The day has come that I knew would eventually come to a reality. But even though I expected it, I can’t help but feel numb, hurt, and angry by the news. I found out that my ex boyfriend got engaged over the weekend. His marriage is arranged for the end of August. That’s in 4 months!! I know it is a cultural thing, and this is something that has been done for generations in multiple countries around the world. But the idea that the person I spent 9 years of my life with, is now going to marry someone he just met two weeks ago is disturbing to me. That someone who doesn’t know him at all, gets to have him in a way that I never did in 9 years. Someone that doesn’t know what he likes, what he dislikes, how to see the signs that he is about to lose his temper, how to tell when he is feeling sick and lying so that people don’t worry about him, and so much more. We had issues of our own aside from the cultural and religious differences. But the love between us, as toxic as it was, was one of those loves that will last for eternities to come. We went through a lot of ups and downs, everyone said we were stupid for continuing to be with each other, I myself felt a lot of time as if I was crazy for hoping that we would work out aside from the battles we went through on a daily basis. But I strongly believed that love would conquer all. In the end it didn’t, there are things more powerful than love in the world, or maybe we were just obsessed with each other and never truly in love? A lot of times I question the love he said he had for me, if he loved me so much wouldn’t he have fought for us to be together? Wouldn’t he have tried to stretch the boundaries of his culture by trying to make them see that being Dominican and Catholic is not a sin. That I am not a headless monster, but a well put together girl that is better at being domesticated than their own daughter was when she got married.
I spent 9 years of my life, all of my 20s with someone that kept promising that they would never leave me. That they would fight for me when it came down to it. I remember nights where I used to google cross cultural relationships in hopes of finding some sort of answer, some sort of happy ending to keep me going. I hated being hidden from his family. It used to make me feel like I wasn’t any better than an escort. Someone he took out on dates and spent time with, but wasn’t allowed to speak of to his family or bring around for holiday dinners. I cringed every time someone asked me if I had gone to Thanksgiving dinner at my boyfriend’s family or mine. I always answered that I would never spend it without my family and that I was lucky that he understood. Inside, I always died a little bit, felt ashamed that I had lied, that the truth was that I was an outcast to his family, just as bad as any demon, that there was never an invite to any family event. One time he had a BBQ at his house and he invited a bunch of his friends so that I could blend in with them. So that he could introduce me to his parents as a friend, without them thinking anything of it. I remember being the happiest girl on the face of this Earth. I felt like I had won a small victory. When I think about it, there was no victory that was won, to them I was just a friend, and my ex just did things like this every couple of months so that I wouldn’t blow up and break up with him. He fed me a trail of crumbs to keep my hopes up. In the end, he ended up choosing a path that he spent so many years talking shit about. How stupid it is to get an arranged marriage, how he would never do such thing, how he wouldn’t let his mother pick who he will spend the rest of his life with. All that talk, and no action. A coward at the end. Nothing more than a little boy afraid to stand up for himself.
He used to demoralize me a lot, made me feel less than him for being from a culture where the divorce rate is high and a lot of people have kids out of wed lock (like myself). He always spoke so highly of his culture, how Bengalis always stick together, always work hard and become home owners. But everything he spoke of was always materialistic, monetary in one form or another, it always seemed as if it was about who had the most to show off to others. To me, they seemed to only care about what people think, and about who has the nicest car. I don’t see that as a measure to success. I don’t see forcing your kids to marry someone just so that other people don’t talk bad about your family as love. I don’t see how they can feel so righteous, and then feel the power to dictate who is bad or not based on culture and religion. It is racism, and they are egocentric. There was a time that I felt ashamed to be Dominican, I felt ashamed that my aunt’s and cousin’s dresses were too short and provacative at family parties. My ex didn’t allow me to wear tank tops, or skirts above my knee, or dangling earrings, or even eye liner. He had a lot of strict rules for the first few years of our relationship, which I blindly and stupidly followed. That brain washed me. But the more that I kept getting rejected from being accepted, the more that I realized how fucked up they were to outsiders. I realized how awesome my family was. How they embraced any partner that any of us chose. My mother embraced my ex as if he was her own son. She didn’t care about who he was, how much money he made, or what he drove. She spoke to him about life and his goals and aspirations. That’s when I felt embarrassed for ever having been ashamed of who I am. After that day, I never let my insecurities of not being good enough for his family defer me from the truth. The truth that in fact, maybe his family wasn’t good enough for me. There was nothing wrong with me. They were just ignorant, stuck on old traditions. Even still, all this time, even in the 2 years we have been separated, a part of me always hoped that he would realize how much he loved me and would come back to me regardless of his parent’s blessings and we would marry on a beach in a Caribbean island and live happily ever after. But life isn’t a fairy tale, and although our love for each other will pulse through infinity, he will go to sleep next to a woman that he chose to marry for the sake of making others happy. I can’t blame just his parents a 100%. He is a man at the end of the day, he chose to be a coward, he chose to care about his “reputation”, he chose to be praised for doing “the right thing”, he chose monetary advantages, he chose to leave me.