June 30, 2014

Trusting & Fully Loving Your Spouse or Significant Other
(10 Important Choices Adoptees Can Make)

During our one-year engagement, Larry and I had a long-distance relationship. I worked as a counselor at New Morning Ministries (NMM)  in Newark, New Jersey.   NMM was a home for trouble teen girls – mostly runaways. I loved serving there, although the separation from my fiance felt almost unbearable at times. 

Us...way back when.
Larry would visit once every few months, and as soon as he arrived, I would start crying. Puzzled, he would ask why and I would respond that it was because he was leaving in a few days. He would always say, “I just got here! Enjoy me while I’m here.” For reasons I would not understand until many years later, I always focused on the impending goodbye, and not the joy of the present.

 Like many adoptees, I feared goodbyes - and more than anything, loss in general.
    "Adoptees suffer from a fear of loss. They see loss all over the place. Even those adopted in infancy feel the loss…if it happened once, it can happen again."  

~ Dr. Marshall Schechter, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and nationally recognized expert on adoption

In the beginning years of our marriage, I feared that Larry would leave me.  It was very difficult for me to trust him even though he never did anything to break my trust. Even if we had a small  fight, I feared he would leave. I didn’t respond by clinging tighter or becoming needy. Instead, I just never let him know I needed him. I became as self-sufficient as possible, always preparing for what I believed was his inevitable exit. I braced myself for life without him, convinced it was coming.

I told Larry I loved him, often. But it wasn’t until at least a decade or more of our marriage that I ever said the words, “I need you.” Those words scared me out of my mind, to let Larry or anyone think I needed them. Because in my mind, the more you need someone – the greater potential of their leaving. So in my mind, even subconsciously, that’s what I was preparing for all along life’s path.

I loved with reserve. Not needing people in the first place seemed so much easier than needing them and losing them.    

I never told Larry I was afraid, but he figured it out. And one day sat me down, looked into my eyes and said, “Deanna, I’m not leaving. Get it through your head, I am not leaving. I’m never leaving. Ever.”

I finally believed it. 
I relaxed a bit.

But a part of me knew although he could promise me that in an, "I'm not-leaving-this-marriage" sense, he couldn’t promise me that he wouldn’t leave this world. And so, I still worried.   

The better our marriage got, the more I feared losing him.

With all the choices we make in this life there are still a few we can’t make. We can't control when we come into this world and we can't totally control when we leave. We can increase or decrease our odds by taking care of our health and such, but sometimes things still happen.

I remember a particular birthday Larry planned for me that was almost other-worldly. The plan, or so I thought was to go to  Carrabbas. On our way, Larry said he had to swing by the church to pick something up. When we arrived at the church, a limo was there. When the chauffer opened the door, imagine my surprise that six of our friends were waiting inside!  From there we went together to Donatello's, a four star Italian restaurant. Just when I thought the chauffer was going to take us back to the church parking lot, he headed in another direction and pulled up at the Grand Hyatt, and thereafter pulled out my suitcase. I wondered how it got packed and my friends just giggled and said that Larry had taken care of everything and my amazing weekend had just begun! They said goodbye as we headed off for a romantic escape.

The next morning I woke up wrapped up in the sheets and staring at the ceiling thinking, “When am I going to lose all of this?”

I know…it doesn’t seem logical.

When experiencing perfectly wonderful moments, nothing used to scare me more than realizing it could all come to a screeching halt and there was nothing I could do about it but survive. 

Larry and I could have the most amazing times ever, and afterward it was like a black cloud descended on me. Things would go from elation to despair. It took me a long time to figure out why. Even after he promised me he would never leave. I was afraid of an “act of God”, the devil, a freak accident or whatever outside of my control-- might take Larry or the kids from me.

I finally realized why I had these fears and came to terms with them.   

I know this will not be much help to readers who aren’t people of faith. That’s one reason why, quite frankly, I don’t know what people do who don’t have faith in God.  I do believe with Him, anything is possible including overcoming the fear of loss.

Here’s what I’ve settled on…

Sooner or later we will lose everyone who means anything to us, from this world.  

Either we will leave, or they will.

Nobody gets to stay on this earth, indefinitely. This is a fact of life.

All of us say goodbye to this world and enter another one.

As wonderful as it can be, this world is not our final home.

Realizing this helps me make 10 important choices in regarding to loving and trusting my husband and others. These choices make it possible for me to enjoy life.

10 Choices

1) I choose to love without reserve.

2) I choose to let people in. Walls built to try to keep pain out just keep love from getting in. 

3) I choose to accept that I need others and they need me.

4) I choose to trust those who have proven themselves and give me no reason not to trust.

5) I choose to revel in memory-making moment and not fear the “what-if’s”…

6) I choose to appreciate every moment with my husband, children and loved ones.

7) I choose to live in the the joy of the present and not agonize over possible future losses, thereby stripping me of the joy of now.   

8) I choose to stand in faith and not fear.

9) I choose to believe that whatever loss I may face in the future, I do not face alone. The same God who was with me in my early losses will be with me through whatever I may face in the future.

10) I choose to cling fiercely to the One who has been with me since the beginning and has never left me, and never will.

You have the ability to make the same choices.