Friday, September 2, 2016

Becoming Us

Photo Courtesy of Myers Creative Photography

To say I have been going through a dry spell with my writing would be a gross understatement. I just took a peek and saw that my last blog post was over THREE MONTHS ago. I have some suspicions about why that happened but I guess what is most important is that I started writing again while we were away in Ireland on vacation. I actually filled up an entire travel journal about our trip and on the flight home, four of the six hours was spent furiously writing in my journal. The other two hours was dedicated to watching the movie, The Departed. Love that one!

Anyways, I feel like I have my writing mojo back, at least I hope so. The words have been running into my brain faster than I can write or process them and that is always a good thing.

Over the past few days I have been acutely aware that Labor Day Weekend is coming up. Six years ago, Labor Day became my favorite holiday weekend and as the weekend approaches every year, the memories of that weekend always resurface. Many of you will recognize this story, but it's been a few years since I've blogged about it and my perspective on it has shifted some, so bear with me.

In August 2009, I FINALLY moved out of the home I shared with my ex-husband. I moved into an apartment and my only roommate was my pooch, Molly. It was truly one of the best times of my life and over the course of the next year and a half of living there by myself, I personally grew in leaps and bounds. After years and years of living with an emotionally abusive alcoholic, I was on the path of reclaiming myself. I felt so free.

I dated on and off. I wasn't looking for a serious relationship; I wanted to know what it was like to just date someone...no strings attached. For the most part, that didn't typically go too well for me. I had also become friends with this man who lived in another state (Ohio) and after almost a year of talking on the phone, we realized we had romantic feelings for each other. We met in person, it went fairly well, but once I returned home, the shit hit the fan. I ended up hospitalized due to my Sjogren's symptoms, he pretty told me I was too much trouble, and that was the end of that. I wasn't going down that road again. I knew I deserved better.

That event showed me that I was done with dating. When I was having better days physically, I wanted to use my energy on spending more time with my friends and maybe doing some more volunteer work. I had also come to realize that I really didn't need to be dating, or have a partner, to feel complete. Once you realize that, the fact that you can be happy all on your own, your life takes on a whole new meaning.

At this time in my life, I was very active in my church. I was there just about every single Sunday and I was active in a lot of volunteer work with the church. I had made a lot of friends there, most of whom also became my friends on Facebook. This is one of the nicer things about Facebook, you get to better know people you already know and see in person every week.

Right after my hospitalization, one of those friends started regularly chatting with me after church. He knew, from Facebook, that I had been in the hospital and wanted to see if I needed anything. He asked me about my writing and even though we didn't appear, on the surface, to have much in common, we could talk comfortably in a way that made it feel like that fact didn't matter at all.

As the summer waned on, I began to realize that I REALLY started looking forward to church more than I usually did. It was obvious to me that this man's presence in my life meant something more to me than my other male friends from church. However, I was determined to stay off the dating scene and be this strong, independent woman who was happy being by herself. Because in all honesty, I WAS happy. And I wasn't willing to give that up again for someone else. Too much had happened to me. Too much had been lost.

What I didn't realize at the time was that this man from church was having feelings for me and by the end of the summer, it was obvious that the half hour we spent together talking after church just wasn't enough. And on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend 2010, he asked me if I wanted to take Molly and go for a walk with him the next day. I said yes because really, what harm was there in that?

So on Monday, we went for our walk.

And then proceeded to spend the entire day together.

When he dropped me off at home, I knew, with certainty, that my life would never again be the same. I knew that I needed this person in my life every day, without exception.

I make it sound easy, but in many ways, it wasn't. I was incredibly anxious about the whole situation...about opening up my heart again and about the possibility of losing the independence I had worked so hard to achieve. But I also knew that I could not deny what I felt and while at that point I didn't know for sure that this man felt the same way, I suspected he might. I decided he was worth the risk.

Our relationship snowballed from there. We went on that walk on Labor Day. On Columbus Day, he told me he loved me. The week later, he asked me to move in with him.

I said no.

Even though I was certain at this point I wanted to be with him forever, I wasn't ready to leave the safe sanctuary I had built for myself. I needed more time.

