Relationships

Unflinching

"moving boxes" © Robert S. Donovan, 2009. CC BY-NC 2.0.
moving boxes” © Robert S. Donovan, 2009. CC BY-NC 2.0.
We didn’t drag our feet. When Mason and I met we knew exactly what we wanted. Three weeks later I moved in. No hesitation. Over three years later and we’re still confident it was the smartest thing either of us ever did.

He makes loving him easy. Makes it safe to let my guard down. In those soft, tender moments it becomes clear just how different he is—this love is—than the ones I used to frequent.

The things I was fed flavored the rest of me. Every relationship I’ve ever had bled into the next one. Old habits and expectations that never served me well stuck around, wreaking havoc. I catch myself applying old salt to fresh wounds. Getting nowhere.

I have to rework the whole definition of what a relationship looks like. Try to understand that love is not shown by how afraid my partner is of being left. Not represented by accusations of disloyalty. Not given a value that grows in tandem with the certainty he will only break my heart. That may have been my previous understanding. When I wasn’t sure what I wanted I would take whatever I could get. I let other people tell me what love is.

Their hands made the molds I filled. I was cast in the likeness of women I did not want to be. Insecure and untrusting. I was taught that constant jealousy and possessive tendencies are synonymous with passion. I was told things like, “If I can’t make you happy nothing ever will,” and, “I know you better than you do and I’m the only one who won’t leave you.” I believed them.

Love became something that I was undeserving of. My partners made it clear to me I would only be given a finite amount. It came with constant reminders of how quick they could take it away if they decided I was no longer worth the effort. It became a bargaining chip. I was reminded how lucky I was to be tolerated and cared for by such incredible people. Kept in place. Kept grateful. Kept scared.

It’s a hard thing to unlearn. To instead teach myself that someone trusting me to not hurt them does not mean they don’t care if I do. To teach myself I stand on the same ground as my spouse. Have the same options, the same control. It’s hard to start believing I’m worthy of this new kind of love. That it does not come with conditions. That I’m not on the verge of abandonment for not living up to some expectation I did not agree to.

He puts his arms around me and pulls me into his chest. “I love you always. No matter what.” He does not tell me how no one else ever will. He does not tell me he always has one foot out the door because he’s sure I’m going to mess this up. He does not tell me the things I have to change. He tells me, “You can do this. I’m here.”

6 thoughts on “Unflinching

  1. Everything you’ve been through has just been the locomotion. It has gotten you to here. None of those relationships were sustainable, but they all taught you something.

    I’m so glad you have Mase. He cherishes you.

    Like

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