Part One: Taking Off The Ring
I wore a ring for a year of my life. I was 22-years-old at the time. This golden symbol of promise embellished my left hand as a sign of my commitment. This commitment was to the father of my child and our family, the growth of our wealth and health, and protection of our sanctity. This was especially important to me because I wanted to give my child the stability I once had when my father was physically present. I wanted to be a unit so I actively participated in the creation of this life together. You know the one with the fairytale ending.
Looking back, I don't know if we were ever really engaged. I mean there were people involved; both of our families gathered for dinner celebrating my birthday, his departure to the military, and what then turned into a promise of a union. There was a bended knee, a question to be his soldier, but not his wife. I'm sure back then that's what I thought he meant; I filled in the blank. I wore the ring, we addressed each other as our fiancé; the excitement was in the newness of the word. Then the excitement wore off and real life stuff started to happen. Our communication was terrible, fights even worse, our egos wouldn't allow for commonsense because we both needed to be right. We were young and naive. What did it mean to be engaged anyway? Yes, there are plenty of people that were engaged and married young, however I feel their intent was real - the promise to see it through. Personally, I think it's impossible to join with another when you're not even a whole person. I didn't really love myself then or I wouldn't have put up with half the things I endured. Trust me, there is truth in men (and women) to sow their wild oats before marriage, and I'm not just talking sex and dating, I mean travel and independence too. While a child wasn't in our ideal plans, we both assumed these grown up responsibilities and titles without knowing the work it actually took to make it happen.
In hindsight, I'm able to see things without all the emotions and fireworks that came before. I expected a boy to be a man, when it wasn't his time. I asked for promises I knew he couldn't keep. I own my part in our shortcomings. However, I knew then like I know now I deserved more, and I was not going get it by keeping the ring on, so I took it off. I'd be lying if I said if it was easy. The imprint of the ring indented my finger for almost two months after taking it off. It was a constant reminder of a promise that was not for us. Not a failure, just not the right person.
Whether you're taking the ring off, contemplating it, or wearing it with pride, don't forget you matter most and show yourself some love. Relationships should be a reflection of your love for self, not where you try to find your worth through another person. I forgive myself and I forgive him. It wasn't all bad; we had some great moments, and beautiful baby girl that I love beyond words. Alone, I had a chance to heal and become stronger and achieve things I wouldn't have if I’d stayed. At the end of the day, there was no greater gift than peace.