On Approval, Part Two

River Photo

I have written about this subject before here,

Reed and I have been kicked out of our beloved home in the hollow. It is not personal, but we haven’t signed a lease in a while, and our landlords are experiencing their own kind of crisis, so we have to move. We were given 30 days to move, and it is the worst time to rent in this town, yet I found a house that is better than what we’re living in within 24 hours.

If I wasn’t resilient and resourceful, I would be dead by now.

One of the most useful things that my therapist ever pointed out was that I’m an “approval seeker.”

Being an approval seeker means that I’ll always seek out partners whose approval I can never fully earn.

That guy was an alcoholic, so alcohol was more important than me. That other guy was a recovering Mormon, so I was too slutty by his standards. That other guy was a rock climber, so I wasn’t fit enough.

I was always going to find men whose approval I couldn’t earn, and I still do that now, though I am quicker to write them off.

Caleb, that guy I married, wanted me to be a “wifey.”

I am no one’s wifey.

I didn’t change my last name to Caleb’s, and this was a controversy with both his family and mine. His new wife did change her name. Maybe this means that she is the real wife, and I was only the imaginary wife.

I am the distant past wife.

If only I felt distanced from that story.

Dating is not easy for a woman like me. I still seek out the wrong men, but I am strong enough now that I reject them when I discover that they are wrong.

What I have discovered is that this, combined with rural living, means I am permanently alone.

Caleb wasn’t just my abuser; he was also my best friend. Now, when I look back, we weren’t married for that long, but it felt like so long at the time.

I am loyal, and I am honest. As an approval seeker, I am not doing myself any favors with these qualities.

 When Reed was a baby, Caleb and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves. None of our friends had children. We put Reed in his carseat, and drove. We drove to places that we wanted to drive to without a child, to places that we had wanted to explore as adults.

We drove into icy, snowbound places because it was winter in Idaho, and we had no choice.

It seems fitting that Reed was born into winter.

I am a winter child too.

Caleb and I had so little time together before I got pregnant. Still, I always trusted Caleb’s love for me and his desire to marry me because he was the one who wanted to keep the baby and get married. He told me, I feel like, if you had an abortion, we would break up, and I don’t want that to happen.”

We all know how that ended.

I will never regret keeping that baby, but I regret seeking the approval of that man.

Because I wanted Caleb’s approval, I drove off into that frosty future with him where we would have a baby and a life.

He didn’t manifest what he promised, yet I had changed my desires to meet his.

It didn’t matter.

I was alone with his child, and our end was that we still ended up at the same place–a large, hard lake that was too frozen for us to surface.

It was too frozen for us to break