Note: Not the actual proposal, just a playful reenactment.
After the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, my wonderful partner of a year and a half dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.
After years of believing I would die alone and no one would ever be as fond of me as I was of them, life handed me a big surprise and an even bigger "I told you so." If only I could go back in time and tell the girl who could never get a date that she would be engaged by the time she was 25 and to enjoy being single and loving herself as long as she could before it happened. If only.
I wasn't initially going to share this news here, as it is pretty personal and perhaps a step away from the stories and experiences I usually publish, but the other night, I found myself thinking about all the people who have disappointed me and/or so easily left me behind over the past couple of years. And how those people and the pain they caused somehow cease to matter as much when I look at the person who has stood by my side through absolute thick and thin since the moment we said hello.
~ A couple of months after my older brother's wedding, the last place I ever saw this person, a close family member of mine completely disappeared from my life and the lives of everyone else on my side of the family. Without reason, without explanation, without an excuse. She was someone I loved and trusted dearly. I loved her kids. She sort of felt like a sister to me. To this day, it is a huge mystery to me why she took an ax to her entire family and has completely ignored any of their attempts to reach out. Just like that, she was gone. Just like that, she is a ghost.
~ I've written about this many times before (mainly on Thought Catalog) and exhausted the subject completely, but I endured a brutal heartbreak around late 2015/early 2016. This person was a good friend of mine for 3 years before we became romantically involved and I lost myself in a passionate, dysfunctional, toxic, whirlwind, hard-to-define relationship with him. He stuck his hand in my abandonment issues pot and stirred the shit out of it. The damage he caused followed me into my current relationship, but luckily and amazingly, it didn't destroy it. He went from being one of the closest people in my life to being another ghost that I will likely never speak of again.
~ Most recently (and this is still pretty raw), I was neglected by someone I truly thought would be a forever friend. My fiance and I were both very close to her. We went to her house on a near weekly basis. We befriended her children. We called her our mom, and she let us. We told her things we didn't tell anyone else. She was one of my ride or die peeps (or so I thought). Then one weekend, things shifted. We work together, and work got pretty hectic and stressful the weekend before Christmas. She was unnecessarily rude to me. We argued a little bit, but I didn't think anything of it. Friends argue, especially if they work a stressful job together, right? The next day, she was still rude to me. She ignored me when I tried to speak to her and even said "no" when I asked if I could step outside with her while she smoked, a response that secretly brought me to tears. I got understandably salty about the way she was acting and we had another stupid argument. Long story short, she didn't speak to me the rest of the shift and then she ended our entire friendship via my fiance, an innocent bystander during all of this. She never once confronted me face to face. We never talked it out. She never explained what I did that was so wrong and so worth throwing a perfectly good friendship away over. This whole experience made my head spin all the way around (not literally) and left me feeling incredibly undervalued, like our friendship never meant anything at all to her. Like everything was a lie. Like everything was fake. So now that's over. Now she's a ghost too. I'm 99.99% sure she knows we're engaged. She has not congratulated either one of us.
These experiences and more have cemented my trust issues and made it very difficult for me to believe in good intentions and genuine people.
But my partner? In spite of all the ways I've been hurt and left and all the times I expected him to leave too, he never did. And this ring on my finger is his way of telling me he never will..at least not without a hell of a fight.
I've never had to question our relationship or his feelings for me. He's never given me a reason to feel doubtful or unsafe, even though feeling doubtful and unsafe is in my nature. No matter how many times I pushed him away based on my deeply ingrained belief that all people suck and will let me down sooner or later, he bounced back and cleared away the dark clouds inside my head.
And through these ups and downs, he taught me something invaluable:
People WILL stay.
And the only people worth spending a single ounce of energy on are the ones who stay, the ones who stick, the ones who fight.
So here's to ALL of those people, not just him. Here's to the family members/friends/partners who stay. Here's to the ones who prove people like me wrong.
This is why I got engaged. This is why I'm staying too.