Church wedding

My doomed marriage started in a Walmart

This was the second time I found myself in a Walmart bathroom staring at a positive pregnancy test.

And for the second time, my best friend was there too. Two twenty-somethings staring at the illuminated double pink lines that revealed themselves immediately as the urine absorbed the stick. Even though she was fed up with my nonsense, she didn’t say anything.

That moment – holding the prophetic wand – was the start for me and my husband. And he wasn’t even there.

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Six years after viewing my first test with a scene nearly identical to this, I once again felt exactly the same as the time before – I didn’t want that. Not the baby, in particular. But the situation.

A positive pregnancy test is not just a representation of the growth of life, it is everything that surrounds that life. And not just this life, but your life.

I had other plans for my life, which is why just months before that Walmart event, I officially filed for an end to my first marriage.

I wanted a family, and I knew I didn’t want to create that family with him – the man I had sworn to love forever four years ago. He was good and decent and would be a great father, but not to my children.

My first husband and I met when I was seventeen. He lived in another state, but his family was close so he often visited our small town to see his cousin. The cousin who wouldn’t go out with me in public, but would sneak out to have sex with me. I did not have the desired lineage in this small community.

I wasn’t the girl those boys were holding hands with in public. But they were comfortable telling me what they wanted to do with my body.

They were taking pictures of my butt that I saw hanging in their lockers when I walked through the lobby. I laughed it off and acted flattered because to do otherwise was just being “mean”. I allowed them to use my body because I wanted any part of the acceptance. This self-abuse led to my first pregnancy test in the Walmart bathroom.

Getting birth control seemed like an impossible task in my hometown with a population that peaked at 900. The nearest Planned Parenthood was over three hours away.

Technically, condoms were available, but this town was 99% Mormon where even adults don’t buy them, so buying that prophylactic sheath at the local drugstore – the only place to buy them within 100 miles – wouldn’t pass unnoticed. The whole town would have been informed before the bells stopped ringing at the glass store door you walked out of.

So the boy and I slept together and then hoped that everything would turn out like all our other friends.

It turned out that only he could do it – I was a temptress who made the boy impregnate her. I was hated. Ostracized. Only.

When I walked through the graduation stage, I was wearing a sash of honor and a strong, invisible scarlet letter.

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He escaped on a Mormon mission and prayed to Jesus for forgiveness. I remained trapped while mourning my abandoned college years and the loss of a child I didn’t want.

I needed to get out and there was one person who didn’t care that I was toxic: the boy’s cousin. He was nice. He was beautiful. And he wanted me.

After I finished growing up, giving birth, and giving my baby up for adoption, I went to see him.

He was my fresh start in a town full of people who didn’t know me or what I had done and didn’t care about my family background.

I could forget the Walmart where all my dreams dissolved. I did not have to pass in front of the hospital where I left with empty arms. I did not have to face judgment from the golden angel that trumpeted atop the temple where I had washed away the sins of others while I continued to collect my own.

I felt hollow and naked, so I filled my void with marriage at 19, and dressed my body in a religion that never suited me.

This religion was like the outfit you bought because it looked great in the dressing room with the slimming mirror in perfect lighting after a three-day fast.

But after a few meals and an Oreo binge, it’s too tight in the hips and the top accentuates your armpit fat. So try accessorizing it with a bold necklace or throwing it over a cardigan to hide the most unflattering part.

But the longer it sits in your closet, the more shame and guilt it offers.

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I tried for four and a half years to fit into my robe of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I zhuzh it by wearing the sacred garments, taking temple vows, and making a promise to my first husband in the most sacred place, the Salt Lake City Temple. I am committed to him forever and for eternity. But, even with all those accessories, I couldn’t make myself look presentable in the ill-fitting Mormon ensemble.

Giving my faith also meant giving my husband. He adored me. And I really loved him. In many ways, he saved me. But eventually I went over the size of the dress and couldn’t ignore the slits at the seams anymore.

The reality was that what he needed to fulfill his life would be the things that would destroy him. So I left because I loved him too much to ask him to be someone he wasn’t.

The way I left him – marriage, religion – was the opposite of Marie Kondo-ing.

I didn’t kiss him, remembered the good feelings he gave me once, then thanked him, gently placing him in the pile of gifts.

No. It was abrupt, devoid of thought or gratitude.

Because when you look at two pink lines in a Walmart bathroom, you don’t have time to let go gradually.

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The author has been a military wife for over 20 years. She shares her story of becoming an active duty Marine Corps bride, fully embracing the military lifestyle, and now her journey of becoming everything she has been for the past two decades.

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This article originally appeared on Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.