This was not the original post I had planned for today, but it’s still sitting heavily on me this morning, so I needed to write about it here.
Last night, after dinner, Devon and I were watching one the Chopped episodes we had waiting for us on our DVR. About 5 minutes in, I looked over at him and he had tears coming down his face and I freaked out just a little because, to know Devon is to know he really doesn’t cry. The last time I saw him cry was a couple of years ago out of complete frustration.
I asked him what was wrong and it always takes him a minute to respond. When he did; he said “I’m sorry…..” and pauses (which is never good for someone who has an active imagination like I do because wtf are you sorry for…..what did you do?) He finishes: “I’m sorry that I can’t protect you from [them]”
Them being my family.
One thing I may have never been super clear about here is that I’m estranged from pretty much all of my family, by my choice. Even my relationship with my mother (that I’ve mentioned) becomes more and more strained as the years go on and I know that sounds horrible to many people, it sounds horrible to me; but at the same time; it’s necessary for me.
To explain some of this (and just generally explain because while I’m putting this out there….I don’t want to go super into detail at this moment) is to explain my childhood. My childhood involved a lot of hurting and a lot of harm in many different ways; some ways I didn’t even recall until I was older. My family was severely broken before I was even a thought in this world and me joining didn’t help anything; so me distancing myself from all of them in a lot of ways is for my own protection, for my recovery, for my sanity, etc.
Devon is probably the only person on this planet that knows everything that happened to me when I was a kid, growing up, etc. It makes him angry because not only can he not imagine growing up like that (since his family is relatively “normal”) but he can’t understand why no one did anything to try to stop it; even people in my family who knew what was happening and “let it” continue. While he’s tried, over the years, to try and help mend things, he also supports my distancing because he doesn’t want them to keep hurting me.
Growing up the way I did, you learn to rely on yourself for your own protection because the people who are supposed to protect you; don’t. By the time Devon and I met in college, I was pretty good at protecting myself or at least faking it when I didn’t know how. I essentially trusted no one, I looked over my shoulder a lot (even though by that point the main source of harm to me was gone and not coming back); even at college I was always on alert, even though from what I dealt with there was no need to be.
My “paranoia” always seemed to calm down a bit when Devon was around, though (despite the fact that he was not my favorite person for awhile after we met, if you remember) and I could never figure out why. Our sophomore year, I had an incident with someone who was threatening me (it’s a long story with a lot of things being said that weren’t true) and it freaked me out… a lot. I had a late class that semester, Devon had the same class right before me and we usually chatted for a minute as he was coming out and I was going in. He asked what was wrong because I looked like hell that day and I told him about the person that was threatening me (he actually knew the person since they lived on the same floor as him in his dorm).
Devon is naturally protective; it’s just who he is – the more he cares about you the more protective he is. All he said was, “I’ll handle it”. I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t want him to do anything stupid, so I told him to not do anything. He wasn’t a huge fan of that because he’s him and he wants threats to go away, but I didn’t want to make things worse.
But he also knew I was freaked out by this person. So, I’m coming out of that class a couple of hours later and it was dark by then. I come downstairs in the building and he’s sitting downstairs in the entryway of the building. I asked him why he was there because by that point he was usually up at our dorm and he’s just like “eh, I thought I’d walk up with you”. And, if memory serves, he did that, after that class, every night for the rest of the semester, even after the threat had been extinguished. (And no we were not dating each other at this time; it wasn’t even a thought in our heads – we were both actually dating other people at this time, so that’s not where this was going.)
All of that helped my “normal paranoia” calm even further when he was around. He has known, since almost the beginning, that I feel safer when he’s around, but he didn’t know what that meant until much later; years later. He’s told me that when he initially realized it, it was a “feather in his cap” since he’s a protector by nature. But when I let him in more and told him about what had happened to me (this was moreso around when we were dating/right before we started dating) and he understood what a big deal it was to me to trust someone and feel safe with someone; it was something he took and still takes completely seriously. If there is anything that will hurt me or cause me undue anxiety or pain; he wants to make it go away in any way possible and he wants to protect me from it.
In a lot of ways, that’s still really new to me because I’ve never had someone that genuinely wants to do that for me. Like I said, I always protected myself so to have someone who not only understands my need to protect myself but also wants to protect me on top of that takes some getting used to, and I’m still not used to it in some ways.
So last night after a phone call from my family that keeps forcing themselves into parts of my life that I don’t really want and not being able to think of a way for it to not happen that wouldn’t consist of a lot of lies or catching innocent people in situations they don’t need to be in; we realized that there is no way out of this situation that was created last night.
And Devon got frustrated and angry last night because he wants to “protect me from them” and he feels like he can’t. He hates that these people that were supposed to protect me growing up, and didn’t, are still finding ways to force their way into our life and that he can’t stop them. He literally said, “[they] should have protected you and they didn’t; they knew what was going on and let you keep getting hurt and that makes me angry because you should have never had to grow up the way you did, but no one stopped it and I hate that you still have to deal with these people because I don’t know how to make them go away and leave you alone”.
And of course, I’m sobbing as he’s saying all of this because I can’t do anything else.
I love that he understands that how I grew up was wrong. I mean, most people do, but he understands that it should have never happened and I know that as long as he’s around it will never happen again. As long as my home, from now on, is safe to come home to and that my children never have to live the life I did growing up, that’s enough for me. And I told him that; and our home is safe; the home Devon and I have had together has always been safe to me and that means more to me than anything because it’s not something I’ve ever known before. And I know my kids will have a dad that loves and protects them and won’t hurt them, unlike my childhood.
I adore this man I’m marrying, so much; he wants to correct everything that’s ever happened and he hates when he can’t (and then I hate that he feels like he’s failing because he can’t because I don’t think there’s any way he could actually fail at this). That’s more than I could have ever hoped for in any one person. To have someone so fiercely protective of me (and I’m just as fiercely protective of him) is still weird to me in a lot ways.
He has actually helped heal so much, probably more than he realizes and for that alone I’m eternally grateful to him. Devon is unbelievably special to me and nothing will change that.