Some things are easy to write. Some things write themselves. Some stories end up magically flowing into the world. Then, there are the stories I don’t like to talk about. The stories I don’t want to write.
I can’t tell you my marriage was an easy place to find. It took seven years for an engagement. Nine years later, we would finally walk down the alter and say, “I do.” None of it was easy. After almost thirteen years together, I won’t attempt to make you believe that my relationship was a true love at first sight story. It took time. Behind a man who didn’t know what he wanted was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted.
A marriage, a home, and a baby… maybe a dog someday. We’ll see. I want a better life for our child away from ‘crack alley.’ It seems so simplistic when I write it. But, nothing is simple for us. It never has been. We love passionately. We fight with the same gusto. Nothing is done without the both of us feeling emotionally charged; we don’t lack passion.
It’s easy to peer in and see what we have, to judge happiness from a photo.
And it was a very happy day. Right after this photo was taken I said, “Thank you!” to the Reverend. Thank you for finally accomplishing what I wanted. Thank you for making us husband and wife. Thank you for helping us start our journey as a family.
What you can’t see in this picture is the blood, sweat, tears, and profanity which went into getting us here. I will never lie to anyone about our marriage. It hasn’t been easy. Relationships are not easy. My marriage, much like motherhood, is something I work at almost every single day.
There have been times one of us gave up. We have sat Indian style facing each other and said, “I hate you.” And, we meant it. One of us walked away, and sometimes the other wouldn’t follow. Sometimes, we didn’t plead to keep our love. There is one thing we have never done. We have never actually broken up for more than a day. We’ve never left entirely.
Through the times I actually hated him; I came around and learned to love again. I invested my soul’s work into one other human being. And eventually, I learned to invest in myself. I nurtured my health and self esteem, and I fell head over heels in love with my own skin and the soul inside.
I learned to love myself entirely before I loved and married him.
And he, in turn, loved me when I didn’t love myself.
After gaining a hundred pounds, I remember a time where I asked myself, “how can he make love to me?’ I hated my own nakedness. I hated the spare tire which accompanied my mid section and the back fat that caused so much pain. I never reconciled with the stretch marks which ran past my stomach down onto my legs. I hated it all. I hated myself.
He sees old pictures and says, “I don’t remember you being that big.” And he saw me naked. He looked past the physical being and loved the person inside.
He loved me when I was addicted to pills and forgot to pick him up from an evening class. He had to walk home in the rain. He had to bust through the apartment door, because in my haze I turned the deadbolt into the locked position. He loved me when I stole. He loved me when I came home after drinking a handle of vodka and cussed him out. He loved me when I ended up naked in my own vomit with the shower curtain pulled down over the mess.
He loved me when I didn’t love or know myself.
And he decided to have a baby with me. I’ve lived many caricatures in this lifetime, and through them all… he loved me.
Through his love, I became Mama. I became the person I wanted to be and was always capable of being. You see the pictures. You see the smiles. You see the happiness. You can’t see the Hell.
Being his girlfriend, becoming his wife, and finally bearing his child is a journey which has been fueled through hard work, dedication, and times where we shouldn’t have stayed together. Today, as we play with our child, we hug and curl up next to each other, I thank God for… our sheer stubbornness.