In fall of 2019, I twice met with a tailor to custom design a suit for the wedding I planned to have in September of 2020. During my first meeting with the tailor, we took measurements of my body, as well as talked through and chose all the details of the suit. By the second meeting, the tailor had produced it, and I tried it on in order for him to see whether any adjustments needed to be made. After that, he shipped me the suit, which I still have.
I recently tried on the suit again and noticed how small it feels on me. The arms feel too short, and the body hugs in so tightly as to almost appear a woman’s suit. Ditto the shoulders. As for the pants, I can get them on, but only by sucking in my stomach when I affix the button. Is this because the tailor’s measurements were off?
More so, I think the reason for the suit’s smallness is that I had recently become a vegetarian when I met with the tailor, and was still acclimating to this new diet. For a long stretch, one of my most common dinners was baked sweet potato and kale, with my not having realized that this meal contained relatively little protein. When I met with the tailor, I was at the thinnest I have been during my adult life, and that happened to be the moment in which the suit’s measurements were taken. (I have since learned how to eat more nutritiously as a vegetarian.)
And yet there is a deeper sense in which it seems an apt metaphor that the suit is too small. This is because it was associated with a relationship which I also ultimately felt was too small for me, which is why the suit’s intended purpose was never realized. That is, I broke off my engagement before the wedding.
About two months before my ex-fiancee and I moved in together, I remember looking up at the apartment for which we had recently signed a lease. I was walking my ex’s dog, and I said to myself, “Something fucking bad’s gonna happen in that apartment.” This may sound odd to some readers, but I have always had a deep and precise intuition, and my ability to trust it has only grown over the past several years. When this premonitory message came through me, it sent shivers down my spine.
Similarly, I should have known that something was off when my ex and I decorated our apartment together, and I felt that my creative choices were uniformly subverted in favor of hers. In a video of the finished apartment my ex created to send to friends and family, my family members remarked that there was little to no “Jackson” visible. They looked at the video and wondered, where was I?
In the end, the aspects of myself that were not included in this relationship rushed up to expose themselves, and I suddenly burst into tears in our kitchen about a month before our wedding would have been. My ex was taking a bath while this happened, and I was making dinner. During my bout of tears, I saw flashes of our wedding to be, of how beautiful my ex might look in her dress and how powerful it might feel to stand there, awaiting her, with the ensemble of our most beloved friends and families. While seeing these images, I thought that my sudden burst of tears was due to my appreciation for my ex and anticipation of the wedding that would still occur, which is what I told her when she came into the kitchen and asked whether I was okay. With time, I realized that what in fact had happened is that my story of my relationship with my ex had slipped out of me while I cried, a story without which the wedding would be impossible.
As I have written on this blog, part of the genesis of my relationship with my ex was a prophetic dream I had, a dream in which I saw a woman of my ex’s very characteristics and said aloud that this woman would be my wife. Similarly, bound up in this relationship were many dreams I had always had for myself, dreams which included being a good father and husband, righting the wrongs I perceived in my own childhood and upbringing. Through my ex, I sought to undo karmic patterns which I felt had plagued my family—and as a result, myself—since before I was born, a set of aims which had nothing to do with my ex.
For these reasons, it was not until we moved in together that I allowed myself to see the ways in which, as a human being with needs, I was not fulfilled by this relationship. I don’t want to go into the details here, but there were myriad ways in which the relationship, like the suit which accompanied it, did not fit me. In the end, I chose those needs and myself over the story which had birthed the relationship to begin with.
I do not want to paint the picture that my relationship was worthless, or that I did not gain much from it. There was real love between me and my ex, and the amount I grew within the relationship was unprecedented in my life. Too, it is not insignificant that through my ex I faced the age-old stories about myself, stories that I would not be a good father or husband; now, I know that I have the capacity to meet, love, and nurture someone in a deep and intelligent way, and that I feel fulfilled when I do this. Knowing that about myself is a priceless gift.
At the same time, my relationship with my ex was the first long-term relationship I’d had, and it was foolish of me to leap into marriage with a person due to factors that had nothing to do with her. My desire to prove to myself that I am capable of things like marriage and child-rearing is not a karma to be worked out through another person. Similarly, through my relationship with my ex I realized I carried a wound from my high school days, a wound of feeling unpopular and unloveable, and that I worshipped my ex’s beauty for this reason. Through her, I felt I was showing to my adolescent and other communities that I had in fact turned out alright, that I was capable of bringing home a woman who would make others swoon. Due to this misplaced focus, I left out of the equation the ways in which the relationship made me deeply unhappy.
And so it is that in my closet still rests this suit, a reminder of a time in which I tried to force myself into a certain box, into a certain image, all for the purpose of showing others that I was okay. As a result, the suit is too small, and yet it is beautiful. Both things are true. The life I would have had with my ex would have been beautiful; it simply was not the right life for me. In the end, I chose myself, and my body and personality which are still growing.