I really thought that I loved him.
He had everything that I wanted from life. A mother that loved and cared for her family with wonderful meals, a clean house and a smile, and a father with an impressive career that still had time to listen. In his life, there was no chaos, no drunken fights, no being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to fry eggs that would be promptly thrown up an hour later. I wanted his life so badly.
I wanted it so badly that I was blind to all the signals he was sending out. Why was he so angry? Why was he so angry with me all the time? Why was he always trying to control me and drive all of my friends away? And why was I letting him? Why was he punching me and knocking me down, then laughing about it, saying that he was just kidding? Why would somebody from such a great family be doing these things? But I didn’t know better — violence and verbal abuse were what I knew so it didn’t seem so out of the ordinary. I could change him if I loved him enough.
And I married him anyway. I was so sure that I loved him. My mother and step father were so enthralled with him and his family. They told all that would listen that I had been given such a gift. And finally, they were acting like they loved me and approved of me. I wanted to bask in that sunshine as long as I could.
So I hid it for years. Twenty of them. During those years, I learned a lot. Mostly how to keep my daughter and myself out of his way. I must have said and thought thousands of times, it’s not us, he’s the one with the problem. But that’s a hard thing to explain to a young girl who only wants her daddy to love her. I finally left, taking her with me, but the damage had been done. I had wanted her to have the father that I didn’t have, but I only succeeded in giving her one that was emotionally crippled and mentally unbalanced. Even now, she will ask me why he won’t love her the way she wants him to. And I tell her that it’s not her, it’s him. And try to love her enough to make up for it.
In the end, I realized that I wasn’t in love with him, I was in love with his family and the idea of what he could be, with all of the opportunities that were afforded to him, by a family that loved him.
And then a few years later, I found out what real love is made of. It’s kindness, warmth, frequent smiles and even more frequent “I love you’s”. It’s a message on my phone that he was thinking of me, or a flowers that he picks for no reason. It’s kisses on my neck when I’m sewing, and cooking dinner together. It’s also baking zucchini bread without him asking me to do it, and washing the sheets and hanging them on the line so that he can smell the fresh air, and rubbing his back when he’s tired. It’s smirking to myself when the ladies at work complain about how hard it is to keep a relationship going.
Yes, it’s definitely love this second time around.