I'm not sure I believe in forever anymore. I know it sounds pessimistic, and harsh, and overall negative, but I just don't know.
I was going through my old email account yesterday, the one I've used since before my 20th birthday. It's 68% full of emails dating back to 2001. In an effort to do some long overdue housekeeping, I clicked on a folder I didn't even recognize to empty it. As the screen loaded, I saw what it was: My ex's full name stared back at me, over and over; a full page worth of emails that he had sent in a month's time. It was from back in 2003, when we were getting back together after a breakup. Our reunion is documented through these emails: My reticence, and his promises to be a better boyfriend. Along with promises to love me forever.
That was just over two years ago. My, how brief forever can be. It's not that I'm saying I wish it had worked out with him. I'm grateful that my relationship with him led me to where I am now. I'm a better girlfriend, a better person because of my relationship with him. Sure, I came out of it with some work to do on myself, but overall, it's made me more patient, more understanding, less unrelenting, more willing to give. But we were both so sure that this was forever. And it wasn't. Not even close.
The emails are peppered with phrases like "I can't wait to wake up to you every morning," and I look back at it now, knowing the emotion behind it was forgotten mere months after it was written. Promises of a future, a family, the love I was denied being paid to me. You're my life, I love you so much, I want to spend forever with you. And now I don't know where he is - hell, I don't even know him now - and I'm waking up to Billy every morning. Look where those promises got me.
It makes me fret, prematurely, in my relationship with Billy. Maybe forever to him means a few months, too. But we haven't even discussed forever. I'm too afraid to bring it up. Not to mention that I feel it's too soon to wade into that subject (another thing I brought with me out of my last relationship: A concept of too soon.). But, to me, it doesn't matter anyway. He could tell me anything, and I'll still believe it's only a matter of time before he changes his mind.
That's why fights bother me so much, why a slight chill in his voice is enough to make me believe he's through with me. Because, for me, forever isn't a reality. I know that, in doubt like this, I should look at examples of success, not my own proof of failure. I should look at my parents, 34 years and going strong. My grandparents on both sides. The way my dad's father kissed my grandmother when she lay in her coffin the day of her funeral. How he kissed her on each cheek and the lips and said goodbye, just as he had done before work every morning for the 50-odd years they were married before she died. The way my mom's mom has missed her husband every day since he passed away seven years ago. The way she still talks about him. I should think about that. But when I do, I just see it as something I won't be lucky enough to have.
My masochistic curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to read through a few of the emails he had sent me. He had just shown me the house be bought for us. And he explained his purchase, saying "I guess it's just my way of showing you that I'm not going anywhere, that you can count on me not to flee now or anytime in the future."
I put a lot of faith in what people say to me. Or I used to, I guess. You tell me you love me, that you're going to stay around forever, then I believe you. I think you're being honest. And you probably are. But I don't depend on the changing of your mind, I depend on your sticking to the statement you just made.
And so I put all of my faith in what he said. And I wonder why I'm so scared now, of bringing up the future, of believing in one at all, and then I see that and I remember: I feel like I was lied to. Like all he said was said just to keep me around until he'd had enough. And who knows? Maybe that's all anyone does. We don't know for sure how long we're going to love someone. We don't know, unequivocally, that we're going to stay enamored of them, hopelessly infatuated, attracted to, in love with the people we share "I love you"s with right now. There's no way.
Which makes me miserable.
It comes down to faith: How much faith you have in your relationship, in your partner, but - mostly - in yourself. And I guess I lost mine somewhere along the line. I just don't believe anymore. And I counsel myself: Just be happy right now. Don't concentrate on the future, just enjoy what you have while you have it. Is that sick, or hopelessly self-destructive? I don't know.
But when it comes down to it, it's not an issue of whether or not Billy and I will last for forever. It's an issue of me believing that he loves me in the here and now. And, that, I believe.