Hummingbird at Heart (A Love Story) By Rebecca Frost
When people ask how my husband Eric and I met, at this point, we usually just say, “High school” and leave it at that. We did indeed meet in high school—suffering through US Government and enjoying AP Physics together—but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. We haven’t constantly been a couple the entire time.
Before we got back together, I was in a bad relationship. Like… bad. It was emotionally and mentally abusive. I was with someone who had isolated me from friends and family and then went to work on me. That person didn’t like that I was smart. Or creative. Or funny. Or curious. So, that person set about making sure that I stopped being all of those things outwardly. You know how they say forcing yourself to smile can fool you into being happy? Forcing yourself to pretend you’re someone different, can start changing you on the inside.
The thing is, if you ask my friends to describe me, they’d probably say smart. And creative. And funny. And curious. Those traits are basically the core Rebecca components right there. Except, by the time I got free of that relationship, I’d been pretending not to be those things for so long that I felt like I should be ashamed of any impulse to actually be them. To be me. I didn’t really know who I was anymore, but even worse, I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be anymore—who I should want to be.
On top of that, being smart, creative, funny, and curious isn’t exactly the most calming or stable combination. It can mean zipping from topic to topic like a hummingbird on a sugar high or delving so deep into something that you’re immersed in it and can’t see anything else. You need some sort of stable center, a place to rest between the extremes—a place you can count on to always be there, no matter where you’ve been careening off to.
Eric’s the steady one, and he reminded me that I’m the sort of person who zooms and zips and careens—and that it’s okay to do all of those things. Whether it’s learning the Scandinavian precursor to knitting (Nålebinding, if you’re also curious) or delving into a semi-infamous Jazz Age murder (Leopold and Loeb), he just… lets me go. Encourages me to go. And at least pretends to listen when I tell him about what I’ve learned (or rant about it, depending).
Because the thing is, Eric knew exactly who I was—smart, creative, funny, curious—and he wanted me to keep being me. To be even more me than I already was. He didn’t want to change me to make his own life easier or turn me into someone even a little less messy in any way. And he doesn’t stop me from trying out the next weird and wonderful thing. He just makes sure that I know I have a place to land.