I realized that a couple of days ago would have been the 23rd anniversary of my marriage to Shannon. As I think back on this now, I realize so many things, but the most of important of which is that if I hadn’t gone down that path, I would probably not be sitting here where I am today. For maybe the first time in my life, I am thankful for that time.
Sometimes I write things on here that make it seem like I was miserable or that Shannon was some ogre, but that isn’t fair or accurate. It was a mistake for us to be together, yes, but I did love her, and I believe she loved me. Was it true and everlasting love, no, and history has proved that, but we both put effort into the relationship and, for Ryan’s sake more than anything, gave it a go.
The wedding itself was a good time. We didn’t break the bank and Shannon’s parents made sure it was a good time for everyone. We picked a nice spot in Mesa that I’ve been to for a couple of other weddings since then and I didn’t even have any flashbacks. My friend Sandy did the facilitating as she was a judge and Jeff was my best man. Chad stood up for Shannon.
We took a limo from the wedding itself to Hollywood Alley where we had our reception, and it was a nice party. One of my favorite pictures is from that reception. It’s got about 20 of my friends and family in it, all on stage at the Alley, and was a great bit of evidence that fun was had. My grandfather, Tom, was there and having a good time and it was 1999.
Our son, Ryan, is going to be married in October. It will be the first time Shannon and I have been in the same place in a long time. At this point, our marriage has become such a distant memory that I hold no ill will or bad thoughts toward her. While things were ugly, I take responsibility for my share of that ugliness.
When we got together, it was kind of like a reverse fairy tale. I think I have referred to this before, but in those days, when I would tell people about how she and I got together, or about Ryan, or just whatever I was telling about my personal life, people would often say it was like some sort of fairy tale. I think we both wanted to believe that, and we tried to buy into it.
Hindsight being 20/20, our relationship was doomed from the start.
I had been in a long-term relationship with a woman named Alexa (most of you reading this know her) from 1989 to 1995. As I have mentioned, Alexa and I were growing apart, romantically, as early as 1993, but it was comfortable and we were good friends and, in a way, we had grown up together. To say we went through a lot together is an understatement, and that chapter of my life deserves more than just a paragraph.
I didn’t really take much time to be single and process the end of my relationship with Alexa, though, before Shannon and I started our thing. I was smitten with the idea of being a dad and I had no idea how to build a healthy relationship with anyone, let alone the mother of my child, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. Before too long, it wasn’t just Ryan staying over at my house on the weekends.
From the get-go, it was tumultuous. I came home from work one day and found that Shannon had decided to get rid of a bunch of my pictures. Anything that had to do with an ex-girlfriend, for example, was thrown away, cut up, burned. That should have been my get out of jail free card, but I didn’t know how to stand up for myself to her. I also didn’t know how to deal with my own jealousies, as well, as Shannon had previously dated two of my friends.
We broke up several times between 1995 and 1997, both dated other people, and sadly, tried to fix what was wrong with our dating relationship by moving in together. The logic was that I would prove my commitment to her and Ryan by moving to Ahwatukee. I didn’t want to live in Ahwatukee, but I wanted to make this family thing work out.
I know now that I didn’t do any service to Ryan by showing him how to have an unhealthy relationship. If I could do it over again, I would have been a fucking monk for awhile and just spent time getting to know my son. He missed out on getting to know a healthy version of me.
It wasn’t terrible living in Ahwatukee, but I was never truly happy. I would think to myself almost daily as I took a shower, “What the fuck are you doing?” During the two years we lived in our apartment, I got acquainted with internet and had multiple inappropriate online relationships. I am not proud of this, and now I know that some of them were probably not the hot chicks they described themselves to be, but it wasn’t an indicator that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
As we wound into the summer of 1998, we started talking about marriage and set the date of April 3, 1999. I don’t remember what, if any, significance there was to that date, but we got engaged. As I shared this information with my close friends, the overwhelming response was always something along the lines of, “I like Shannon, but are you sure?”
This should have been a clue. Even the day before I got married, I was home alone since you can’t see the bride the day before, and my friend Jason called. He said, “Thos, are you sure you want to do this?” I thought long and hard about it as I walked around the apartment complex smoking a joint. I can still see how the sky looked at that moment if I close my eyes. It was beautiful, and I was fucked.
I feel bad for how my inability to stand up for myself impacted Ryan and Shannon’s lives. We had a lot of fun, yes, and we tried, but I feel like we could have been so much more if we would have just made the decision to be the best parents we could be for Ryan.
See you tomorrow.
Stole this from the Hollywood Alley facebook page. Seemed appropriate, in a way. Miss that place.