Levi and I married each other in June of 2012 after only six months of head-over-heels, foolish-about-each-other love. Our story, like every love story, has its own unique and sweet moments and timings. We continue to marvel at the way God orchestrated our lives to bring us together, and though it included pain and trials for both of us before we met, we wouldn't change anything about it.
Everything that happened and every way that we grew led us to this moment.
It was finally that time in the relationship. Well, courtship, I suppose, considering we weren't even officially using titles like "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." We really liked each other. We knew we had a great time talking to each other. We were pretty convinced that the other was good-looking, if picture evidence was any proof. It was time to open up the back closet and pull out our baggage. That really tough stuff that would be hard for most people to deal with, not to mention the one you're beginning to think could be THE ONE....
*Disclaimer: Though the details of our romantic histories added essential depth and understanding to our marriage, I'm leaving them out of this blog. What matters on this blog is our marriage and our history together. Those of you who do know us personally will be able to read deeper into this chapter, but we ask that your comments refrain from mentioning details. Thank you!
Chapter 14: History, Part I
I knelt in front of my computer screen chewing my finger nails down to nubs. Well, chewing the nubs down into painful stubs. The cursor on my blank Word document sat there, blinking at me and daring me to start writing.
It was time to write out my romantic history to Levi. From what he'd told me from our very first letter, I knew that his own history would be full of pain, regret, and difficulty. Mine was full of those same things, and I'd resolved to tell him all of it. I wouldn't spare him anything. Well, I'd spare him unimportant details for the sake of time as I was sure he would do for me (we had a grand total of almost 10 years worth of past serious relationships to discuss, a 6+ chunk of which was mine). That added up to a lot of baggage and a lot of past hurts and a lot of things that needed to be aired out.
So I sat there, not sure where to begin. Did I start with my freshman year of college? Did I start with my 7th year of college (yeah I know, not all of us can get that perfect degree in 4 years)? Did I begin with my last summer in my tiny town?
As I mulled it over, the pieces of my past and the black pit I fell into that last summer began to fall into place for me in a way they hadn't previously. I began to see the cause and effect chain, and I began to realize how small decisions made from resentment, selfishness, or rebellion eventually grew into the giant monster of a mess that my life had become months before meeting Levi.
As my hindsight stretched back and became crystal clear, I knew where to begin. I knew where the first seeds of hurt had been sown. I started writing. I poured it all out. Every bit of hurt and every bit of resentment and every bit of stupidity on my part all found its way onto the page.
After about an hour of writing I sat back and reread my story. After I finished I had a few tears streaming down my face, and I needed to take a breath. Dang. That stuff was heavy. Really heavy. And a large portion of it was shameful in my eyes. I stretched my hands back out to the keyboard and began to edit the story together into something that made a little more sense and condensed the hard things into sentences rather than long paragraphs.
I called my friend in Wichita, Kristy, who I'd been confiding in. She alone knew the deepest things and the hardest things. I asked her if she'd mind listening to what I'd written and if she thought I was leaving anything out or saying anything that didn't really need to be said.
She listened as I read to her, and afterward she said, "Well, MB, I think you've said it all. It's pretty blunt, but you're not hiding anything, and you don't repeat yourself. It's sounds right to me."
We talked a little bit longer about Levi, which was nice because up until that point I'd only told her briefly that I was talking to a young man who I really liked. As I talked to her I began to realize that once Levi and I got to this serious stuff it was probably time to start letting people in my life know about him. That was likely to be a long and involved process, so I put it out of my mind for the time being.
Around 5:00 I had my e-mail open when a new one showed up.
"eHarmony Match Communication Received!"
It was Levi.
I opened it up, butterflies racing in my stomach like crazy. It was time to hear about his past.
The subject line said, "A big, heavy e-mail... :)".
His letter began with sweet things. They sort of took me by surprise, too, because these were sweet things that were clear rather than sort of sideways (does that make sense?). And they ended up being a really good thing to start his letter with because it helped reassure me that his affection was becoming as deep as mine.
I think I smile the entire time we're on the phone. I smile when I think about talking to you too, so I've been doing an awful lot of smiling lately.And,
I've started to get to some of this serious stuff during the last couple of phone calls, but I get distracted by your laugh. You have a very pretty laugh. Actually, you have three. A chuckle, a giggle, and a big laugh, the latter of which comes in fours. Except when you laugh the hardest, it comes in threes. And all of them are wonderful to hear.
Seriously, people. The man had categorized my laughs. That was incredibly attractive to me because a) he had paid attention to me and b) he had put them into categories and a list, which you can tell c) is one of my favorite things to do myself.
Then it was finally time to get into the history portion of the e-mail.
He told me about his past. A lot of it was hard to hear, but not because I didn't like what he was telling me. It was hard to hear because my heart broke for him and those involved. My heart broke for him that he'd had to endure pain like that, and my heart broke for those involved because they sounded so lost.
After he described the events of his past to me he wrote, "So there's the narrative... Now the important part."
He told me what he'd learned from the whole ordeal and answered a few of the questions he'd asked himself over and over again--questions that I probably would have asked him myself. He'd learned things the hard way, but the lessons he came away with only deepened my respect for him and my belief in the expanse of his wisdom for such a young person.
Then he ended his letter to me, and my heart beat slowly increased until it was ready to break my ribs. I'm going to go ahead and quote the whole ending for you:
So there's that. None of this is off limits. If and when you ever have questions about any of this, all you have to do is ask. For you I am an open book.
Man, this was intense. I'm really looking forward to talking to you tonight. I'm going to feel a little bit vulnerable, but I'm actually glad. I'm not just feeling willing; I'm finding myself wanting to be vulnerable to you. I hope that's not too forward of me to say.
I think I'm going to play some bass now. Funky basslines are my brand of cigarette. :)
I hope you had a great day. Talk to you tonight!
P.S. Tonight I'm going to ask about meeting you. I really like you, but I think it would be in both our interests to meet before we get too carried away. I know we don't exactly live next door to each other, but we can figure out the logistics. Anyway, I thought I would give you a heads up...
As I attempted to work my brain around that, the phone rang. Levi was ready to talk.
Better click on to the next chapter as soon as you can!
Next Chapter (Chapter 15: History, Part II) Previous Chapter (Chapter 13: The Weekend)