To my dear husband,
I have been thinking about my ex-boyfriends. And when I do, I allow myself to also imagine how life would have been like if I had ended up with either of them. Such musings usually occur once a year, sometime before October, when I celebrate my wedding anniversary. This year was no different.
To this day, I feel I have been very blessed to have shared love with these two other guys, none of which have abused me or let me down. Of course there were hurt feelings and plenty of anger and pain when things fell apart with them, but they are both good men who deserve the happiness they have found. And they will always be the first men to have really taught me just how far my heart can stretch, how deep love can be, and how a heart – my heart – can be both fragile as glass and tough as steel.
Preparing me for you.
At the times when I think about my exes, there is still a part of me that aches. I believe that once you have ever truly given a piece of your heart away, that piece remains with the one it’s been gifted to, never to return to you, forever missing from you. And so it is that I still hurt when I hear certain songs that remind me of them, or remind me of that quality… or sentiment… I had shared with them.
I think about how someday, when I’m really, really old, I might like to get in touch with them again, the way I would want to reconnect with some people whose paths have crossed with mine. If I miss old friends, why wouldn’t I miss the two who have once been the ones I held closest to my heart?
But these thoughts only happen when our anniversary nears… and usually, thinking about them and then missing them, and then wondering about how my life would probably be quite different with either one of them… only leads me to the realisation – all over again – that I am exactly where I should be. With you.
If I had ended up with either of them, I would have been a real taitai with one, but he and I would never agree on how we appreciate those luxuries, much less to delight in them, like you and I will… with the other, the one who was my angel and brought me to Church, well, he would never have accepted me the way you do – completely, entirely, fully.
(And I am fully aware that I am quite a lot to take.)
It’s amazing how different everything was when I was younger. Adapting was easier, loving fiercely and passionately just a part of who I was. I could be open and vulnerable, and be happy about it… but as the years go by, I find myself more guarded, knowing the pain that lies in ambush is just around the corner should I not be careful with my heart.
My dear husband, how have I shortchanged you?
I have an ideal of who I want to be as a person, a mother and a wife. Most days, I fall very short of that ideal. And somedays, I think there is a lot to change in me while other days, I think this could be it – that this could be all that I am, and who I really am, and that while I may be able to improve on the rough edges, I would never be anything truly different. I think I get by most days by resting somewhere in between the two states of mind.
So again, my dear husband, how have I shortchanged you?
Sometimes, I think about how I wish you had met me when I was younger and more carefree… perfect for the life of adventure you want. If you had met me when I was more fearless, we would have lived our everyday completely without having a single regard for tomorrow… and if you had met me when I was simple and loving, you would never have to deal with my tantrums and anger.
And then I realise that if you had met me then, I might have been the girlfriend you wanted, but probably not the wife, or even a long-term partner, you would want to keep. Those were also the years when I was plagued with the deepest insecurities and uncertainties, not to mention being needy and incomplete as a person. I had no anger then, but I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my old soul – I would have smothered your positive spirit through and through! I was simple, but I held on to every single thing like it made such a big difference in my life.
No wonder things didn’t work out with the other two!
And thank God they didn’t.
Well, it’s not like everyday is all sunshine and rainbows now. We had some pretty rough years straight after we got married. I attribute that to the challenges of losing my dad, not having a home to return to, and then having our Matthew arrive suddenly. Those years were really tough, and it scares me to realise how dangerously close we had come to calling it quits.
So recently, I had shared an article on Facebook about a couple who had been together for a decade before the guy proposed and the woman said “yes”, but not before they had caused some laughs among their families present when they clarified that the marriage “doesn’t mean we have to move in together right?” – “Oh God, no!”
They each have children of their own from previous marriages, and together they have a son who has Down Syndrome, if I remember correctly. And so they stayed that way, married but apart.
I had not even realised that such an arrangement was a possibility. In my mind, marriage equals moving in together, unless circumstances prevent that, of course. Now, I personally don’t agree with not staying together (let’s just put it this way, if you have to relocate for work, I’m shipping the whole family there if I have a choice). But I admire that that couple know exactly who they are, and are making it work for them, instead of choosing to end the love because they didn’t fit in with convention.
This doesn’t even offend my Catholic sensibilities. If anything, it gave me another of those “wow” moments at just how wise our Church is. Nowhere in our vows does it state that we must live together, just as nowhere in Church doctrine does it state that we need to pray everyday. (Or Else.)
Love. That’s at the least what we are called to do. We love to the best of what we can. We strive towards the ideal that the Church preaches because we believe She alone has the “full deposit of truth” necessary to help us reach our fullest potential as an individual human person. And for those of us who know what that ideal is, we strive towards living out those ideals “for better or for worse”, under the same roof, in the same bed. The rest who don’t agree with this ideal, make the best out of their interpretation and understanding of the same vows.
So I ‘liked’ this article on Facebook, and eagerly showed it to you when you got home from work. You said, “wow” and ‘liked’ it too.
And that reminded me all over again, why I am exactly where I should be, next to the only right man for me, the only one who understands exactly why I ‘liked’ that article, without hoping that I am suggesting we stay apart… well, I hope, cos that ain’t gonna happen.
Happy Anniversary. Seven years together, five under the same roof, in the same bed (with little ones in between some of those years). Let’s keep counting.