Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Your marriage is worth saving - a letter to a friend

I don't know you very well.  You are really the dear friend of a dear friend and I see you here and there.  I don't know the specific details of your marriage and your heart, but I heard that your marriage is on the rocks and my heart went out to you.  I hate it when people give me unwanted advice, so I won't give you any.  I'll just tell you about me.

I have sat alone in church looking at the apparently happy couples all around me, arm around each other while the preacher preaches, feeling utterly lonely.  I sat there wondering why my marriage doesn't look like anyone else's, why my husband wasn't next to me and did everyone else wonder what was wrong with me too.  Could they see the broken relationship that I was half of? 

I have sat side by side with my husband on the couch of many a couple's counselor over the years, emotionally raw and sad and so full of fear and anger and pride.  When the counselor asked the question, "Do you want to continue with each other?" I wanted to scream both, "NO!" and "YES!" and desperately wanted to hear what he had to say first because I didn't want to be the first to say it, either way.  I only wanted the pain of being in a relationship with him to stop.  I wanted it to be his fault and not mine.  I wanted to be the victim and cry and then he'd see how much he had hurt me.  I didn't want to admit that I had been wrong, or selfish, or distant and disinterested, or demanding, or used him as my verbal whipping boy when I was angry about other things, or lonely or sad, and had been a hormonal wreck that wasn't very fun to be around.  And I didn't want it to be over because that somehow meant I had failed in a monumental way and because some part of me still loved him.

I didn't want my heart to be that vulnerable to him, this man that I loved, but didn't (and sometimes still don't) trust.  I didn't want to see what he had done for me, for us, for our family over and over again, sacrificing himself for us, carving out a life and becoming a better man.  I only wanted to see when he screwed up and made his own mistakes, while ignoring or expecting unending forgiveness for my own.

I wanted it to be about me and my needs, and his should not matter.  Even though I never thought or said that out loud to myself, it was the reality of how I acted in relationship with him.  There are details of our marriage that I'd tell you in person, but since this is out in the world for everyone to read, I won't.  (Because I love him and want to cover him with that love.  Not cover up for him, cover him.  It's different.)  But over the last 9 years, we have been through hell and back.  Luckily, in my ear, I had a sponsor, a mentor if you will, who had been down the same path I was walking and her marriage had ended in divorce.  Even though she fought for it, her husband did not.  I'll share what she would remind me of, over and over when I'd call her in tears, ready to give up and walk away.

She asked me if I thought getting divorced would make it easier and I said, "No, but at least I won't hurt any more!"  Her reply always shook me out of my self pity. "Yes, you will." She said, "But it will be a more sad and lonely kind of hurt with no resolution because there is no hope that the two of you will ever get to a better place." And I knew she was speaking from experience.

She reminded me that wherever I ran, my baggage would follow.  All the stuff that comes out when I am tired, lonely, hurt, and angry would come out again and again.  With someone else, or toward my children and friends if I never got married again.  It's like that children's story, "Going on Bear Hunt."  which says, "You can't go under it, you can't go over it.  Oh no.  You have to go through it."  And I did.  And I still am.  And it sucks.  And it is glorious.  And it is hard.  And I hate it and wish it was easy.  And I love it and am grateful that the crap in my heart is being changed and that our love is deeper because of it.  Imperfect and still needs work (and man, he can still dive me up a wall), but it is deeper and richer today than it has ever been.

I'm not saying that I did it, so you can too.  I am saying it's worth it, even though it is really, really, really freaking hard.  It really is.  I hope you don't give up.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thoughts on Three

Milestones.  I missed them.  I have yet to sit down and put Peter's birth story in his journal.  It's here on the blog, but not in his book.  He smiled lots in week 5, but I didn't captured a photo until this week (week 7).  I'm too busy drinking in this babe.  With Cora I had endless hours to look at her and think about her and write about her.  With Judah I had less time, but still more than now.  Now my hours with Peter aren't endless and so I find myself hoarding up the uninterrupted minutes where I can look into his eyes and he can look into mine and I rarely reach for my camera.  Maybe my smartphone...

Peter has crossed out of the newborn phase in terms of sleeping all the time and now is busy with things to look at and wiggles to be had.  Cora and Judah dealt with the chaos of a new baby in their own ways, both acting out and sweet in turn.  They find each other easier and harder to play with as the days roll on.  Frenemies.  They want to share a room together and often I find then both in Judah's crib (which he can probably get out of, but thankfully has not tried hard enough) looking at books and pretending together.  And yet, in the blink of an eye, it becomes a fist fight, or an elbow fight with screeches and screams and someone, often Cora, because Judah is a tank of a child, ends up in tears.

I have to be careful and carve out time for them.  Judah and I rock in the recliner together and sing Michael Jackson's "Rock with You" and have wild conversations about trains and cars and trucks and things that go.  Last night, Matt and I watched him assemble his dinner in an elaborate display and then declare it was a car track and play with it.  We just had to laugh.  Cora and I spend time reading and talking together and finding, oddly, more time for little projects because there is less time for projects.  I can't explain it.  Maybe I am more willing for them both to do messier things because I know how much they love it and want them to find joy in creating something in the midst of a day that is often not about them at all, but just about getting through. 

The house is...well...always in some state of disorder.  Even when we had the luxury of someone over to help me clean it once per week, by the end of the day, we had descended into kid chaos again.  But hey, the toilets were clean!

Matt and I have been on one date since the birth of our third baby and man, do we need to keep that up!  Finding someone to keep all our littles is proving the biggest challenge of all.  It's hard to find someone that we like who is reliable and available and sometimes when we do, something happens that cancels our date anyway.

My mantra is "Roll with it, Baby" and I have that song buzzing in my head when the decibel level gets too much and I am tired.  Sometimes I don't roll with it and yelling ensues, but thankfully these little people are quick to forgive if I am quick to say I am sorry.  Do overs are the best.

So I'll end with this.  Listen, enjoy and roll with it.

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