Then, I was a young woman, afraid and lonely, living well below my potential, although many people saw me as a success.
I dated a lot of men who found it extraordinarily easy to give up on me, either because I’d done or said or believed something they viewed as unfavorable, or found someone better, or just got tired of me. I tried to fill my life up with ‘things’ that were considered the trappings of winning, to convince myself that I was, indeed, not a loser. I bought a new car, and a new house. Then, I thought I would prove I could make it on my own, that I didn’t need a partner; I didn’t even want a partner.
Years of self motivation and taking care of myself at home and doing all the work in ‘group projects’ in school and submitting to sharing the credit conditioned me to accept solitude. That was how I was supposed to be: by myself.
Sixteen years ago, I had resigned myself to spinsterhood. Yes, I used that word in my own head, because despite my true beliefs that there was nothing wrong with being single, and that women didn’t need a man in their lives, and that romance isn’t necessary for everyone, or a part of actual survival for anyone, I still wanted it. But I thought for sure there was no one meant for me, and I would face life alone.
Then, I was stuck in a dead end office job, pushing my real dreams to the back of the closet. I knew they were still there, but I didn’t think I fit into them anymore. I’m not sure why I didn’t just throw them out. I guess for the same reason you don’t throw out your high school yearbook or your old baseball glove. There’s some attachment there, no matter how removed from activity or how much you don’t want to admit you can become attached to ‘things.’
I’d spent six months trudging through the muck of online dating. I was ready to give up, thinking that everyone out there was either a jerk or a liar, sometimes both. Then, when I got to that chain restaurant, and J was already there waiting for me in a snowstorm…and cleaned my windows for me when we left…
He thinks that was something small that anyone would do, but the reality of my life was (and is), it wasn’t. J was different. J was special. J was IT.
On our wedding day, I still had real fear he’d back out, still having a generally negative slant on life, because that’s almost all I’d been exposed to, and I absorb what I’m exposed to. When we walked hand in hand up that church aisle on April 2, 2005 as ‘husband and wife,’ my ENTIRE outlook had changed. Really.
I wasn’t settling anymore. I started to believe with a little determination and effort, I could squeeze into those all but forgotten dreams in the back of the closet. J saved me from a life of consolation prizes. He dusted off the showcase, to display as reality, what I used to think were delusions. J was the one THEN.
Now, I have a partner who supports even the most far-fetched and arguably childish notions I have. There are no longer wishes collecting dust in storage. They are unleashed and active. I live a life now, full of goals attained and hopes actualized. I’m a mother. I have a home, not just a financial investment. I’m fulfilled and satisfied, living a life full of contentment and virtually free of drama. I feel free. To do…whatever. Whether that’s discussing nonsense with my best friend on text, or going to medical school at 40 (I don’t want to go to medical school…just saying), J is behind me, willing to help me make it happen.
The word most often used to describe me was formerly ‘intimidating.’ Now, new acquaintances usually use the word ‘cheerful.’
I no longer feel it necessary to settle for less than what I feel I deserve. I don’t doubt that if I truly want something, I can have it. I live a life so charmed, others dream about it. They’ve told me so. That’s kind of weird to me, but also cool.
And all of this is because of J.
We aren’t the couple screenplays and romance novels are usually written about. Our gestures toward one another are more often of the ‘picking up milk on the way home’ variety than the ‘covering the bed in rose petals’ kind. But overt romance isn’t really what true love is all about, anyway, if you ask me. Pragmatism is our romance. The public at large may not think J fixing the garage door opener is sexy. But I do. I can’t open the garage without the opener, see. I’m too short. So J fixing it is literally letting me get out of the house…out of my shell…out of my head… It’s letting me out.
I can only hope that I instill in J the same feelings of invincibility he gives me every day. Now, instead of fretting over everything that could hurt me (I still do more than my fair share of fretting, but believe me…HUGE improvement and relief from Life Before J), I feel like nothing really can. Really. I can’t thank J enough for sticking by me through the hard times. I know we’ve had some, and some of them were my fault. It would have been easy for him to give up on me. LOTS of other people did (and still do). But he didn’t.
You’re a hell of a guy, J. You’re sure as hell not like any of the other guys.
J is an amazing husband and father, which was just a guess 14 years ago, when we got married and were on our honeymoon. I love to be ‘right’ though, so when J is having a light saber fight with The Boy using empty wrapping paper rolls or refinancing our mortgage for the fourth time to work an early pay-off for our loan, that validation always brings a smile to my face. Now, I know my guess was right.
If I knew then, what I know now, I would marry J again, only with even more urgency.
J is still the one NOW.