I have always been largely a believer that love is essentially black and white. If your love is true, no amount of time or distance could destroy it. If your love is true, you don’t have doubts. If your love is true, other uncertainties or struggles in life do not affect the certainty of your love.
When I met “the one,” he felt like just that. For the first time in my life, I didn’t question and nitpick. I didn’t start fights to break up the monotony, I didn’t let resentment build. I lived in the moment, but felt utter joy and excitement about every future moment to come. I felt confident in him, proud of him, and happy with him. We lived with ease and with comfort and with respect. I was treated like gold, and I wanted nothing but to treat him with the same amount of appreciation and adoration that he had for me. We were unbeatable.
I was proposed to in our bed at about midnight, after a fairly typical night of laying next to each other in bed, legs intertwined and heads turned upward, staring at the pipes and rafters of our loft ceiling, talking and listening to each other, picking each other’s brains. This was one of my favorite parts of our life together—going to sleep at night and actually thanking someone (God? Science? Fate?) for bringing this person into my life. I had, truly, not a care in the world, and the feeling was absolutely intoxicating (and new to my over-analytical brain). It wasn’t a honeymoon stage—that was something I’d felt too many times before, in several other relationships. This felt like what everyone had always talked about. What I’d waited for and held out for, and trusted my gut about, with all the others who never quite felt right. If we had a disagreement, we talked about it. If I was angry, I told him why. If he was hurt, he’d explain himself to me. And we were just happy. I was confident in him, in myself, and in us—in our ability to tackle anything together. His positive, youthful spirit was a breath of fresh air, his interests and passions were in line with mine, and he was the most trustworthy, steady-Eddy guy I could ever imagine.
It’s probably clear that this story is headed some place different. At some point, a certain amount of doubt started to creep in. And like anything else that creeps in, it slowly began to take over more and more of my thoughts. I never doubted that I loved Jon, but I doubted the finality of choosing him as the person I’d be with for the rest of my life, and I began to forget what that feeling was like of laying in bed at night and not questioning my life. I was back to my old self and my old life—fairly constant anxiety about whether this person was right, whether this life was right, what different feelings and thoughts meant, and other overall themes of questioning. Gone was my unshakable confidence, my pure joy, my selfless appreciation for another being.
Due to consumption by work for Jon, a consequential turn to outside friends for me and a fairly serious mid-twenties/post-grad crisis as a result, an inability to truly understand how each other was feeling or how to fix it, and most notably, a breakdown in communication, the wheels began to fall off, despite our inability to even grasp the seriousness of it. We postponed our wedding just over a month before. I wanted Jon to be the one, and I thought he was. But the ticking time bomb of an approaching wedding was more than I could handle, so we decided that was our only option. It seemed to be the answer for a while, but we never really got at the root of the problems, and where Jon thought he had a handle on how to make me happy, neither of us really did. We let ourselves get so far away from the people we once were, and the partnership we once had, that we were unable to find our way back. I broke up with Jon and we moved out of our house seven months after the postponement. We were both truly devastated, truly lost, and truly searching, but for very different reasons and with different motives (as with every relationship).
But something has happened, since that day—since hitting rock bottom. It hasn’t happened quickly, or easily, or neatly. But we have managed, in a remarkably natural way, to get back to those people that we were laying in our bed at Station 55, sharing our lives with one another. We’re not those people anymore, because we’ve grown, and we’re tarnished, and we’re bruised up and callused. But we’re still those people underneath it all, and we’ve been reintroduced to that. We are re-learning how to communicate, after spending three years of taking for granted the notion of what it means to communicate, and how. We’re re-learning how to walk (baby steps), how to talk (clearly, honestly, with intention), and how to love (unconditionally, and without comparison). We’re learning that a partnership isn’t perfect, it’s evolving. We’re learning that love doesn’t conquer all unless you learn how to let it. We’re learning that the foundational principles of a relationship (the basement of the house) are important, but it’s not a house without the rest of the floors and all of the little details that make a house a home. We’re learning that nothing should go assumed, nothing should go unspoken—communication is the oxygen that keeps a relationship alive and breathing, when everything else may be a struggle. And we’ve learned that putting each other first is the most important thing—for what it tells the other person, and for how it constantly builds strength in the partnership. We’re also learning that when your head and heart are in the right place, it really doesn’t take much effort. This was the feeling I was missing for so long, and that I knew deep down we had at one point. That’s what I was holding out for—getting back to that place.
I used to think that love is essentially black and white—that nothing could come between real love, and if something did, it meant the love wasn’t real. If you had told me when I was 16 that I’d get engaged, postpone my wedding, break up with my fiance, and then rekindle an even stronger relationship, I wouldn’t have believed you in a thousand years. I sometimes wish I had never broken up with Jon. But I know that we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t been through this process. The fact that we have had the ability to feel the breakdown and the rebuild has been truly liberating and illuminating. I used to think that love would conquer all, but now I know that people are people, and life can sometimes get in the way. This path, although incredibly unconventional, has been the right one for us, to allow love the chance to conquer after all—or at least put up one hell of a fight.