I felt for him and wanted to mend his pain, to show him that I wasn’t like her and that I would stand by him forever.
She told Steve to get on with his life, but her actions proved otherwise. Having all the control in the tri-relationship, she attempted to undermine our relationship at every turn. She called him every time I came over to see him. I was angry at her for what she did, and I let him know.
By January of the following year, Steve was called into action for the 1991 Desert Storm war. Thankfully he was to be stationed in England rather than the Gulf. Still, I was devastated to learn the news.
We dated for nine months and wanted to get married when he finished his AA Degree. Now, with the war, I had no idea when he was coming home. His absence left me emptier than I had been before I met him.
For three months we wrote each other nearly every day, and he sent me a few gifts while I supplied him with books from the bookstore where I worked. Every day before my classes, I stopped at the post office hoping for some correspondence so I could read his loving words.
I received a letter in March. He would be home at the end of the month. Impatiently, I counted the days.
Falling into his arms at the airport, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Steve felt the same way; however, every fairy tale must have an evil witch to break up the prince and princess. Shortly after he returned home, the ex showed up again. This time it wasn’t by way of phone calls; it was a plane ticket for Steve to come see her. I believed it was her way of keeping a hold of him so that he would always be available to her. In my mind, this was now war. I loved this man. He was now with me.
Steve still left to see her even after I protested. His excuse was that the ticket wasn’t refundable. I told him I would be happy to repay her for the ticket just to keep him from going. Looking back, I should have told him, “If you go see her, we’ll no longer be together. I’ll leave you.” When he came home, he was never the same; we were never the same.
In the midst of dating Steve, I was plagued with a recurring nightmare for months. Standing side by side, Steve and his former wife were laughing at me. Like a fun house mirror, they became distorted, growing taller as they fed upon my pain. The symbolism behind that disturbing dream came true. It foreshadowed my future; they would laugh at my pain.
We continued dating for four and a half stormy years. Several times Steve said he didn’t want to be with me because I deserved someone who could give me his entire heart. I loved him so much. He was the first person with whom I had been intimate. Honoring my faith, I wanted to wait until I was married, but my heart could not wait. Horrible fights should have been a sign we weren’t compatible, but I had no healthy relationships to draw upon. All of my relationships were toxic and conditional. If I hadn’t shared myself with him, it would have been easy to walk away. I kept seeing Steve for how he was in the beginning of the relationship and denied the changes.
He married me so that I could receive financial aid. The government changed the rules on receiving financial aid after I finally qualified. I was denied the financial means to continue with my education under my current situation. The only way I would qualify is if I were married. Steve agreed to the arrangement so that I could have a future.