“Dark Nostalgia”: A Challenge

I have not had my blog at the forefront of my mind lately, so imagine my surprise and delight when the blog Normal Happenings challenged me to write a post! Their challenge was this:


Detail a time in your life of which you have fond memories, despite that time also being accompanied by many negative emotions.

This prompt is genius in that OHMYGOD it is so hard! I tend to place everything in either a “this was AMAZING” or “Do Not Disturb-Terrible Memories Within” Box, and this prompt has really got me dissecting some of the great times in my past as well as the not so great. So, without further ado, here…we…go:

From ages 19 to 23, I was married to a drug addict. Add in the year of dating before the whirlwind wedding, and I spent 5 years of my life with this man. This feels extremely weird to write because I have pretty much blocked out that part of my life, and most of the time it feels like I wasted a big part of my early 20’s. However, it taught me a LOT, and gave me my best friend (his sister), so it was definitely not all a loss.

A bit of Background:

I met my ex-husband when I was 16, but felt that the 7 year age gap was a bit much for my tender years. However, when I happened to move to his same town for college, we hit it off and began dating, spending nearly every second together. He got hired as a SpEd teacher in Arizona after 10 months of togetherness (we were in North Dakota at the time) and the pressure of “don’t live together before marriage” and “this is my first serious relationship” as well as gentle nudging from his parents led to a proposal and, of course, my ecstatic acceptance.

The Bad and the Ugly:

While we were still just dating, he started smoking pot again, something that he had done for many years prior off and on. His parents had sent him to rehab countless times as he was an every day, multiple times a day user, and legitimately considered marijuana to be his religion–aka, he was a shaman and he was going to save the world through weed’s higher vibration properties. When we were dating, he told me he had stopped–but this soon turned out to be a lie. It finally came to a head, and he ceased for real, promising never to do it again.

Fast forward 5 days. He is obviously affected by the lack of pot, but I only start to feel like something is seriously wrong when he traps me in the bathroom and starts incessantly talking, refusing to let me leave. After I take a shower (to hopefully give me an excuse to exit the room to get dressed), he gets more heated and eventually starts punching me in the head (ostensibly, he saw a demon in me and wanted to get it out).

I scream. His dad breaks down the door. I flee. They fight. He tries to light the apartment on fire. The cops come. He is tazed (twice). He is taken to the hospital via ambulance. He tries to throw himself off the gurney onto the hard cement floor, succeeding in cracking his teeth and his skull. I, 19 years old and traumatized, go see him and immediately decide I cannot break up with someone who was so vulnerable and weak. I would have to wait.

But, obviously, the breakup never came. He promised he would never do it again and he was so thankful that I had saved him. he begged me to stay. I felt responsible for his safety and happiness, and so I obliged, convincing myself that I was happy, and at times, I was. And then the proposal, the wedding, and the years followed.

As I’m sure you have guessed, his promise to leave the green alone fell flat, and eventually I realized that I was miserable. And so I left. It took me four years; years of fear, years of tears, years of low self-worth, and years of shame of failure…but I overcame, and here I am seven years later, with hard-won perspective on relationships and a thirst, even still, for a good man and a future family.

The Sweet:

For obvious reasons, I tend not to walk down memory lane far enough to bump into that particular bush. However, I have to remind myself that there were the good moments, too; the moments that kept me there, the moments that contained laughter rather than tears, the moments that brought us closer together.

Like the time when there was a full-blown blizzard but he drove me across town to get a Popsicle, because that’s all I was craving at the moment.

Or the moment at our wedding when his grandfather skipped a part of the ceremony and he just squeezed my hand and winked at me, letting me know he’d take care of it–and he did.

Or all the afternoons we spent walking our dog, throwing sticks and laughing at her crazy runs.

Or the days we spent helping his parents remodel their rental home, living in less than luxury, but feeling the pride of a day’s hard work.

Those moments.

The Reflection

Overall, there was hardly enough of the good to justify how long that I stayed, and I will always regret not listening to the countless people who tried to tell me the marriage was a bad idea. But loyalty and pure stubbornness are forces to be reckoned with, and it gave me a lot of understanding of why women stay in bad relationships as well as sympathy for those getting out of a bad relationship. So there is always something to be learned from a bad experience, even if you brought it upon yourself.

I’m thankful for this challenge because I don’t believe I’ve shared my story on this platform yet…and I hope that it helps someone who may be struggling with something in their lives that they need a little push to get through. Trust me, the Band-Aid syndrome is real, and once it’s ripped away you’ll realize that the big old nasty gouge you thought was there was just a little paper cut needing some air.

Everyone is worthy of a good relationship, and even though the flashes of good are there, it takes more than those small instants to make a worthwhile lifetime. Trust me, you’re worth more than a moment.

2 thoughts on ““Dark Nostalgia”: A Challenge

Add yours

  1. Hannah, this is brilliant! It’s so good to see one of our prompts reflected on in such a meaningful way. I’m so glad that we could get you thinking about a time in your life in a way that you don’t normally.

    We post Inklings like these everyday, so I hope you’ll follow along. It’s nice to meet you, and we look forward to reading more of your work. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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