I lasted until January.
Hey, what can I say?

As I'm sure you have guessed by now, this gentleman from church is my husband, Chuck.

So why am I telling this story again? Well, it is my favorite story for starters. But, it's more than that. I've been thinking a lot lately about how much things have changed for me over the past six years; for Chuck as well. I've been thinking about a lot of the decisions we both had to make in order to be together and make this work. I've been thinking about our differences and about how on the surface, we would seem an unlikely match; you know, the 60's hippie marrying the 80's girl thing. And that's pretty much just the tip of the iceberg.

But over the past six years, it has become obvious that our differences actually make us better partners for each other, mostly because when you get down to what really matters in a relationship, we are more similar than different.

I've had many people tell me how lucky I am to have Chuck in my life. Do I know how fortunate I am that a man like my husband exists in this world? Absolutely. But the thing is, luck didn't have much to do with it at all. I do believe that God certainly did play a part in terms of us both being in the same location at the same time, specifically our church. I also believe God worked through our former pastor as he was the one that brought Chuck back to our church after many years of being away. There is no way to deny that God wanted us together.

But the rest of it? Definitely not luck either. It was a series of very conscious choices that we both made in order to be together. It was a choice on my part, as a child of God, to not settle for any man treating me in a way that was less than what I deserved. I am the one who decided what my worth was and refused to settle for anything less than that. That's hard stuff.

I see postings on social media all the time about how terribly women are treated by their spouses. Or how terrible children are treated by their parents and vice versa.I read about how people settle for friends who view them as disposable. If you don't hear anything else I say in this entire blog post, please hear this...

I don't care who you are.
You are NOT disposable.
You deserve love and respect just as much as nobody and don't EVER let anyone tell you differently.
I really wish someone had told me that when I was married to my first husband.
So I am telling YOU now.

If you have people treating you less than the precious gift God intended you to be, you need new people. Like now.

There were other conscious choices my husband and I made as well. Some of them minor, some of them much more important.

I found out long after we got together that my husband was interested in me long before I thought he was. I thought his romantic interest in me grew from the time I got out of the hospital until that Labor Day Weekend. What I didn't realize was that he was interested in me for almost the whole time he was back in church. I'm guessing that was at least six months, if not longer. But he saw, from Facebook, that I had gotten involved with the man from Ohio and he waited.

He waited.

That's the kind of love we all deserve.
Someone who is in it for the long haul.
Someone who thinks you are worth waiting for.

Luck certainly had nothing to do with us being together one week in 2011 when I realized I needed to make a decision about whether I was going to stay or leave Chuck. There was no fight, no argument. We didn't even really have a disagreement. No raised voices. What we did have was a discussion that made it glaringly clear that there was an insurmountable obstacle between us, a deal breaker so to speak. Nothing that he did wrong, nothing that I did wrong....just two very different wishes for our future. There were a lot of tears that week and a lot of soul searching. There was a difficult decision to be made.

I obviously stayed.
And I've never looked back.

So why do I mention all this? Because I think that people look at us, use the term "lucky" in describing our relationship, and sometimes think that a relationship like ours is unattainable. I'm hear to tell you it is not. But, it is a lot of hard work. You don't see our hard work. Well, maybe a few of you do. Our hard work is the day to day stuff that makes our marriage stronger each and every day. You won't see it on Facebook. You will actually NEVER see a negative post, sarcastic comment, or passive-aggressive statement from one of us about the other on Facebook, or any other social media site. That is part of our covenant to each other. That is part of our hard work together.

I think that is part of why I love this time of year and looking back at the story of how our marriage came to be. It reminds me to not take the hard work for granted, It reminds me of our beginning and how special it truly was. It reminds me that your past hurts do not have to define who you are or where you go in life. And finally, it reminds me that in life, sometimes you just have to take a risk and  grab onto your happiness when it is right in front of you.





2 comments:

  1. Beautiful story, beautifully stated. Thanks!

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  2. I love this post! Truly inspirational to those who have ever felt "less than," as we all have from time to time.

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