I suppose it’s natural to become contemplative and to reflect upon your life when you hit certain landmarks. Certainly each birthday I seem to churn out paragraphs and paragraphs of ramblings about the meaning of it all, and other gloriously ambiguous topics. But for this occasion, my wife and I’s 9 year wedding anniversary I’m more lucid than ever. There is no wondering about “what it all means” or questions of topics that I gather will always be beyond my comprehension. This year I am left with nothing but an overwhelming sense of appreciation and gratitude.
Yesterday marked 12 years of having been with my incredible wife, and today marks 9 years officially married. My daughter also happened to turn 8 last week so it’s a celebratory month to be sure. When my wife and I first met, and shortly thereafter ran away together against her parents’ will I had the benefit of ignorance and young love on my side. We believed that through our love alone we would somehow triumph. While I of course now know how stupid this all sounds, at the time it made perfect sense. Step 1: fall in love, Step 2: Everything just works out. Yep, it’s a sound plan.
Fortunately for me, our love was what kept the hard times from being too hard, and was what made the good times actually worth experiencing. Jack White wrote, “I want love to change my friends to enemies.” I never wanted that, but that’s exactly what ours did. I’ve often made mention of my old life, old friends, family, etc and how I left it all behind. It never struck me as anything extraordinary. I saw my life as a road. I was at the starting point, my wife was at the end of the road, and all things that lay in between were roadblocks. What do you do when you need to get through a road but the roadblock is in your way? You remove it or go around it. It always seemed to me that that was exactly what I was doing.
Now, many years after those roadblocks were left behind I’m beginning to understand why people have said my thinking on this was so strange. I believe I may be the perfect model of the narcissistic. I am excellent and considering no one but myself and those I care most about. At the time it was simply me and my wife. If someone didn’t like her, spoke ill of her, or wasn’t generally supportive of our life together, they were removed. The equation seemed simple and sound to me. I don’t know that I’m really even questioning it now, as much as I am recognizing it for what it truly was.
When my mother attempted to be a destructive force in our life together, she was removed. Without hesitation, without regret she was removed. 9 years and counting and still no regrets. When friends stood in our way, they were removed. When family stood in our way, they were removed. When economic circumstances stood in our way, they were removed. When geographic location seemed to stand in our way, we removed ourselves. Each time without hesitation. Blindly, perhaps ignorantly crashing forward, blazing a trail of destruction that left us unscathed. We’ve come out the other side stronger for it, but isolated (albeit intentionally).
The benefit of isolation is the unavoidable result of reflection. With no one, and nothing to focus on but ourselves and our relationship together we were able to perfect a bond that was already strong. With no outside influences we were able to grow and influence each other in a bubble. A bubble that would become our own reality. The only downside of this reality is an inability to relate to those outside of it. Whenever we interact with other people for more than a few hours there starts to grow a weird strain. It almost feels like I’m starving for oxygen. On these days, when we get home you can feel the whole family exhale a bit.
Writing it down, it all sounds a bit spacy. I don’t know that I’m really describing it well, but it’s as best as I can muster. I can say, without any hint of doubt, that the foundation of our relationship is honesty. When some couples speak of honesty they are speaking more in terms of “I’m not cheating on them, or explicitly lying to their face.” When I say honesty, I mean the kind of honesty you have with yourself. The thoughts that creep around in your mind that you can’t avoid. When you look in the mirror and see your aging skin, or the fat on your ass, or the hair growing where it shouldn’t, or not growing where it should. The thoughts you have about the things you do and say. The hatred and the love that you have for yourself. That’s honesty. True honesty is unavoidable. That is what our relationship is based on.
It’s only through that honesty that we’ve managed to distill and filter this relationship of ours into something that can’t even be described adequately. It is beyond friendship, it is beyond relationship. It’s even beyond codependency. It is a complete coexistence. I believe that my existence was brought about solely to compliment and balance the existence of my wife. You can rationalize it how you please, calling it fate, calling it chance, calling it circumstance, but I believe that God created me and created my wife with one intention. To bring us together, and to spark the love that exists between us. It’s with that knowledge that we begin our 13th year together, and our 10th year in marriage. And with that in mind I am reinforced in my previous actions. If God be for us then who can be against us?
Honesty leads to trust. How can it not? If you know that the person opposite you has always been honest with you, why would you not trust them? And if you trust them, why would you not be honest with them? And if they know all of your thoughts and still choose to stand by you, and you by them, then how can you not grow to appreciate them? How can you not grow to love them?
We’re always operating with a filter. You have a filter for yourself at your job, when speaking to a boss, when speaking to a stranger, when speaking to a relative, when speaking to a dog. Most have a filter for their wife, another for their children, another for their friends, and then remove the filter for their own internal dialogue. We believe that no family should have a filter. If they don’t truly know your thoughts, then how can they truly love you? How can you call them family? We choose to be family, by choosing to be honest. Hell, we’ve made that our family motto. Familiae per delectus, familiae per sanguis.
But truly think about honesty for a moment. I’ve done things, said things, and certainly thought things that I’m not proud of. Things I regret, or am even ashamed of. Things I would never tell friends, or relatives about. My wife knows all of these things. She knows them, sees past them, and still chooses to be here with me. Every day. How can I feel anything other than appreciation on this day? How can I stare into the faces of three amazing children and feel anything other than grateful? How can I look back at 30 years of life, and watch the pieces all fall into place so perfectly as the days roll past and question for one moment the hand that moved them? When you ask for an answer and it is presented, screaming its response in your ear, how can you do anything other than accept it?
I can’t claim to have all of the answers, because I’m not so sure I have any. I merely have the calming reassurance that what I asked for was presented, and I took it. My life has been going for 30 years now, but whatever I considered living before I met this woman was anything but. It was simply an endless search for a distraction from the painful realization that I hadn’t found her yet. And now my life will forever be a desperate attempt at justification for gifts that I never deserved, but was given nonetheless. That is what I’m feeling on this day, and simply saying “I love you” could not have summed it up.
Until Next Time