A Life Changing
by Nan Strigner
January 11, 2018
All my life I’d been told that I was beautiful, and I took a lot of pride in my looks, but I had never viewed it as an important part of who I was. I was thirty six years old and had never married, when my grandmother called me to come over for a “long talk.” When she sat me down on the couch and poured tea, I knew she was getting ready to state some truths that she felt needed to be said.
“Honey, I’ve watched you grow into a beautiful young woman. But I’m distressed about how you’ve handled your life thus far. You want respect, but you accept disrespect. You want to be known as a wife, but you accept the label girlfriend. You’re in love right now, but whether or not he loves you does not seem to matter. You just want to be with him. I’ve watched you take up with men, who were at first dazzled by your beauty, until they discovered you lacked the confidence to back it up. I’ve seen your tears on nights when you were disappointed with a man, but they dried too fast. I remember once, you told me, in a proud manner, of a man you were dating, and how he had photos of you all over his house. But you allowed him to disappoint you time after time, until he finally broke it off.”
Tears flowed wildly down my cheeks, as she leaned forward and put her hand on my shoulder. “Honey, it takes more than beauty to get the best out of life, and you’ve got to start taking up for your soul.” Her words changed my life that day and I realized she was right. I had been involved with David for six years and though I wanted to get married, he didn’t. He had been married before and he wore the stains from his divorce on his sleeve like a piece of armor. I stayed in the relationship because I didn’t want to be without him and I pretended to be satisfied, though I wasn’t.
Through the years, we’d had many discussions about marriage and he always prided himself on his candidness about his disinterest. “One thing is for sure, I am not leading you on. You know how I feel and if you’re dissatisfied, you need to find someone who wants to get married,” he’d say. After these discussions, my confidence was always shot to dust. I felt like an old shoe that was taken for granted. But after that talk with my grandmother, I decided to change.
Without discussion, I changed my phone number and didn’t call to give it to him. However, it took him a week to discover I had changed it. I hadn’t even realized that I had been doing most of the calling. When he did find out, he called me at work and I refused his call. For three days, he called and left angry messages. When he showed up at my door one night and I refused to let him in.
The next morning, he cornered me at my car in the parking lot and I knew I had finally touched the button to his heart. “What’s wrong with you,” he bellowed, as I tried to get in my car and shut the door. “I thought I knew you, why are you acting so crazy.” Without speaking, I looked at him and glared. The expression on my face disoriented him and my silence added insult to injury. “What’s wrong with you?!”
By this time, he was screaming with his deep voice rising to tenor tones. “What have I done to you?” I moved to start the car. I knew if I said anything, I might break down and lose my composure. I was ecstatic to see this display of concern from him, but I held fast to the grim look on my face. I was determined to either change the relationship or forego it.
“Please talk to me, Nan,” he said as I put my car in gear. “What’s bugging you?…you know I love you, why are you acting like this?”
I stifled a gleeful chuckle, as my heart soared through the roof of the car.
Now we’re getting somewhere, I thought to myself, as I held my foot on the brake. In six years, he had never told me he loved me. “Okay, David, I’ll tell you. I am starting a new life without you. I am finally going after what I want. As you said, we are different and we don’t want the same things. I am moving away from you in the best way I know how. Goodbye.” I released the brake and drove off.
There was no point in waiting around for an answer. It was up to him now. I glanced at him in my rear view mirror and he was standing there in shock. But I felt good because I had finally taken a stand for my own happiness.
For four weeks, I didn’t hear a word from him and I counted him as gone. Then he showed up at my mother’s home on Thanksgiving Day and handed me a beautiful engagement ring and a card without saying a word. The card read, “Okay, I give. I can’t stand being without you. You can set the date. With all my love, David.”