Hear ye, hear ye

I’m getting married.

You hear me? Married. MARRIED!

I’m not sure I ever really believed I’d do such a thing.

Once upon a time I was in high school when marriage was entirely abstract and I had dreams about Husbands and Children but in reality I knew I had to go to college and do some other shit first so it was a nice thought but nothing too pressing.

And then some boys told me they loved me but mostly they didn’t mean it. And that’s totally fine.

And then one time I got knocked up and went around telling my family (and myself) that I was going to get married to the man whose child I was having, even though he hadn’t asked me to or ever actually exhibited any interest in doing such a thing. I told my folks that so they wouldn’t freak out so much over the whole unwed mother thing. And to soothe my own aching heart, which wanted so badly to believe that I was intentionally building a cozy family life, starting right there in my uterus and branching out to the people around me.

Didn’t happen. And that’s perfectly fine too.

None of that made any sense until I met the man I was meant to marry.

Love came to me out of nowhere. I had tried to remain open to love after a period of feeling completely deflated and unworthy, in a relationship where we didn’t care much for each other at all and resentments built up and curdled like cups of milk left in the sun. Insanely, wonderfully, I did not even have to wait that long or try that hard to be loved once I freed myself from that toxic relationship. It makes no sense to me. It blows my mind. I’m so grateful. I left the bad shit behind and got out on my own and this lil dude came along right away, all funny and real and sincere and woke and smart and handsome and kind, so insanely kind, and he was over here crooning and playing guitar too. He was perfect in every way for me and instead of making me guess about his heart, he let me in and let me love him. And he loved me back, no reservations. I was guarded at first and tried not to fall too hard but we both got stuck on each other real fast. Hot damn.

I knew early that the thing we had was special. At the time I was trying to sit on it so as to not show all my cards but it did not take long for me to understand that our chemistry was rare. We didn’t have to try too hard; it was just ridiculously easy to love each other in ways big and small. I’ve never had a man look at me and be totally delighted by all the shades of my ridiculousness. His kindness, encouragement, empathy and understanding: I knew six months in that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’m not sure when he came to that conclusion. I’m honestly not sure how I’ve convinced him to do this crazy thing with me; I sincerely do not feel worthy.

A hundred other dudes would have been weirded out by the fact that I have a 5-year-old. This one made it his mission to build something meaningful with my son. Something not superficial. I watch them together and am awed by how quickly they’ve built a bond. Mom is usually pretty serious but Richard goofs around and wrestles and plays mucsic and buys water guns. When Holden and I FaceTime when he’s at his dad’s house, he always asks where Richard is.

It’s not always easy, the life we are living, but my heart feels swollen and full most of the time.

I am eaten up with gratitude and so crazy excited to make this thing official. I’ve waited a long time to pair up with someone who I feel is an equal partner.

I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us.

Pre-nuptial rumination

It’s hard to think about without wincing but sometimes my mind wanders and I think of the stupid things I’ve done to get men to love me.

How I’ve shushed that voice inside me that protested. How I’ve talked my way around it. How I knew going in that it was a bad idea but how I convinced myself that no matter what at least I’d get a good story out of it. It’s always worth the story, right? Yeah, sure, may be. But you don’t just carry the story with you and break it out at parties and then put it back in its case and back on a shelf until the next time you need it. You carry the shame too, and that shame will creep up on you and buckle your knees in the shower or in long walks across parking lots when your mind wanders. Is it still worth the story then? Yeah, sure. May be.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who came after me like a bull running toward a billowing red flag. That’s how it felt to me. It was exhilarating. He must have smelled the sadness on me, a bloodhound hunting the lovesick. He made me his mark and he must have known I’d think it felt so nice to be marked that I would go along with what was a very bad and very hurtful plan for everyone involved. He must have known. He must have laughed to himself at how easy it was. Maybe he did.

Maybe not.

There was this one man who spent many of his waking hours and of some his sleeping hours radiating a disdain for me that was palpable. You could walk into a room and feel it. I could walk into a room and feel it. He told me when I confessed my unhappiness that we had made our bed and even though we weren’t happy, we needed to lie in it. Forever. Because that was the right thing to do. I imagined myself dying a withered and dried-up husk of a person. Sometimes I think about what life would be like had I stayed and lived out my life pushing that boulder up the hill. The thought errors out every time. It cuts to a “footage not found” screen. Maybe that man would have grown to love and respect me with time.

Maybe not.

