I’ve learned this lesson the hard way in the past.
When I was 18 years old, I thought I’d be able to spend a year doing whatever I wanted because I was an “adult” and because “I could.” Drinking, lying, sneaking around, lots of promiscuity… it was all fun while it lasted. It was new. It was the opposite of the way that I was raised. It was an entire year filled with everything that I was always told not to do, and I thought that consequences were something that would never catch up with me.
It was all fun and games, right? Practically innocent. I was learning life lessons on my own. If there were mistakes that I was making, I’d learn from them and move on quickly. I’d just roll on through life exactly the same, no harm done. How much damage could a year actually do? Nothing would change.
I was wrong. Living without regard for consequences wasn’t smart, and I learned that the hard way. A year really could change everything. I was met with consequences galore.
Those consequences later became rewards. My daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She’s the best thing that I’ve done. Ever. Sure, being a single mother has been hard. It’s been the hardest challenge I’ve ever met in my life, but I love it. I love her. She’s amazing.
That year gave me her, and I’m thankful.
It bestowed a lot of other things upon me as well: a fear of relationships, a disgust toward relationships, a giant wall I put up in front of anyone who tried to get close to me, a thick shell of bitterness that I never thought I’d be able to crack away in a million years.
I’d become so accustomed to it, I’d never thought it would go away. In fact, I remember having a conversation with a few family members about this only a year ago. I insisted that I had no interest in a relationship with anyone, at all, ever. I wanted to be alone with my daughter. I wanted men to stay away from me. I had no interest in dating or flirting or even talking to anyone of the opposite sex because I had no interest in getting hurt again. I was certain that I would.
Again, this was only about a year ago.
But then Matthew came back into my life.
A little bit of a background story on us: we met when we were 12.
He moved into my neighborhood and we shared a bus seat on the way to 7th grade in the middle of the school year. We immediately “hated” each other. We fought constantly. We argued and pranked each other and spent the better half of each morning waiting for the school bus angrily chasing each other in circles. Our friends (and our mothers) insisted that we liked each other (we did), no matter how many times we insisted that our relationship was built on pure hatred.
This continued throughout 7th grade, 8th grade and well into 9th grade until one day… we suddenly got along. We ate lunch together daily, spent our bus rides sharing music and spent our afternoons at each others’ houses. We talked for hours on end about kissing each other, but never actually did. Our friends (and again, our mothers) spent most of their time insisting that we liked each other.
I actually remember my mother saying at one point that we better mark her words – we were “going to end up married someday.”
We lost touch over the years. I moved across town, he moved upstate, he moved back, we each had various relationships, we each had our own little rebellious stage, I had my daughter… the list goes on. We would randomly talk or meet up throughout the years, but every time it almost became something more my stubbornness kicked in and we wouldn’t speak for another year.
Then we (finally) went on a date last summer… and everything is just different. I never thought that it would become anything. I never thought that I would want it to become anything. I was never interested in anything becoming anything with anyone. Ever.
But then it did. It became something and everything… and it’s beautiful. It happened immediately. My bitterness, my walls, my guard, all of it just fell. I can’t explain how it happened. It was as if the second I got out of my car on that first date and saw him across the parking lot, I forgot all about those blocks I’d put up and I let myself feel something different. Finally.
And this October? We’re getting married!
So a year… It can change everything. Whether you learn that the hard way, or in the easiest way possible, it can change.