In the before days, always rolled off the tongue easily. I had saved myself for this person, not even saying “I love you” to anyone else. I knew that ours was an enduring relationship and that it was going to last and last and last, so I never doubted my declarations of always. When difficulties hit, I just looked back at always to steady me. That always was more important than the individuals in the relationship – certainly more important than me.
Always was a promise. That I would stay married no matter what. That I would be faithful no matter what. That I would keep going no matter what.
I believed it. And when I didn’t really believe it, I leaned on it anyway, because that was easier than admitting things didn’t feel like always. Sometimes always felt more like an obligation than an adventure. Always was about holiness, not happiness. Feelings were deceptive, always was the only truth.
Always loses a lot of its shine when it’s consistently not something that you really want to do. Always becomes tedious when it’s separated from happiness. Always is tenuous when you have to grind it out.
Then an affair. A divorce. Always was broken, no, always was shattered.
Maybe always had been damaged long before. When always became a chore rather than a joy, maybe it wasn’t really always at all. Nevertheless, I had trampled on the words that I had said over and over in years of marriage. I took always and soiled it with my actions. In my mind, I threw always forever into question.
But now there was also a new husband. New vows that this was the one who held my always. A new love who deserved to hear always whispered in the dark when we held each other close.
I want always again, but I want it different from before.
I want always to be something that I feel every single time I say it. I want always to be something that makes me smile, rather than being something that I need to smile through. I want always to be something that I believe, not simply something that I want to believe.
Always rolls off the tongue easily again, but this time without the naivety that I had before when I thought that simply saying the words made it true. Now I know that always takes work, but I also know that it takes happiness and if either part is missing, it’s not really always.