This week I celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary. And what I mean by “celebrated” is this – my partner and I spent the night together at Target buying holiday dresses for our girls for an upcoming family photo shoot.
So while it wasn’t the most romantic of anniversaries, here’s why it rocked – I got to walk around Target holding hands with the greatest person I have ever known who I have hands-down been in hard-core love with for SEVEN YEARS. WOOHOO!!!! This is the guy that, in the middle of the insanity that is our lives as executives and parents, he will look at me and smile and my stomach still does the same crazy somersaults it did when we were first dating. Seriously.
Here’s why. In the simplest of terms, I married up. He is a fundamentally better person than me, and in committing to love him for the rest of my life, I also committed to always striving to be the best person I can be, because that is what he does too. This ongoing dynamic has been the easiest thing and the hardest thing I have ever done.
And when you are doing this, you have to really look at yourself and what drives you. So loving someone so deeply can be really, really scary because it brings up the “emotional baggage” that we all have. Falling in love with him was easy. Stepping up and being the best partner I could be to him wasn’t.
Not to get too psycho-babble, but I have abandonment issues. I have this deep-seated belief that whatever you love goes away. It took me a lot of years of counseling to be able to write that. When I was 8 years old, the love of my life, my daddy, was crippled with cancer and died after a heart-breaking battle with the disease. What’s amazing is that our family got through it and my mom remarried a few years later to a man who became a father to me in the most loving and compassionate way I could ever imagine. So while my abandonment stuff runs deep, it has been buttressed by the love and support of my family overall. I think this is why I was able to grow up and be the functioning, successful person I was when I met my future husband.
A few years into our time together I started to see patterns in my behavior that were pretty unsavory. It was me at my worst – cold, distant and sad. So I did what I call “doing the work.” I got back into counseling, and recognized that the fears triggered by loving someone so much weren’t actually real, but emotional memories. That helped me to separate myself from them and get present with the life I had in the moment, freeing me to love without barriers. Do the emotional memories ever go away? Nope. Does it get easier to manage them? Yep.
We all have our shit – to put it not-so-politely. And I really believe that if you figure it out and learn to manage it, you can love and be loved in the way that we all want to love and be loved. I think I am blessed that I met someone who I wanted so bad that I was willing to go down into the well of my own crap so I could figure it out and build a life with him. That’s what I celebrated this week. And I hope I get to celebrate it for many more years ahead.