One of the effects of being suddenly alone is finding myself with a particularly awful new freedom. I hate using that word, because freedom usually denotes a positive experience, but when lacking vocabulary what other choice does one have than to attach an incorrect but nearly appropriate word to the experience.
Freedom. What do I mean by that?
More than anything else it’s been a freedom to make mistakes. I’ve lost my check and my balance. I believe I mentioned previously that I am nothing if not impulsive. In some ways this has treated me well. At work I’ve found myself to be among the risk-takers and it has generally paid off.
The same could be said to be true in some situations in life. After all, I asked Christine to marry me just a few months after we met. We were wed less than 12 months from our introduction. This allowed me the best 18 years of my life.
However, there are times the opposite is true. Buying a house on a whim, a new car. Walking into Costco to get food for school lunches and walking out with a TV and a new computer. Staying out too late. Drinking too much.
I met with a group of ‘wids’ recently, both men and women. We got together to play pub trivia. It was fun, but it was also strange. Not strange in an uncomfortable way. It was the first time I’d been in a group of people who could totally empathize with me.
We came in second place, won some money. Talk about our spouses was sprinkled throughout the conversation, but it was light in tone. However, when the game was over and there was still some beer in our glasses we reached the Shit Gets Real moment.
We all took turns telling our stories, or a least some small tidbit of it. We also took part in one of the strangest contests humans regularly take part in, especially people in great pain, the contest of telling another person their pain is much worse than our own. I don’t get that. Why do we try so hard to validate someone’s pain by downplaying our own, especially in a club like this one?
Eventually I brought up this terrible freedom. One of the people at the table suggested another word.
Him: It’s not freedom. It’s being untethered.
I immediately agreed, thankful for a better, more descriptive word.
However, that night I gave it more thought. What does that word really mean? To be untethered means one must have at one time been constrained. An image came into my mind of Christine holding a leash attached to a collar around my neck (get your mind out of the gutter).
But that wasn’t right. Christine was not afraid to let her opinion be known, but she did not work to coerce me or control me. She trusted me to make the right choice and I love her for that.
And there it was. I wasn’t chained to her, under her control. I was captive by choice, to serve her in love. To make her happy.
When I would be out, and my impulsive tendencies would threaten to overwhelm me I would think to myself ‘would Christine be happy with this decision?’
I was tethered. I was held to her, attached to her. My love for her kept me close and controlled. Anything for her happiness.
And although the love remains, the reason to bring myself to heel, the ability to make her happy, is gone.