Updated: Apr 3, 2022
People always called me mature for my age.
And I’d say they were right. By 16 years old I had already been two men’s wives.
I thought my first husband was the best.
I didn’t have to say what I wanted in order for him to give it to me. He knew that I wanted affection. He knew that I wanted attention. He knew that I wanted love. He knew exactly what to give me to make it easier to trust him. He knew how to validate me and make me feel significant. Seen. By the time I was 7 years old I was already having secret getaways and staycations that women even four times my age weren’t seeing.
He was 16. An older man. And when he was ready to get what he wanted from me, he summoned me.
Things didn’t work out with him though.
While he was giving me this and that I failed to see that he was robbing me of my innocence. It’s not even fair to myself to say that I failed but at 7 years old something failed in me.
For years after that, childlike joys were not so enticing. Daydreaming about marriage and frilly dresses lacked luster and even believing lies that little boys would tell me was just silly.
I knew better. I was more mature than that. By 12, I knew that things change and they hardly stay the same.
By my mid-teens I had already learned that there is far more protection in wisdom than there might be in hope... which brings me to my second husband.
He wasn’t really my husband, but he dumped his burdens on me like I stood across from him at the front of a church and vowed for better or worst in a room full of witnesses. Unlike my first husband I owed him everything.
I owed him obedience, servant hood, loyalty and excellence. No mistakes tolerated.
He gave me affection when he was in the mood for it and shunned me to pieces when he wasn’t happy with his own life.
He spent hours of high quality Louisiana sunlight drudging down dark hallways collecting narratives that pitted him against the world.
And then he was ready for vengeance, he summoned me.
He didn’t see me.
He saw his mother.. his father.. his ex wives.. the children that were no longer speaking to him and the friends, colleagues and peers that didn’t respect him like he thought they should have.
He didn’t see me.
But he always told me that he loved me.
After 25 years of ups and downs, death did us part.
I wish someone would tell them, “that’s why she’s so mature for her age.”
But the secret is that I’m really still that 7 year old girl.
That’s what I had to explain to my third husband.
My real husband… the redeeming kind.
The only man that had actually made any vows to me.
The only man whose primary connection to me wasn’t centered around power and domination.
The only man who told me and I quote, “I want you for advocate for yourself.”
I had to explain to him that this type of relationship, I’m just not used to - one where I don’t pardon my needs to make sure yours are met - one where I’m not expected to carry your burdens and keep secrets about your sin.
In all these years I had never used my voice in the way that you challenge me to use it so forgive me if I still act like a child. Waiting for you to summon me so that I might feel wanted. Waiting for you to respond to pleas and desires that I don't have the language to communicate to you right now.
Forgive me for being angry with you and for assuming that if you really loved me, you would just know.
Forgive me for filling the voids of your silence with fear that I have not lived up to your expectations.
I’ve been trained and tied to a feeling that I owe you something, but you don’t owe me anything. It leads to me going out of my way to relieve you of your responsibility to love me. And then it makes me feel unloved when I have to live in the world I created.
If this is what you want though. To love me. Then I realize that first I have to be so audacious as to love myself.
If I love myself, know that this means that I will have to say what feels good to my soul and what doesn't,
Know that I will be open about how important it is to me to feel love/d
Know that I will feel no shame in getting or asking for reciprocity after shedding actual blood, sweat, tears and my very insides to build this family.
Know that I will move differently. Are you ready for that?
Or is it just me who is afraid.
Afraid to behave as though I’m worthy enough or deserving to experience the things that I need and dare I say it: have them upon request and on demand.
I’m mature for my age, but I think it’s all catching up to me now. I’m just a few months shy of thirty with two sons relying on me to live.
So, I think it’s time I act my age.