I rarely use my blog to brag on my boyfriend but something happened this weekend, that honestly was SO fundamentally different from what I’ve experienced in life, that it has stayed in my mind since then. To him…it was probably nothing. It’s just who he is. To me…it was…what I’ve always looked for without even knowing it.
What was it? It was respect. TRUE respect.
I’ve talked about my PTSD here before. I don’t talk about it to seek attention…I talk about it because…honestly…talking about it takes away some of its power. Talking about it keeps it from being a shame that lives in my head. Talking about it…I hope…helps keep it from being a shame that lives in others’ heads.
Anyway, Saturday morning I woke up in tears. The nightmares had been prevalent that night and I woke up…scared. My boyfriend, sadly, is used to this. (Sadly for him, not me. I’m as used to it as anyone can be, but I always have a sense of guilt and shame when I wake up and he has to deal with it.) As he always does in these moments, he held me and reminded me that I was safe. He didn’t judge. He didn’t condescend. He didn’t act like I was being ridiculous for the fear that I couldn’t control. He just held me…and comforted me.
Is that what I’m bragging about him for? Nah. It’s amazing, don’t get me wrong. It takes a good person to offer compassion and safety in these moments. It’s a rare quality, but not one that’s been completely devoid in my prior life.
So…after the nightmares started to calm…we got up. I had a long run to do. 10-minute warmup…12 miles run/walk… 10-minute cooldown. Which, basically, equates to 13-14 miles. My boyfriend…does not enjoy distance running. My boyfriend…DOES love me. So, he has agreed to a half marathon with me in October. He is not excited about this. He is excited about ME. Another rare trait in my world…but not completely unheard of. My boyfriend is not a morning person…at all…but he got up early with me and was ready to face this thing that he would never have chosen to do himself. That’s called sacrifice in love. Again…INCREDIBLY RARE in my world…but still not completely unheard of.
Here’s where things went…differently…than I have ever experienced.
We went to the park. You can do approximately 3-5 mile loops at this park. So, not the worst place for this kind of mileage. We set out. And…at 99% humidity that day…plus his severe allergies…he forlornly looked at me and said he just did not feel up to THAT mileage on that day. BUT, he wanted to wait in the car while I ran my miles. He had his phone…he was perfectly content. I told him he didn’t have to do that and that I could just run home (we were already about 3 miles in and we were about 8 miles from my house).
Dude. Ex-Cop-Boyfriend-Instinct kicks in. NO. All the no. EVERY LITTLE BIT OF THE NO. He was staying. He loves me and worries for me. I both accept and appreciate this.
I LOVE this about him.
And…on any other day…I would have said ok. At first, I DID say ok.
But…as we were walking towards the car…I started to spiral. The nightmares were still too vivid…the fear…the terror of those who could hurt me being able to find me…the EASE of them finding me as I ran in literal circles…a prey saying, “Please! Come get me! I’m making it easy for you!” I walked in silence…the fear taking over…I couldn’t control it.
In every. other. relationship that I’ve ever been in…that would have been when I either said, “You know what? Let’s just go home.” or I would have done as asked and let him wait in the car while I ran my loops…never admitting what was happening inside of me.
With Aaron? I don’t have to do that…and a voice in my head KNEW I didn’t have to do that.
Because with Aaron…for the first time in my life…I know that his love, compassion, and care for me also comes with the one missing ingredient that I’d never had before…Respect. He wants to care for me. He wants to take care of me. He also respects that I can take care of myself and that I know what is best for me.
So, I told him. “I need to be really honest with you. I love you for wanting me to finish my run. I love you for wanting to wait in the car so you’re nearby. But I need you to go home. I’m panicking at the idea of running these loops by myself…of being so easily findable…after the nightmares…I can’t do it. I hate running on the streets, but today…I need to be out in the public eye…on the streets…running in a direction and not a circle…so it’s not so easy to just know where I am. Please. I promise I will call you if I need you to pick me up, but I need to do this.”
Every person I’ve known in the past would have said, “HELL NO. I’m not leaving you!” And, you know what? It would have been out of love and care. But it would have been not respecting my wishes…my fears…or my ability to know what is best for me and to take care of myself.
But, not Aaron. Lord, I could tell he hated it. It went against every protective bone in his body to drive away from me.
But he did.
He respected me.
And then…when I got home…shaky as hell and wanting to fall over…he took me out for a giant steak. Because that’s love.
Love is amazing. Love is wonderful. Love is such an important piece of what we all want from life.
But…love with Respect?
It’s like the missing puzzle piece that I never could place my finger on until I found it.
/ooey gooey crap