our future much. We didn’t really talk about our plans or expectations for the future. I didn’t know if he had any. We would meet up, have sex, grab a bite to eat, and he would ride the train home with me before heading to Brooklyn where he was renting a room. We would have sex at my job or motel rooms (that I would pay for). I even snuck him into my parents’ house a few times to make it more exciting.
My father noticed I was spending more time outside of the house and coming home from work later than usual. My mother and I constantly argued about everything. I started talking about him to my parents. Looking back, I feel like I may have brought him up whenever I wanted to ruffle their feathers or get under their skin.
We had only been together for a few months when he started talking about marriage. I was flattered but I don’t think I took him seriously at first. But the more my parents and I bumped heads, the more I wanted out, to be on my own. I was in my second year of college and they still treated me like a child.
I had my first argument with him after he had disappeared for a couple of days. He had gotten drunk and passed out somewhere. His excuse was that he had been feeling depressed with the holidays approaching and he couldn’t afford to buy his kids anything for Christmas. His father even called me to apologize on his behalf when I stopped picking up his phone calls. I ended up feeling bad and took him to buy some things to send to his kids.
He bought our wedding rings with his tax refund. There was never an actual proposal. We had just been talking about it and with tensions rising at home, the idea of being on my own and not having to answer to my parents was growing more and more tempting.
We got married that March… 6 months after we met. I had left home in January after a huge argument with my dad and decided I wasn’t going to register for the Spring semester. We found an apartment in a roach-infested building in the Bronx-a far cry from my parents’ clean, pest-free home in Queens. He had converted to Islam a couple months prior in an attempt to please my parents and maybe give them a reason to like him-a failed attempt. They hated him. My sisters were devastated when I left. My mother just wanted me to come back home. But I had already had my taste of freedom which, at the time, equated to sex whenever I wanted. My father was so angry with me. He didn’t want to see me and treated me so bitterly whenever I went home. After all, I had moved out on such bad terms and was living with a man who I wasn’t married to. I thought getting married, validating my relationship, would justify my actions somehow or at least give my father one less reason to be angry with me. We got married at a mosque. It was a small ceremony. I didn’t even wear a dress. My mother and sisters didn’t approve but they were there. My father didn’t find out until after I had gotten married.
I know. I went about it all wrong.