It comes in flashbacks lately. Small moments, little memories. They come in the most random places that are not at all related to whatever I was thinking about or what I was doing.
The moments and memories I find are mostly sad. Instances of times where my heart was aching in a space where it had to pretend it was happy. Times where it was clear that what we were, was not connected. Where I did or said things because I knew it's what he wanted and times where I didn't say anything when it meant standing up for my feelings.
I remember times where I had a burning in my chest, a incessant need to speak up about something that was eating me alive and I remember his nonchalant conversations when I did. When I opened up about something from my past that really bothered me. I remember the first time I shared with him that I was abused as a child. My delivery was awful. It was still pretty early into our relationship. It was a chilly day shifting into night and we were in his jeep with the windows up, a little drafty but the heat on high to warm us up. I remember we had just picked up our coffee from Dunkin and I broke the silence as I confessed I needed to share something that had been on my heart, though I didn't know why I had to. I guess maybe God was prompting me. I said it plainly, bluntly, nervously. But instead of a conversation, it was just a kind of thanks for the heads up. Not in those exact words. I don't remember his exact words and to be honest, there may not have been any.
Confessions never gave me peace. Instead I felt shame and guilt and this thought that maybe I should keep these things to myself. So I did. For days and weeks and months and years. YEARS of not saying, hey my heart really hurts when you do "X". YEARS of denying myself the things I really wanted to do, from something as simple as watching the Grammy's or having something specific for dinner to bigger things, like hopes and dreams for where I saw us. I folded into myself more often than not and gave away everything and then some to sustain us. I didn't see it as that at the time of course. At the time I saw it in a less educated version of dying to self - denying my own desires to meet the needs of the man who once whispered in the dark that he'd marry me one day.
And that's ultimately what I wanted. To be had and held for the rest of our lives. Safety. Comfort. Assurance. It didn't matter if my feelings sometimes hurt as long as we were together. They say girls who grow up with abusive fathers often repeat the cycle in their own lives. Maybe in a weird way I was too.
I hate all of this. Because in reflection and retrospect I see a lot of sadness and heaviness that overshadows all the joy, fun, happiness, and love that we shared. Many of my favorite memories happened with that guy by my side, usually when we were both free from work pressures and social influences. But it was a piece-meal kind of relationship. Mostly charred by my inability to communicate. Can I say it was both of our fault? Because I never felt able to open up and he just never did.
What a mess.
Walking through this next phase of my life, acceptance in place of sorrow has been moving and eye opening. For months I've been telling myself I'm ready to jump into the unknown future, but truthfully I think I'm still tippy toeing out of the past. It's like a long road trip, when you're within an hour from your house and all you want to do is be there. All you want to do is just be done with the driving.
So here I am, an hour from being where I truly want to be. Open to where the Lord will speak and facing the past with my eyes and heart open, even if it hurts like hell to do so. I want to do better and I think this is something that I've really been refined in over the past few years. It's been easier to speak out and less and less do I feel shame when I finally do. I really want to get better at this because I know that the openness gives way to true relationships. This is what my hearts desire is. To know others intimately and to be known truly. So I will approach the past as a place holder to mark how far I've come. I will look on the past not as a stumbling block but as a building block for my future. I will allow God to take me back to where I was so I can see how He's lead me through. So I can see how He took me from a land of bondage, fear and hurt and brought me on this journey that promises to reconcile all things together for good. Whether that happens on this side of heaven or not, I don't know. But I am thankful for the ability to recognize that this is in fact a journey and not a time machine where I can transport to the future in the blink of an eye. It's a process. It's my story and I'm finally starting to feel okay with that.