The other day my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary; we have been together for a total of 17 years. Outside of my family, that’s the longest loving relationship I’ve ever been in. Today, as I waited for our oatmeal to cook, I began to think about what my morning was like 15 years ago, the day of our wedding. My six year old son, Jacob, was so excited about his tuxedo and bow tie, that he stood at the kitchen table, wolfing down his cereal, begging for a bath. Skip was too nervous to eat and the only thing keeping me connected to my body was my inner dialogue with Mother Nature begging her to stave off the rain gods for just one more day! Nine hours later, Skip, Jacob and I were married at the Hotel Bel Air; the swans gracefully skimming along the pond, our friends and family gathered together outside as the clear blue sky changed into a purplish hue of reverence — witness to our vows. After 40 years on this earth, my brand, spanking new husband gifted to me a beautiful wedding and one helluva party afterwards. I reference back to that magnificent day all the time for soulful nurturance.
So fifteen years later, I’m in our kitchen making oatmeal and I turn to my Prince Charming and this is what I see – a middle aged man, with a bit of a Buddha belly (good for rubbing), thinning hair (styled to mimic a cockatiel’s distinctly erectile crest also known as bed head), and a thin wad of tissue shoved into his right nostril, (a very functional and inexpensive way to eradicate the flow of mucous from one heck of a cold.) Gerard Butler, look out! I smile at Skip and beg him to allow me to photograph this beautiful image before me. He studies me for a moment, letting me know with the blink of his hooded blue eyes that I’m a vision to behold as well, and says quite lovingly, “Yes, you may take a picture of me, but if you do, I’ll have to kill you.” Please take note, this is my husband’s warped sense of humor; Skip ushers spiders out of the house via Kleenex or glass jar.
A friend of mine asked me if I see myself married to Skip for the rest of my life. Had she asked me that last Tuesday, I would have said yes, but my fingers would have been crossed behind my back, but as I write this, 24 hours after we celebrated our anniversary, the answer is yes, yes, emphatically YES! Has it been bliss? There have been moments, long moments of bliss, but there has also been interminable moments of pain.
Truth be told, I really believed that once I found the right man, fell in love, and married, that I was set for life. I was going to live in the land of Bliss on a mountaintop overlooking a beautiful lake, called Security. Growing up, I had a serious crush on John Lennon, so when he sang, “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, love…love is all you need, it’s EASY” I believed him. 15 married years later, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter, a lot of pain, a lot of pleasure, a lot of making love to make up, a lot of not making love to stay unloving and unlovable, well, let’s just say that belief is limiting; actually that belief sabotages the spiritual truth that love is – drum roll if you please – transformational. It requires that we CHANGE. It insists that we accept being VULNERABLE. Why vulnerable? Why change? Because when you live with and love another in an intimate, conscious way, that person constantly illuminates those dark things that dwell inside of us; our worst fears, our habitual patterns, our neurotic ways of being that make us feel “safe,” but really limit us and disconnect us from our ability to love and be loved.
This is the good news, bad news bears …Our partner shines this gigantic searchlight into the very core of our humanness – our pain, our fears, our sadness, our confusion, our aloneness, but if all of that “stuff” isn’t illuminated, then how can we meet ourselves just as we are, find compassion for ourselves, flawed, imperfect, a work in progress, and develop a truly loving, kindness toward ourselves? And that requires self-acceptance, which I believe to be the foundational building block for self-love. Because if you’re not loving yourself, than how are you loving someone else? And bigger still, how can you possibly feel worthy and open to the love coming toward you from another.
I read a beautiful quote from Wayne Muller that said, “No more is required of us than this: that we love ourselves and one another with gentleness and mercy, for we each carry within us the tender heart of God.”
Happy anniversary, Skip. You are a heavenly mirror for me to see – really see –who I Am in this exact moment of time and who I’d like to become. With you asmy life partner, I hold a tremendous desire in my heart to be an unconditional source of kindness and love for myself and for you.
Perhaps my marriage to Skip is heavenly bliss manifested here on earth after all.