My Story in Song: Part 2
“Let’s take a picture with Santa!”
My exuberant cry moved everyone seated at the table. Everyone, that is, except for my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. Okay, so maybe the youngest in our family is in his mid-twenties. And maybe “Santa” is none other than our parish priest in a less-than-effective disguise. But it was Christmas, and I had so much to be grateful for this year.
A month had passed since my Divine rescue, and I had since returned to daily Mass. This practice brought me back to my home parish, a place I hadn’t consistently visited in the better part of two years. Fed on the Bread of Life, my body started to relax, and, freed from the stranglehold my throat had on me – yes, pun very much intended – I was slowly getting back to normal. Changed beyond measure and supremely grateful for the gift of life, I was resolved to find joy and meaning in the everyday opportunities that crossed my path.
It felt as though the desires I’d had before entering into this doomed relationship were finally waking up, rising from beneath the ashes of my meager excuses which justified persisting in something that I knew wasn’t right.
For the first time in a very long while, I was seeing the world clearly again, and in that light, I recognized my boyfriend for the obstacle he was.
As my parents and I hurried up the steps that led to where Santa was seated, I gave him one more chance. “Come on,” I beckoned, waving for him to follow. But he wouldn’t budge. He was either too embarrassed to participate in what he considered to be a childish activity, or too petrified to let his latest purchase – an iPhone that cost more than the engagement ring he had been, ahem, “saving up to buy” – out of his hands. Instead of joining the family, he stood apart, raising his prized possession overhead to take the picture.
This didn’t surprise me, but it did disappoint. His clear disapproval settled over my cheerful mood like a weighted blanket, and I was getting tired of carrying those extra pounds.
‘Why does he even want me?’
I wondered this for what seemed like the hundredth time since he’d come home from school and began talking marriage. He doesn’t approve of anything I do. My habits annoy him. We have no common interests. Our families are like oil and water.
‘So why am I still here?’
I didn’t ask for much – a picture with Santa, a willing partner for car karaoke, respect because of who I am and not because of what I do – but it was clearly more than he was able to give.
It would take a bit of time for me to articulate what I knew in my heart to be true, but it was time for me to face facts. We weren’t right for each other. We never had been. And I had known it all along. I had just been too afraid to leave, become too cynical that love didn’t exist.
But now that I knew the love of God… what was to prevent me from knowing the love of a man?
The image captured that day sums it up perfectly. I stood with my family, and my boyfriend stood apart. He was never in the picture, either figuratively or literally. And I wanted – and deserved – more than that. We both did.