I’ve been ashamed and frankly embarrassed to say, “I’ve been married more than once.”  Sounds like a real looser, and secretly I have felt like one.

But in my defense, lets call a spade a spade, ignorance.  It’s amazing the choices we make good or bad out of ignorance. Not to mention stubbornness, revenge or pride.

In my day when I married at 19 I was practically considered an old maid.  My teen age angst was pushing the boundaries of reality and when the boy I wanted to marry was not ready, I accepted the proposal of the next man who asked.

I felt accomplished and excited.  It didn’t matter that he was ten years older and a widower with three kids.  It was a marriage proposal.  He loved me and I assumed I loved him.  It would last forever because you only marry once.

I only knew him two months before he proposed.  He was lovely, funny and a good man.  I was in a hurry to get married, so the timing was perfect.  What more could a virgin girl want.

Reality began to seep in a few years down the line.  Yet, determined to make a go of something I really knew nothing about other than what I saw on television, I worked ever so hard to do the right thing.

The marriage ended when I witnessed the man fall in love with someone else.  That in itself was a great shock and an eye opener.  It made me begin to see what love can look and feel like between a man and woman.

You’d think I would have learned, but unfortunately after 12 years I did it again.  Another marriage of convenience.  I was living in Italy and my visa had expired.  After seven years in a country I called home, I did not want to leave or be deported.

My friend wanted to leave home and the restraints he felt from his family.   It was again perfect timing, so we married.  Even the village priest, who I cherished with all my heart, took me aside and pleaded with me to reconsider.  He knew I didnt love my friend in the way one does when choosing to marry.

Number two did not last but a few months.  My consciousness began to wake and guilt got the best of me.  I could not continue living a lie and returned to the United States.  Another really lovely man who actually understood and supported my decision.  God Bless.

It was tough being back in the states.  The transition was difficult.  I was just getting my feet solidly on the ground with a really good job, a sweet apartment, and my son settled into a great school when I met my third husband to be.

It was a thunderbolt encounter.  I never knew what that was until it happened.  My goodness what a powerful feeling, like sparks spewing off the pavement after a lightning strike.  Egads!  So this is love —.  Without a lot of thought, I joyously skipped down the path toward marriage.

A man of the mind, a scholar and ex-episcopal priest.  How was I so lucky.  He was a keeper.  I was absolutely sure I was in love.  Since I was in love and having sex, I must get married because that’s what you do.  The sooner the better before guilt steps in.  Guilt acquired somewhere along the line.  Love with sex equals marriage.  It’s a must.

Number three didn’t take seriously the concept of a monogamous marriage.  And although I was not aware of this from the very beginning, I was painfully made aware of it a few years later when he openly carried on an affair resulting in a pregnancy.

God I wanted to kill him.  I screamed at him, God, the whole universe.  Heart broken we went separate ways.  Unfortunately for me not much time passed before another suitor came my way.

Still not having learnt the fine art and understanding of listening to and then following my heart, I tripped into another short term relationship and marriage.  This time God interneved by sending 3 million red flags which I intellectually rationalized.  (having learned to use my brain in the last marriage)

Red flags before the marriage proposal which again I prodded into being.  More red flags after.  My soul, God, the Universe, had had enough.  I was going to learn hell or high water.

It is said that God, the Universe,  gives us no more than what we can handle.   Well then God loves me a whole heap.  I entered into the worst relationship on earth and nearly lost my life.

Those red flags of abuse, both psychological, emotional and physical were flapping in the wind and I rationalized them until I was beaten nearly to death.  When the loud, and I mean loud voice of God told me to scream, I did.  The death hold imposed upon me was let loose and I ran for my life.  Lesson learned.

God love me, I’ve spent these last many years of my life licking the wounds and healing the scars.  One by one I have traveled in and out and through my relationships to find myself, to see how I’ve given myself over to belief and social convention in a misguided name of love.

I’ve been given the grace of time to heal, to learn from my mistakes.  I’ve been given the circumstances and time to learn what love is and is not.  It may have taken me longer than some, but I’m getting there one step and one day at a time, and despite all, I still believe in love and am now learning to love myself.  Amen