21 Years Ago
Thursday - 03/25/2021 — I know I usually do my weekly “long memoir” story on Friday, but this year I had to sneak one in a day early. Why? Because I’m remembering a ceremony that occurred exactly 21 years ago today.
You see, back in the late 80s I decided that my life was fairly worthless. I knew I had to hang on because my children were still small enough to need me, but I thought that once they grew up some, nobody would need me anymore. New Year’s Day, 2000, was my target date for getting rid of myself permanently.
I had a bridge underpass picked out—no guardrails beside the road there, nothing to stop me from plowing into it at 70 or 80 mph. I didn’t like that car anyway.
I lived the next number of years with the unspoken underlying belief that it would all be over soon enough. I didn’t recognize the depth of my despair. I simply believed the world would be better off without me in it.
Fortunately, a few years after this I gradually began to get the counseling I desperately needed, to put my life in order, to change the things that needed changing. In short, I began to see myself as an active mover in my own life rather than as a passive victim of circumstances.
When New Year’s Day arrived in 2000, I remembered those old feelings of anguish and decided a celebration was in order. I picked a day—March 25th. I invited a big group of friends to join me in a wedding ceremony. Was I getting married? Well, not exactly. I decided to marry myself. To commit myself to a lifetime of caring about me. I wrote out vows in which I promised myself that I would remain true to the highest ideals, that I would look upon myself with compassion, that I would be kind to myself. These were all the things I hadn’t known were possible 20 years before.
My daughter (and her as-yet-unborn first child), my son, and some dear friends all helped me celebrate in the tiny church building where we met. We even had a wedding cake afterwards, and everyone signed a banner I’d laid out with lots of pretty-colored pens.
Since then, my life’s gotten better and better as each year passes. I’m glad I changed my mind all those years ago.