For most of my married life, I felt secure. I had a husband that I trusted. I owned a home and had been at the same job for many years. I felt comfortable in my life; I trusted that change, if desired, would come from intention. It was predictable and I liked that. If you had asked me where I would have been five years down the road, I would have answered without hesitation.
That feeling of security and blind trust is what allowed me to become complacent. Too comfortable. I was petrified of losing that feeling of security. I was very conservative in my decisions, choosing to avoid risk whenever possible.
I lost all semblance of security when he left. Everything was in question; nothing was sure. I didn’t have time to let it scare me. I simply had to survive. I was operating at the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy: eating, sleeping and breathing were my priorities.
I started tiptoeing back into life. I branched out but much was still unknown. I could not even imagine where I would be five years hence. And I was okay with that.
At some point I realized that the security that I had held so dear was an illusion, the equivalent of a child clutching a stuffed bear to ward off the dangers in the night.
I had outgrown the need for the illusion of security. I realized that the house, the job, the marriage could disappear. There were no guarantees in mortgages and marriage certificates. They could be pulled from my hands just as easily as that stuffed bear, leaving me to face the night alone.
I had an experience that highlighted my changing views of security during my Match Madness phase. I dated one man for several weeks. He had money. I mean, real money. After only a few weeks, he mentioned the idea of me moving in, leaving my job and becoming basically a kept woman. I was repulsed by the idea but fascinated by my response. At that point, I had put in my resignation at my job and had no idea where I was going to live or how I was going to make money. I was facing the very real debts from my ex and had not yet received innocent spouse relief from the IRS. In other words, being kept should have been a temptation.
But it wasn’t. It felt like a prison.
I realized that the illusion of security works to hold us in, using our fears as restraints. I would have been bound to him by the fear of being penniless, not out of mutual respect and love. It went both ways. He was accustomed to using his bank account to hold women; he never had to work on relationship skills since he assumed that his wallet would do it for him. He was scared by the thought of a relationship without that hold.
Security looks different for me now. I don’t look for it externally, rather my security comes from trusting myself and knowing that I can make it through regardless of what happens. By next year, I will again have a marriage certificate, a mortgage and a secure job. But now I won’t be looking at them for comfort and assurance; that will come from within. I no longer clutch onto the metaphorical stuffed bears, but nor do I refuse to hold them.