Tonight, I am experiencing a strange phenomenon. I see that I am 40 years old. That is neither old nor young, in the scheme of things. Yet I know that I have fought a battle since I was about 18 years old. Literally. I moved out of my mother's house at that age. My grandmother laughed at me, saying I'd be back my Thanksgiving. I wasn't. I knew I wasn't ready to be on my own, but I also knew I wasn't willing to stay where I was. So I broke ties and got an apartment. I remember thinking how damn expensive milk was! So I stopped putting it in my coffee, and for years drank it black with sugar. I made some very responsible choices at that point in my life, but not very many. Really, I'm lucky I survived. Mostly, I was a totally irresponsible little ass. I even contemplated putting myself in an institution. However, I had a roommate who actually institutionalized herself, and as far as I could tell, she was way more screwed up than I was. So I figured I'd try my back up plan.
That worked out well, and I made a lot more responsible choices, but I still am surprised I survived. My idiocy exceeded my common sense and good choices by a significant number still.
My point here, is to note that TRULY learning to take care of myself, without pulling any punches, took YEARS. It took good influences, a crap load of mistakes, smart choices, chances, adventures, pain, more pain, confusion, being an asshat, dealing with asshats, longing for asshats, battles and reading and tears and, did I mention, a boat load of idiocy?
And then I decided that I really had been an idiot. And I tried to lay off the dumb things I was doing and try and figure out a better recourse...perhaps even try to PLAN something. And then I met John. And he invaded my life in ways I never dreamed possible. Such a perfect combination of gentility and passion was what we had, that I didn't even know what was occurring. I remember my roommate at the time worrying that she was going to lose me to "the M word"...I was so befuddled, I actually stood in her doorway, trying to figure out this word puzzle...and came out with "I M-ove him?" (pronounce love with an "m") She was talking "marriage" and I was just hoping it was some version of love, not even dreaming there was a future with me married!
And so it was. And making healthy choices, if not always believing in myself, was so much easier than I ever dreamed! I had stopped smoking, stopped drinking, started bouncing trampoline, exercising more, and was reveling in the whole "not being alone" thing to a level deeper than I ever dreamed. The drinking and smoking wasn't even a thing...he didn't ask me to stop. I just didn't WANT to anymore. I wanted to play! His way...even though I couldn't keep up.
And. Now here I am. I admit to falling back into old habits that are hurtful. But what I realized tonight is that it isn't about individual choices. It is that he helped to take care of me. I was on a journey, decades long, trying to figure out how to take care of myself. And I was blessed to find a man who helped close gaps that would have taken years to fill and solidify and decorate on my own. And now that he is gone, the flooring burnt with him. So I have these odd and random holes in my foundation. And I have to do the work I started years ago.
Yes, it is likely true that if he had never died, I would have still had to do this work. But he supported that. We were working on it. It just was never urgent when he was with me...because if I found I couldn't get over a pothole, he'd hold my hand. He would back flip over the sucker, take me on his back, and find a way across. He's set himself on fire to burn a hole to the place I needed to get through. Messy and sooty and sometimes painful, but effective. My damn Green Lantern...no powers of his own but chosen, simply because inside, he was a good guy and willing to try.
And now, I have to do this all on my own. I didn't realize how much work I have still to do, just on me...the foundation of who I am, who I want to be, how to do what I want and have to do...
I'm 40, and I have to learn lessons I started at 28. Shoot, lessons I started at 18...who am I kidding? Good lord, all I have to say is that I am so glad I had him! I forgot how hard it was to be me without him. Sigh. I may not know a path, or have answers, or a plan...but I least I know I am so much stronger now.
At least there is that.