He didn’t like the answer he received when he asked her why she gave him up for adoption. It didn’t explain a whole lot, though it was simple and honest. That was where he forgave her though. He told me once that he felt like he could be himself when he was around her. And to a degree, I could see that. She had no expectations for him. She never called him out on things. She accepted him for who he was and all of his behaviors as they came. He saw this as love, I did not.
“Unconditional love doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want!” I yelled at him.
We were in a heated debate in our living room at a small house in Louisiana. I had just learned some new information that threw me over the edge. For an individual who was so afraid of losing me, he sure made a lot of attempts at destroying the very thing he wanted to keep.
I probably worded it wrong.
What I should have said is that unconditional love does not equate to unconditional acceptance of behavior.
I don’t believe Eric was an alcoholic, though it was one avenue that he sometimes ran to. He ran to other behaviors though just as much. He always ran on impulse – without thought, to the closest thing available.
When I left him following the birth of our first child, I received a random phone call from a guy I did not know, a co-worker of his. It was not the first time I had received random phone calls with information. He asked me some questions that were not new to me, “Why are you with him Christine?” “Do you know what he has done?”
I knew more than he realized.
Yes, he ran to alcohol, but it wasn’t the only risky behavior he ran to. He ran to women. He ran to cocaine. He ran to marijuana. He took a lot of different paths dependent on what was available and where he was at. We were similar in this aspect, yet different. I too ran on occasion. I ran to make sense of things, he ran to numb.
Describing our relationship with one word would be “roller-coaster”. He either worshiped the ground I walked on or cut me down to the core – there was no middle ground. I tried to stay balanced through his emotions and stay grounded. I didn’t always do a good job. There were times his words hurt more than any of his actions. And there were times that I just couldn’t handle his actions. Many of those times, I left or made him leave.
When friends of his tried to call him out on some of his behaviors, he severed all ties with them.
I don’t know if Eric and I would have ever gotten back together had he not died. He may have needed much more structure than I could give him. And honestly, some things had gone too far. That never took away from the fact that I hoped he would make it. I always hoped he would make it – with or without me, because truthfully, I loved him. That is what love is – it doesn’t wish the other person dead. It doesn’t wish for revenge. Love hopes. Love forgives. Love desires healing – with or without each other. It is something I have learned because of my relationship with Eric, though he will never know this.
I will always wonder if he understood what unconditional love is before he died. When I arrived in Louisiana for his funeral, I bought him another wedding ring. I placed it on his finger when I said goodbye and told him, “You were loved unconditionally”.
That doesn’t mean that I accepted all of his behaviors or that his actions were justified, but I knew his struggles and I understood where he was at most of the time. I loved him through it all, I just couldn’t live with it anymore.
At the time of his funeral, I gave a woman a hug. It was the one who took my place in Houston. The words she said to me I have not forgotten and reflected on it throughout the years.
“Eric is in a better place; he was never happy”.
I never disagreed with a statement more. I have known Eric’s happiness. I have experienced it. And yes, I have seen his sorrow, his disappointment, his self-loathing, his fear of abandonment, his anger, and all the other sides of him. I knew him well.
All of this was a lifetime ago, but looking back I learned a lot from my experience with him. I know that when abuse is involved, there is almost always more to the story. For many years I felt like I was in the middle and had to make a choice either for him or against him, dependent on whose presence I was in. I will not make that choice, nor have I ever. I saw both sides as I still do today.
I do not regret my time with him and I do not regret going back to him all those times that I did. I believe in second chances. I believe in grace. Not everyone shares my views, I understand that and I am okay with that. It is I who has to be okay with the choices I have made, not others.
I have loved three men in my life. This was not my first and not my last, but I loved him nonetheless. He was part of my story and I will always be grateful for that.
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