Tad and I met when we were just kids, 16 and 17 years old, and we never stopped counting our original anniversary in December, 21 years this time around. Today marks 15 since our wedding. We’ve been friends and partners this whole time, but an incredibly humbling thing about growing older (growing up?) is acknowledging that after all this time, we are still learning how to love one another.
It’s only in the last year or two that we’ve realized that we aren’t here to complete each other. We are here to complete ourselves as well as we’re able – to be that, to offer that to each other and to the world. We finally learned that it’s unfair (and altogether human) to depend on another person for our happiness or to make us whole. We are already whole, we just didn’t know it because we were too busy looking outside ourselves to fill a hole we didn’t actually have.
We were happy for 18+ years together. Now, we are satisfied. We support each other in new ways. We are less needy, more trusting, more comfortable in our own skin. There were growing pains. His, while I learned this – Mine, while he did. Adjusting to the other’s new strength. And it has been so worth it, so relaxing. Because I don’t need him so much to feel my own worth, to distract me from my disappointment in myself, to make me feel happy – none of which were ever his responsibility in the first place – I feel awe at the miracle of WHO HE IS. I am so grateful to be with him, for however long we have together. I am no longer desperate not to lose him. Part of that may just come with growing older and knowing through life experience about loss. But in addition, I am no longer trying (consciously or subconsciously) to bend him to my needs. I am determined to be present for who he is right now. To enjoy and appreciate who he is right now.
There is a new level of trust and confidence that comes with this. There are new ways that we are challenging each other and helping each other grow. It is so much easier to recieve feedback – to hear from him that I was not present just then, not kind or rational, and know that it isn’t a criticism. I can recognize that he’s pointing me toward who I am, who he knows me to be. I know that he sees me more clearly now. (And I think, I do him).
I sort of like this getting older stuff. I wonder what we’ll learn in the next 15 years.