You’re missing

 

With three kids, a ridiculously exacting full-time job, and a thousand other demands on her attention, Jersey girl rarely finds the time to do what she does so very well; write. When she does, she blows me away every single time. It should be very clear just from reading this piece why I love her so.

Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you’re missing, you’re missing
You’re missing when I shut out the lights
You’re missing, when I close my eyes
You’re missing, when I see the sun rise
You’re missing

One would think that after years of long distance comings and goings, that it would become a part of the routine. That the condensed and intense periods of constant togetherness followed by months of separation would set a rhythm that we would adjust to. We’ve done this for over 3 years now. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember before we met physically for the first time, I said that I just wanted one opportunity to be with you in the same space. If I could just have that, I could feel complete. I believed it too.  I certainly underestimated the strength of my emotions and I was blindsided by the instant bond between us the very first time I put my arms around you in that airport. You were the most familiar and intimate complete stranger I had ever met.  We’ve always said we fell in love from the inside out. Never did I feel it more than in that moment.

While I do believe that it is true that 2 people do not have to be in the same place to be in love, I also have to acknowledge that it is a very important part of the whole of any relationship.  It’s the part where we learn the most important things about someone. Smells, tastes, touch, facial expressions, body language – they are the unspoken truths about ourselves.  Those are the things we can’t fake and we can’t hide from.  We can hide behind words.  We can say what someone wants to hear or refrain from saying things that might hurt someone.  We can’t conceal our reactions in the nonverbal world.

I did not anticipate how hard it would be for me to let down my physical guard. You saw it in my initial reaction to you. I was terrified.  There is a lot of heavily guarded baggage behind my flesh and bone exterior. Yet you did it. You knew my mind and my heart so well that you did the thing no one else could.  Over the years, we’ve chipped away at the facade. Now my mind, body, and soul are all in balance with you. It’s something I’ve never had in my life, so it feels particularly cruel that the physical element isn’t always possible. I remind myself that the long stretches of time in between visits was and is necessary. I could not have made the necessary changes to get us where we are without them.  Real intimacy does not happen quickly, and I’ve learned along the way that very few people ever experience it at all.  We all try to get to it, but it requires an honesty about ourselves that most simply cannot accept.

I remember in the beginning, you used to exasperate me with endless questions. There were things about me that didn’t make sense.  Inconsistencies between my words and my actions. You always made me account for them. Every time.  Without exception.  It was an inside joke between us…”Oh – you’ll go there.”  No matter how uncomfortable or how much time it took. I didn’t understand it then, but during that time we built the foundation for what we have now. And we will continue to build it. I will never take it for granted because I know that I will never find this again in this world.

As I put the final papers in this morning for the visa application that will allow us to be together for the rest of our lives, it hit me. I understand, for the very first time, the sacredness of marriage. I know what it feels like to have no doubt and to know that we are both 100% committed to each other no matter what this life has in store.  The experience to get here was hard for a reason. It was hard because, for you, I was willing to do all of the things I wouldn’t do for any other person.  For you, I put aside my fear and my ego because it was necessary to have this love in my life. To have you as my husband and my partner in this world, there is no sacrifice too great. I love you. Always.

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Jersey girl

The one thing I’ve felt has been missing from this blog is Jersey girl’s perspective. I have asked her to write some posts and she has promised to do so when her busy work schedule allows. In the meantime, I will post some of her past writings that I think may help illuminate some of my own. I have recently written, for instance, about the relationship that ended as ours was beginning. Here is Jersey’s view which comes from a point in space much closer to the center of that particular maelstrom. 

On the absence of a Drowning…An Open Letter to Those who Would Have Preferred That I Had Failed

Jersey girl

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I did not drown and I did not fail.  Somehow that disappoints you.  It’s always a surprise when something you have felt in your gut all along turns out to be true – not because it is unexpected, but rather because in your mind you’ve told yourself that there is no way it could possibly be a reality.  It couldn’t be real because it would negate so much of what you believed about your life and the people you allowed to be a part of it.  Yet here I am… reading an email from a person who was a part of my life for 15 years.  And it hits me hard and sharp.  This person didn’t care about me for a single day or a single minute.

If you truly love a  person – really and truly love them, then you find a way to work through the difficult times.  You work and you find a way to redefine a relationship as it takes on a new form.  Maybe a romantic relationship needs to become platonic, or maybe a close friendship requires a bit of a distancing, or maybe two people simply need to go their separate ways – whatever the case, if you care about a person, then you respect them enough to let them do what they need to do to become who they are meant to be.  That is what love is.

There is a song I think of that describes the act of letting go in such a raw and gritty way that you can’t help but feel uncomfortable listening to it. And that is why I love it. These two people were a couple and it ended in a spectacular disaster.  Yet the creation of this piece of music justifies the entire relationship. As long as one positive and beautiful thing comes out of any union, then it served a purpose. Acknowledge and celebrate that purpose – and then move on.

