How we guard ourselves.

Last night, as I sat on the couch next to Julie, I glanced down at her bare feet and laughed.

Let me just say…Julie has some ugly feet!! It’s completely a genetic thing but I notice things like that. And yes, she is aware that I think her feet are a little “funky” looking.

Mine aren’t in the running for the cover of Podiatry Monthly, either so I guess we’re even!

I bring this up because it got me to thinking about just how far I’ve come with regards to trying to protect myself, emotionally, to standing before a priest and promising forever.

As I’ve chronicled, I have always kept the notion that Julie and I may not make it in the back of my mind. I lost her once before, so I’m very conscious of just how fragile relationships are if you don’t put in the effort required to nurture them.

Once upon a time, I was more than just a little superficial. I dated the typical “girly girls” with the nails, clothes, shoes, etc. a trophy on my arm. It made it easy to not get attached. After all, if your relationship is based solely on the exterior qualities a person has, you tend to spend little time focusing on the inside.

It kept me from being hurt. You can’t be hurt if you’re not invested!

Well, there were times that I’d find myself afraid of losing Julie. Scared that she’d choose to follow her family instead of loving me. Scared our distance would be more than she could tolerate. Afraid someone, a little closer to home, would catch her eye and I’d be a distant memory. In order to protect myself, I tried to revert back to my shallow superficial ways.

I had a picture on my phone. One that is not very flattering. Julie has been working outdoors and the person that took the photo caught her at the most awkward time. Hair unkempt, clothes loosely hanging, she’s about 30 pounds heavier, and there is an awkward, pained expression on her face.

When I would feel insecure, I’d pull up this photo. I’d look at it and tell myself, “she’s not that cute. Do you want to wake up next to her everyday??”

I’d think about her feet, how they are entirely too big for her little body and how her big toes are unusually disproportionate to the rest of her foot.

I’d think about how she will sometimes slump a little when she walks. Her shoulders hunched over because the day has kicked her ass and she just can’t take anymore.

I’d purposely pick out little things to try to convince myself that “she’s not that great”

My plan backfired…big time.

I’d sit and stare at these photos and think about her imperfections and I’d find myself seeing the beauty in them.

Smiling at the thought of how when she is slouching a bit too much, she comes up to me and let’s me wrap my arms around her. Her way of saying, “make the world disappear”. The way that her tired gait was the precursor to me being allowed to protect her from any more disappointment, that day.

I’d laugh at the realization that the look on her face in that photo is a look I’ve seen time and again. A look of determination and frustration, all rolled in to one. Then I realized that now, when she has that look, she can see me standing there and a smile quickly replaces it and she knows that I will step in to try to undo whatever chaos has unfolded.

The extra 30 pounds? I would find myself thinking about how she is more like me in that respect than I ever imagined. We get “lazy” or stressed. We put on a few pounds. We also wake up one day and decide we aren’t happy and change it.

And those feet? I just look at them now and smile because they have led her back to me. A very long and difficult road to walk.

My point?

In my attempts to protect myself from pain, I discovered that the imperfections that make up Julie are a small part of what makes her perfect.

They are the parts of her that I want to wake up and see everyday. They are the outer shell of the amazingly beautiful woman that lives inside.

And I think she’s beautiful. Ugly feet, included.

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