I am not afraid to be alone. I never was.
I was never looking to get married. Having been raised by a single mother, independence made pretty good sense to me and I thought I was darn good at it. I was smart and resourceful, driven in my career, and had good friends all before Tony and I got together. I was not looking for a man, or anyone for that matter, to complete me. When he came along, however, I never wanted to be without him again! It wasn’t as if he filled some hole that had been empty. It wasn’t as if I’d finally found someone I’d been looking for. I wasn’t looking for him. But, when he appeared in front of me, he was suddenly the only one I’d ever wanted. He was better than I could have hoped for, if I’d ever let myself hope for him at all.
Now that we have been living this life together, discovering new things, discovering each other, I look back on my independence and I have to laugh. Before I met Tony, I was convinced that the only trustworthy person out there, the only person that wouldn’t let me down, was me. Even then, I let myself down plenty of times, but at least I wasn’t putting my trust into anyone else. I still have that tendency. I find myself surprised when people do what they say they will do, and not really disappointed when they don’t. You probably don’t need a psychology degree to determine that I didn’t have a safe and secure childhood, or that there wasn’t a lot of “attachment” modeled for me. Appropriate affection was rare and isolation was the norm. But, this new life I have with a family of my own looks entirely differently. My husband is worthy of trust, and I am reminded of that over and over again.
Just this morning, I sat in my room and cried, overwhelmed with how very much I have and how very afraid I am that I won’t always have it. My sweet three year old came in, took one look at me, and asked if she could give me a hug. “Do you need a little towel for your tears, Momma? I’ll get you one. What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” I am embarrassed and so proud at the same time. Embarassed of my own emotions, and so proud of the empathetic little girl God has given me. She looks at me with her big soft brown eyes as if I can tell her why I am crying. I just shrug my shoulders and tell her I love her. I want to chalk the whole thing up to the fact that I am seven months pregnant. I can’t tell my sweet daughter that I am so scared. I can’t tell her that I am sitting in this chair facing a truth I often avoid.
The truth is that I know this #staymarried blog, no, this #staymarried life, is more than I am capable of. The truth is that, even coming up on the one year anniversary of starting this blog, I know I am an amateur and not qualified to be giving anyone advice on marriage, or anything else for that matter. The truth is that I research and write out of the fear that my own marriage will fail. I am afraid that this safe place that I have finally come to know will crumble right underneath me. I am afraid that, because I am not worthy of this beautiful family, that I will not get to keep it. Worse, that I will somehow sabotage it myself. I write because the life I have is too good to be true, so much so that I can hardly believe it.
When I let the fear in the way that I have been, there are no words that comfort. There is not a person on earth that can give me any kind of guarantee on the future, a promise that it won’t all go away. Yes, I write out of fear and I want so badly to temper that fear with hope. Because, while there are no certainties, hope does not rely on anything concrete. Hope is the belief in a better future, and nobody can ever really know the future. Hope is all I have.
I’m feeling vulnerable, and in that place, I’m remembering the words of Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. She says:
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them.
Just thinking of the word “vulnerable” makes me feel queasy. But that is what marriage is, isn’t it? Isn’t it two people fully giving themselves over to one another? I know I want all of Tony, I don’t want him to hold anything back from me. I know he wants all of me. What we want is not a 50/50 partnership where each person protects their own interests. What we really want is an all-in, holding hands and leaping together with our eyes closed adventure.
C.S. Lewis put it more succinctly when he said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” I want the love without the brokenness. I want the reward without the risk.
I realize I will never fully grasp why people that once considered each other soulmates grow apart. I get that a life lived well is full of risk, and that continues to make me uncomfortable. This love, this security, this safety I’ve found in my marriage is absolutely a risk. It makes me vulnerable as I hand my heart over to another person day after day. Today I am letting the fear in if only to remind myself of how very precious my marriage is. I am allowing the fear to be big in my heart so that I don’t take my husband and my children for granted. I will lean in to the hope that I believe we all have, at all costs of insecurity, to #staymarried.
P.S. Brene Brown’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is well worth the 20 minutes. You can watch it here: