Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Young Adulthood Rite of Passage 1: Get dumped --- Check

Jared and I had a nice, long conversation the other week. We sat in his car in a parking lot, and while the air conditioning whirred away, he told me that he wanted to take a break from the Church. He said he wasn't sure how he felt about God, wasn't sure whether he believed in the things he had borne testimony of for so many years. I told him that I understood, that it sucks to be so uncomfortable when you’re just trying to figure out your relationship with God and be okay with yourself. I told him that I’d be there for him, that I liked him and was willing to wait while he tried to get through this, but that the Church is the most important thing to me and a temple marriage is of absolute, utmost importance. He said he was going to do what he could, and in the meantime, he would really like me to stick around. I said I would. After all, I liked him, and he had managed to survive my breakdown and hospitalization in January. I wanted to repay that one not-so-small favor if I could.

I had boot camp that night, which was a great opportunity for me to mull things over without interruption or well-meaning roommates asking me how I was and why I was being so quiet. While I was doing a million walking lunges and American kettle bell swings, I came to two conclusions:

1. I was relieved that he hadn’t asked me to marry him. 

I'm not marriage-crazed! There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this! 

I had had an experience one Sunday when I was really struggling with opening up to him. I wanted to be able to give more of myself to the relationship, since he had held my hand through a suicidal episode and had done so many wonderful things for me. So I prayed about it. And while he sat next to me and scribbled notes on his legal pad, I thought very clearly, “You will marry him.” ...Welp, there’s nothing like a Divine mandate to help you get over your insecurities. So while our relationship progressed, that thought was always at the back of my mind. 

When he said he wanted to talk about something personal (using the same wording he had when he wanted to tell me he liked me, I might add!), I thought either he wanted to talk about marriage, or I don't know what else. I was a nervous wreck all day. I’m not ready to get married. I mean, I’ve thought about it (hundreds of times) and I’d even told Niccole I was probably going to marry Jared, but I thought (hoped) that it would be a long way off. But as hard as I tried to shake it, at the back of my mind was that thought: “You will marry him.” 

As soon as I got home from work that day, I went straight to my bedroom and prayed. I told Heavenly Father that I was scared to death, but that I wanted to be obedient. I told him I didn’t think I was ready to get married, but that I couldn’t deny the prompting I’d had, and I asked Him to give me the courage to do whatever I needed to do.

My nervousness only increased when the doorbell rang and when I climbed into Jared’s car. When he said, “I’ve gone over this conversation in my head a thousand times,” I thought I might explode. 

After the initial shock of our conversation wore off, I knew that God had answered my prayers and had Abraham-and-Isaaced a marriage proposal to a much later date, and so I was relieved.

2. I was excited about this turn our relationship had taken. 

I was (and am) terrified of getting married to somebody without knowing that we can weather life’s storms. Here I was in the middle of a real humdinger that would require trust, excellent communication skills, heaps of faith, and manymany prayers, but which would result in a strong, time-tested relationship that had been proven in the face of adversity. To somebody who is slow to love and to let people in, this was, in its own twisted way, a godsend. I don’t mean to trivialize Jared’s pain. I didn’t want to be insensitive or uncaring, but I was glad that this had come up while our relationship was in its infancy because it meant we could grow and mature together. To me, that sounded great. So while I was a little unsure the next couple of days, I came to embrace this new challenge. It would be good for both of us.

Two weeks went by. The first day or two were awkward, but we soon got into the swing of things. We had a couple of great dates. I held his hand and sobbed through How to Train Your Dragon 2, which was the closest he’d come to seeing me do the ugly cry. And this morning, as I was driving to work, I was thinking about that episode in season 3 of Sherlock when [SPOILER] finds out about [SPOILER]’s being a spy. He is understandably upset, but ultimately decides that the person she is is the person he loves, and it doesn’t really matter who she was before. I had found myself in a similar situation--one of the things I liked most about Jared was his devotion to the Lord. Turns out I was wrong; I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did, or as well as he led me to believe (of course, a lack of faith doesn’t really equate to having killed dozens of people, but you get my point). But when you like someone, when you’re invested in them, their future, your future together, it’s a lot easier to forgive the past in favor of the present. Your learning a secret doesn’t change the other person, it just gives you a new perspective. That's not so bad.