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I’m thinking about these things a lot lately because of how so many of my past relationships contrast so sharply with the relationship I have with the man I am going to marry. All that time I spent positioning myself so that I could lap up crumbs of an aloof man’s affection; what was I thinking? Who was I? Why was I so sure that I had to settle for whatever I could get at that moment because it was pretty unlikely that I’d ever find more? Why did I need to self-loathing to play out externally as a relationship with another person? What did I actually learn from any of that, other than don’t do that again, dummy?

I’m under no illusions that marriage will be easy. But to be stepping into it with someone who has never once made me question my self-worth feels like a revelation, a sunrise, a new notebook, a popped cork. There is magic and comfort there, with room to grow and without fear.

It’s exactly what I have been pining for my whole life.

Love is friendship on fire

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“Love is friendship on fire.” I read that somewhere once, many years ago. Actually, I read the French translation, “L’amour est l’amitie sur le feu,” and thought it sounded so wonderful that I jotted it down and kept it in my metaphorical pocket. It sounded nice, like something I’d like to try some day.

I was right.

Through some magical combination of dumb luck and brilliant dating-site algorithms, I now get to spend my life building a family and having adventures with my best friend. He’s patient, kind, handsome, hilarious, sincere, soulful, silly, thoughtful, supportive, smart, creative, and generous. He has been by my side through the toughest year-and-a-half of my life. He can clap louder than anyone you’ve ever met. He loves Holden so much it makes my heart ache. He makes me want to be a better person every day.

Lately I’ve tried to keep my mushy, sentimental ramblings off the internet, but listen up: Life is too short to be coy about how important love is. Loving and being loved is revolutionary. It’s the only thing that matters.

So, in a few months, I am going to marry my soul mate. We’ll have our whole lives to fan the flames.

The difference

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My mom said something to me a few months ago, right after I had made the leap to move into my own place and try to start a new, better life.

She said, “Linz, you don’t know what it’s like to have a man love you. You’ve not had it yet. When it happens, though, you’ll know it.” She said it with frustration. Not toward me, but toward all the men in the world who’ve hurt her baby girl.

And at the time it was sort of like Ouch, Mom, but I knew what she meant.

And she was right.

I had no idea what it was like to feel completely comfortable in my own skin while in a relationship. To feel my own agency and worth but to want constantly to be a better person, a better partner, because I want to make his life better too. The feeling of being a team.

Not to say insecurity isn’t always there, creeping around and poking its head in periodically. But to live without the constant drumbeat of anxiety and instead have it replaced by a safety net of love and acceptance? Incredible.

I am grateful.

L&H

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You probably would expect to see a tumbleweed roll through here before you’d expect to see an actual, substantive post from me. That’s fair.

However, I want to stop and take note of something. It’s this weird feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. I almost hesitate to acknowledge it publicly for fear that speaking it to the Universe will prompt its evaporation. Poof. Gone just as quickly as it appeared. But I’m going to chance it, because I want to give thanks for the two things I’ve been feeling a lot of lately:

Love and happiness.

This year has been brutal in many ways and the hard stuff isn’t over yet. It probably won’t be for a while. But I have lucked out and landed myself some unexpected good stuff too, somehow. Stuff I haven’t felt in a long, long time and in some cases at all. So I want to keep it to myself and hide it under a blanket so no one will take it away from me. Selfish? So be it.

Let me savor this, after years of starving.

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Current status

Mere minutes from noon. I’ve finished my breakfast — scrambled eggs (with gouda!) and biscuits and coffee. I only get a few cups a week so I’ve decided to have them at home, where we use a grinder and a French press. I don’t care if it’s pretentious; it tastes infinitely better than the reheated Maxwell House sludge I end up with at work.

Been feeling pretty crummy lately in the head region. Of course the ultrasound business has me skating on a quiet baseline of dread, but other things seem to be nipping at my heels a little more than usual, and I’ve found myself sinking to the floor here and again, having little gulping breakdowns no one ever notices. My family is drama-laden lately: My sister is barely speaking to my parents and there seems to be inexplicable animosity growing for reasons I can only guess at. Seems like this happens every few years and I don’t know why, but it breaks my heart all the same. It made for a tense visit a couple of weeks ago when I had to beg my sister and nephews to come participate in the big news about the baby boy. It was still kind of awkward but we made it. Mom has plenty of bad days and Dad is working all the time, in 12-hour shifts on the night side. Their house is overrun with pissing dogs. Age is taking its toll on everyone and I find myself wishing I’d had a baby years ago before everyone got so worn out.

At home, I’m living on what feels like an emotional island.

So many things just seem broken lately.