Apparently, I'm going through something. And...I need to write about it. Hence the more consistent posts as of late. This little post is a bit sad with a happy ending.
If you've been around a while, you'll know that I've probably written about this before. But I don't remember, and I don't think I went into the details. It's gonna hurt a little to do so.
In our first year of marriage, we went through the pain of losing three people close to our hearts. For my husband, he lost his grandfather on Christmas Eve. He died of cancer. A short 2.5 months after we married. In January of that same year, he lost his father. He died of a very rare, very debilitating, terminal disease. In August of that same year, we found out that my grandmother, whom I spoke to on a near-daily basis, was handed a six-month death sentence. She'd been diagnosed with lung cancer early in the summer but we didn't know what kind. She died in September of that year, just a few weeks short of our first anniversary.
Given the magnitude of the pain and loss experienced within that first year of marriage, we were nothing short of a mess. And when I say mess, I mean neither one of us knew how to handle our own pain, which led to an inability to provide any kind of support to the other. For my husband, he carried a lot of guilt for not going home more and other things that aren't my story to tell.
For myself, I felt the world shake beneath me. The foundation I had come to rely on had cracked and shifted and left me navigating a very tenuous landscape with the hopes that I wouldn't stumble and fall through those cracks.
Things escalated. Our treatment of each other was nothing short of abominable. We didn't talk. We yelled. We didn't try to understand the other person's pain; we were too wrapped up in our own pain. Our own fears, guilt, and suffering. So as we moved into our second year of marriage, things got worse until everything finally came to a head, so to speak.
I wanted out. I admit that it was me who wanted out. I was hurting, and when I hurt, I withdraw. I rebuilt all the walls he had once forged through. And I became a shell. I didn't care about anything or anyone. And I certainly couldn't love anyone, including my husband. After over hearing a conversation, he confronted me, and I told him. I admitted those very ugly words that I often wish I had never said: I don't love you. He asked if I wanted a divorce. But that's so final, and I didn't want to fail. I wanted out, but I wanted to be able to comfort myself with the knowledge that I had tried everything to save my marriage. So I did what any "sane" person would do and responded with: I'm willing to try marriage counseling. It didn't go over well.
Eventually, he came to me and said he'd try. And so off we went to see a marriage counselor. We only went a few times, but what it did was force us to speak to each other. Not through anger or hurt. Just to talk. To communicate. It created a bridge by which we could meet in the middle and discuss things on neutral terms. Don't be mistaken. We didn't do a whole lot of "discussing" in our sessions. It was after that. In the evenings over a few beers. The lines opened up and healing began.
I still wasn't sure I wanted to stay, so when I got an opportunity for an internship five hours away, I took it. Nearly every weekend, my husband made the long five hour drive to spend no more than a day and a half with me. He told me he loved me. He waited for a response. I said I was trying. When I came back, things were still hard, but we were on the road to recovering. We were moving out of the very dark place we had inhabited for well over a year and were entering a brighter phase, albeit cloudy. The storm was beginning to pass. And pass it did.
There came a point when I realized that I loved him wholly and always had. That I had been the one to get lost in my own hurt and pain. That he was the better part of me and that I was so fortunate to have someone who loved me so much. With everything he had.
I won't say that we haven't had any problems since. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. But all of those things pale in comparison to what we experienced in those first two years. And the fact that we made it through is nothing short of a miracle. And one I'm thankful for every day of my life. Through any other hard times we've experienced, the knowledge and conviction of my love for this man has never wavered. I know that no matter what comes our way and what our future holds, I will always love him. And I will always want him to a part of my world.
Lately, I reflected on this very dark event in our past, and I realized something with such stark clarity that it was shocking. And everything made sense. You see, I never had anyone put as much work into me as he did. My mother gave me up to my grandparents when I was just a little girl. She took me back, yes, but the knowledge that she signed her rights away will always be with me. My father had the opportunity to spend time with me during that same point in my life. And after just a few visits, he disappeared. I didn't find him until just before I married. My grandparents sent me back to my mother when I was thirteen, stating that I was unhappy and that I was too much like my mother. And when I moved out, not a single person stood by my side to understand why I had to leave. My family took my mother's word for the events that led up to my leaving the nest. And it hurt.
It's true that my grandmother and I mended our bridges and became very close. It's true that as I entered adulthood, I began to understand some of the decisions she made and I accepted some of her apologies. But the pain you feel as a child. The pain you feel when no one seems to want you or trust you when you're a child stays with you no matter how many explanations or truths come out when you're an adult. And because of that, I was hardened early on. And I was unwilling to get hurt. I refused to be the one left again.
My husband did something very special. He didn't give up on me. He didn't allow me to run away in an effort to avoid pain. Even though I caused him a great deal of heartache, his love for me stayed true and he refused to give up on me. No one in my entire life had ever done that. No one had ever shown me that no matter how hard I pushed, they would still love me. No one ever made me feel worth it. Like I not only deserved their love, but I had it no matter what.
I've grown up with the knowledge and expectation that love is a fickle thing. That it can be turned on or off at whim. My husband's love for me is far from fickle. In my worst state, he stood by me the best way he knew how and he fought for me. He didn't leave me because I wasn't meeting his expectations. He wasn't scared off by my own painful words and actions. He was in for the long haul. And he was unwilling to let me go.
He doesn't read this blog. And I likely won't tell him about these things. So he may never know what kind of gift he bestowed upon me through that dark time. He may never know how he turned my life around. How he saved me. But to him, I am truly grateful. I am beyond lucky to have someone in my life that loves me so much, and that's something I will always carry with me. And because of that action, he has made me a better person. He has made me realize that I deserve to be loved and that I am worth loving.