When I found the letters from our dating years, I found one that disturbed me. I feel should have been a huge warning sign to both of us to stop the direction we were heading.
It was written in July 1993, 4 months before we married; I was 18 years old. I don’t remember the conversation and I’m very vague as to why I’m writing the letter. It speaks loudly to the way I viewed myself then and for most of my adult life.
I feel unhappy a lot – because I’m not living up to my expectations – or it seems to me – anyone else’s. And I let myself get depressed a lot – I don’t want to face reality. Reality is I’m 18 years old and I have at least 2-3 weeks to find a job – so I can pay rent and insurance. I am in a place where people love me, but I reject it because I feel unworthy. I have a man who loves me more than I can comprehend – who is unlike me so much – that sometimes I just wonder how we find enough to talk about for the 6-11 hours we spend together. And a future father and mother-in-law that hammer me to get my act together. And a family in a hell hole and I can’t help them. And I feel so guilty to be in this wonderful place and my mom is in a far away place and she deserves this place much more than I do.
I don’t feel like I’m really pretty or even desirable. My body I guess is something a lot of girls would die for. (the husband would tell me that) But my stupid chest makes me feel fat. I hate my chest. It makes me feel like a slut sometimes – so I wear my clothes very big – so then I don’t look so desirous.
I don’t have much confidence in myself — I’ve never really been taught how to be a girl. I don’t know how to make my hair pretty – or my face pretty – or how to sit and talk and walk or all the feminine qualities I seem to be missing – and I have awful posture because of my stupid chest.
I can’t explain why God put us together but I know he did. That’s why I quit fighting you and my feelings. I don’t know what God has in store for us, but it’s good and we’ll be together.
You have got to help me. I don’t trust anyone else enough. I’ve asked people to help me gain confidence in myself and when they try it’s hard for me trust them.
I trust you like a little girl trusts her father. The only person on earth I want to please is you. And I want you to be happy. I want to make you happy but I don’t know how.
I feel like I’m on a different plane than you because you’re 27 and I’m 18…I feel like I’m my family’s only chance at a better life…I don’t want to face the world — because my whole life its used me, abused me, laughed at me, scorned me, snubbed me and basically turn their back and rejected me. Even when I was growing up in Boise I felt like everyone in the assembly felt sorry for me and so they put up with me.
And the husband received this letter, read it and married me. I am still questioning his sanity.
The letter was a combination of “I love you” and “I’ll compromise who I am so you’ll love me” and “I am writing an argument to convince me, that I love you, and you, that you love me.” It is clear that I was in no way ready to be married, and honestly, probably shouldn’t have married the husband.
The depth of our past dysfunction is vast. We both had unrealistic expectations of each other. Neither of us knew how to love one another. He wanted me to be a wife; I viewed him as a father. He wanted me to be confident like the women his age, and I’d barely escaped childhood alive. He didn’t understand the emotional dynamics of sexual abuse and I wondered why I married someone who wanted sex. It was a spiral downward that we couldn’t stop, no matter how hard we tried.
Do I regret my choice? Does he regret his? A few years ago we both would have said yes. Well…maybe. Because without us making that choice we would not have the three children we have. We can’t imagine life without them … or without one another.
We are still finding areas that need work. Talking about issues that in the past caused disagreements forces us to confront the problem and not deflect. Things that we’ve ignored have to be addressed. We are learning to walk in grace, respond with kindness, extend mercy and embrace love.
I can’t explain why my life went the way it did. I don’t know why the husband didn’t read that letter and decide to run or at least demand that I get help. I now recognize, as does he, that he was messed up also. In that way, we were “perfect” for one another.
I’m simply grateful. Grateful for the broken road we’ve walked that finally led us to one another.