For my 114th post, it’s only fitting that I dedicate its content to Mark. Nearly 10 and a half years later and I haven’t once found myself at a loss for words in all the times I’ve declared my unending love for this man.
I used to think being incapable of truly being in love with someone was a deformity, a genetic trait that had passed through the blood flowing through my veins. For years I was under the impression that somewhere in my ancestral make up, the wire that connected one’s heart to its soulmate’s was sliced away, floating into the ether forever searching for the connection it was meant for. Determination for better did its best to bury the alarm six feet under because more than life itself, I wanted to finally shake the loneliness that shadowed me no matter how desperately I ran from it.
There was a looming presence of sadness that took residence in our household after my father left. I truly think it had gotten comfortable there until the day my son was born and only then did it drain of life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Too often I tell my children – in sentences they themselves can build on – that having Mark in my life was the first time I ever felt anchored to this world. I had been drifting without a care in the world for too long. My mother and I were each dealing with the divorce in our separate ways. Though I had many friends, only some mastered the labyrinth around the walls I built around my heart and soul. The best friends I did have were a tremendous comfort to me, interweaved in my ups and downs as though they had walked two moons in my moccasins. I had relationships prior to Mark but nothing that would ever match the intensity or strength I would find with him.
Even today I am glowing every October 31st to November 14th. I can summon roughly every detail of those two weeks – all it took to tie me to him, willing and ready to relinquish all the strikes (I thought) I had against me. That first year I battled many personal demons. He could have put his hands up in defeat, said this was way too much for him, and walked away without a single glance back at what could be. But he stood at my side, right where I needed him.
The trepidation that would creep up on me without warning worsened around Mothers Day, the year I turned 16. My mother and I had engaged in a screaming match only the night before. Over what and whoever won, I can’t even remember. To further avoid another confrontation, I came home late to find my father sitting in my living room and every breath was knocked out of me.
As Anne of Green Gables has said, “There’s a book of Revelations in everyone’s life”. That night altered everything I thought I knew about my life. Now I don’t know if it’s common in other kids of divorced parents, but I found myself chasing the parent that left and blaming the one who stayed. That night, my father lifted the veil blinding me from hard truths – it turned out he was to blame. My head spun with the sudden exposure and layer upon layer of further complications in my head began to pile up. Now, it wasn’t just that I perceived I’d have a lesser chance of having a lasting marriage (let alone a lasting relationship), the agitation of being left behind was palpable. Repeatedly the deliberation over whether or not one man represented them all wouldn’t leave me.
I begged it to.
It was too much. Like Mia said to Adam, “I needed to hate someone and you’re the one I love the most, so it fell on you.” I clung even more fiercely to Mark and it was with strong arms and kind words that he readily tangled himself up in the mess that was my teenage life.
Our teenage years were a beautiful mess. I say that as someone who has clawed out of her own personal hell and has embraced the realization that her parents’ fate doesn’t exactly determine the outcome of her own. I say this as someone who has thrown up all over the relationship rollercoaster, stumbled off, brought myself back to life, and found happiness with the same man who had the ability to mend her heart, smash it into smithereens, and sew it back together piece by tiny piece.
There were definitely hard times between us, nights I thought tears were an endless supply, days that I forced myself to drag my feet through. But one thing I’m so grateful for is that we endured, we overcame. Most of all, this powerful pull of hope instills itself in me when I still catch myself staring at him like I did when I was 15, and when I can feel his eyes on me and his love for me burns through them.
So to my high school sweetheart, to my one and only, to the man of my children, and the keeper of my heart – you are still the only one for me. I hope you feel that every day of your life and at times when we’re apart. I can’t ever regret the life I had before you because all of those roads lead me to you. Thank you for smoothing out the edges of my heart.
“I will love you.
Simple, to the point.”
– Carrie, “Sex and the City”
- Title taken from “The Last Time” by Taylor Swift ft. Gary Lightbody ↩