7Feb

Wicked

“It seems funny and horrible to think of Diana’s being married,” sighed Anne, hugging her knees and looking through the gap in the Haunted Wood to the light that was shining in Diana’s room.
“I don’t see what’s horrible about it, when she’s doing so well,” said Mrs. Lynde emphatically. “Fred Wright has a fine farm and he is a model young man.”
“He certainly isn’t the wild, dashing, wicked, young man Diana once wanted to marry,” smiled Anne. “Fred is extremely good.”
“That’s just what he ought to be. Would you want Diana to marry a wicked man? Or marry one yourself?”
“Oh, no. I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t. Now, Fred is hopelessly good.”

(Anne of the Island)

~~~

When Dan and I started dating, the only thing I wanted to do more than get swept off into our personal Happily Ever After was to break up with him.

It was for his sake, you see. I was a psychological disasterpiece back then (as opposed to the mere social casualty I am now). Though I no longer lived at home and had faced the pain of my childhood pen-first, my mind was still at the mercy of old dogma. The God I knew required sacrifice, so I worked when I should have been sleeping, skipped breakfast, and stumbled through crowded days feeling as valuable to the world as a wad of overchewed gum. I judged people as I had been judged with a persistent, needling criticism that made me want to rip out my own brain. My heart was deeply pitted, oozing dark secrets like tar, strewn with scar tissue like emotional speed bumps. Romance was the last thing I needed. Romance was the last thing I deserved.

It found me anyway. It came as friendship but quickly unfurled into something more, something sweet and affirming and scary as hell. Dan’s kindness threatened my jagged defenses in a way that nothing had ever done before. I tottered on the verge of a thousand nervous breakdowns the first week and two thousand the second. Holding hands sent me into a panic. I was falling for him, yes… but I still wished he had stayed away. He was so good to me, so good, and I was convinced that my true self would be toxic for him.

I also looked down on him for it. I felt like his reservoir of experience was a puddle compared with my ocean; he had grown up happily whereas I had worshipped the divine bogeyman and dreamt with demons. I, the über-sheltered girl from an extremist conservative home, viewed him as naive. The more I loathed myself, the more I resented him for loving me, and I finally decided to come clean. Scaring him off early in the relationship would be a mercy, after all.

Only he wasn’t scared off. He wasn’t even scandalized. He didn’t crumble under the weight of my baggage, and he didn’t bat an eye when I brought up taboo topics. He was deep, strong, and anything but the “hopelessly good” featherweight I had pinned him as. Even neck-deep in the mess of myself, I wasn’t too much for him.

We will have been married eight years this summer, and when a friend asks about our story, I share the light-hearted details of how we met. However, our real love story started for me the moment I realized the kind, thoughtful, respectable man tenderly holding my hand could be wicked and wouldn’t.

Mommy loves Daddy

The wild and dashing part is just icing on the cake.

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10 comments

  1. Oh! I love the Anne of the Island quote. And this whole story. I totally understand the whole “I loved him, so I must give him up” aspect.

    Also, I really pray I raise my little boy into a man who could be wicked, but chooses not to!

  2. That made me tear up a little. Oh, Diana…

  3. oh
    ohhhhh
    ohhhhhh
    i loved every word of this.
    xoxo

  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE this, you crazy Valentines you!

  5. Your words sweep me away… Can I use this with my students? I won’t give them your website for obvious reasons, but I would love for them to see how a fine writer uses glorious words!

    Plus…YOU ARE SO LUCKY! (SO IS HE!) And you’re cute too. Smooches to you!

  6. just ONE of my favorite lines: “something sweet and affirming and scary as hell.”
    seriously love that.

    sigh.
    just finished the rest.
    i LOVE this.

  7. Sam – With a mama like you, Thomas is sure to grow into an outstanding voluntarily non-wicked man. 😉

    Q – I know; my heart always sank over Diana’s version of happiness.

    Rain – <3

    Liz – Aw, thanks! I hadn't even thought about the upcoming holiday. Think I can get away with reposting this?

    Megsie – Of course you can use it; I'm just blown away that you'd want to! Thanks so much, dear friend.

    Beka – I can hear that sigh, and it's the best kind of compliment. Thanks. 🙂

  8. Today, God answered my prayers by leading me to this site. Thank you for being REAL. I have company in you, a nonProverbs woman who loves a man who could be but isn’t. We have just been ‘removed’ from a little church that is hyper-you name it. quiverful, patriarchal, controlling, manipulative. It all looked so very good to us for the first few years, til we didn’t play the same games. The biggest hurt, and blessing, really, is that of our kids. Leaving is hard, staying harder!

  9. I have bipolar disorder. I can so relate to this, to the feeling that you are just all too much, and at the same time not enough. And that anyone who says they love you are hopelessly naive and don’t know what they’re talking about. I know this. I know the feeling you described so well, of thinking I don’t deserve romance.

    Good to know it happens anyway. For you, at least. What a wonderful story.

  10. Hi Bethany,

    Thanks for letting me use this essay in my class. It was definitely well received, as I knew it would be! xo

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