I grew up always having cats. So imagine my surprise when I went away to college, and my eyes stopped itching and my nose stopped running. Holy crap. I’d been allergic to cats that whole time and didn’t even realize it. It was just status quo for me.
Similarly, people have been telling me my whole life that I’d feel different when I got married. I didn’t believe them. I mean, I’m an adult. I know myself really well. And I’ve been in two long term relationships. So why would this be any different?
And yet, it is. It’s completely and utterly different. Why is that?
It had been confounding me for a few days. So, one day while sitting on my drawbridge, I decided to do some inner dialogue with myself to try to get to the bottom of this feeling. What’s changed?
After meditating on it for a bit, I figured it out. And It brought tears to my eyes. Because here it is in a nutshell: For the first time in 53 years, I’m not afraid.
And I’m not just talking about feeling more financially secure because of our combined incomes. (Although, yes, that’s a part of it. We are saving a fortune in insurance and utilities and in so many ways it’s insane. You don’t realize how much the capitalist system is stacked in favor of married couples until you join that elite group.)
But that’s only a small part of it. Here’s what’s huge: I had been living in fear for so long that I didn’t even realize that free-floating anxiety had always been in the very air I was breathing.
Fear of spending the rest of my life alone. Fear of dying on the weekend and it being days before anyone found my body. Fear of getting so sick that I couldn’t call for help. Fear that this painful loneliness would eventually kill me. Never feeling completely safe.
For the first time in my life, I feel like someone has my back. Always. Unfalteringly. There’s someone I can count on, and someone who can count on me. That’s incredibly new. Before, if I screwed up, I was on my own.
And if I triumphed, I was on my own, too. You don’t realize how freakin’ lonely that feeling is until you actually have someone to share the triumphs with. And that makes me really excited about the future!
The fact is, I’m part of a team now. A mutual admiration society of two. We are each other’s roofs and foundations. While past relationships have dragged me down, this one lifts me up, and if we go down, we’ll go down together, and climb back up together, too.
It seemed as though in past relationships I had to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. In this one, we are more equally balanced. We work toward the future together, and we want to go in the same direction.
So yes, this realization brought tears to my eyes, and they were complex tears, indeed. Tears of joy for the amazing place I find myself in now, and tears of sadness for the person I was a month ago, who had absolutely no idea how afraid she always had been.
If you’re lucky enough to be on a winning team for life, go and hug that person right now. Right this minute. And never let go. Because that connection is every bit as precious as the air that you breathe.