“When you’re loved by someone you’re never rejected.” – The Avett Brothers
These are the words I clung to after my divorce. I believed them, I chose to believe I was loved, but it was not by my husband, and the rejection I felt was palpable. But I knew I was loved, and somewhere deep inside, I knew I was to be loved and cherished again, or like never before.
I wasn’t ready for Derrick. He wasn’t ready for me. We were broken and scared, we were damaged from our childhoods and our failed marriages. We were broken and holding each other together as friends. If you saw me two years ago you would see I was not ready, if you saw him you would know he was clearly not ready, but if you saw us together, you would have seen something else.
It was my friend Nick who said it, “You love each other, it’s obvious.” “I’m not ready,” I replied. “This is love, Shannon, real love, you don’t give that up.” And he was right. And damn was it hard to heal, but I had something, someone to heal for and it was worth it. As did he.
So we entered couples therapy and started the healing process together (yes, we were already in individual therapeutic relationships). We didn’t want to lose this love, and we fought for it together. We were worth fighting for.
Now, Derrick and I are getting married. He asked me on bended knee at the beach with beautiful words. He asked knowing I would say yes, but also knowing that that yes didn’t come easy. We worked for it. We learned to trust ourselves and each other.
Derrick is kind and sensitive. When he says something, he means it, mostly because he’s thought it through more times than a stormtrooper misses a shot. To say he is thoughtful is an understatement, because he lives in his head. We are perfect compliments. He slows me down, and I help him function in chaos.
He loves his children and wants to do right by them, as do I. My children have become his children also and his, mine. We have become a family. Our wedding will be a moment to make that legal and publicly confess what already exists, this clan that we have created. It’s messy and complicated with ex-spouses and geography, and yet, so easy and natural when we’re all together as a family of six.
I love him so deeply, I have watched him fight for himself, I have watched him struggle to believe he is worthy of love and it has been my pleasure to love him the way all people should be loved. I have watched him choose to forgive sins that others call unforgivable. He embodies his beliefs and calls bullshit, when bullshit is due to be called, even when it hurts him to do so. He works for justice. I swoon.
He’s ridiculously silly. His laugh is infectious and the sound of absolute perfection.
He loves beer and bourbon and Star Wars. Each morning he brings me coffee in bed accompanied by a kiss. What more can I say? He’s perfect for me. Even when it’s hard he seeks to understand my crazy, but he also gets me. He’s my safe person, and embodies safety for me. Every time his giant arms encircle me I feel absolutely safe and loved. Something I have never felt before.
He loved me when I found myself unlovable. He loved me when he felt he had no love to give. We’re happy. We have a deep abiding love that cannot crumble under the chaos of life and the toxicity of this world.
I am eternally grateful.
Lest you think this love is one sided, you can read all about Derrick’s musings about me and our engagement in his blog post A Second Chance. Obviously, he’s also a little delusional…
I believe that love exists in all things. I believe there is life after death. I believe that God was with us in the midst of our grief, and is extremely joyous in our celebration. I believe we worked hard and will continue to work hard. I believe we will make it because we are better together.
We will be married this fall among our closest friends in a private and intimate ceremony, among the people who loved us through the most painful and destructive parts of our lives. Who had the grace to embrace us as a couple.
The words from the Avett Brothers are still true, but the song in my heart has changed. Take a listen.