She’s never openly admitted to me that I’ve saved her, but I know. I know in my heart that as much as I talk about how she saved me, that I also did quite my fair share of saving, too.
When I first met Natalie, she had super high levels of self-confidence, but as I’ve grown throughout the years I’ve realised that self-confidence doesn’t translate to self-esteem. I don’t think she fully trusted many men. Granted, there’s a level of implicit trust in Natalie that has even the most guarded person divulging their darkest woes to her, but there’s an inner circle she has, reserved for so few that I’m glad I met it’s acquaintance and it expanded a bit more to include me.
I can see why she managed to adopt two levels of trust. I expect her nature is to be trusting naturally, but there are things that have happened in her life that have just smashed any naivety in two. Natalie’s life wasn’t too bad, apart from the odd man-failure she would decide to date in the past, but we all have those, right? She tells me some laughable stories of being set up on dates with men that are totally not her type, and being convinced by her friends to stay the course. I have many of those stories, too!
She lived in Germany for eight years as a self-employed lady teaching businesses English. Quite a roller coaster life, and she had achieved all that I wanted to before I met her: recognition, good friends, travel, hobbies and pursuit of personal interests. I was enamoured when I first met her. Inspired. Especially when she recounted her days in Ecuador and her trip to the Galapagos islands.
Life really started to worsen for her when she was training to be a school teacher. Natalie had many years experience being a teacher in business, but teaching in schools is a different ball game in the UK. Then she fell off her horse in Activities Week at her local school. Being one of the teachers in charge, she went off to supervise a group of kids on an activity week out at a riding school and, sadly, her horse bucked and she fell down and her back cracked. She didn’t ‘snap’ her spine–more so crushed her L1 vertebrae, which meant that from then on she would be in constant pain for the rest of her life.
Talk about a life-altering event, right? And what followed really jaded her perspective; She couldn’t claim insurance because her documents mysteriously disappeared. No lawyer would take her case, and the school mismanaged the whole affair throughout and afterwards.
She was left with nothing. Nothing. Except constant pain, limited manoeuvrability and people that didn’t give two hoots. She had family and friends, but outside that circle, I can honestly say that people didn’t generally care.
When We Met
I met Natalie in April 2008 as she was trying to get back into work. She was at a point in her life where everything had become manageable and sustainable, so she wanted to get into a working routine again. She felt life was boring and meaningless at home. And then I appeared in her life. And I knocked her for six because I proved possible a lot of hopes that she had abandoned when it came to men. I expect it came unsuspecting, too. I just swept her off her feet.
How? It wasn’t intentional.
A Surprising Match
There were things that I did just out of contentedness of being around her that she couldn’t quite get her head around. I was always willing to tie her shoes when it became a strain. I brought her freshly cut flowers weekly. I was willing to sit and just listen to her–whatever she had to say–and always mindful and respectful of her emotions.
I had such an intoxicating naivety about me back then that she would get off on educating me. Being heard and cared for restored her faith fully in men. There were big hurdles to get over at the start–her trusting me and me trusting her–but we managed it in the end.
Knowing that a person could come along and love her truly and unconditionally despite her flaws must had been an eye opener for her. It was for me, too.
Straying from the Set Course
I had settled with what I had in life, and I think she had, too. Loving Natalie gave me the opportunity to learn what love truly is. It let me grow into the man I never knew I could be, and it let her be unapologetically herself again. We gave that to each other.
And I save her again and again and again. Not just once, but every time she finds herself in trouble. When she was pregnant and needed me to push her everywhere in a wheelchair, when she had a miscarriage, when she feels lonely and down at the world, surviving her post-natal depression. We’ve seen it, been through it and I was there, every step of the way with her.
Persisting through Challenges
I can’t say it was easy for the both of us, but I was always there, absorbing her pain, trying the best I could with what I had available to help her deal with the next adventure life was going to throw at us. She does the same for me. And that’s why we stick steadfast.
To me a loving relationship is one that empowers both of you to be better people together, to strive for better and to reach new heights of understanding each day. And in essence my wife taught me this, and I proved to her that it could be done.