I asked Jared if he wanted to go on a hike today. I’m running a race on Saturday and I wanted to get outside and do something active, but I wanted to spend time with him. I know that quality time is important to him, and I knew if I didn’t plan something, we’d just end up watching a movie or something. By the time I got home and found suitable trails for these two novices, it was 7 p.m. and too late to start a real hike. I asked if he wanted to go on a walk instead. He said yes.

When I showed up at his house, it took him a long time to answer my knock on the door. He was still and a little sullen, which is his thinking stance (shoulders slumped, sideways looks instead of direct eye contact, voice lower than normal). I knew that Father’s Day had been hard for him and that he’d been feeling anxious, so I didn’t think much of it. But when I asked him how he was, he said he’d been thinking some more and talking to his mom and that he wanted to talk to me about a couple of things. 

We took a quick turn around the block, and he told me that he had given it a couple of weeks and this time he was really serious, and that since the Church was the most important thing to me, maybe we should break up. I asked some follow-up questions, and his answers weren’t really satisfactory, but nothing about this was really satisfactory. 

Except that it made one thing perfectly clear: I know who I am and what I stand for, and that's a big deal. 

I was always happy with my religion, but now I know I will choose the Church over anything else, every time. This time last year, a breakup would have destroyed me*. I would have lost all sense of self-worth, would have wallowed in self-pity, might have even lost myself in trying to save him. But here I stand, feeling capable, strong, and committed to things that are important. Here I stand with enough courage to admit that I am. I have a presence. I have a voice. I have convictions. This is the first time in my life I can really say that. 

I like Jared. I'm sad things didn't work out. I hope I didn't do anything in all of this to make him curse my name and the day I was born. But y'know, if this is what it took for me to see myself as a real-life, grown-up woman who can look herself square in the eye and declare that she has the right to define herself with her words and with her actions, and who knows that she is worth. so. much., then I can't say I regret it. 


Recorded 6/19/14

I want to be perfectly clear: I harbor no ill feelings toward Jared. He has been a gentleman throughout this whole thing, as he was throughout our relationship. He even gave me back my Animorphs books right away! At least on my end, I feel like we parted ways amiably.

*Even one given 5 Stars on the Ann Garwys Handle-Things-Like-an-Adult Rating Scale, like this one

****************************BONUS MATERIAL*****************************

I recently read Daniel Handler’s Why We Broke Up. I’m still not sure how I feel about the book, but I like the style and it was quite the exercise coming up with my own reasons. Here's what I ended up with:

You’re a good actor, which means (or I thought it meant) you’re good at reading people and you have a deep understanding of what it means to be human, and that’s why we got together. You’re sweet and funny (sometimes) and you bought me a magnifying glass for GISHWHES even though you hardly knew me, and that’s why we got together. You don’t care about my size, you’re complimentary, you make me think deep thoughts, you put stories in my head, and that’s why we got together. You saw me in the hospital, hair sticking out to here for lack of conditioner,  makeup-free, slightly dazed, and totally crazy, and still you wanted to hold my hand, and that’s why we stayed together.

You never told me how you felt about the most important subject of all, and that’s why we broke up. You were disappointed when I didn’t kiss you on New Year’s Eve, and that’s why we broke up. I told you my secrets, things I’ve never told anyone, not even my therapist, and all you could muster was a list of things we hadn’t got around to talking about yet, and that’s why we broke up. You never asked me to kiss you again, and that’s why we broke up. I was totally honest with you. I faced my fears and climbed way out on a limb and tried so hard to love you, and while you claimed you were being honest, you never told me you didn’t believe in God. I always told you how I felt, you knew exactly who I was, and even when we talked about us and how we were doing, you never told me you never thought it could work. And that’s why we broke up.

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