I was reading through some other folks’ entries on 43T today, and it spurred me to harken back into some of my previous relationships. Specifically, I was looking at what people are writing under the goal of “fall in love.” What struck me was the disappointment, the anxiety, the despair, and the uncertainty in the entries of these 43Ters. And I had to remind myself that not that long ago, that was me.
Like many, I’ve been something of a serial monogamist, going from one long-term relationship into the next with little time of “dating around” (or really being single) in between. And while some of my relationships have been amazing, there are others that I can say without a doubt were incredibly poor decisions, rife with bullshit and low self-esteem. Some aspects were so detrimental that I am still dealing with fallout, nearly a decade later.
As I read these other 43Ters’ entries, I am remembering one humdinger of a shithole relationship I put myself through. The worst part of the whole thing was tt was the uncertainty, the feeling of never being good enough, the idea that I was so close to being loved but I was screwing it up somehow, and it was my fault that love wasn’t forthcoming. And even when I did feel loved and cared for, it was always on the very tenuous conditions that he set forth, with the very real fear that falling outside those conditions (failing) would result in affection being withdrawn. Inherent in every single interaction was an undercurrent of fear that I am unlovable, and what if no one else will ever want me again.
And the worst part is that I remember feeling like that was NORMAL. Like the people who didn’t live like that, they just weren’t doing things the way we were. I remember being surprised at the way some of my female friends talked to their boyfriends, expressing OPINIONS and DISAGREEING, and their boyfriends didn’t leave them! It was madness!
Yeah, that was some absolute bullshit. It’s going to take me a long time to be done with being angry about that one. A LONG time. (It doesn’t help that as soon as I got out from under five years of that, I ran straight into a year of something that was, if possible, even more fucked.)
I bring all this up because it is such stark contrast to the life I currently live with The Man. Maybe it’s because I’m older and have higher self-esteem, maybe it’s because I am less willing to put up with bullshit, or maybe it’s because I’m dating a grown-ass man who has a handle on his emotions and who I trust to be honest with me.
But with The Man, I cannot remember EVER having been in doubt that I am loved. Not since the first time he said it.
Of course, we’ve had fights. I’ve gotten spitting, ready-to-throw-things mad at him. And I am still insecure about so very many things in my life. But he has never done anything that caused me to question whether or not I am important to him. Even more than that, he has never made any kind of noise to indicate that his love is conditional, predicated solely on my behavior and therefore my responsibility. Quite the opposite; in a thousand little ways, he shows me that I am loved, every single day of my life.
There is a bone-deep security in that knowledge. There is an unparalleled, glorious freedom in knowing that one disagreement is not going to result in abandonment. And I appreciate all of this so much more, because I have been on the other side of it, and I will never go back there.
I want to believe that I can keep that warm core of our relationship, that absolute certainty of the other’s love, throughout our marriage. I don’t doubt that there will be some massively difficult, trying times. If shit goes pear-shaped and it all falls apart, then it happens. So many relationships deteriorate from simple lack of honesty and communication, and he and I are both incredibly aware of that fact. I want to be able to maintain that same level of balls-to-the-wall truth, because when that’s done, then your foundation is cracked and anything else built up there is just a disaster waiting to happen.
I am incredibly grateful for him, and for the experiences I have had that let me appreciate how amazing he is. 8 months ago