But I'm Here Now / by Rebecca Tillett

My husband told me a couple weeks ago that for me, he thinks "happiness is a moving target."

That statement has been crawling around my brain ever since followed quickly by the inevitable question "Is it true?" For the past year or two I've questioned much in my life; my work, my art, my motivation, but ultimately and unnervingly my biggest question has been about my marriage. Fourteen years ago I met my husband online, fell in love with him and before I was even a senior in highschool, we moved out of our parents' places and into our first apartment. We confronted life's challenges and assumed very adult roles while we were still very much children. Both of us running away from broken families and broken homes and into each other's arms – the two of us finally feeling whole after being so accustomed to feeling like broken pieces ourselves. Sometimes looking back, it's really quite a miracle that we've made it as far as we have, the numerous and towering hurdles we've cleared victoriously and sometimes not without a doubt. This man I married seven years after meeting him is a wonderful human being, and not without his faults but really, the goodness just oozes out of him. Anyone who's ever known him well (which is very few as he lets so few people into his inner circle) would attest to it. But he and I couldn't be more opposite of one another. And it certainly wasn't our opposite qualities that brought us together. It was our few similar ones. And as time has marched on our glaring differences have become harder and harder for me to ignore. Oftentimes feeling unsure or lonely or frustrated at the lack of shared goals or interests or passions but much too frightened (and naïve) at the thought of navigating the world of men and relationships or even entirely on my own to do anything about it…until this summer when a man who has been in and out of my life for the last 16 years (also online) unwittingly personified any ideals or images I may had previously conjured up concerning a partner better suited for me. The ne plus ultra. And thus began the biggest and most arduous trial of my (adult) life. For the past 6 months I've struggled with these three dilemmas: Do I walk away from the only man I've ever loved and shared my life with? If so, how do I do it painlessly and for both of us? (How do I lessen the depth of the wounds?) and finally Am I strong enough to traverse this life on my own, alone and on my own terms if necessary (because ideals and dreams are wonderful but I'm wise enough to know the only real thing I can count on in this life 100% without a doubt is myself…everything else is gravy)?

So in September I decided to take a month-long road trip around the SW area stopping and seeing friends along the way and just generally getting a feel for life on my own. I assumed I'd return enlightened and with more answers than I'd left with. Instead I returned mid-month because our basement had flooded due to insane Colorado rains and my husband had caught an unfortunate strain of meningitis. Once I'd done what I could, I was determined to head back out and finish my journey and I very proudly did…but the second leg of the trip was tainted with sexual assault (still grappling with the term "rape") by a good male friend and the subsequent finality of our relationship because of it. And so I returned home to Colorado defeated, a little more timid than when I'd left and doubts about the harshness of the world and the people in it that I couldn't shake. I was struggling not to take what had happened to me as a sign or a glimpse into my life without my husband, what I could expect as a single woman without a man to protect her. And in fact, I'm still struggling with that.

But in October I carried on and heaved myself into the challenge of amputating myself from the only life I've ever known and began the job search (because I hadn't had one since January of this year and can't survive on my limited freelance) and by November I'd secured one in Denver, a city I've always deemed as giant and about an hour north of the place I've called home the last 7 years. So much of a November was spent looking for a place to live, separating the things my husband and I have shared for the last 14 years together, feeling so ridiculously terrified I'd sit straight up in the middle of the night or worse yet, have constant dreams of driving in a vehicle going at least 90mph and driving head on into a wall or another vehicle.

It's been hard. And that statement does little to convey just HOW hard and in exactly what ways. But I'm here now. I've just concluded my second week at a job I love, I'm renting an adorable apartment with my little cat Blue and I've met some wonderful and interesting people I'd never met had I given into fear. Though I realize I chose the more difficult path, I don't yet regret my decision and am eager to learn whether or not happiness is actually a moving target or something truly beautiful and attainable.