catch me, i’m falling….

I think when most of us choose to leave a marriage, we do so with some idea in our heads of what our “new life” will be like, and I’m sure those fantasies are as individual as the people dreaming them.

Mine went something like this:  I would live in a little house of my own, with a big, colorful flower garden and a patio for al fresco mealtimes.  My girls and I would share a life with singing and dancing and hugs and none of the quiet, steely tension that characterized the last year or so of my marriage to their father.  I would have a job that provided me with enough money to pay my bills and enough challenges to fulfill my intellect and rejuvenate my flagging self-confidence.  And someday, somehow, there’d be a great guy in the picture…. someone who made my heart skip and pulse race…. who called me on my bullshit and treated my heart tenderly…. who worked hard to make me laugh and even harder to not make me cry.  Mine was a simple dream, to be sure, but sincere and full of promise.  And over the last two years, I have clutched it to my heart through all the pain, all the stress, all the disappointments that have threatened to resign it permanently to the land of fairy tales.

Today, I am shocked to realize that I am living that dream.  On this sunny June day, I am sitting on my little patio, gazing at my riotous blooms, while James and his son dismantle and rebuild my younger daughter’s balcony.  I am simultaneously blissful and terrified.  Walking on clouds and looking over my shoulder for the storm.  Amazed at my good fortune and trying desperately not to screw it up.

And damn he looks good in that tool belt….

Conversation just now:

James: “What are you doing?”

Me:  “Writing a blog post.”

J: “Is it about me?”

Me: “Yes.” {grinning}

J: “Oh, boy.  {laughing} Do I get to read it?”

Me:  “Nope.” {still grinning}

J:  “Uh oh.” {laughing again}

If he only knew….

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions for me.  I have battled my fear and inclination to run every single day.  I want this man, I really do, but the scars of the past are still sore and aching.  My self-protectionist brain has been diligently cataloging every possible reason why this thing we have cannot work, even as we’ve had so many perfect moments, and I can feel my carefully constructed walls crumbling between us.

In a rare moment of true exasperation, my therapist admonished me for risking sabotaging this relationship, for allowing my fear of ultimately being hurt get in the way of enjoying this wondrous gift in front of me.   My friends laugh at me as I earnestly describe the things that are bothering me.  “Get over it,” they say.  “You’re just scared.”  Even my mother told me to loosen up and just go with it.  “He’s a good man, and I can see how you look at him and hear how you talk about him.  Stop worrying and just let it happen.”

And the thing is:  they are all right.  I know they are, and I know how I feel when he smiles at me and when he touches me and when I hear his voice on the phone.  And it all scares me to death.  I hate to think of myself as a fearful person; I have always been proud of my fearlessness.  But this is different.  And I am afraid.

Love means risk.  I know this.  My head knows this and my heart knows this.  But knowing it in the abstract and embracing it in the reality are two different things.  I know, with every cell of my body and every corner of my soul, that if I just let go, I will tumble head over heels for this man.  I also know that the simple truth is that most relationships end.  So, chances are, somewhere down the road one or both of us will end up with a broken heart.  The thought of it scares me to death.

But, something else scares me more:  the possibility of letting this go (or worse yet, trashing it myself) because I was too fearful to fully embrace it.  The idea that maybe, years from now, I will look back on this relationship as the one that got away…. bitter with regret that I hadn’t been brave enough to see where it might go.  That is far more terrifying to me.

So, I will keep moving forward, pushing through my fear.  I know that months ago, it was him who was holding back, him whose past hurts and betrayals were making him hesitant and reluctant.  I don’t know what changed, but he seems so fully present  now, so open and available to me.  I almost envy him that.  Last night, lying in bed, a tangle of arms and legs, his cheek resting on my breast, I asked him why he wasn’t afraid anymore.  “Who says I’m not afraid?” he murmured before drifting off to sleep. Hmmm….

So maybe the fear doesn’t exactly go away.  Maybe, at this point in our lives, it is just part and parcel of creating intimacy with someone.  Maybe every successful relationship is about refusing to allow your fear to dominate the conversation.  Maybe it’s about wanting this person outweighing your fear of losing him.

He’s patient.  He’s steady. He’s strong.  I just hope that when I tumble, he’s there to catch me.

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2 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, general musings, healing, love, personal growth, relationships, single mom

2 responses to “catch me, i’m falling….

  1. I love this, P.

    And I’m so happy for your contentedness (even if it is scary!)

    This is exactly the place I want to be in a year from now. Thank you for the open, honest reminder that it is possible, maybe even inevitable!

    c.

    • Cate, I was honestly very, very skeptical when people told me that things would change over time…. I’d lived in my marriage, with the sameness of it, for so long that it was truly hard to imagine.

      Things are bumpy. I am as skittish as a colt these days. Poor James, no matter what he does, I freak out! LOL. I hope he hangs in there with me…

      Good to see you writing. Just keep doing what you’re doing. The future will come.

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