I met Liddy (name has been changed) when I was a child in church. However, I did not notice her until I was around 13 years old as puberty was in full gear. Her family was from the Dominican Republic and had come to the states around the time my family did. Although we, Puerto Ricans, had been granted United States citizenship under the Jones Act in 1917, Dominicans needed green cards to be in the country. She was of dark complexion and had what Spanish people call pelo malo (kinky hair). I thought she was beautiful and I fell very hard.
The church we belonged to did not believe in allowing young people to date. Originally I was allowed to visit several times a week under supervision. The relationship continued on and off for several years. She lived a very oppressive and poor existence. Education was not a priority. Being the oldest daughter she was charged with caring for her younger siblings. At around the age of 17 I informed her parents that I was interested in seeing Liddy with the intention of marrying her.
That’s when the shit hit the proverbial fan. I was no longer allowed to see her. It was rumored that her mother may have had a crush on me but was never substantiated. I campaigned the church elders until it was agreed that I could visit her one day a week for a few hours.
Everything was done to stop me from courting her, but the more difficult they made it the more I wanted her. Unbeknownst to me her feelings for me were not the same. It would later come to light that she saw me as means to an end.
At the age of 18 I proposed. I had forgone my dreams of becoming a pilot and college graduate. I got a job working at a photographic lab in downtown Philadelphia. I saved up everything I could. Going back on my promise to my mother to help her move into a better home and leaving my brother without a male role model in the house. My mother objected of the wedding as well as Liddy’s parents, but I forged on. If only I had listened.
So the day of the wedding arrived. My mother put on a brave face and helped out as much as possible. Even though she was opposed to the wedding. Her mother feigned being ill and did not attend the church wedding ceremony. The wedding went on as schedule and we were married on June 21, 1986.
Two months into the marriage is when I would find out the truth that would change me to my core. You see, I was a romantic. I wrote poems, I gave flowers, and I treated her like a princess. But two months to the day of our wedding she told me that she was not in love with me. That she married me to escape from her home and the living conditions she was in. She no longer wanted to be responsible for her siblings. She wanted to be free. She said she loved me enough to stay married and that someday she may fall in love with me.
I was heart broken. I turned my back on my family and on the future I could have had. The verbal abuse I took from her family and friends. I wanted to leave and never return, but the humiliation I would face from the church and family was to great. We stayed together three and half years until we separated.
In retrospect it would have been better had we gone our separate ways sooner. As time went on I grew angrier. My heart began to build walls that would never come down to this day. Had we separated sooner I may have been able to salvage more of my soul and sanity. My behavior became erratic and my thoughts were of suicide. I was so angry and hurt. I wanted the pain to stop, but I could not disgrace my mother by taking my on life.
I would carry these feelings into my second marriage. Eventually being treated for mental illness for several years. Therapy and medication would eventually bring me back to sanity but I would never be the same person again.