Saturday, August 9, 2014

An Unexpected Journey

My mother married at 19 years old. My grandmother married at 15. I was hoping to be married as early as possible and felt it was my genetic right to do so. My home life growing up was difficult in many ways. As the eldest child of six girls and a boy (he was the caboose), my responsibilities were onerous. It didn't help that both of my parents suffered from depression and anger management issues. Still, they loved me the best they knew how and I have always been grateful that I was taught the Gospel from the minute I was born.

I left home at 18 to go to BYU. I planned on getting married as soon as possible so I would never have to return to family life again. It is painful for me to remember myself during my freshman year, so eager to love and be loved. I didn't realize it then, but I was ill-prepared for any kind of relationship, mostly because I didn't know how to have one. It's even more uncomfortable to remember when I recall a game my roommates and I played at the end of freshman year.

We all got together and made predictions. You know how things like that go - who will be the first married, who will have the most kids, etc. I put down that I would be married second or third of all us (we were six in Heritage Halls). Imagine my mortification when I saw that - without exception - every one of my roommates predicted I'd be married last.

I may have been ignorant of what traits made me unmarriageable, but I knew there was something about me that I had no idea how to fix.

My sophomore year I was a Resident Assistant (RA) in Desert Towers and was flying high on a new-found sense of self-assurance and confidence. I was a queen bee - happy, quick-witted and willing to test the waters of dating (finally). During the first week, I developed an attraction to the most popular guy in the ward. We flirted and danced around each other until the end of the year when I asked him to some Sadie Hawkins-type dance. Our relationship blossomed intensely and I harbored a desperate hope that he was The One. Before we parted ways for the summer, he told me about another girl back home. He told me he'd dated her, but now I'd thrown a monkey wrench into his plans. Yay me!

We wrote over the summer and I remained hopeful. Junior year started for me and I ran into my long-distance lover at the grocery store. With her. He stammered introductions between us and she put her hand possessively over his. Fortunately I looked amazing. He arranged for us to meet the next day and he explained what happened over the summer between the two of them. He asked that we could remain friends. I agreed because I could see no reason to hold a grudge. He expressed hope that I would find someone as well. I blurted out "Oh, it will be a long time for me." What in the world did I just say? It was as though my brain and my mouth were disconnected and I was listening outside of myself.

While I regretted saying the words, I knew they were true and I raged against the sure knowledge of them. How could something like that be true? I was actively searching for a spouse and was a good person. Why shouldn't I find someone?

But I didn't. I was at BYU for five and a half years, completing a degree in Fine Arts - Watercolor. If I thought honestly to myself, I felt that I didn't deserve to get married because all I wanted was security. I didn't know how to take care of myself. I was deathly afraid of not being able to take care of myself. My parents had made their feelings clear about me moving back home. My mother was very disappointed that I did not have a husband. Of course I felt like a failure.

Years passed and during that time I learned a ton. I buoyed up my spirits about being alone by telling myself that, whatever else, my Heavenly Father knew me and knew what I was going through and He had put me in the exact place I needed to be so that I could return to Him.

My desire to have faith in Heavenly Father was often tested by my despair at being unmarried. While I say I despaired, it was always privately. In public, I maintained a veneer of self-assurance and an absolute refusal to bemoan my state. It seemed that in singles wards, there were two types of girls - the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots were the older, often physically less-attractive types. Even though I was put into the have-nots category by others, I was never a bemoaner of my fate. I hated being around other women who complained about not being married or how all the good guys like horrible girls ("She's such a *****!).

It was hardest to maintain my confidence about getting married with my family. One time, when I was in my 30's, my mother said to me, "I hope someday you are as happy as I am with your father." Without missing a beat, I said, "Someday I hope you are as happy as I am." She looked at me like I'd slapped her. It was a very satisfying moment.It was the first time she'd ever considered that someone could be happy in spite of not being married. Ugh. It'd only taken her seventeen years to figure it out.

By now I'd gotten my Master's degree in Library Science and knew I could support myself no matter what. It was a further comfort that I could also support a family in case of the Unthinkable - death, divorce, disability of my future husband. I was feeling better about the idea that I could actually get married. Soon.

I decided to have weight-loss surgery. Looking back now, I know it was a stop-gap measure and something that couldn't be permanent because the reasons for my overweight couldn't be helped surgically. Regardless, the surgery was successful and I felt great. I knew the time was close for me to get married. I just KNEW it.

I saw BS one day at church. He was someone I'd known before ... when he was married. Now he was divorced and I just tingled when I saw him. One thing led to another and we were unofficially engaged in September 2004. Our first kiss was outside the celestial room in the Oakland temple. An auspicious moment that I was sure would be legend in our family. Mom and Dad's first kiss was in the temple. That means it was a match made in heaven!

One day in January of 2005, BS came to my apartment and told me that he loved me, but not enough to marry me. Always a team-player, a go-alonger, a put-a-good-face-on-anything kind of person, I gave him the key to his apartment (it was by my work and I was allowed to stop by and use it for my lunchtimes) and said goodbye. I was devastated.

I talked with my bishop a few days later and while speaking about the end of the relationship in a nonchalant manner, all of a sudden I really did become nonchalant! I didn't feel pain. That feeling that I was going to get married was still there. Obviously, it just wasn't to BS.

About three weeks after BS's announcement to me, I signed up for Within a week I had a string of suitors and beaus. I knew I would, too - it was so weird, that feeling. It was the week before Valentine's Day and I got an email from one particular man. He was from Bakersfield. If you're from California, you'll know that Bakersfield has a bad rap. It is the butt of all jokes. Anyway, he asked for my address so he could send me a card. I gave him my work address because I wasn't stupid enough to give information to probable serial killers. Even Mormon ones.

He sent me a card with glitter on it. And a CD with poetry. Oh my. He wrote poetry?

We started emailing and ....

Reader, I married him.

Brian first emailed me on February 7th, 2005. We got married in the Los Angeles Temple on July 9, 2005. The story of our courtship is another Long Story.

First Peek!
 Suffice it to say, the road Heavenly Father put me on wasn't one I would have chosen for myself or anyone - especially because I knew how long it was going to be (remember my sophomore year revelation?). I am grateful that my faith gave me this little happy ending. Knowing that Heavenly Father knows me is a fundamental part of my testimony and I love it.


  1. Please keep telling the story.

    PS: I love the photo!! I don't have a photo, but I do have a similar memory. :)

  2. Everyone has a story. You're telling yours so compellingly. I'm looking forward to the next installment. So talented, you are.