Several nights ago, as Becky and I were starting to gear down for the night, I laid back and asked, "I can haz cuddlez?" She replied with, "Well, at least you don't want a cheeseburger."
But cuddle we did, and we began chatting. Since then, it's become a nightly ritual. My estimate on how much is said between the two of us runs at an 80/20 split, with me carrying a majority of the conversation. That's fine, as she likes to hear me talk. She often tells me that I have a very soothing voice, and that, as she is the glue that holds me together, I am the same for her. After a day that has been particularly hectic, she looks forward to us holding one another and just chatting, be it important or unimportant topics.
While Becky doesn't dominate these moments of relative calm, I am thankful for what she does contribute, as she is learning what it's like to be in a real relationship. Because of the four "great" romances she had before me, none of her exes could be called a "partner."
First there was Dave, the teenaged romance, in which both he and Becky were probably too young to truly know what they were doing. It ended vaguely, with him simply saying, "I guess we aren't a match made in Heaven." He walked off, leaving her to wonder what happened. Mind you, they've run into one another since, and they made polite small talk with as much enthusiasm as one can have with small talk...but there was no communication between them, and she doesn't know to this day what ended their relationship.
Then there was Ed, who believes he's quite the catch. There was plenty of intimacy between them...if you consider nothing but "extracurricular activities" being intimate. Again, there was no communication, except when the time came for the clothing to fly. To me, that's not a partnership in any way.
Following that schmuck was Dan. There could be nothing but communication, as he lived in Puerto Rico. The problem with this idiot is that most of what he presented to Becky was an act. This was all done under the misconception that if he said all the right things, he might have a woman perpetually waiting in the wings should he get lonely. It almost worked, but I saved her from his villainous clutches. (You'd have to go back in my blog to see how I became the hero in that one.)
Now, all of this hasn't been in chronological order, and there's a reason for that. Because the last actual relationship she had, with her living under the same roof as the guy, was Shawn. He seemed so different from the other guys in the beginning, wanting to spend as much time with Becky as possible...and then it became clear that he didn't so much want to be with her as own her. He grew increasingly temperamental, leaving Becky to wonder which of her next statements would set off his anger. It was all about what he wanted, and nothing about what she wanted.
Along comes little old me, who says to Becky, "It's okay to be who you are." She doesn't have to meet mysterious expectations that aren't communicated to her. She's treated as much more that a plaything. She's never lied to. And she doesn't have to walk on eggshells when talking to me. It's a novelty to her, being able to speak her mind and not pay a price for it in some way. But experience has taught her that no relationship is as safe as this one seems, and so she remains fearful of what her words or actions might do to the very concept of "us."
I'm not one for empty flattery. If I have a complaint, I make it, preferably when I'm not angry. And if I make a compliment, it's because it's the truth. Last night, I repeated something that she has a hard time accepting: she's both strong and brave. The reason she remains unable to accept these concepts is because she reacts with tears and/or anger when life is frustrating.
What makes her strong and brave is not her reaction to those emotional things in her past and present. It's what she does after she's cried or raged about events. She keeps moving forward. She keeps trying. She doesn't surrender immediately, as so many others often do.
Her life at this very moment demonstrates perfectly what I've been trying to tell her. After one bad relationship after another, she had every right to give up on the idea of love, at least taking a hiatus from it. But when I came along and showed her that there's more to romance than what she's experienced, Becky went with it and found something wonderful. (I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am that she hadn't lost all hope.) In her mid-20s, she decided there could be more to life, packed her things, moved miles from home, and started digging that terrifying hole of debt that comes with a college education. Combining those two, she now goes to school, tackling the somewhat difficult education for becoming a nurse while taking care of her sickly fiance at the same time.
Strong and brave.
So, yes, my sweet, beautiful Becky. As long as nothing is making me physically uncomfortable, like my giant cast or extreme pain, we can haz cuddlez.
Be well, all, and DFTBA!