Twenty-three years ago today, Hot Firefighter Husband married me under a gazebo on my parents’ country estate in Folsom, Louisiana. Dad had installed a ceiling fan because, in his words, “There’s nothing more unattractive than a sweating bride,” which is a fact I had not previously known.
To celebrate, Husband is working a double-shift to help pay for our new car, and I am trying to convince our oldest daughter that it is earth-shatteringly important for her to know that too many protons can make a nucleus unstable.
Twenty-three years. We’ve been together for 27 years. And I think we’ll be together another quarter-century or so, at least. We seem to have found the right recipe. We can go entire days communicating solely with emojis. And while some days are better than others, mainly because the children still live with us, we’re mostly really great together.
We’ve both changed. I shower less often, but am less judgmental; he’s obsessed with CrossFit, but has become a decent cook. Change is hard, but change can be good, even necessary. For what is life if not a never-ending course for credit? A required class that turns into a semester which turns into a year which lasts forever? Knowledge is acquired, standards shift, and wisdom seeps into our very bones.
Lack of change, in fact, can be exasperating. I can be exasperating. Because if there’s one aspect of me which hasn’t changed, it’s my propensity for perpetual disappointment in myself. I’m not thin enough, or fit enough. My house is too messy, my wrinkles too pronounced, my butt too big. And I can’t disabuse myself of any of these notions, so I turn instead to my patient, loving, exasperated Husband for reassurance. Does my butt look big? How old do I look? Do you think that woman likes me? Do I gross you out? Holy shit, I want to slap myself just writing this.
But by far the hardest insecurity issue we’ve had to face involves my writing. To be fair, writers generally shoot their veins full of angst and panic, and so I’m not alone here. For years, I have turned to the Husband for assurance that I’m a good writer, a great writer, a writer who hasn’t wasted her life by not writing enough. And now here comes 2017, the year in which I release a book, a good book, a book I needed to write, and one which has people saying wondrous, generous things about me and my abilities, and……and yet, on my bad days, it’s not enough.
“What’s it like being a published author?” people ask me. I tell them it’s like believing that if you just lose those last 10 pounds, your life will be perfect, and then you lose those 10 pounds, and life’s the same, plus now you need new clothes. I thought writing a book would be the penultimate achievement for me – but now it feels like a rest stop instead of a peak, like the journey must continue even though I don’t know where to go, plus I haven’t lost that fucking 10 pounds.
I see this in myself, and I’m mad about it. I’m pretty fucking fit, and I’m proud that I don’t cover my wrinkles with makeup, and I love our little house. And I wrote a damn good book! A great book, in fact, and it will give people hope and help them learn to love and live more openly. But if I have to depend on a man to convince that it’s true, well, it makes me sort of weak, doesn’t it?
I’m so glad my Hot Firefighter Husband is by my side, and will be there for as long as we both shall live. I’m proud we have made our marriage work, and have built this incredible little family together. But I’m ashamed of my failure to recognize that HFH would not have fallen in love with someone as pathetic as I often think I am.
So my gift to you, dear Husband, is to let you set me free. You can push me off the ledge, and I will catch myself. Thank you for telling me, for all these years, that I’m good enough for this world. But from now on, I’ll just tell myself. You can listen, and I’ll love you all the more for that.
Hey, have you bought my book yet? Order it now before I get too famous! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…