I really love this woman. Seriously, she’s too good to me.
This is a love letter to my husband for his birthday that also serves as my confession to not being the wife that he deserved. But oh, I’m learning. I’m learning to love. It’s hard for me to be loved, but I’m letting him now. I swear, I am. Also, he has read this and agreed that I can post it.
I always try to chase you away, don’t I, love?
When we were first friends, I fought you tooth and nail. You were constant, you were steady, you were there. And it scared me. I told you the worst about me in hopes that you would run away screaming. But you stayed. You stayed.
When you asked me to be your girlfriend, you were so sure of yourself. But my heart was pounding, and I didn’t feel for you the way you felt for me. But I said yes, because what else could I say? And you, you were over the moon. I’d never seen you so happy. Your happiness was contagious. You wooed me, you won me, you loved me, with every ounce of your being and with no reservations. And that scared me to death, because how on earth could I be worthy of such devotion? And I tried to push you away again. And again you stayed.
Then we did the unpardonable, the unthinkable, the damnable. We had sex – while being Christians, without being married, while students at Bob Jones University. And we were despondent. We contemplated suicide. We contemplated dropping out of school and getting married. We scrambled to figure out how to fix this mess we’d made. After we did all we could and were going to leave quietly and go to our respective homes, we were discovered, we were shamed, we were disciplined, we were humiliated. We were told that our relationship was wrong, that it was baseless, that God couldn’t be in it and that we should break up and never be together again. We were told that we were unworthy, that we were forever tarnished. And sometimes, I believed it – I believed all of it. I didn’t know what else to believe. “He’s a bad influence on you,” my friends whispered. “If he was good for you, he never would have tempted you to do that.” And that broke my heart, because in my mind it was me, it was all me – I brought you down to my level and hurt you. And I called you so often in tears, wanting to break up, convinced that you would be so much better off without me. But you were constant, you were steady, you were there – despite going through your own personal hell, fighting with your parents every other day, fighting about me, about that whore who ensnared you, but you stood up for me time and time and time again no matter the emotional or physical repercussions. You fought for me, and I fell in love with you all over again, realized that the bond between us wasn’t just sexual like my friends and so many others kept telling us, it was emotional and spiritual and good and right and I didn’t want to be with anyone else.
So you got a job and moved 1,500 miles across the country to live in a state you’d only visited briefly among people you’d never met only to be closer to me, so we could be together. And that touched me so deeply, but I didn’t let it because now we were really planning on being married and people started telling me, “You know, just because you slept with him doesn’t mean you have to marry him. Don’t feel obligated because he moved here to be with you.” And I was so confused, because it wasn’t obligation that I felt, it wasn’t mere duty that was binding us, but I started to doubt myself again, started to doubt you again. But you were constant, you were steady, you were there. Your faith in God and your devotion to me never wavered, and you won me over again.
So we got married, and everything was great for about a month – you were working, I hadn’t found a job yet so I was cleaning house and going to coffee shops to write and job-hunt and meeting you at the door (sometimes even with dinner!) and making sure everything was perfect just the way we were always taught it should be. Then you lost your job, and my world came crashing down, and I barely even saw your despair because suddenly things weren’t right in my patriarchally-bent little mind. Then my health took a nosedive, and your mom almost died and we flew to be with her, and you found a job and lost it again, and I listened to the whispers of well-meaning mentors asking me in dire tones if you could keep a job (because you were losing them on purpose? what on earth were we all thinking?), and I succumbed to despair that I’d never known. And then we found out that I may not be able to give you children, and then my grandfather died, and then we found out my dad was dying, and suddenly I became a bitch as I’d never been before. You bore the brunt of my displeasure and malcontent, endured threats of separation, threats of abstinence, months of scorn and begging you to “be the man I need you to be.” And you’ve been constant, you’ve been steady, you’ve been here. You’ve been the man that I never, ever deserved, and I’m seeing that now.
I’m falling in love with you all over again, beloved.
Remember when we were dating and I was falling in love with you? I said then that you had been Christ to me in a way that no one else ever had. And somehow, in the mess of my desperate clinging to gender roles and false ideals instead of clinging to you, I forgot that about you. I expected you to be a different person – I imposed rules on you, standards, and didn’t love you the way you deserved and didn’t receive the abundant love you offered so constantly. I became so consumed with my own pain that I couldn’t – wouldn’t – see that you were in pain, too, and that despite everything you were going through it still hurt you to see me so withdrawn and unhappy and you offered your love over and over and over again and I looked at it and said, “It’s not enough.”
I am so sorry.
I am so, so desperately sorry. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
You have always seen the good in me. Always. Your first priority from that night that we talked for so many hours (and got kicked out of the dining room, then kicked out of the dining common lobby, then were almost late to prayer group) – your first priority has always been my good. And I’ve soaked that up and taken it for granted. But no more, beloved. And no more will I only take and not give (though you are shaking your head now and saying that I give you too much credit and am too hard on myself).
I will see you. Your pain, your confusion, your anger – and your happiness, your contentment, your sexy chuckles and boy-like wonder and man-like confidence (that is sometimes a publicity stunt) and your tenderness with me and with Sherlock and with Tommie, and your silliness – all of it, I will see. And I will joy in you, as you have found joy in me even when I was at my worst. I will see you, I will witness your life, and I will rejoice in it with you, because I am so blessed to be part of your life.
And I will receive your love. When you tell me that I am beautiful, I will not cry. I will not laugh. I will not push you away. I will believe you. When you tell me to stop beating myself up and to forgive myself for things you’ve long since forgiven, I won’t hang on to my mistakes for dear life to pay penance. I will let them go – throw them far away, actually – and kiss you and rest in your love. When you reach for me, I won’t roll my eyes or sigh or tell you I’m busy – I will nestle into your strong, safe arms and revel in being close with you.
I will take care of you, as a friend, as a lover. When you are sick, I will drop everything and take care of you (though I must admit I’m already pretty good at that). When you are angry, I will listen to you and respect you. When you are hurt, I will nurture you and reassure you. When you are confused, I’ll try to help you understand. When you are silent, I will sit in silence with you – we are silent together so well. I will laugh with you and cry with you and rage with you and sleep with you and be with you until the day that I die, and even then it won’t be enough time to love you and be loved by you.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend.