What would you do if you found out that your long-term relationship was going end? For me, I’d probably start feeling paranoid. My husband and I have been together for about eight years and I’d start to feel more and more like it’s going to end any minute now.
I can’t say that I blame her. I’d also be lying to myself. I needed the security. The certainty.
But I wanted more. I wanted what I didn’t have. And in those eight years, I didn’t get it. I never felt like I was in that relationship for the long-haul. Every time I did, I had to walk away for personal reasons, reasons that were healthy and long-term and permanent.
So I did what I had to do. And now? I’m so happy for the time I have spent with who I am in those eight years. I’m happy for the progress I’ve made. I’m happy for the lifetime of knowledge I’ve shared with the people I love.
But I’m also happy for the time it’s taken me to get here. To realize I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship with another person. And that I’ve never been good at understanding that.
I didn’t realize I’d wanted to be in a relationship with another person until after I got married. Because in my head, marriage was just two people with different names and a future together.
But after everything we had gone down, I realized I was happy on my own. And I was good at being happy on my own.
And from here, it’s been easy to assume that every other relationship has been a disaster. That I’m the kind of person who just can’t — or won’t — get into another relationship. That coming out of a relationship means I’ve messed up.
But I wasn’t always this way. I’ve known I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship with another person since I can remember.
At the age of six, when I-I was still learning to walk, my mother told me I had heart issues. She said I should keep my illness a secret, since I was so vulnerable, and then I could disappear and live a happy, secrecy-free life. She didn’t, though, and after I left, I spent months in and out of treatment centers, unemployed, feeling so broken that my whole life seemed a failure.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust someone again. They might actually catch something and I’ll be crushed under the weight of it all.”
Children are amazing, and they can see past our own chaos to look at the bigger picture. I’ve never forgotten that statement, even nearly a decade later, when I was trying to commit to myself something I’d barely thought about as a child.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust someone again. They might actually catch something and I’ll be crushed under the weight of it all,” my daughter said, her gentle voice barely above a whimper.
“Oh my gosh, mom. Are you sure? They could be interested in helping you.”
“I think I’ll be fine. I’ve been in therapy for years,” I said, helplessness and fear both written across my face.
She started to cry.
“I agree,” my husband said. “Go for it.”
He’s a solid 10 on every scale, including mine.
But I’m not sure I’m ready to trust someone again. I’ve been crushed too many times, often by people I once knew well.
“Hey, it’s been nice meeting you! I hope you’re doing well. Did you know your sister and I still talk on occasion? She just moved to Texas and I’m trying to be there for her. I wonder if there are people in your life you should still be checking in with?”
I wanted to say something like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been trying to reach you too. Sorry I’ve been busy. See you around,” but I started to get tears starting to form in my eyes.
The last time I spoke to my sister, we were in the midst of a massive storm. I had just moved out of our house and was trying to make the most of the meager resources that were at my disposal.
I had also just been diagnosed with terminal condition, and while I managed to get over it in a few days, my sister took much longer.
I didn’t even have the time to reach out to her after my diagnosis, let alone learn her whereabouts. Years later, I’ve started to wonder if I did the wrong thing.
Every day I’ ve been unable to reach her makes my heart hurt again, like it was never meant to be.
The truth is, I just wasn’t ready.
If I had been ready then, I think things might have been different.