Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Inside a Marriage After an Emotional Apocolypse
Then we moved together to England. We had a transitional phase (read, we fought a lot) then we adjusted and grew into each other. Adjustment gave way to confidence and acceptance and we became engaged. We travelled to Rome and I discovered Europe. Again, we ate breathtaking food, walked hand in hand all over the country and met Chuck D.
When we moved up to Scotland, the ease that had accompanied us in our preceding 3 years together disappeared and tension was a more constant companion. He hated his job, I didn't like mine. We lived in a good flat in a bad part of town. I commuted 3 hours a day and hated it. But the love was still there and while we had no social life, we loved our time together. We planned a beautiful wedding and had a mini-moon. But our hearts were not as happy as they had been. Despite this, we planned for a baby. Perhaps it wasn't the best of times, but it worked like a charm and we looked forward to her while being sick of life in the town where Dave was born.
Then she died.
And we've been tripping over our feet ever since.
The last 15 months since we lost Isla have been so indescribably difficult from an emotional, physical and psychological point of view. In regards to our marriage, we never dreamed of being where we are when we sunned on rocks by the river in rural Japan. There have been times over the last year where we have been sick of each other. That connection we felt so sure of has been strained by our grief. It's a strange thing - to be simultaneously comforted by the person who understands you and your loss better than anyone else in the world and also want to be as far away from them as humanely possible.
The old us have gone. We are completely different people. There are shadows of our former personalities we can illuminate when we need to, but fundamentally, we are strangers to ourselves and to each other. We have had some raw discussions, words and feelings that feel like bare-knuckled hits to our hearts. Dave's eyes are no longer as shiny as they used to be. My self-confidence ebbs at a low level and consequently, I need him to prop up my ego in a way that embarrasses me.
Marriage is hard, yo. People say it all the time. It's true. It's about give and take, being high when he's low. Watching your words. Being kind even when you want to choke each other. It's about thinking about the other person all the time and loving him all the time (liking him all the time is optional).
We're not going to get a divorce. That's simply not an option nor has it ever been a consideration. We're just starting over. We've been together in Toronto now for 4 months. We've transitioned for the last time. There is no talk of "when this happens" or "when that happens". It's just now. We're working on ourselves and our relationship because it's the most important thing to us right now.
I finally read "The Happiness Project"as per Anna's recommendation and because my boss had a copy. I didn't love it because the author was already happy; she just wanted to be happier. I think I'd be more pleased if it had been written by a person who had been devastated then learned a few things to be happy again. I did, however, take away a few tenets that I've moulded to fit my life now:
1) Be brave.
2) Be kind.
3) Cut people slack.
4) Be selfish when you need to be.
I have been trying to remember and applying these things every time I talk to my husband. He in turn is relaxing more which makes me relaxed. We hug each other longer and sit closer together on the couch. I'm listening to him more. He's the father of my daughter and my partner in life. I vowed to always save him the big piece of chicken and to be his safe place, and he vowed to unball his socks before throwing them in the laundry basket and to love me always and forever. I love him more than anything. I've decided to add his last name to my own. We are a family. I couldn't imagine going through all this with anyone else in spite it all.