Daily Prompt: Fright Night What’s the thing you’re most scared to do? What would it take to get you to do it?
This prompt caught me off guard. I can rattle off a list of things I’m afraid of happening. I won’t because then someone who thinks I’m Satan for criticizing Billy Gardell might do them.
What am I afraid to do?
I’m afraid to get married.
To be clear, I want marriage equality so the decision is mine, not the state government.
I grew up as a typical little girl thinking “someday I’ll fall in love and get married” just like on TV and in the books I read. I even figured that I would probably wait until after college to meet a man to marry so I wouldn’t be distracted and I could definitely have a career going. At one point in college, I had a major crush on my friend’s brother and figured it would work out nicely if I married him since our families all got along. It was all set.
Except, I never really dated and then when I did graduate college, I started a series of unhealthy, abusive relationships – I dated alcoholics, a drug addict, a sex addict, the former son-in-law of Perry Como, and a food addict. Then I just dated and didn’t have relationships. Then I met R and everything changed.
Suddenly, I was gay and marriage was not something I had to think about. OK, so that’s terribly flip but when you spend your life running from all sorts of things, taking a biggie like marriage off the table isn’t necessarily all bad. (And I wasn’t turned gay but that’s another post.)
My worldview changed to finding a nice woman, getting settled and partnered and I really liked that idea – the idea of a partnership in the domestic world, not marriage. Marriage for me was less than ideal. As much I loved The Cosby Show, I didn’t know many adults who had that sort of marriage. Mostly, people screamed or remained silent. Grudging tolerance is something to be appreciated in a working class Catholic neighborhood in the 1980’s. The neighborliness of the 1970’s bridge clubs and shared dinners gave way to the financial fractures of resentful househusbands and exhausted mothers as the mills collapsed even more. Shrinking pensions on one end of the street from the old economy clashed with giant motorhomes purchased by people fortunate enough to be working in the new economic sectors on the other end. It was confusing and dismaying and explains why finding a man to marry wasn’t high on my list of things to do.
I wanted someone to love me, yes. But not marry.
I’ve been with Ledcat for 10.5 years. Sometimes we yell and sometimes we are silent, but most of the time we communicate – albeit imperfectly – in ways that a child wouldn’t pick up on of course. But marriage?
Right now, I have the buffer of time because Pennsylvania residents who marry legally elsewhere cannot obtain a divorce without relocating to another state for at least 6 months. Both Ledcat and I are far too practical to make that sort of leap – she’s a lawyer and I’m a social worker so we’ve seen far too many cases where true love led to horror.
But my real fear? It isn’t so much marriage as a wedding. I can’t even let myself imagine a wedding. I feel silly and ridiculous and self-conscious. I have a vision of lots of “maybe” responses and no one showing up. I fear giving into wearing a giant poof of satin that is entirely unflattering and Barbie-doll like. I fear that it won’t feel right because the meme of a heteronormative wedding is so deeply ingrained in my head that I can’t imagine something else. When we discuss, I’m very much in the “let’s go to City Hall and ask Mayor Peduto to marry us” camp versus a church wedding. And I’m really and truly afraid of a reception because I know that 3/4 of my family won’t come. And like it or not, that’s what I think a wedding should be.
So while I want to be married, I’m afraid to get married.
But rest assured I’ll continue to advocate for each of us to be able to make our own decisions regardless of our orientation or gender identity.
I’m supposed to say what it would take to get me to do it.
If Ledcat asked me. Done.