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Twenty-One

A girl walked into a bar, a big country bar a la Urban Cowboy. She wasn’t alone. She had brought along two partners in crime, a proverbial Girls’ Night Out. Not long after those girls walked into that bar, a few boys walked by them. One of those boys caught the girl’s eye. The boys kept walking. A few minutes later, the boys walked by again. And then not long after that, the boys walked by again, and one of them approached the girl, gave her some line, bought her a drink, and they started talking. Thus started a new journey that led to here. But it wasn’t all love and roses from the get-go. You see, that girl had been in two disastrous, damaging relationships book-ending two long-term, learning relationships. She was broken, distrustful of love, overly-cautious, not trusting her own instincts, not ready in the least to give her heart to someone new.

I don’t regret our beginning. I’m glad for the way we started out. We lived an hour away from each other. And I made him work for it. We talked every day on the phone – imagine that, talking on the phone, back when I still liked talking on the phone – and saw each other almost every weekend. But I would not commit. I was terrified and gun-shy after the previous five years’ experiences. I wouldn’t give of myself, wouldn’t open up to him. I gave very little, but he hung in there and fought for me, for us. I’m so grateful he did. I can’t imagine what my life would be had he not stuck it out, not battled hard for our relationship.

I threw everything at him in those six months….all my crazy, all my brokenness, all my insecurities and issues, even my crazy family. He didn’t run away. He stayed right there. That enabled me to build my trust in him. I needed to be able to trust him that much before I handed him my heart. I  needed to know he was going to stay, and he did.

We’ve not really ever talked about what that was like for him. He had to have reached some level of frustration. Six months in, he drew the battle lines, told me he’d had enough, had invested his limit if I wasn’t going to meet him halfway, make a commitment. I needed that ultimatum at that point to open my eyes to where we were, who I was. It allowed me to think about life without him, and I suddenly realized that was the last thing I wanted.

I’d love to say we lived happily ever after after that. We didn’t. We had more drama to go through. We’d been together just over a year when the long-distance just became too much. We broke up, for all of 36 hours. It was an awful 36 hours for both of us. Again, it made me reevaluate my life, my goals, my wants. I put in for a transfer at work, and four months later, moved to his city. Five months later, we were engaged, and thirteen months after that, we got married.

We still haven’t lived happily ever after….marriage is work. We’ve had our share of battles and struggles. We’ve faced tragedy, sickness, health, loss, huge moves, and disappointments, but we’re still here. I’d like to think that initial six months set us up for success. It taught us both how to fight for what matters, to keep our eyes open to who matters. It gave us time to really learn each other, because we talked every single day for at least an hour. Because we took our time to know each other, we established a base before we committed to each other. We were friends before anything else, which is something I still appreciate.

Twenty-one years later, he still makes me laugh, still makes me feel treasured and cherished, still makes me feel chosen. He also frustrates the hell out of me, drives me insane, drives me over the edge at times. But I love him, and am so thankful he fought for us when I wasn’t ready to yet. I chose him, and continue to choose him every single day.

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