When Jay and I first met, I had gotten really good at protecting my heart. I was 28 years old and had gone through the wringer with ex boyfriends. They were all “normal” guys, they just happened to love jack and cokes and lewd computer videos more than me. Always a deal-breaker. I learned to be hard to read, flakey on purpose, and detached. It was all about self-preservation through my teens and twenties.
So I meet Jay. I had become accustomed to telling dates that I knew it wasn’t going to “work out for us” And usually that made them like me a bit more ( I think). The problem was that I didn’t know how to turn it off, I was locked into one mode, always high security. I no longer knew how to disarm.
The beginning of our relationship was no picnic, either. We had our share of trust problems, misunderstandings, and blow outs. We could barely keep it together through the tiniest of fights because I would want to leave (not necessarily for good) for some distance to think, and he would take it as a sign of me rejecting him, pretty much his biggest fear. When I look back at those first months, I think it’s a miracle that we are still together today!
Once we decided to go all in, we had a lot of work to do. I had to soften up and he had to think about me as a woman differently. It wasn’t easy at all. But we absolutely fell in love. Storybook. Real. Love. Once we decided to work on it, we decided to let ourselves really feel all the feels. We tried not to let all of the previous burns hinder our sensitivity to each other. We tried to express to one another who we are and what we want. And we got to this moment now.
One exercise in being hopeful and sincere was to write a letter to one another…in the future. We each sat down with a pen and paper and wrote a letter to our spouse one day. In it, we took all of that fresh love and affection and put it into words so that one day we could remember that feeling. And our spouse can remember it, too.
We still haven’t exchanged the letters we wrote. Since then we have: exchanged vows, had a sweet daughter who blows our minds, and we have changed jobs and met new friends. We have traveled over oceans, seen loved ones married, and loved ones die. It’s crazy to think, but I even have a different name than that girl those years ago.
The walls are falling down, but sometimes it’s not hard to see where they once stood so tall. We know each other so well now, though, that we know how to step over the rubble.
It’s wonderful to have come a long way with someone. I am grateful. And I hope we can both keep our hearts in it forever. And I am really looking forward to these letters….