Letters to Aaron: Skeletons in the Closet

When you first led me by the hand back down the aisle on our wedding day, it was the beginning of a trust I couldn't break. Lord knows, I fought it sometimes. I didn't realize that our marriage certificate wasn't a get-out-of-jail-free card for all our past mistakes. You brought your dysfunctional girlfriends into our house when you entered, and I kept all the demons of my past.

During the honeymoon stage, we hid our scars well. I think we were so thankful to have found each other that we almost forgot how life had bent us in the years before. After all, you'd never met a woman like me, and I'd never before been able to love a man like I did you. The haunting of our pasts felt ephemeral in the sunshine of new love. I didn't know how cold the ghost town of our hearts could get after nightfall.

I never thought to tell you, in the beginning, that I'd been abused as a child. I think I had grown so uncomfortable with the memory that I almost didn't believe it had happened myself. Living in the skin with a memory like that nearly killed me, and so I thought I had kicked it out for good. There was still an impression, like the hand print on a slapped child's cheek, left in my soul. Almost like a stain that's gone through the wash so many times you can't see it while you're folding the clothes - it only becomes apparent when the fabric drapes off your shoulders while it's worn.

I guess I tried to compensate by having you fill the black hole left by that past. You were so good at loving me, I thought that was what a good husband would do. But the bigger my void became, the more you shied away, until we were like two molecules under intense heat, skipping off each other after the briefest touch. I kept running toward you, and every time you ran away, I ran faster and held you tighter. I think you were scared because you knew that, no matter what you did, it would always be the wrong fit for the size hole I was trying to fill. You were, in essence, damned if you did, and damned if you didn't. You felt it, and so you curled up into yourself. All for the sake of not hurting me.

Every time your rejection was even implied, it was like another nail in the coffin, sealing my secret up tighter and tighter, until I didn't even realize it was still there. I thought it had been buried and replaced with newer, fresher pains and joys. We even got to the point where we talked about the issues in our marriage - me demanding and you withdrawing - and you made your peace with the tenacity of my need for you, and I tried to avoid your triggers so you'd stay present. It worked for a while, but it was kind of like covering the stench of a dead body with funeral lilies. We'd just been in the room with the smell so long we'd quit smelling it. You'd long ago quit asking, and I'd long ago quit looking for answers that deep in the caverns of my heart.

Then the whole church debacle exploded the mine that had been laying underneath that coffin all along. The nails vaporized in the blast, and there we were with a dead body in our laps in all it's putrid reality. I remember the moment I watched your heart break in two as I told you about it. And I just kept scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing, seriously just seconds shy of true madness, trying to get the stink out.

It happened just recently, in the past few months: we're finally looking at a gravestone instead of an open grave. I don't know how to explain it outside of God's grace. Certainly it could be the year of therapy, the dozens of books I've read, the friends who've surrounded us with love, the pastors who've preached about the binding up of the brokenhearted. It's strange, as I look back on all of this - and wonder why I didn't just do the work sooner. But no one can plow a field in winter, and if you try to plant then, you'll fail. We had to get through the howling snowfalls to get to this season.

Grace is the glue of life. Under intense heat, molecules normally just skitter off each other, like we did early on. But there is a magic temperature for two elements, when all of the sudden, in a miraculous, instantaneous transformation, the two become one. For us, that temperature was extremely high. So high it nearly burnt this whole life of ours to the ground before it ever bonded us together. Now, on the other side of the Bunsen burner, I can look back and say, "That's what God was doing." He was making two into one.

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong [persons] stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth. 
(Rudyard Kipling)
This week's prompt: "Outside Influences" really hit me hard.
Joining Amber, Seth, Joy and Scott
Also part of Project 1:3