One of the things that inevitably happens when you spend time with a friend who’s known you for a long time is that you talk about the past, right? It happens to all of us. And it’s inevitable that when I spend time with Kira, we cannot help but marvel about what a long, strange trip it’s been.
When we first started talking, four years ago, we were both in a place of grim determination, I think. I know I was. It was emphatically NOT a place where we’d overcome adversity and knew that a better life was coming. It was more of a place where we’d overcome adversity and we were just hoping that it wouldn’t always be quite so HARD, all of the time. We were okay, I guess (some days we were more okay than others), but it would be a stretch to say that we were HAPPY. We were… MANAGING. Some days we were even HOPEFUL. But comparing life back then with life now is less apples and oranges and more moldy bread crusts vs. a ten-foot-high chocolate fountain. A CALORIE-FREE chocolate fountain.
That’s not to say that life is EASY now; life is always full of challenges, for most of us, but life is infinitely better, now. We are happy, both of us, in ways that back then we thought we never would be again. (Sometimes it’s so very good to be wrong.)
Now the tricky part, of course, is that I dislike the implication that ANYONE needs a mate to be happy. I don’t like it when TIME says it that way and I never want to frame it that way, myself. Because while it’s absolutely true that Kira’s life is much richer with Clay and my life is a billion times better with Otto, it is neither CLAY nor OTTO who is responsible for (nor capable of single-handedly creating) our happiness. You cannot rely on a PERSON for happiness, because the last time I checked, people were fallible and that’s a crappy paradigm for emotional stability. Just sayin’.
I believe that we are all working out our own salvation. Put plainly, we don’t get what we can’t handle or what we’re not ready to receive. I won’t speak for Kira, but I am positive that—while Otto is fabulous and all, don’t get me wrong—this phase of my life fell into place once I had done the personal work necessary for it to happen. And if you’ve read me for a long time you also know that I view the first time we dated as ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for BOTH of us in terms of getting our lives in order so that we would later be ready for THIS. (That does not, by the way, mitigate the SUCKTASTICNESS of our break-up and time apart, but it was a necessary step towards what we have now.)
I think these great loves came into our lives when we were finally ready for them. We are happy now in large part because we have mates with whom to share our lives, yes, but we have those mates in large part because we’d figured out how to be happy without them. See?
So Kira and I tend to talk about how great our husbands are and how neither of us ever could’ve predicted this, lo those many years ago, when we used to chat on Instant Messenger late into the night while hanging on to our lives by our fingernails.
And while I make a point of telling Otto how much I appreciate him on a regular basis (because, really, anyone who has to live with me 24/7 deserves a steady stream of thanks), I do try to stay away from gushing about how great he is. Because Otto is a mighty fine man with lots of fabulous qualities, but he also has kind of a big head, already.
(It’s endearing! But no need to encourage it, you know.)
Last night, as we lay in bed, Otto and I talked about the weekend and I mentioned how Kira and I can never resist comparing Life Back Then to Life Now, and how despite the differences in our paths we both—somehow—found our way exactly as we needed to go. I was marveling at how lucky we’ve both been, and how much sweeter it is that we have each other to share the victories with, too, and generally just waxing sappy on the abundance of life and such.
Otto listened and nodded and picked up my hand and kissed it. “You deserved a better life than you were living back then,” he said. And in an odd way, I found that a really touching moment. He wasn’t buying into the whole “Me man! Me save delicate woman!” schtick, he was expressing a sincere belief—based upon having known me for a looooong time, and knowing how hard a few of those years were—that my destiny was bigger and better than that difficult time. It wasn’t a premeditated or pat offering, it was heart-felt and utterly HIM.
I wanted to reciprocate, I guess, and so I opened my mouth to say something equally sweet.
“And you deserved a… louder life than you were living back then,” I said. And we both burst our laughing.
He had to agree that the kids had certainly made the louder part true.
Lucky, lucky Otto. (I think it’s possible I got the better deal, here. Shhhh, don’t tell.)
I know what you mean [re: personal work 1st necessary] – every now and again the king will comment on how he wishes we had married when we were young.
I tell him to bite his tongue. We’d be divorced. Undoubtedly.
I think it’s great that even back when you were just hanging on by your fingernails that you had someone to help you through it. Friends are the key to life. It sounds as if you and Otto are great friends, and not all couples can say that (they should though). That alone will keep the sucktasticness at bay.
Great post Mir, I absolutely agree that for the most part, we create (or extinguish) our own happiness.
