One of the great "told you so" moments that came out this pandemic is that I absolutely beyond a doubt know that Kim is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. Allow me to explain... I'm an optimist with a healthy dose of realism. And although all of my friends know exactly how long Kim and I have been together, I've been hesitant to reference it to the greater world. Why? Because of "that look". You know the one.... where people smile like they're happy for you but the smile is tight and their eyes twinkle with a hint of "I secretly think you're crazy". Yeah, that one.
We've all seen that look. Heck, some of us have given it, myself included! Last year, a coworker in her 30's excitedly told me she had gotten engaged since we last caught up. I was thrilled for her! But moments later, I visibly watched her body tense and her joy recede when I asked her how long they'd been together. Simple question, but the answer was "less than a year".
I could tell she'd gotten that question before just by the answer. She went on to explain as though she had to justify her choice to me somehow. As if my opinion on her engagement should even matter. My heart broke. I interjected somewhere in there and told her, "You don't owe an explanation for how much you love someone! I'm so happy for you! Congratulations!" To all the friends that came before her with short engagements, eager to share their joyous news with me, I'm sorry for "that look". I wish I had figured this out sooner!
Before Kim, I had been in a variety of different relationships in my 35 years. I had dated some great people! But I also dated a few liars, someone less "single" than they claimed to be, and someone physically abusive. The latter is one of the reasons I'm such a huge advocate for mental health. Maybe Glenn Close said it best, "What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation". To everyone reading this, there is no shame in having a therapist!
One of my favorite things my therapist asked me was: If you were hiring someone to work for you professionally, how well would you vet them? How many interviews does your company do? How many questions do they ask before that person is hired? Do the same for when you're considering someone to be your partner! It's the most important job you'll offer someone.
I spent a lot of "quality time" with my therapist working on how to identify red flags, how to establish healthy personal boundaries and most importantly self love. In short, I did the work!!! I came out the other side knowing who I am, what I want, what I DON'T want, how to love all the parts of me and how to continuously work towards a life of balance.
When I met Kim, I was in a really great place, mentally, emotionally, and physically. What I love the most about our story, is that I was always 100% my genuine self. I didn't hide the silly dorky side. I was comfortable with her seeing the karaoke with a spoon, one woman concert I put on while cooking dinner. I didn't hide the work stressed, PMS, where's the ice cream side either! I let her in when I cried over my family. And she's celebrated with me during all my happiest moments. I allowed myself permission to bring all of me to the table. I gave Kim room to do the same. Because isn't that the challenge, letting someone love all of you?
Surviving a pandemic when you're housebound for days on end will test even the strongest relationships. But I picked the right woman to share my life with. As the stay at home order comes to its end, these are the things I learned. Kim is my favorite companion for late night couch chats. She is my chosen Scrabble adversary for life. She'll hold me if I need to cry on the kitchen floor, an introvert with nowhere to go . We talk through disagreements when we have them. We give each other space and we share the silence when words aren't needed.
Are we perfect? Not by a long shot. But I meant yes with every ounce of my heart, when Kim asked me to marry her. So you can call me crazy if you'd like, and give me "that smile" but I'm not obligated to justify how much I love someone. And you shouldn't be either. 💕