Love After Divorce: Reflection on a Journey, Part 3
I was planning on moving in with Brock in June, once my lease had expired. Maddy, my elderly cat from my former life, moved in a bit early. I had asked Brock to look in on her while I was in San Antonio over spring break. He elected to go ahead and move her into his place. Brock had never owned a cat and wasn’t really a ‘cat person.’ Plus, we had Tiger to be concerned about. He is an amazing and very obedient dog that is not aggressive in the slightest, but he does outweigh Maddy by a good 90 pounds. Plus, at the time of her arrival into his home, he was still full of boundless (and clumsy) puppy energy.
Brock was amazing at orchestrating their introduction. He began by studying Cesar Millan’s recommendations for animal introductions, especially since Tiger had already been dog whispered. We brought Maddy over in her crate and set her on the floor. Brock used his body language to claim the cat as his while Tiger was allowed to sniff around. Maddy had known and loved dogs; she lived with 3 in our previous life. However, she was older and had also been traumatized by multiple moves and time spent around a growing baby. She was hesitant. But eventually, Brock and Tiger both won her over. She is now more social and less fearful than she has ever been. She has learned how to relax and trust others. Some parallels with her momma, perhaps? 🙂
Brock and I sometimes get irritable with each other. We get frustrated and occasionally feel misunderstood. This doesn’t happen often. (And, when it does, it’s usually about me feeling overwhelmed. Go figure.) We always work through the issues. It takes some time. I usually have to release some emotion first and it takes him time to find the right words. But eventually we get there.
It’s strange. Now that I know that a disagreement doesn’t mean he’s about to walk out the door, I like them. No, that doesn’t mean that I like to argue. I don’t; it’s not my nature. What I like is that it feels real. My ex and I didn’t agree on everything, but we rarely had to deliberately and methodically work things out. In retrospect, I think he actively avoided conflict and, with my anxiety, I was all too happy not to rock the boat. I have had to learn all over again to speak up when I need to and to be prepared to work it all the way through. I also have learned from Brock’s humility; he is always ready to admit when he is wrong or doesn’t know something. He has helped me see the world through the eyes of a constant learner, leaving my ego checked at the door.
I am happier now than I ever have been. I don’t have the paralyzing fear of losing Brock like I did my ex. I’m secure in my attachment. I am more aware of our “individualness” within the partnership. I said about my ex,
“He had become fully enmeshed in my existence. Teasing the strings of him out of me would take time and a patient hand. I needed to find out where he ends and I begin.”
I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way again. I don’t if that is good or bad, but it is. That individuality is what creates some of the conflict, but it also means that we are each healthy and functional in are own rights. I feel like we are both conscious in our decisions and our choices. We are together because we want to be together, not because we are afraid to be apart. And that feels amazing.
It’s been interesting during the progression of our entire relationship – I went from acting married with short-term dates (not intentionally, it was just what I was used to) to being a step behind Brock during our courtship. He said, “I love you” first, he started using “our” first, and he was the one to initiate a real talk about marriage first. I am so thankful that we moved slowly. Too fast and he would have probably shut down and I would not have had the needed time to heal and move forward myself. It has been great to enjoy each stage without worrying about what the next has to offer.
We had talked about marriage, more in the abstract than anything, at various points throughout our relationship. Neither one of us felt a strong need to legalize our relationship. We had no internal or external pressure to wed. We had been exclusive and committed for years. We shared a home and a joint account for home expenses (don’t worry – I still have my own separate accounts too:) ). I could tell that Brock was wanting more. We completed paperwork to give the other the power to make medical decisions. We became emergency contacts and beneficiaries. But still, he felt like there was more.
Last August, we were visiting friends on the Georgia coast. (Let’s Go On An Adventure) We took a day trip over to Cumberland Island. While we were walking along the deserted dunes together, he asked, “Would you ever want to get married again?” I pulled a Lisa and gave him a non-answer, talking about how I wasn’t opposed to marriage and I had liked being married, etc., etc. He asked again. I said the same things. He asked a third time. By this time, we were spread out on the beach on our respective towels. I turned towards him, realization finally breaking through my defenses.
“Yes, I would.”
“Good,” he replied, “because I already made an appointment to go look at rings.”
I could have chosen to stay walled off. I could have decided to never risk love again. But life on those terms isn’t worth it to me. I’d rather love again and risk the loss than live with the certainty of being alone. I’m ready to embrace love with all its beautiful imperfections and glorious uncertainties. I choose to love.
With my ex, cohabitation, engagement, and marriage all felt about the same. That’s not the case this time. Mainly because of how it has impacted Brock – he has been much more vulnerable and open since that day. He never thought he would get married and, now that it is going to happen, he is able to relax more and reveal more. As for me? It just feels right. I love this man and I want that known. I love how we challenge each other and encourage the other to learn and grow. We have both learned from our pasts and have made different choices this time around. I do want to be married again. This time for real.