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The wrong path up the mountain

By KJ AartilaPublished about a year ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

I was twenty-nine when I got married, thirty-one when I got divorced. A short marriage that culminated in a journey lasting a lifetime.

Being engaged was a fun concept. I chose the engagement ring I wanted. He complained the diamond was too small. I didn’t want a bigger diamond. I liked the one I chose. He did like the huge discounted price, though. He decided to go with the ring on which I first settled.

The ring wasn’t fitted when he proposed and offered it to me. I wore it anyway, and almost lost it when it fell off in the bathroom of the restaurant within the first couple of hours that I had it. Was it a sign? I vowed not to be so careless. We proceeded with the wedding plans.

We chose a small venue to hold an intimate ceremony to be attended only by immediate family.

I knew as soon as I said the words “I do” that it was the wrong choice, but I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t look away. It was like watching a train wreck. You can see the impending doom careening down the tracks, but stand by, helpless to stop it; voiceless.

You can only observe the impending collision.


We chose to exchange our vows by means of a Justice of the Peace in a non-religious ceremony. My Mother-in-Law to be, told my then fiancé’ and I that our marriage wouldn’t last because we weren’t getting married by a priest in a church in front of God and everyone. I guess she was right about the marriage, although I’m sure God and an audience weren’t the reasons for it’s failure.


I had gotten dressed, wearing my Mom’s wedding dress, a long-standing dream of hers I was eager to fulfill. It fit like a glove. I was moments from walking down the proverbial isle to stand beside my husband-to-be when my Mom asked me if this impending marriage was what I wanted.

No. No, I don’t think I really want this, but your timing is as extraordinary and as selfish, as usual, I thought. I nodded, smiled and proclaimed “Yes!” I started walking, flanked by my two younger brothers, too anxious to legally get rid of me, probably. We weren’t really close, but it was my Mom’s idea for them to “give me away.”

And so I joined my groom in front of the Justice. He pronounced us husband and wife and we joined our families for drinks, toasts to marital bliss and a nice dinner. It was a very nice evening, actually, but it felt fraudulent, like the marriage afterward. The wedding was on his birthday; the day before Halloween. It felt like we were dressed up for a costume party.

I should have known it was wrong, but I wanted so badly for it to be right. There was my family, our friends, and years invested in a roller-coaster relationship.


Our families left that evening. We planned to stay a couple of days at the venue. We had rented a room in the secluded location. The next day, he drove back to town, almost an hour away, to tend to work, while I stayed alone for hours during what was supposed to be our honeymoon time. That was a pretty obvious clue that I was on the wrong path. This was not what I wanted, but I let it slide.

In attempting to get our official union headed in the right direction, I went all in to get back on track. I was desperate and panicked because I didn’t like the all-too-clear vision of my future as things were. I tried religious intervention (I am not religious, but my then husband was brought up in a Catholic boys school and claimed to be God-fearing when it proved convenient), I introduced workbooks to help build communication skills and even suggested marriage counseling, which he completely had no interest in pursuing until my feet were out the door. By then, I had made my choice.

“I didn’t know it was that bad,” he stated, before he stopped speaking to me altogether. He glared at me with those Scorpio eyes when I brought up the continued friendship agreed upon before the acceptance of marriage. Apparently, that was a flat-out lie. Just more words spoken to get me to agree to whatever he wanted. I was so naive.

His childish, ignorant actions only confirmed that sticking around again would be continuing to travel the wrong path. I had done my best to make our marriage thrive, but I couldn’t do it on my own. Our expectations obviously didn’t mesh. It took me too long to figure that out, but when I did, my path was clear. It was time to move on. Alone.

I packed up my truck with my laptop and my suitcase. I moved from our rental to sleep on a friends couch for a bit. What was holding me back? I was gainfully employed, smart and capable. I soon found a place of my own, in a different town. I was limiting myself by playing into the opinions of others. Once I separated myself from that, living my life was much easier. I sold the engagement ring and attached wedding band for less than $500 dollars. The feeling of freedom was priceless.

For a long time, I was angry at myself for wasting nearly a decade of my life. We met when I was twenty-one, coming together in a relationship destined for nowhere. Ultimately, I have come to appreciate the lessons I learned and the growth I achieved that lets me appreciate what I have now.

I now have a life that I created for myself. The life I wanted; not an illusion, and not anyone else’s idea. I have a husband and a daughter and a lifestyle that I enjoy. It challenges me, but I always have the option to choose my direction. I like this path. It has peaks and valleys, but the range is beautiful.

This was an entry into Reedsy using the following prompt:

Write about someone who realizes they're on the wrong path.


About the Creator

KJ Aartila

A writer of words in northern WI with a small family and a large menagerie.

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Comments (9)

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  • Randy Baker3 months ago

    Well done! It takes some of us longer than others to find the right path. I can attest to that.

  • Ashley Shiflett3 months ago

    I'm so happy that you are now in a place of family. ❤️

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a year ago

    I always find your life stories very interesting and you do a great job at writing them in a manner that draws you in.

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm happy to know you're in a good place now.

  • I'm so sorry that your marriage didn't work out but I'm glad you got out while you can. Really happy for you, Keila!

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    Confession almost seems like an understatement for where to place this article. I'm so glad you shared these moments of your life with us. As someone who divorced as well (but not married again, yet), I could relate to so much of what you wrote. Thank you!

  • Thavien Yliasterabout a year ago

    Mountains are a challenge for sure, but when I think of mountains all I can think about is a phrase I told my friend. "Dominate the landscape. Make a plan, get preparations, and dedicate the necessary time to achieve the goals desired." We as people have the literal ability to change the physical landscape around us. Therefore, I like to believe that if I can cause such drastic change to the world outside of me, then I can change the world that resides inside of my mind as well. The story of Your relationship sounds sad, but also relieving. I felt like I was reading You going through the phases of learning how to speak Your mind. It's weird since as juvenile children we lack no filter and we say whatever comes to our minds or whatever we think will benefit us the most. In a sense, I think a lot of people have lost that ability and that's why a majority of them feel like they're not living fulfilling lives. As one comedian puts it, "'You go from should I say it,' to 'should I not say it,' and eventually reach the point of 'f*ck it.'"

  • Kelli Sheckler-Amsdenabout a year ago

    I sighed and smiled, so happy for you. Thank you for sharing this

  • Antoinette L Breyabout a year ago

    That was really good, I guess we have all made mistakes. It is sometimes hard to see a significant other as they really are. I spent about ten years with a man that I should have spent ten minutes with, Years later the signs seem a lot clearer. Glad you are happy now

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