I think there's a common misconception that because I am the widow in this relationship with Michael that I have some sort of upper hand or a laissez faire attitude towards this relationship. It would be easy to think that I lack insecurities. This is not necessarily true. Saturday, we attended a retirement party for a family member. The ex wife was also present with the Cabbage and I got to spend some time hanging out with her. She and Michael get along and work together to make things good for the Cabbage. There was a moment when the three of us were standing there and the ex was telling us this really funny story and we were all laughing and I suddenly felt that twinge of self doubt. I mean, she's nice and funny and possibly more entertaining than I am. Michael has said to me before that when he said his marriage vows, he'd meant them. He doesn't break promises. So, if she hadn't left, he'd still be sticking it out with her. When Chris and I were just beginning our relationship, he said something to me that I never forgot. We were in his dorm room and he was showing me his Nerf gun collection (I know). He was telling me about how he and a group of people would sneak into Davis Hall at night and have Nerf gun wars. One of those people was Jen Tucker. Chris said "You know Jen Tucker right? If she didn't have a boyfriend, I'd totally be with her right now." At the time I was completely taken aback by that statement. In my ears, I heard "I would rather be with her, but you're OK as second best". That's totally not what Chris was saying and later on we would laugh about that conversation, but it shows you two things. First thing, just because Chris and I had a good life together doesn't mean that there weren't moments when I didn't feel insecure in that relationship. No, I didn't have a choice in his leaving, but I never would have had a choice in his leaving. When Chris got sick, I approached his illness like I was going into battle. I was determined to find some miracle cure to fix him. If Chris had come to me and said that he was leaving, I would have approached the situation in the same way. I would have been determined to find a way to make him stay. Insecurities can exist even in a "perfect" marriage. Secondly, the words we use to communicate to each other matter and they mean different things to different people.
What Chris was really saying at that time was "Yeah, I really liked Jen, but now we're just friends and that's all we'll ever be". My fault in all of this was not being brave enough to ask for clarity. It takes a certain amount of bravery to admit that you are insecure about certain things. Though some of you may see me as fearless, there are aspects of my life where I am not so brave. It's one thing for me to write about vulnerable topics here. In fact it's almost easy to write that I am sad, happy, anxious, point to the pain here. To me that's not being so brave or vulnerable. The bravery comes in the ability to actually voice those insecurities. So much of what I write here are things that I fear saying out loud. There's a difference between the judgmental eyes of reading comprehension and judgmental ears with a different kind of listening skills. At least there is to me. There's also something terrifying in admitting that it would more than sting for Michael to walk away from this relationship (though I have been assured that this is just not a possibility). It would be more than bruised pride. The bravery comes in asking those questions and admitting to that person that you too feel some self doubt. Because they have their own insecurities. Michael and I were talking about bigger houses and he said "do I take up too much space in your tiny house?". I replied "you take up enough space", and there's a part of me that does not want to admit that this is true. There is a vulnerability in admitting that he takes up enough space because of the implication of the emptiness he would leave behind.
He kisses me with intention before leaving for work in the mornings and calls me Lois because I can't form a complete sentence. I am his plucky reporter.
Happy Love Thursday.