I had a moment of truth in my life that I let slip by. I don’t regret it, because it gave me two beautiful children. But days before my wedding, in my peach and green childhood room, on the bed, I told my mom that I thought I was in love with someone else. She said, “If that’s true, you need to cancel this wedding. This is the rest of your life Olivia.”
But I wasn’t brave enough to do that.
It was a moment I relived for almost 20 years. It probably poisoned my marriage in ways I will never know.
But I settled when I got married.
It sounds horribly callous to say this but it’s true. While I was walking down the aisle of the church hanging onto my dad’s arm, from under the veil, I was hoping I would hear “Stop the wedding!” from a man I had only kissed but who I was in love with.
Thank God that didn’t happen because he ended up dropping out of college and works as a used car salesman in Mississippi today.
Why didn’t I cancel the wedding? Because I knew my husband was better for me. He was stable where the other guy was impulsive. He was a kind and giving man where the other guy tended to be petulant and selfish. He was safe where the other guy was a risk. I took the safe bet. I told myself I had made a grown up decision.
He became my path-not-taken fantasy. White horse, shiny armor, strong muscles. I imagined him riding into my life to rescue me from diapers, laundry, emotional abandonment from my husband. I imagined him all grown up, willing and able to right all the wrongs in my life.
Of course none of that happened. In fact, we reconnected 15 years later and I realized he was nothing like my dream. Hearing from him again reminded me why I hadn’t chosen him in the first place and decades of pining away for him burst in midair like a bubble. Poof. 15 years of wondering if in that moment of truth had I been brave enough would my life be better was answered with a resounding NO.
Because the truth was I knew in my heart that guy wasn’t right for me. I knew also in my heart that my husband wasn’t right for me. It’s a truth I chose to ignore for lots of reasons.
But it all just became nothing in the end.
I spent 25 years of my life trying to fit myself into a mold of what I thought my life should be on the outside and denying things about myself on the inside. And that’s why I named my blog Improvised Life. Once that facade was shattered by my divorce, I wanted to abandon MY plan and follow the one God laid out before me instead.
I had chosen the guy who I thought would make a good husband instead of a man who was a good match for me.
I almost did the same thing with Slimeball. He promoted himself the perfect family man. Great and giving husband and father. Had that been true…I would have once again found myself wondering “is this all there is?” I was on the path to settling again. Lies, lies, and more lies does not make for a good relationship no matter who much fun we had together and no matter how much he got along with my kids.
Part of my crisis over the past month is that I have been faced with another moment of truth. Harry lied to me and hurt me. I had to decide if I was going to take a lesson from my previous relationship and walk away before the lie became a pattern of disrespect and dishonor or…not. And what I chose to do was see Harry for who he was.
I had to ask myself why am I with this man? Why do I want to be in a relationship with him at all? Is it safety? Is it settling? Is it because I think he will make a good husband and provide for me? Is it because he is the picture of the man everyone in my life would approve of? Is it because he fits into that previous mold? Was I excusing him out of a fear of being alone?
But Harry breaks the mold because he’s the first man I’ve ever loved who doesn’t try to fit himself into one. He is not the safe bet. He does not have a resume that promotes his accomplishments leading to security. He has no children that he’s raised, no family, no pedigree. So why then? Why Harry?
Put as simply as I can…it’s because he has a willing spirit and heart. He is willing to listen, learn, love, admit faults, think, and grow. And this month I’ve seen him stripped down. No polish, no facade. I’m under no illusions and that is how I know now. I know it’s not me lifting him up higher than he is thinking he is one thing, when he’s not, like I did with my husband and like I did with Slimeball. I see him naked and raw and I think I know exactly who he is – and I still love him. And in this testing period he has not lashed out at me, he has not become juvenile like Slimeball did. He has not disappeared. He has given me respect and he has tried to meet my needs.
All I can say is on this Valentine’s Day. I’m following my heart instead of my head for the first time in my life (truly). This is huge for me. It doesn’t make sense strategically speaking for me to be head over heels in love with this man but I am. The second I kissed him I knew. I swear to God.
This time it’s not like I’m deciding between two mediocre choices and settling on what’s safe. Could he still break my heart? Yes. Anyone could.
I’m simply choosing what I want. I’m not trying to please anyone else. I said no to everything and everyone else. Free and clear. Without reservations in my heart. When I fell in love with Harry, he was the only one to occupy my heart. He fills it completely. There is no room for anyone else.
I simply want him. I don’t want him to fit into any kind of mold. I just love him. And whatever traits my life takes on as a result of him being in it…so be it. And the reason I know he’s “right for me” is that I’ve never felt more authentically me. He lets me be because he’s not trying to fit into any kind of mold either.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard from both Slimeball and my ex “Don’t do that” or “Do this” always related to meeting a cultural or societal expectation. I never hear that from Harry. We talk about what we need not what other people expect.
This time, in my moment of truth, I’m going to be brave. This time, there will be no path not taken. Because this time, instead of us trying to fit ourselves into molds imposed on us we are simply allowing ourselves to be molded by each other.