Mawwiage... That bwessed awwangement...

I was talking with E while at work yesterday, explaining this odd "contentment" that I'm experiencing... and, of course, she asked how the wedding planning was going. And how C and I were doing. And I couldn't help but smile as I told her, "I love that man!"

And it's true. I do.

It's more than just loving him, though, because I've loved him all along. Even while we were separated those 5 years, even when I thought I'd never, ever get back together with him... even when I had demonized him and defamed his character and convinced myself that he had sold himself to the devil and would stain my soul with his mere proximity... I loved him. I've always loved him.

I did tell him many times during the first go-round that I didn't believe in love. I didn't, really... One of my mom's coping mechanisms (both emotional and economical) was serial relationships. I didn't know that a relationship could last for years and years and years. That's the kind of thing that happened to other people, not me. I didn't expect or hope for anything other than what I had seen or already experienced. No, that's not true. I expected and hoped for relationships that were not abusive. That was my benchmark. If he's not hitting me or the kids, if he's not molesting my children or raping me, well then he must be alright. And we'll go through it until we just don't want to anymore, and then we'll part, and then I'll find someone else until that's over, and on and on and on.

That's the life I knew. That's what I expected. Part of me hoped for a miracle, for a guy to sweep me off my feet and love me forever, but most of me didn't waste time thinking about it. I was young and focused on surviving one day at a time. I didn't have time to wonder about the future. Besides, I figured I'd be dead by thirty, anyway. Probably younger.

Also, I'd been let down so many times before by the men in my life who were supposed to love me but didn't. I had given up. I didn't believe in the "love lie" any longer. Why bother? You're just going to get shafted anyway. Yeah, the "in love" feelings were quite pleasant, and I had my share of crushes! But real love? Doesn't exist.

Much like an ROUS, though, it pounced on me without warning.

C and I were friends for somewhere around a year before anything romantic happened. I mean, I thought he was cute and all, but... not my type. Nice guy. Good friend. But anything else? Why?

Once we began dating, I realized rather quickly that I loved him, which startled me, because I didn't believe in love. So then I figured that maybe I sorta believed in love. Or something.

Eventually, I just accepted the fact that he made me believe in love again, as corny as that sounds. I told him that, too. But then... then I left. After all those years, all that built up trust and love... I left.

It was the right thing to do, I know it. I needed to grow into my own person, to get over some of my co-dependent ways, and just grow up. I needed to have my own adventures, to further develop my own opinions and passions and grandiose stories. He needed to do the same. (But without the grandiose stories. Hehe.)

And then... then we went to the Renaissance Festival together earlier this year. It's not like I hadn't seen him at all in the intervening 5 years. I did cut off all communication for a couple of years after the trial, because I wasn't strong enough to not be with him as long as we were still talking and seeing each other. But the hours we spent in the car riding up there, and how we ended up talking the whole night, and spending the day walking around the faire together (just like old times!), the car ride home... I just felt like he was the one I belonged with. The times I had seen him before were more about defensiveness, trying to prove that I don't need you! Look how happy and successful I can be without you!

And then it became I don't need you... but I want you.

Oh, but I still had doubts. So many doubts and misgivings. What if I was doing the wrong thing? I mean, I wanted this, so it's wrong, right? And he's not Christian like me, and we don't believe exactly the same way, and God's gonna hate me and my friends are gonna be horrified because I left him so long ago and they'll think I'm apostatizing and... and... and... Sure enough, the "what-if's" and the pressure from my Christian friends and family and the thought of losing my salvation were too much. I walked away again.

For like, two weeks.

And then I was pregnant.

So what do you do when you're pregnant? You talk to the baby-daddy, of course! It was in those long, exploratory, deeply emotional conversations that I got to see the real C. Not the one that I'd built up in my mind, not the one that I'd assigned virtues and vices and motives to, not the one that my friends told me about. No, the real C. His plans, his hopes, his dreams, his beliefs, his ambitions, his convictions... his heart. And I realized that I wanted what he had to offer, and that this baby could be the best thing that ever happened to me.

But then, when I lost the baby just a few weeks later, I was forced to look at the situation. With no child tying us together, did I really want to be there? Was being with C what I really wanted? Was it worth braving the disapproval of those I've known and loved over the past years?

The answer, I found, was yes. (Pre-marital counseling was really the nail in the coffin for me, I think... Combined with those heart-searching conversations of yore, I found that we are deeply compatible and even good for each other.)

How does all this tie in with contentment? Yeah, good question. It seems a little convoluted as I try to weave it all together...

The thing is, I still had a wall. And doubts. And fears. It's still so hard for me to trust, for fear of that trust being betrayed... or of losing the object of my trust due to forces outside of my control. (Think illness, injury, death, etc.) It's still so hard for me to love, to really love.

Not that I don't believe in love, because I do, now. I really do. But it's so difficult for me to put it into practice. It's risky. It's scary. And how much better would it be to just avoid that risk entirely by not loving? Am I right? (No, of course I'm not! That's a rhetorical question.)

But I've realized, while musing upon themes of contentment, while talking it over with E... I've let my wall down. When I say, "I love that man!", it's because I really, really do.

As we were falling asleep last night all tangled up and cuddly (my favorite part of the day!), I told him that I had realized something this past week. I realized that I no longer have any doubts or hesitations. I've had a wall for so long, but I've let it down, and I love him unreservedly. And I've realized that sharing my life with him... I am content. I really believe I'm doing a right thing. After every single sentence, he kissed my face, and when I was done he kissed me once more and said, "I love you, woman."

It meant a lot to him to hear that. I mean, think about it. It's hard to know that the one you love loves you too, but has doubts and isn't entirely sure about staying... especially when you're planning on spending your lives together! lol It's a little counter-intuitive.

By the way, super cute: he's a reflex kisser. What does that mean? It means that when I'm headed off to class in the morning, I give my sleeping beauty a kiss on the lips and a goodbye. Sometimes he's conscious enough to mumble goodbye back, but today he was fast asleep. When I kissed him, though, he reflexively kissed back even though he was sleeping. It's pretty darn adorable. Like a little kid. :)

So, long story short... I'm really looking forward to Mawwiage.

Thinking about it this morning... even if something horrible does happen and he (for instance) dies... it's still totally worth it to have loved. He knows how I feel, I know he feels the same. Would I rather miss out on this experience because it could end at some point? No way in Hades! I think that's the point he was trying to make when talking to me about D. Yes, he's dying, and I'm terribly sad. Would it have been better to never have cared about him at all, even if one day all I have are memories? No, not at all.

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