I’m a notoriously anxious and guarded person. I worry about a lot of people on a lot of levels and I worry about the future. I don’t trust easily and I have really high walls that most people don’t even try to look over, much less climb or work their way through. I get this. There are plenty of people out there with lower walls or no walls at all to form connections with, and it’s just easier. Normally, if I want to let someone in, I have to build the door and open it for them, which I don’t do often. It’s not laziness. Honestly, I don’t want most people getting inside my walls. That’s why they’re there. I admit I’m afraid to let people inside. It’s pretty dark in here sometimes. Almost every time I let someone in, even a little bit, even some folks that just peek over, it always hurts. Either they decide they don’t like what they see, which hurts me, or (worse) I’m ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ for them, which hurts them. So the walls just get higher. The fear just gets stronger. I wall myself off pretty often to keep myself safe and to keep other people safe FROM me. It’s contradictory, because I need reassurance from other people to help me calm the constant anxiety, but letting them in almost always triggers more anxiety. When am I going to become ‘too much’ or ‘not enough?’ How bad will I hurt them when that happens? When will they voice some expectation for me to change a fundamental part of myself on their behalf and hurt ME? How can I adequately guard myself so no one gets hurt? So very few people know me at all, and even fewer know me well. I’ve never let someone ALL THE WAY in.
Except for J.
Living most of my time in quiet isolation is what’s easiest for me. It’s indulgent, in a way, but, obviously, it’s also pretty limiting. I don’t have any ambition to go base jumping or run a Fortune 500 company or sing on stage or anything, though. It’s not being alone at home that’s constrictive. THAT’s the indulgent part. What’s confining is to be around a bunch of people where the walls must be maintained, and living any life at all requires being around other humans sometimes. I know I can’t just stay in my house alone with the dog all the time, but there’s not much room to be free around other people. Not the unfiltered me. I have to stay safe, and keep other people safe from the dark parts of me. Or even the light parts of me. Letting people get close isn’t safe. Overwhelming evidence has shown me that it scares people.
Except for J.
I’ve always tried to be cautious and quiet and smart and forward thinking and responsible. No mistakes. Don’t upset anyone. Hold on tight with both hands. Watch where you’re going. Not too fast. Not too high. Not too loud. Keep the peace… I’ve developed a reputation with some people (read: a lot of people) as being prudish and independent and sometimes harsh or intimidating, and maybe even misanthropic. That’s not true. I LOVE people, despite how often I make claims to hate them. I don’t like asking for help. I grew up preferring to be the knight, not the princess. That led to another faulty read, and probably why I’m such a vocal feminist now. ‘Knight’ doesn’t make me ‘unfeminine,’ but a lot of folks seem to think it does. I’ve always felt I had to do everything myself, and be especially careful with myself. I never trusted anyone else to take care of me, or pitch in to make things better, or fill in the gaps of what I couldn’t accomplish alone, or look out for me, or back me up. People usually show me they can’t and shouldn’t be counted upon.
Except for J.
Neither country music nor semi-public social media gushing are ‘his thing,’ but J tolerates this shit because for some reason (or beyond reason, probably), he loves me. So here’s a ‘special day’ dose of sap…
The Randy Travis song, ‘Look Heart, No Hands,’ (written by Trey Bruce and Russell Smith) first came out when I was a high school freshman.
“I remember how it used to feel ridin’ down old Two Mile Hill,
Tennis shoes up on the handlebars, payin’ no mind to the passin’ cars.
No doubts. No fear. Just like when you are here.
No chains. No strings. No fences. No walls…
No net. Just you to catch me when I fall.
Look heart…no hands…
It doesn’t take much. Just a smile or a touch.
And I’m a kid again. I can almost feel that wind…”
I remember seeing the music video on CMT at a friend’s house, and dreaming about a love like this when I was fourteen. I kind of already felt OLD. I’ve never needed (or even wanted) to be surrounded by a bunch of people adoring and entertaining me. I’m not a performer and I don’t expect (or usually even like) other people to perform for me. But I’m not so much of an island that I didn’t need *A* person. In my early teens, I already felt stifled and closed off to placate other people and be accepted by them on any level. Despite the coldness and cynicism that presented to other people, I remember wishing for one person I could open up and be free with…one person who would love me, even the dark parts…or the really supernova bright ones…one person with whom it would be safe to let go, and not be afraid to crash and get hurt. I wished for that one person to EXIST. By the time I was twenty-five, I was nearly certain he did NOT. But then…J.
When I listen to this song NOW, I’m amazed that the longer we’re together, the more relaxed with myself and more brave I feel. J is the only person I can spend limitless time with who can do that. He’s the only person that can make me feel LESS self conscious and LESS insecure the more time we’re together.
I still can’t believe he married me. But I’m so glad he did.
Happy anniversary, Handsome.
That number keeps getting bigger.
(It’s 14 years of marriage now…we’re in our 16th year together).
Which I know means we’re getting older…but I keep feeling younger.
I love you, J. Whole heart. No hands.
(Yes. Today is our wedding anniversary. Really.)