My husband and I knew each other for 17 years before we got married. He wanted to get married after 15, but I was happy with my life and who I was. I finally gave in, and boy, am I glad I did. I’ve never been this happy in my entire life, but, if I hadn’t been in a good place before we got together, it would probably already be over. I guess the best part is having someone to share all the good stuff with. I’m glad you and Otto got to the places you needed to be to make your relationship work!
you sound so much happier now than you did then.
and I am happy for you.
time to retire the black knight?
Mmmm… I want a calorie-free chocolate fountain! Please! Oh Please!
I absolutely LOVE being married to my husband. We get to share so much together. That said, if I had to rely on him to be happy I think that would make both of us miserable. I agree that your happiness is up to you, but you can share it with others.
awww mir. i absolutely agree w you. altho i have to say sometimes i never would have guessed in a million years what my life was leading up to, but guess what, i can’t anyway. im so glad you found someone you can be happy with. and kira sounds like some of my really good friends who stuck w me even when all i had was a million stories including beer and cigarettes and some dumb guy.
Aw. That’s sweet. Why am I not surprised that Chickadee and Monkey have successfully LOUDENED Otto’s life?
Funny, I feel the same way about my husband (2nd marriage, too). It took a lot of work on my own to get to the point where I could appreciate him, and my relationship. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world even though it was HARD to get here. Life has gotten so much sweeter as I get older, and I’m so thankful that I’ve learned to appreciate it.
I agree completely with you, on everything. And it all applies to me, too. And I think to most of the people I know. Oh yeh, and the same for me and Bunker Hubby. Very profound, dear Mir.
Huh. Well. I guess that sums it up. Weird – I’m not usually this succinct. It must be the heat.
But I do think that most of us in this world NEED other people in our lives for those lives to be happy. We don’t necessarily need to be MARRIED, but we need someone to be partnered with, someone for whom we are a priority, someone who thinks we’re special.
I don’t think it’s caveman-like to say that while, yes, we have to be happy with our selves, and we have to have our lives in order, and all of that, most of us will simply never be fully content with those ordered lives if we are living them completely alone for long periods of time. These things are not mutually exclusive…in fact (and I know this is what you were saying above), they are sort of both necessary to make for a happy life. At least for the large majority of people I know…both women AND men, of whatever sexual orientation.
Why did I just get “Everything Louder than everything else” by Meatloaf running though my head??
Have I told you before that Otto is a real keeper?
See, this is what keeps me coming back here, you really give me HOPE.
I think you already know this, so I’m not exactly sure why I’m saying this, but whatever. I’m not so sure that you got the better end of the deal, wonderful Mir. I think Otto got exactly what he deserved as well: yes, a life that is much louder, because you gave him a family.
I was reading Kira’s archives yesterday after you tipped me off to her blog, and I came across a post of hers right before she got married, where she talked about how everyone was so impressed that Clay was willing to take on the boys, but Clay actually was leaving Kira a note thanking her for bringing the boys into his life. And while I don’t know either you or Otto, from what you have written, I suspect that Otto feels much the same way. I think he is very thankful, not only to have you, but to have Chickadee and Monkey in his life as well.
You both are so blessed, and I am so happy for you both. You two richly deserve your happiness.
I totally agree. Most of us need to do some major growing up and life needs to smooth out the rough spots before we can find happiness. Amazingly, my hubby and I (married 16.5 years) made it through. We’ve both changed so much (and finally grown up) that it feels like the first 10 years were another marriage entirely.
I like the new one much better. :)
What Vane said.
Yea, so maybe not everyone NEEDS a mate to be happy. But it’s so NORMAL. So expected. Just one of the many (many, many) things about partnering with commitment is that in doing it, you become like most adults.
We all benefit from hearing about a good one. Thanks!
Sometimes the incredible blessing of an amazing partner happens even before you know what you need and who you really are. I can not believe I get to be married to my husband…and when I met and chose him I was a total kid/idiot/baby! It is a miracle that he is such an amazing choice for a husband!
I’m really blessed. I need to be sure to tell him tonight. No, he didn’t save me from anything, but he sure is a great person to hang out with at night after the kids are in bed. *contented sigh*
Yep, you’re right. Well said too. :)
As always, you give me great hope. Thanks for the reminder that it’s through the growing and figuring out our own path that we find abundant joy. I think this week it’s been Love Thursday, Love Saturday, and Love Tuesday. Yay!
This post is linked in my current post.
I would say many of the same things about the second phase of my life, but you’ve already put it so well I don’t have to. Thank you.
Hmmm… my experience is backward. I married at 19 to a man with whom I was happy – fantastically, wonderfully (and most importantly) totally aware-of-it happy. The unhappiness I have now is the price I suppose, but even in the middle of it all I’m grateful that I had it, and that it will always be part of me.