On this day, at about this time (12:00 noon), 26 years ago, Tim and I faced the congregation. We had just said those forever words, “I do.” As the bishop introduced us, we took that first step into our future….
The night before our wedding, our church had been broken into. I remember the surprise when our pastor, Glen Jantzi told us. Someone caught that moment on camera, my mouth hanging open. No wedding gifts were stolen, but the sound system was taken, but somehow that was all taken care of too.
Somewhere between that moment and walking down the aisle, the photographer caught me sneaking an After Eight chocolate mint. I was giddy with excitement, yet calm and at peace.
Having sat through the sermon, trying hard to sit still, the moment finally came…
Vows were said. And having made that forever promise, “I do”, we faced the congregation, waiting for the bishop to introduce us.
We took that first step into our future as the bishop spoke….
“I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Tim Harder!”
We stopped, only one step into our marriage, startled, and swung around, in sync as if a perfectly rehearsed act, to look at the Bishop.
The congregation erupted in laughter! The bishop realized what he had done, and set about correcting himself, reintroducing us as, “Mr. and Mrs. Tim Metzger!”
And so began the adventure of a lifetime!
I love you with all that I am, Mr. Harder… um… er… I mean… Mr. Metzger! You are the most treasured gift God has given me in this life. And I’d do it all again, with you! The bumps. The scrapes. The thrills. The joys. The losses. The successes. The tears. The grief. The grace. The thrill. The peace. The crazy. The calm. The uncertainty. The unmovable and unshakeable.
You have been my rock. My tender and safe place. Twenty-six years of being lost in your arms and found in your heart… Thank you.
Tim and I have had our share of challenges, or ‘bumps and scrapes’. Life has not always been easy. We went through the normal struggles of trying to blend two lives into one, especially those first few years.
Several mornings in, I recall a moment of panic, for no particular reason. Tim had been nothing less than a gentleman those few days, just as he was in courtship. But the magnitude and finality of this life change hit me in a new way. Would I be enough? I never had been…
In the first four years we had as many conceptions. Two healthy children, and two miscarriages. And with the role of motherhood, came the awakening of terror and nightmares, fears and anxieties. Would my father come, one day, when Tim was at work, and kill me and my baby? In my sleep I would again be at home, now pregnant, running from the man who had threatened to kill me. But now I had another life to save. I would awaken from my nightmares, shaking and having been weeping in my sleep. Always Tim welcomed me into his arms, no matter the hour, and held me til the trembling and tears stopped. Always.
I felt guilty. It wasn’t right that he, a man younger than I, should have to carry this. It wasn’t right that he lose sleep when he had to work all day to provide. There was nothing fair about the aftermath and consequences of the abuse I had suffered, invading his world and disrupting our marriage.
While rare, a few times I had to fight through flashbacks during sexual intimacy. Feelings. Sensations. Scents. Images. All things that go with fighting past the hell of the past. And I would vow that the past will not dominate me, or steal our relationship, and I would push through. The triggers, while awful, I determined would become my healing. Rather than running from intimacy, I committed to finding healing through it. And the only thing that made this safe was the gentleness of a husband who consistently laid self aside for my wellbeing. This compassion gave me a safe place to continue to pursue intimacy, never fearing that I would be used or abused, belittled or shamed. My heart was always safe. In 26 years, not one time has he made me feel objectified, indebted (aka obligated to have sex), or used. For this I thank God.
When we lost babies to miscarriage, two different times in that first four year stretch, we learned how to grieve. We learned that we grieve very differently. And we learned to hold each other and create space for that difference. For him, expressing emotions and feelings (in word or otherwise) was hard. For me, tears and talking through it helped me process and release. It took patience.
Five babies in seven years, with two more in heaven, took its toll. Life became increasingly more demanding. I still had my share of unresolved wounds from the past. Then health crises struck. Losing half my blood in a haemorrhage in 1999. Toxic mould poisoning in 2003. Heart attack in 2006….
It all weighed us down and at times we drifted apart. But always we found our way back to each other. And in the rise and fall, our love grew stronger. With every battle we fought through together, we emerged stronger and more in love, more deeply committed to “come hell or high water, we are in this for the long haul”.
It’s how it all began, just before our engagement, when out of fear I wanted to break up. I started to withdraw from Tim, and told him what I truly felt; that he would be better with someone else. I didn’t think I had it in me to get married and go through all the emotional upheaval it would bring. Dating, alone, had stirred things up to the point I could hardly cope. Marriage, I concluded, was not for the faint of heart. And I figured I should get out while I’m ahead. Besides, by the time he really knew me, I supposed he would break up and not want me. So sooner would be better than later, I told myself.
Having stated this to Tim (in much less detail and fewer words), attempting to break up, he took me by surprise. He stepped forward, rather than away. And ever so gently he reached his arms around me, locking both arms at my side, and then held me firmly.
“Trudy, I am in this for the long haul”. He said a bit more, but those words echoed through the years. Tim has patiently lived that commitment through the best and the worst of times, always inviting me into the same…. always loving me patiently when I didn’t feel loveable.
Twenty-six years in, he remains the wind beneath my wings. In all that I do, he is my sounding board, my rock to lean on, my cheerleader and my encourager. I could not do what I do without his constant support.
So, today, for all you survivors of abuse I’ve supported over the years, I want to honour the man who has made it possible for me to do this. He cares well for me, first, and he cares for you also. It is his wisdom and compassion that allow me to pour my heart and life into serving you.
My first thanks goes to God, who called me, healed me, and fills me with grace and courage. On the heels of this, is deep gratefulness for the Love of my life.
Happy Anniversary Honey! Here’s to the next 26 years!
PS. Having just completed this blog, as I attached the photo, Tim walked in carrying this gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Giving flowers isn’t his strong suit, but today he did. And there was I, all tender after writing from such a deep place in my heart… and the tears started. The flowers truly are beautiful! But it is his heart I celebrate.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger 2020