My open letter begins there.  It certainly does not end there.  I prefer to let the ending write itself. I will not sit here and say that I am a victim.  I am not.  I fully accept the role I played in this relationship.  I also celebrate the accomplishments of this union. Along the way, we affected others; others who did not have a voice.  I represent those individuals.  Those people are the ones I think about first every morning.  They are also the ones I think about as I go to bed each night.  That being said, I sleep soundly.  I can because I know that despite all the challenges I have faced in my lifetime, my conscience is clear.  I have been true to myself.  In doing so, I know that I can be 100% honest going forward.

So while I read the words you choose to send me, I ask the same of you… when you write these things, are you putting your accomplishments ahead of your failures?  Do you truly believe that you put your own petty grievances aside to act in the best interest of those you represent?  I won’t answer that question for you; your actions will do that.  View your actions through my eyes – the eyes of someone who may have failed you personally, but someone who loves and cherishes the things we did accomplish together.  How do you feel?  Anger aside – how do you really feel?

I came into our relationship with baggage.  Baggage that you were not equipped  to deal with.  Circumstance threw us together – not love.  We both agreed to try.  I gave what I had available within the context of my experiences.  When it became clear to me that I could no longer live the way I was living for another minute, I made a choice.  We were either going to drown together under the weight of the irreconcilable differences that existed between us or we were going to cut the cord that bound us and at least give each other the opportunity to get back to the surface.

So I did what needed to be done for both of us whether you realize it or not.  And we both swam.  We both made it back.  We arrived on very different shores; shores that finally made more sense and offered us a way to start over.  For that, I am more grateful than you will ever know.

I have always wished you well, even if you don’t want to see that.  So I ask the same in return.  Wishing and hoping for my failure to somehow punish me because you did not approve or agree with my choices helps no one.  I never want to go back to the place I came from.  For the first time in 43 years, I am alive.  I have finally figured out what makes me happy and what feels right in terms of how I choose to live.

I wake up every morning now knowing I am on my way and that I have truly moved mountains to get here.  The beneficiaries of this new-found confidence and a much brighter spirit are the individuals we created together.  They are going to have a much brighter future because I have a much brighter future.  That is what you don’t seem to understand.

Wishing that I might fall flat on my face or sink and drown through failure is selfish.  It doesn’t hurt me.  It hurts those we are here to nurture and protect.  It is a waste of energy.  I will not fail because I can’t.  So while I have spent the last year watching two people I thought had at least loved me at one time join together, working in tandem to keep my head underwater in an effort to force me to be something I am not, I begin to get it.  You did succeed on some level.  By trying to force me to go back to the thing I was before, by trying to take away the things I needed to survive, you forced me to make a decision.  I let go.

I let go of the illusion of the person you thought I was.  I left that persona behind and surfaced elsewhere, and you never even knew.  So if you actually take a moment to look down at the thing you thought was me in the water, you will finally get it.  I was never there in the first place.  Your efforts were wasted.  If you examine the corpse, it is your own.  You were always fighting with your own projection.

There are things about me you will never understand.  You’re not meant to.  Those things were never a part of our story.  We were together because I chose to recreate a pattern I had known my entire life.  The lesson I needed to learn was how to break that pattern.  I lived a life in a state of suspended animation. I was taught to never acknowledge or react to pain, anger, happiness or even terror unless I had permission to do so.  I was easily controlled and manipulated.  To the outside world, I was a certain person.  The trouble was, internally I was someone else – someone I was never allowed to become until now.  I never thought I had a choice.  But I did.  I learned that from the people we brought into the world.

What I saw was that I had one experience growing up.

The people who brought me into the world kept me in a sealed jar.  Any attempts at autonomy or self-expression or rebellion were met with the tightening of that lid and the cutting off of the small amounts of oxygen I was allowed.  Attempts to confront were cause for removal of the minuscule amounts of affection I was shown.  There was a very clear understanding both within my psyche and in the real world that veering off course, even by a small amount, from the path that had been set for me would not be tolerated at all.

I vowed that the people I loved would never be forced to live that way.  I promised myself that they would always be allowed to have their own thoughts and opinions; that we could disagree about anything and everything, and when that happened they would never fear for a single moment that I would stop loving them or expel them from my life.

I have kept that promise.  I will always love and accept them in whatever form they chose to become, even when I disagree or I am angry or upset by their choices.  Their lives are not mine to control.  Respecting the wishes and the boundaries of those we love is not optional – they are required as a condition of loving another person.  I will love them fiercely and protect them at all costs.  In doing so, I show you that I love you.  I ask the same in return.

Underwater You are not who you are when you are above the water. You are who you are when you return back to the ocean and you remember what it felt like when you saw the sky.
~Robert M Drake