After 28 Years, I’ve Finally Learned How To Love
Recently my fiancee and I set a date for our wedding. I proposed in October 2019. But if I’m being honest, I only did so to make her happy. I don’t see what the difference between being married and not being married is for a couple like us. But I love her, and I’m willing to do anything to put a smile on her face. So I decided it was time to ask her when and where she’d like to get married.
After what seemed like an eternity of venue shopping, I wrote a check for one payment for the venue. $3,100 disappeared from my bank account in a matter of minutes. Spending all that money at once hurt. I grew up in intense poverty. So I cling to every dollar I make, constantly living in fear of reverting to the days of sleeping with my coat on. But it also made me reflect on my last seven years with her and realize just how much she changed me for the better.
Growing up in the ghetto will make you cling to every dollar.
We met through a mutual friend in 2014. I was only 22 at the time and just coming out of a relationship with someone who, for lack of better words, was insane. It wasn’t love at first sight. We had little in common. And in the spirit of truthfulness, I didn’t think our relationship would last very long. I was right. Within a month into the relationship, I broke up with her. I’m not sure why I did it. She insists I left her for my ex, but that isn’t true. I left her for reasons I still don’t understand. Luckily fate brought us back together months later, and now we’re ready to spend the rest of our lives together.
It was in the beginning, however, that things were turbulent between us. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, an introvert at heart. Both of my parents neglected me, and while growing up in ghettos with no proper role model, I picked up a few bad habits. I want to be left alone at all times. If someone tells me what to do, I immediately want to do the opposite. Even if I know it’s in my best interest to listen. Saying that I have a problem with authority is an understatement. This all resulted in me causing her plenty of tears. I was so fixated on being this fictional person who always had his guard up, I never allowed her to see who I truly was as a person.
Even with me being emotionally neglectful, she continued to care for me.
See, in 2014, I had my associate’s degree, and was contempt with that. I only went to college to appease my sister, who raised me. I was becoming an officer and had a very bleak outlook on my future. I thought by now I’d either be dead or alone in a dirty apartment with an empty bottle of whiskey on the floor and a gun on the table. I was dead set on my ways and was honestly kind of a jerk. But in the months and years with her, I slowly changed.
I noticed how much she cared about me. Coming from a pair of neglectful parents, I had no one to care about me that much. She’d often plead with me to go back to school and earn advanced degrees. Often, telling me I’m too intelligent to be just another cop. So I took her advice and enrolled back in the college, hoping to earn a bachelor’s degree.
She made me feel as if my life was worth something. A feeling I had never experienced before.
Then I became jealous of her. Not in a bad way, but enviously. She’s able to make friends so easily. She’s incredibly nice to everyone she meets. It’s not uncommon for her to help strangers, and I believe that’s a major contributing factor to my love for her. I’ve always been sort of hostile to strangers and couldn’t care less about helping someone I didn’t know. But through my envy of her kindness, I began to slowly work towards dulling out my sharp edges and trying harder to be nice to people.
The Life We’ve Built Together
Now, in the years since we started our relationship, I look around in wonder. I see a loving household we built together, full of pictures of our adventures. A master’s degree on the wall with my name on it, something I would have thought to be impossible years ago. All while my phone vibrates with notifications from friends I made by just being nicer to people.
I pray you find a love that makes you want to be a better person as I have.
When our story began, I was a different person. I was cold and dedicated to keeping the world out, hoping to spare me a pain I knew all too well from my parents. But I see now how much I’ve changed. How much I’m willing to change to be the man she deserves. Because if bettering myself means replacing a few of the tears I inflicted on her in our beginning, I’ll be bettering myself until my end.