I am a pretty smart cookie; or at least I have always assumed this. I know a lot of small things: two plus two equals four, the heart has four chambers, and the sun rises in the east. I know that I was born with brown eyes and ten fingers and ten toes, and I hope to die the same way. I know those large portions of history someone deemed important, and I know the nine Supreme Court justices that served under Clinton during his second term. I know the names of Bart Simpson’s sisters, and I know which ocean I live on. These are facts that I know, that I know I know. I always assumed there were thousands of little and big things that I knew.
I have also always believed that I was smart about myself, that I was self-aware even when I couldn’t fix the issues I was having. I have issues, just like everyone else, and I thought I understood them. More importantly I always believed that the person I truly was, deep inside, was in some way incredibly wrong. I always believed that deep inside me there was something so amazingly bad that if I showed it to the world, I would lose the little bit that I managed to secure. Maybe bad is the wrong word, maybe unlovable or unlikable. Almost as if the world knew the truth of me, they wouldn’t want anything to do with me. One of my therapists currently thinks there is something there, something about my fear of rejection.
While I will probably have to explore and begin to understand this fear of rejection, where it came from and why it is so prevalent, first I have to comprehend one thing I learned yesterday that I never knew. I don’t get many surprises in my life, it is a fact of life about a mother and wife…we either anticipate it long before it happens, or we knew going in what would happen. So when I am surprised it almost knocks me down for a while.
My husband and I were talking to someone yesterday, getting things out and on the table. For some reason, the conversation felt like it revolved around me. This would be fine, if my husband wasn’t sitting right there, deserving his equal time. Anyways, I was trying to explain about hiding myself. My need to protect myself by hiding who I really am; this overwhelming urge to never be honest about who I really am so that no one can decide that I am not worthy. It wasn’t a really deep conversation, for the most part I knew I did this, I knew that this might be a problem, and while I don’t know the cause, I know I am guilty of it.
And then I got one of those shocks. My husband joined the conversation and he proceeded to tell the woman we were speaking with all about me. Those parts I thought I had hidden. Those things I didn’t think he ever noticed. And I am not talking about the color of my hair, but my need to wear a mask and pretend to be something I never am. My desire to hide the fact that I am a loner and I don’t really like most people. The fact that I need to pretend. The big stuff that I always took for granted were mine, and mine alone. The big stuff I thought for so long I had kept.
My husband and I have been together coming up on fifteen years; next year we will celebrate our tenth anniversary. And for the first time in my life I am going to have to restructure everything I thought I knew. I thought my husband couldn’t possibly know me or even like the real me, because I never showed him. I thought my husband couldn’t possibly start to give me what I want, because he didn’t know me. I have carried amazing amounts of guilt around with me because I thought I wasn’t being truly honest with my husband. And yet, so quietly and so respectfully he understood all along.
That is an amazing gift; probably the nicest and best gift the man has ever given me. And he did it without understanding what he was doing at that moment. He didn’t say the words, describing who I am and why I am who I am for any one up manship, or because he wanted to metaphorically stick his tongue out at me. He simply was. And even at this moment, many, many hours later I am still trying to come to terms that everything I believed about my love wasn’t true.
My husband apparently likes me. More importantly, he likes me despite the fact he knows me; the true me. My husband is willing to stay with me despite the not so great parts that I try so hard to hide. My husband is willing to love me anyways. And there are no diamonds, no flowers, no little trinkets that will ever mean as much as that moment to me. I will remember, treasure, and hopefully build on that moment to become stronger and a better wife.
The truth is because my husband knows me and likes me anyways, a part of me doesn’t feel maybe that I have to try so hard to hide. Maybe I can find the peace and the safe place my husband represents, without guilt, without fear. Maybe I can finally understand that the husband I got lucky enough to find, is everything I always dreamed that I wanted. That there will never need to be a time for me to wallow or be depressed or even soul-deep angry at my husband, because despite the fact that he isn’t perfect, he is absolutely perfect for me.
I feel bad for the man that I didn’t know this right from the start. I feel like many of the problems not only I have but we have as a couple, are my fault and had I been honest and lived with my eyes open maybe some of this would be avoided. But since I can’t change the past, I have decided instead to rejoice in the knowledge that my husband may not be perfect, but he is perfect for me. I wish I could tell you the layers of my soul, of my body, of my heart, that this knowledge has changed. I wish I could tell you what it feels like, when your most secret dream turns out not to be so secret. When that one thing you wanted more than your next breath, is right where you can see it, feel it, believe in it.
I doubt my husband understood the earth shattering moment he gave me. I doubt he will ever truly accept the gift that he so effortlessly handed to me. And while I know deep in my heart it doesn’t change anything for him, or even about him, it changes so much in me. My husband will still be the man that frustrates me every time he gets behind a wheel of a car; my husband will still scratch, fart, burp, and otherwise disgust me for seconds at a time, he is after all a man. He is still ridiculously confusing and did I say frustrating. But he is mine. And last night he proved without a shadow of a doubt that not only is he all mine, but that he loves me in ways I only thought were possible in my dreams. Tonight I won’t need to dream; I already have it.