Ex1, Ex2, and Ex3 are real people, but to clarify, I was never married to any of them. They are placeholders for pieces of my life, which, with the passing of time, I can say is more for the better than worse.  I learned things from all of them:


When you both love booze more than you love each other, things will implode.

You only know someone as well as he lets you know him.

It’s hard enough to overcome your own past, you can’t overcome your partner’s. 


Yes, it is possible for a Midwestern woman in her late 30s to be never married and happy.  Sure I’ve had the ring and such, but could never follow through with it.  I remember being genuinely excited about the ring Ex1 gave me; it wasn’t an engagement ring, but it was very much to my liking, a simple curved row of diamonds in white gold.  In fact, I liked it so much I continued to wear it well after we broke up, until Ex2 decided my wearing something from Ex1 was a threat to our relationship, so I handed it over to him like a good girl.  It was pawned for gin or blow or video lottery, whatever was most pressing that day.

The bar lighting becomes her.  2003-ish.  

The bar lighting becomes her.  2003-ish.  

We did eventually get engaged, Ex2 and I.  It was a mess in the midst of one of my last benders.  We decided to go house shopping, because when your relationship involves fighting, working three jobs, and bail bondsmen, buying a house is definitely the next step.  I’m surprised we weren’t trying to throw a baby in there to fix things—no pressure Cletus the Fetus, it’s just your job to make your asshole parents sober, responsible, and selfless.  I know you aren’t born, but you got this!

There had been drunken nonsense marriage talk when we lived downtown.  I never put a lot of stock in it; I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed about a wedding or being a wife.  Something changed when we moved to the next apartment, though, in those nights of sitting in the tiny kitchen, drinking wine after my shift and waiting for him to come home from the bar.  I was in a really weird stage with my using at that point—the drinking wasn’t daily or nearly as heavy as it had been in the past, but it was very secretive and almost always alone.  The other drugs were gone.  And I was always angry because I thought I wasn’t enough. 

I thought if I wasn’t a complete mess, he wouldn’t be a complete mess and we’d figure it out.  It would be that simple. 

One night, the paper delivery people beat him home.  We’d hit the point where late became early and I was just lit enough to decide to play my hand, which I’d decided was the ultimatum too many chicks throw at too many dudes, the “We need to decide where this is going and get married or break-up because it’s been a few years” cards. 

I have no recollection of what I actually wanted to happen.

Maybe I did want to break-up and get on with my life.

Maybe I did want to get married.

My guess is that I was completely ambivalent about the relationship and drunk. 

My best guess is that I wasn’t happy and had no idea how to be happy.

The actual engagement decision happened later at a bar downtown, but I wasn’t so drunk and begged him to keep it hush-hush.  I didn’t want anyone to know.

This should have been my first warning.  Apparently, people are usually excited to share this news.


She didn't dream of weddings or husbands.  World hair domination, perhaps.  

She didn't dream of weddings or husbands.  World hair domination, perhaps.  

But, of course, he didn’t and it was exquisitely painful to try and act excited when people asked questions about rings and dresses and all the things I could give two shits about in my unhappy life with my unhappy love.  They would hug me and congratulate me, they would tell me how excited they were for me and ask when the big day was. 

I wanted to scream, “Have you met us?  We are miserable assholes who fight all the time.  This isn’t a good thing.” 

I didn’t want a ring, having never understood the point of an engagement ring and why women wear them but not men.  (A wedding band makes sense as a symbol of your commitment, if it’s something you agree to and can afford.  I have witnessed people slipping their rings off and seen a handful of dudes I know are married on Tinder, so it isn’t like the ring has any more meaning that the wearer gives it.)

He knew I didn’t want a ring, so he bought one.

That should have been another warning. 

One of my best friends at my office job stopped by my desk one day and asked how the wedding stuff was going.

“I don’t know,” I said, “It just feels like forever.” 

He looked at me oddly, laughed, and said, “That’s the whole point.”

That warning finally registered.   

The good part is that all of it pushed me into sobriety.  I’d been in a harm reduction-type situation for months, but getting engaged and not wanting to be married helped make me sober.

I may have put up this ad on eBay to try and get rid of the ring…

This ring needs a new home and new karma, meaning a giver who wants to refer to the receiver as his/her fiance, not his/her roommate.  It’s perfect for the pragmatic gal who loves you more than your money.  Sized 6½ wedding set, originally purchased in 2004 for $450.  It’s white gold and the diamonds are, “perfect even though they’re not that big,” according to a friend of mine who’s into that stuff.  Carrots are something I eat and jewelry stores make me want to vomit.  The prongs on the engagement band will need to be re-done within the next year or two. 

It didn’t sell so, in dignified fashion, I gave it to one of the line cooks at work.