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Sometimes It Is Okay To Be Scared.

December 29, 2009
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My first year of college was marked by a lot of other firsts, as are most peoples’. First time I got ridiculously drunk (and discovered I was desperately allergic to alcohol*), the first time I had to drive on the freeway (my friends swear up and down that I drove 40 miles an hour. . . under the speed limit), first time in a dorm living with complete strangers and consequently with that first time, looking at bad relationships in very close proximity.

 JB and Aimes were my first friends at college and were also my dorm suite mates. By complete happenstance, it was that once in a lifetime occurance where 3 strangers were thrown together in a living situation and actually loved each other and all got along. They both were in long term relationships: one of five years and another of four years. At 18, that is a long freaking time with somebody and both relationships I see now were a mess. There was physical and emotional abuse. Aimes was cheated on and the other two of us stood by her as she confronted the dreaded “other woman.” After all that, at the end of the day, week, month, no matter what those boys did, they stayed together. In the naivety of a young girl, I always assumed that the only people who were in abusive relationships were weak and there in front of me were two very strong, independent women who were in the grips of something bigger than they were, which they called “love”. There and then I decided, if this was love, I wanted no part of it because if they could get trapped in this cesspool they called “love” being as strong as they were, then I probably could too.

 JB and Aimes slowly broke away from those relationships, dated other men happily, had perfectly healthy relationships and eventually got married. I remember the lesson that I was thankful to not have lived through personally, and stayed far, far away from boys and this thing people called “love”. I knew better. It wasn’t like in the movies. I stopped reading romance novels on principal that the authors were doing an injustice to all their readers by depicting this thing so grand that in real life didn’t seem so grand after all. That same love that made people want to reach for the stars apparently also made people want to throw themselves off the Brooklyn Bridge (or any kind of bridge at all). I dated men. Even had a relationship or two but just before someone came too close, I broke it off. I tell people now that it is because I knew they were not “the One” (with a capital O) when really it was because brave, independent, strong Jesselyn was just plain scared.

Then along came this boy who was funny and kind, thoughtful but passionate and . . . played me like a fiddle. He never asked for more than I gave, I never gave him my weekends (I had my friends then and going out with a boy on the weekends means you are, Heaven forbid, serious) and he did not kiss my lips until I pulled his head down to kiss me. “I think I am in love” I told one of my best girls. “Oh my God, run” came the response. So I hedged. I kept a part of myself back. Just in case. I blatantly kept my guy friends around. Just in case. We moved in together and I made sure we had another room mate (who turn out to be Aimes!) so I had an escape. I did not put his name on lease. That would be a commitment. “It’s not fair” he said, “I give you ALL of me”

 And when the going got tough I tried to run. I wanted to break it off. He didn’t let me. Apparently, it takes two to break up. He held on and we worked things out. We talked things through, came to a mutual understanding and moved forward, together. He gently showed me this is how relationships work. There are rough spots sometimes and couples (even the best of them) get into arguments but if it’s something that means something to you, something that is good, and right and makes you a better person, you fight for it. A cause, a passion, a woman. “This is how a marriage is suppose to work. People in marriages don’t give up when it gets rough, they fight and work hard” he told me; the child of a splintered family and the leftovers from a divorce.

 Someone I love is picking up her pieces from a breakup, a relationship gone bad and she is scared. That someone will break her heart again. That maybe this love thing isn’t what it is made out to be after all. I wish I could tell her, “you will never have your heart broken again” or sagely nod “don’t worry, you’ll fall in love again, trust me”. I cannot. All I can tell her is that sometimes it is okay to be scared and when you finally find someone that makes you feel really, really scared, it is because you have found someone to hold your heart again. Being scared makes you evaluate people differently, yourself differently. Is this person worth it? Is this person worth me? But when you find that someone who is, it is also okay to stop being scared. To let yourself go and to fight with everything that is in you for everything you hold dear because it is from that true strength begins.

That is what, I think, makes a truly strong marriage: fear distilled into strength.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2009 7:45 pm

    Simply beautiful words. So very true.

  2. December 30, 2009 12:09 am

    I love that he wouldn’t let you break up.

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