Last week, Craig and I had a "thing". Rarely do we disagree, and this wasn't so much a disagreement, or a fight - this was him saying something that hurt my feelings.
And bless this man; he is marrying one of the most sensitive women of all time ever, ever, ever.
He hurt my feelings.
And I cried because that's what I like to do.
And then, he apologized. Clearly. Candidly. Without any kind of "but" afterwards. Just a heartfelt apology, and he was forgiven.
I tell you that not to out Craig for a misstep - Lord knows I make them, too. I tell you that because I want you to know that we are not perfect.
I highlight a lot of our good here and on Facebook. I tell you guys a lot of what we're doing right. I talk about how much I love him. I talk about how well he loves me. I talk about how we're not sure how to walk through this life, but we've promised to work at it every day ... together.
Years ago, we were both on the couch. We both had lived through particularly difficult weeks, and he had just gotten to my house. We sat together, my head on his shoulder. It was dark - I hadn't bothered to turn lights on after the sun went down. And it was blessedly quiet.
Awhile ago, I read something --
"Talk about your past so that your future knows how to love you better."
That's what we did that night. Our voices low, caressing over the broken pieces of our hearts.
There are two things that I believe - down deep in my chest - that have made Craig and I successful at this Love Even After The Fire business.
1) Talking in the dark.
2) Patience for the words.
When you shut the lights off, and when you wait for the other person to work through their thoughts - some kind of magical bridge builds.
I told him that night that I needed someone capable. Someone that could make a decision. Someone that could lead a family. Someone that could call me out on my bullshit, but still cheer louder than anyone else for me. And ... I need someone to not yell when we fight (a definite non-negotiable).
Quietly, I whispered to him what I needed in order for us to stick together. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in my life had I whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
Lowly, his lips next to my ear, he whispered what he needed. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in his life had he whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
This is not rocket science.
This is an autopsy. This is an exhumation. This is looking desperately at what went wrong in The Before in order to live more freely and fully in The After.
It takes a fair amount of courage because you're admitting defeat and fault and failure to someone else. You're giving someone else some kind of intimate gift.
Months ago, someone I don't know very well took aim at me and Craig.
[Aside: What a weird thing to get bent out of shape about, right? How weird is it to get worked up over someone else's relationship?]
Anyway. Someone picked up their pointy finger and shoved it right at us.
YOU AREN'T PERFECT, they shouted. YOU'RE LEADING PEOPLE ON, they continued. YOU'RE NOT BEING HONEST, they accused.
And I was stunned.
Maybe they're right.
I'm not perfect. And it is SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how Craig smiles when he makes breakfast for us, or how he picks up my bobby pins and puts them away, or how he looks at me when we dance in the kitchen (also, just that he dances in the kitchen to begin with). It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how it feels to know someone is standing behind you pushing, and pushing, and pushing you to step into the person you've always been. It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about his patience or his faith in us.
You know what isn't easy?
What isn't easy is talking about how Craig calls on his way home after going out with his friends. "Babe," he says, "Are you still awake?" No. I'm normally not. "Okay, I'm just letting you know I'm on my way home. I love you." It's a habit that started in the beginning. It's a habit that started in the beginning when we sat down in the dark one night, and he had patience with me as I tried to talk about the heavy.
It's not easy to talk about how he calls because he knows that I'm inherently uneasy. He knows how quickly it will sneak up on me, how quickly my uncertainty comes back. It's not easy to talk about his friends that are women, and it's not easy to talk about how The Before rushes back in a second.
I suppose that - deep down - I'd rather talk about the light. I'd rather talk about how we have walked through the damn fire. I'd rather talk about how good the other side feels. I'd rather talk about how warm his hands are. I'd rather talk about the bucket list in my heart that is labeled Five Years, Ten Years, Twenty Years From Now. I'd rather talk about how good the sunshine feels on my face when he takes me for an afternoon drive.
No - I don't like spending time talking about the hard.
I lived it.
I was there.
I saw it.
I survived the long days and the unending nights.
I mean ... I guess I could tell you about the time I ordered Craig to pick up the towels off of the bathroom floor, and I could talk about how well that went over (it didn't).
But I'd rather talk about how I've complained about planter fasciitis for months now, so Craig bought me new shoes for my birthday.
I'd rather talk about how he gave me my favorite sharpies with his last name taped on each one with a sticker.
I'd rather talk about how I found out my cousin died on a Sunday, and I'd rather talk about how his palm was warm in my hand ... about how his reassurance was unwavering. I'd rather talk about how he was a pillar.
I'd rather talk about the other side.
I'd rather talk about the hope.
I've learned a lot in the last five years. One of the biggest things? I'm not about to apologize for the person I've become.
Not for the tears I cry when my feelings are hurt.
Not for the rose-colored glasses permanently on my face.
Not for the way I love Craig, or for the way he loves me.
Not for the way I write about the light.
Not for one single damn thing.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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