You find yourself considering it though you never thought you would again; you listen for the phone to ring and wait for the conversation to meander around to the topic as it does periodically though you are the one who cuts it off with a joke, and you find yourselves locked in laughter as usual or frolicking like teenagers, and you tell yourself this is beyond what you could have imagined, and then you ask: Why am I so afraid?
You hear words of love and they reassure you; you pay attention to the catch in his voice when he speaks them and to their frequency and their timing; they exceed anything like convenience or expectation, and the queries over commitment spill out at the oddest moments – when he looks at you gently and when he worries about you, when you are convinced you’re a disheveled mess and surely you haven’t learned a thing about men.
He wants you when you’re overtired and he wants you when you’re clattering around in the kitchen; he wants you in bed at any time and he wants you when you’re humming in the shower; he seeks your hand when you’re walking along the river and takes your arm when chatty together, navigating the Farmer’s Market; he holds you when you arrive late and apologize; instead of being annoyed he’s happy to see you, and he says it again, that he loves you.
There’s more of course.
There is the more that you sense he wants, there is the more you don’t know if you can give, there is the more of sealing the deal and you loathe legalities which is a learned thing and you have your reasons, and he knows them all.
You recognize that distrust – tenacious and temperamental – tightens its grip though you challenge its power as trusting what you hear becomes a critical course of study, a set of quizzes you pop on yourself, a determined and necessary practice, a discipline devoted to retrieving a whole or reconstructing it and you aren’t sure which or how much of each, but you know that the life you desire depends on your ability to persist because – as he loves you, you love him.
And you remind yourself that anything good between people requires love and so much more than love and more than trust though surely trust is key, and you know your values and you are still coming to appreciate his, as he knows your terrors and possesses the character to engage them. Your trust is the stumbling block and you seek to overcome it so you may trust what you hear and trust what you see and trust what you feel and not be afraid to trust yourself, knowing your trust as a finely fissured thing – sutured after the tears and punctures, pumped up beneath the bruising and battering, long quarantined and nourished with the nutrients you selected: the passage of years; self-awareness which is its own journey; the gradual exercising which you hope will regenerate capacity.
You look at the girl you once were and you are relieved to find this wiser woman. You calculate your odds and you assess your options. You understand that he has lived a different story; you share no history and you wonder how it is that you still move forward.
It isn’t that you fear feeling foolish if you trust again and everything falls apart, because you know fear and you conquer it daily. This is something deeper than the dismissal of emotional belonging and far more pragmatic: this is the potential of one final devastation – the loss of home, of financial survival, of whatever shreds of community you have left.
You tell yourself that he is easy to love and you are not, though he disputes you; you tell yourself he is easy to live with and you are not, and he disputes you again; you tell yourself he is easy to trust, and you are frightened in the wake of wounds and assaults, but equally frightened of the barren winter.
So you reconsider cohabitation, you reconsider more formalized commitment, you turn to trace your tangled path to the tiny child whose trust was shattered, to uncertain rooms in which behaviors are volatile, to the ride that is always dangerous but essential to revisit as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
You accept your responsibility in the relationships that followed as you put the pieces together and inevitably echoed your beginnings. You know you carry the seeds of misplaced reliance and you choose not to plant them, working instead to cultivate trust while insisting that you not be asked to test it in ways for which you aren’t ready – tentative but gaining confidence as you feel your way and see your way, and begin to trust what you hear, so tenderly spoken.
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