Ball and Chain
Last night I dreamt I was trapped–bound and gagged by the stranglehold of marriage. Strangely, in my night vision, I entered this sacred covenant with a friend I’ve known since childhood. Yet, even though he has known me longer than any of my other friends, I still felt shackled to a false future. Life seemed eternally daunting, each day a treadmill of quick sand. My phony husband and I pulled down the covers and turned out the lights before bedtime.
“I told you I liked Vanilla,” I joked, referring to a term he’d given to his culture. But something felt off. There was a void in the air. Or maybe just in my heart. And it separated me from this husband of mine.
When others asked to hear our story, I’d reply with forced joy, “We’ve known each other since elementary school!” Then they’d swoon. And I’d feel more justified for making this lifetime commitment to be untrue. Don’t get me wrong, I love this friend truly and dearly. But he and I are simply not suited to wed.
Regret filled my eyes when I laid them on Kyle, my real-life husband, and realized he was outside of my nightmarish wedding vows. Apparently he had been someone I was dating, but I chose to marry this other man instead.
I wanted to kick Dream Me.
Instead, I felt panic plague my body, settling like lead in my chest and pumping through my veins like a caffeine overdose. Stimulated and shaky, I knew I must do something, but–as always with panic–the knowledge that something needs to be done exceeds the wisdom of what that something should be.
“I think you owe him a conversation,” my dad said, silently sneaking up behind me and nodding in Kyle’s direction. Even in my dreams, he gives voice to reason. I looked at Kyle, alone and dejected, lingering after some post-wedding party that didn’t include him. I couldn’t imagine what I’d say. When the heart aches, it strangles the throat. I wanted to tell him that he was the only one I loved–the only one I could ever love–with the depth of my heart and the breadth of my being. But I ripped myself from him when I pledged to be true to someone else. And those aren’t the kinds of words one can simply take back.
The kindness of morning caressed my lashes and I awoke to find my husband–my true husband–peacefully asleep beside me. The contours of his face, specifically and uniquely his own, comforted my soul. At that very moment, he had never looked more handsome. His jawline seemed somehow more distinguished, and his hair, tousled by sleep, more endearing. I touched the tip of his nose with my lips, overwhelmed with gratitude for the sanctity of marriage. Blessed to have my best friend beside me always. There’s no such thing as “the old ball and chain” in marriage, I thought. Marriage is designed to liberate, not confine. Slowly, he opened his eyes and greeted the day with a stretch.
“Good morning,” he croaked and smiled at me. Indeed, it was a good morning. And, with him by my side, I eagerly await all the others.