I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life the other night. Jay and I went to see Nickleback in concert and while snuggled up under Jay's arm, I heard him sing for the first time. Now granted no matter how good of a singer you are no one sounds good when they are singing along at one of those outdoor concerts. The cigarette smoke coupled with all the screaming and woo-hoo'ing is not exactly the best for the vocal chords. However, even with all that, hearing Jay's voice rumble in his chest as he smiled and sang along was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard and almost brought me to tears. On the surface this reactions seems kind of random, so I'll back up a little (well a lot) and see if I can fill you in.
I've known for a long time that I love family birthdays. It didn't matter if it were mine or one of my brother's, but I love gathering around the kitchen table with my pyro's for brothers lighting a million candles and singing Happy Birthday. It took me a long time to realize that it was hearing my dad sing that made these moments so special. Now my dad has one of the worst voices in the world and birthdays are about the only time you can get him to sing. I processed this a lot during high school and finally realized that it hearkened back to one of the last times in my life where I felt truly safe.
When I was really young my entire family was very religious. We were at the church every time the doors opened and as homeschooled kids we looked forward to snow on Sundays so we could stay home from church and play. What I remember distinctly, though, is being 5 or 6 and my dad holding me in his arms while he bounced me and sang during the worship time. I remember snuggling against his chest and hearing his rumbling voice mix with his strong heart beat. The feeling that elicited, a feeling of being truly safe and completely cared for was soon lost, but for a moment it was very real and firmly planted itself in my psyche.
What I have realized since then is that those feelings were in fact an illusion. I felt safe due to naivety and not reality. Just like teenagers have a sense of invincibility not because it is true but because they haven't seen the brutality that life can deal. It would be many years before I realized that the man who I had drawn such comfort from was actually emotionally and verbally abusive (and physically abusive to my brothers). That same man has now (due to an illness called bipolar disorder) rewritten history in his own head and truly believes himself to be the victim of a large conspiracy instead of the abuser of his family. This caused a secondary wound. The wound caused by not being able to acknowledge the wound of abuse.
So... how did a blog that started out about the most amazing moment of my life get so heavy and depressing? Because if you don't understand the difficult part then the good part isn't as meaningful.
So... fast forward again to the other night. During one of the slower songs, I found myself snuggled in against Jay's chest, and I realized that I could hear HIS voice mixing with HIS strong heart beat, and for the first time in over 20 years, I felt that same sense of safety I felt at age 5... except this time it was a reality. Jay would give his life for mine if needed (as I would for him) but way beyond that he shows his love in a million tiny ways. He shows it in the way he parks across at the next apartment building so that I can have the close parking spot; in the way he reminds me to bring a sweater to Cracker Barrel because he knows I always get cold; in the way he knows what day of the week my favorite restaurant serves the dish I love so much; in the way he can sense when I have the antys and need to get out of the house and when I want to just stay home; in the way he can sense when I'm fighting an anxiety episode and can give me the space and reasurance to overcome it; in the way he sprayed down my khaki's with stain remover after I got them all dirty on the family day cruise; in the way he intently listened to me whether I'm talking about something very important or completely trivial (note that this was one of the traits I feel so in love with over 10 years ago); and simply in general how we always wants me to have the best even if that means that he gets second best.
So, I guess, with my brothers spread out all over the Carolinas, that soon I'll be looking forward to gathering around my kitchen table and hearing Jay sing Happy Birthday to our children (who given our family backgrounds will most likely be pyro's too!) But at least I will know that just like I am, in his arms they will always be truly safe.
Thanks for reading, y'all!