In the beginning, there was an extremely unstable woman and a soulless online dating service called eHarmony. The exact words elude me, but the very first time I filled out their questionnaire, I received an immediate response of something to the effect of “Sorry, you are hopeless.” At least that’s what it seemed like to me. I think it was couched in the polite language of “We are unable to find a match for you at this time.” Yes, that’s exactly what a depressed person wants to hear. Thank you very much, Mr. eHarmony, for shoving my self-esteem even lower than I thought was possible. But many years later, on a free weekend, I thought I’d give it another whirl. Lo and behold I had a few matches. I stared at them, and stared at them some more, then laughed, then forgot about it all. But Greg saw my picture, and I’m told he said to his friend “That’s the one.”
After numerous emails, and then finally speaking to him and arranging to meet, my subconscious saboteur took over, and I wrote him an email which he now laughingly refers to as “32 reasons why I hate you.” This poor man – I attacked his accent (Southern Ohio) and his grammar (he’s a college graduate but unknowingly speaks like the people he works with), even the fact that he liked okra. I described him as (these are his words) “some kind of destitute troll living under a bridge,” but in fact he has a very good job and is just quite thrifty (at the time he had no internet, was using his friend’s computer). He had washed his phone (has happened again since then), so couldn’t call me right back (I said he couldn’t pay his phone bill). In other words, my behavior was cleverly designed to show him my absolute worst bitchiness and drive him away. He chose to think “Well, gee, I know I’m a good person, I’ll just leave her be for a bit.” He knew I was a survivor of domestic violence and that I had a mental illness, he said he just figured I was scared.
Even after all this, he saw something I didn’t know showed, and chose not to give up on me. About a month later I received an email asking if I’d like to give it another try and meet him for lunch. My first thought was “This man is crazier than I am.” But after speaking with him again, I acquiesced. So we did meet for lunch, and the rest is history. I’m not going to tell you it’s been a happily-ever-after fairy tale ending, but it’s pretty close. He’s stuck with me through times that were scary, times when he said “I want my wife back,” and times when we’ve cried together. All the time reminding me “I simply love you.” Fortunately, there are wonderful and “normal” times as well.
I’m not saying he’s perfect, nobody is, but as far as I’m concerned he’s the epitome of unconditional love. There was only one other person in my life that could have fit the bill, but I wasn’t ready (although we are now very good friends). I don’t think I was ready for my husband, either. I was not nice in the beginning, he had fair warning, and over the past seven years I have tried without success to push him away. I’m just not used to being treated so well, and it seems to me that there are so many other people out there that would be more deserving than me. Not to mention the fact that I often think he’d be better off with someone who was a tad bit less, well, crazy. About three years ago, he asked me to marry him, and all I could think of to say was “OK, but why would you want to do that?” And that was the defining moment, the one sentence which I repeat over and over to people: “Sheri, I don’t love you because of anything in particular, and I don’t love you despite anything in particular, I simply love you.” Then he went on to say, “I want to make sure you are well taken care of if anything happens to me.” I have to tell you, that’s more romantic than any box of chocolates, dozen roses, or diamond ring.
Whenever I hear of others who are having difficulty finding their bashert, that one person they’re meant to be with, I feel guilty. Isn’t that ridiculous? But really, how did I, raised to believe I’m a total fuck-up, end up with a wonderful husband. I have an unpredictable mental illness, I had to have my spine rebuilt (my warranty ran out), I’m a klutz, not particularly attractive anymore, and very low self-esteem (as if you couldn’t tell). Oh I know, I have positive traits as well, but I can tell you I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live with me if I had a choice.
So how did I get so lucky, and why do I question it? Why can’t I just accept it, and not feel guilty when others say they can’t find any decent partners out there. Surely I didn’t get the only remaining one. I was well prepared to spend the rest of my life alone, and at times I still think I’d be happier because I worry that I’m just too damn much trouble to live with.
I wish I could see in the mirror what he sees when he tells me I’m beautiful. I wish I believed in the woman he does.
I wish everyone could be unconditionally loved.