It took the Pulse nightclub shooting to make me okay with a potential marriage proposal. After Mike and I were engaged I called my immediate family to share the news. My brother replied with, “But you said you were never getting married!” Yep. Shit happens, and this is a small tale of a fucked-up person coming to terms with big life changes as a response to really fucked up events.
My parents divorced when I was 7, my mom’s parents divorced when I was 9. I didn’t know anyone else with divorced grandparents. Most of my relationships ended with me being cheated on. My last ex and I were together for 9 years…at least 5 years too long. I spiraled into my alcoholism, he was codependent, and we both stayed together because of our love for our shared pets and each other’s families. Us breaking up truly felt like a divorce, but thanks to my sobriety we remain close. I’ve never been friends with an ex before or kept in touch with their family. Again, the power of sobriety and finally growing the fuck up.
Mike seemed too good to be true. I thought he “liked me too much” and that scared the hell out of me. He didn’t see me as someone who failed. I saw myself as someone whose alcoholism was discovered in a very public way by being a terrible person who caused a head on crash while in a black out. Someone who had to resign from their job to sit in a maximum-security jail for 6 months. I was then on probation for 3 years and couldn’t drive. I required permission from the state to travel anywhere. I lost everything. Ashi and I moved into a tiny studio apartment that I could barely afford. Despite all this, Mike thought I was an amazing person and treated me like a queen. He still does.
Marriage terrified me because I could only see failure. A lot of us are perfectionists, but pretty much every drunk and addict I know are perfectionists to the extreme. As in, why should I even try?
When the Pulse shooting happened in July 2016, I was heartbroken. So many killed and injured who were just out having fun. At this point shootings happened at concerts, movie theaters, churches, grocery stores. In 2012 three teenagers were shot and killed in the cafeteria of my high school. I remember the terror that morning of wondering if my cousin was alive, and later feeling relief that he was okay but his friends were dead. One was left paralyzed after being shot 4 times. In the public and academic libraries I worked at, we practiced active shooter drills and trainings. While working admin at the Akron Humane Society for a number of years, we would get phone calls from crazy people telling us that they were going to come shoot us all up after taking their dogs from them due to cruelty and neglect. One guy said that he was going to come up and “make the news” to get even with what we had done (i.e. removing dogs from a dangerous situation by law).
After Pulse…I changed my thinking. I was already lucky to be alive/walking/talking after my wreck. I live in a world and in a country where I can be killed by gun violence seeing a favorite band, being at work, just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Why was I afraid of the failure of a marriage that hasn’t happened yet? If our marriage fails, it’s not the end of the world. We have this one life, and I chose to love fiercely with no regrets. I also choose to not live in a world where my teacher friends and CHILDREN live in fear of their lives. Today I am making phone calls to politicians, and if you’ve been impacted by gun violence or have a freaking soul, I hope you will do the same.