A Valentine’s Letter To My Wife Bonnie

This past year has been one of the most challenging and beautiful years for my wife Bonnie and me. This year, we have experienced the highs of marriage, our honeymoon, the joys of our new cats, and countless memories from exploring new places to simply snuggling on the couch playing Mario Party or watching tv. We have also experienced the lows of heartbreak, loss, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and the challenges of me temporarily moving away for work. A big challenge for us both this year has been adjusting to her new Autism diagnosis and the misunderstandings and miscommunications that can come along with that.

Her autism diagnosis was a wake-up call for us both. She was elated to finally have some clarity and context for her life with her years of struggle being misunderstood, not getting the support she deserved, and even derision for simply being who she is. It also came with heartbreak when she realized how much was taken from her and what her life could have been like had she had the support she needed. When she first told me this news, I was ignorant when it came to Autism. I will admit that my lack of education and understanding caused much tension at times, as I felt confused by some of her processing, behaviors, and challenges. She certainly deserved a more receptive partner at that time, but I feel hopeful that I am on a new road to truly understand her and finding new ways to expand our love for one another.

This past year, our love has grown in ways I could never have imagined. I haven’t been this close with anyone before. I was guarded and boarded up from myself and others emotionally. It’s like I had to relearn how to love and what it means to love. Now, as I sit here and reflect on this past year, I can’t help but feel immensely grateful and overwhelmed at the same time. When it was just me being single, I didn’t worry about much. I didn’t have much self-respect so I thought, well if something happens to me or a wrench is thrown into my situation, oh well that’s life. Not much loss. Now that I have found Bonnie and with all of this love and connection I have discovered, I have reason to worry. I have reason to feel a responsibility that I have never felt before. For the first time, I feel like I have found something so precious and irreplaceable in our relationship, that I will do everything I can to protect it. To my dying breath. I fear for its loss. I fear for her.

Learning about all of the ways in which she has felt unheard and disjointed from everyone around her breaks my heart. I want nothing more than to give her the best life she can have. I find myself frustrated at wanting to change the world into something that she deserves. I feel helpless in doing that, but I also feel a grand purpose in creating that world and that space when we are together. She certainly has created that warm and accepting space for me, so much so that I almost find it off putting, and question whether I even deserve it. I am still working on issues with self-respect.

These challenges have only drawn us closer. In studying autism, I find so much that I can relate with through her and the various accounts shared by diagnosed people that I have read. Perhaps I may be autistic too? We will see. I already know that we share in our neurodiversity. It’s been an eye-opening journey since I have met her. I have discovered so many wonderful things about both of us. She gives me reasons to root for both her and myself. She gives me reasons to fight for what we have and what we believe in. She helps guide me and helps me find the strength within myself to face each day with meaning. And I know I do the same for her, and what a wonderful feeling that is.

Bonnie, I know that my best way to communicate is through writing. I find it so difficult to say what I am feeling in person. It is through writing that I find my voice and my soul. But even writing cannot capture what you mean to me. There are no spoken words, there are no written words, there are no forms of art and expression to truly convey the depth and nuance of what your love has done to me. It feels like a void that I just want to fill in and make sense of and get out of myself. But I can’t. I can only show it through action and empathy, through patience, dedication, and kindness in hopes of making you feel what my love for you means. You are inspiring. You are a force to be reconned with and a sight to behold. The way in which you advocate for yourself and are learning to love yourself has caused me to do the same. As our love for ourselves grow, so will our love for each other. What a stunning garden we are growing. You have touched me to the very depths of my soul and have shown me love in such a powerful and transformative way. I can only hope to repay you with the same thing, every day, for the rest of my life.

I don’t want to state the clique that I wish our days moving forward to be filled with nothing but happiness. We will have happy days, and we will also have defeating days. We will experience new forms of heartbreak, struggle, and disappointment with life. Suffering is inevitable and part of the journey. I don’t wish for a happy or easy life. I wish for a full life with you, across all spectrums of emotions and experiences. I want to be the most human I can be with you, and to see all colors of the rainbow. I now know the value of struggle and hardship, it’s the troubled waters that force us to grow and learn to swim. And so I will welcome everything that will come with open arms, and I know that whatever happens, we will face it together and give purpose to it all.

With all my love, Matt

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