As hard as it is for me to believe, this March my husband and I will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. We’ve been together for more than 26 years, and to be honest, it’s hard for me to remember a day when he wasn’t in my life.
I know it sounds super corny to admit this, but meeting Joe was the best thing that ever happened to me. Being with a person who truly loves and respects me for who I am has made it easy to do things that once scared me.
Joe was the first person I ever told that I wanted to be a writer and start a blog. He didn’t laugh at me. He didn’t remind me that I had been out of the paid workforce for 11 years raising our three kids. He didn’t point out that I didn’t even have an email address and knew nothing about starting a blog. He said, “Great, you should do it.”
Just like he did years before when I said that because of my dyslexia, I would never type, drive, or go to college. I did all of them with his support.
The truth of the matter is, I would never have even given this man the time of day if I hadn’t learned one really important lesson when I was a 23-year-old girl living alone in a tiny NYC studio apartment: Don’t purposely slam your finger in a door.
Need a little more detail?
The year was 1988, and in the words of Waylon Jennings, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I dated so many frogs looking for Prince Charming that I was beginning to think that all men were at least a little shade of green. Perhaps I was being too picky. What’s a wart or two?
In fact there was a particular frog that I had given not one, but several chances to hop all over my heart.
This guy had the habit of coming into my life, turning it upside down with talk of love and promises, and then without a call or explanation leave once again.
I thought he was finally gone for good, but as I came home from work one night and started listening to my messages, I stopped cold in my tracks.
It was him. His voice filled with charm, telling me that only I could make his birthday special. He missed me. I meant so much to him.
I’m not going to lie, I wanted to call him back without even putting my groceries away. But I didn’t. I put some of the therapy I had been receiving to good use and took a moment to think before I did anything.
I got out of my work clothes and went into the bathroom to freshen up. Maybe a little cold water would shock me back to reality and remind me that it had just taken me two months to get over the last time he hopped in and then out of my life.
As I left my bathroom staring at the answering machine wondering what I should do, I accidentally slammed my finger in the doorway.
Pain shot through my whole body and tears streamed down my face.
Several four-letter words escaped from my mouth. The pain was blinding.
And then it happened. Like a bolt of lighting I got struck with a thought that has helped guide my life ever since: Would I ever purposely slam my finger in a door?
No. Of course not, it hurt way too much. I would have to be crazy.
Ah, the bell rang. Ding, ding, ding. THEN DON’T CALL HIM BACK! You will only get your heart slammed again.
I never did.
That was the beginning of making much better choices for myself, and not just in my romantic life.
About a year and a half later I learned my second best lesson, If you meet a person across a crowded room and you are instantly attracted to them, run the other way.
A few weeks after that important lesson, I went on a blind date with a very nice guy who made me laugh. After our first date I told my roommate that while I had fun, this wasn’t the guy I would marry. Still, I said yes to a second date, and as they say, the rest is history.
This is a reworking of a piece that was first published on the Dishwasher, September 14, 2014, under the title, The Best Lesson I Ever Learned.