There Is Comfort In The Vicious Cycle

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I sat in the middle of our bed. Of our marriage bed. But I was alone. So completely and utterly alone, even though I knew he was downstairs in the garage taking his frustration at me out on his car.

My legs were crossed, my nose was running and the tears were falling. I wiped my nose on the baggy purple shirt I liked to wear when I was lounging around, and something about the runny nose and the indian style seating choice made me feel like a little girl again, not the 31 year old confident and strong woman that I had become.

I had just told my husband I wanted a divorce. No. SHRIEKED at my husband that I wanted a divorce, and since when had I become a woman who shrieked about anything. Since when had I become that needy, nagging woman who SHRIEKS out a series of profanities and accusations which essentially surmounted to the plea of “see me, I’m here”.

And now, sitting in the middle of the bed, feeling like a preschooler waiting for story time, I waited for what I knew would come next.

See, the realization had just hit me that this relationship was bad for me. Whether it was my fault, or his fault, the path we were on was the wrong path for ME. And when you have that kind of clarity, placing blame becomes less important than you ever though it would be. Because, this man whose life you tied to yours not only willingly, but happily, this man is never going to change. Even though he wants to make you happy, and he knows that in order to make you happy he has to be different. Even though he tries to be different, but who can blame him that he just doesn’t know how to be your way when he’s been his way for thirty years.

And how can I blame myself that when I fell in love with him, he was a different person. He was a more easy going person, he was a more attentive person, he was a nicer person. HE was the person I walked down the aisle to on that Fall afternoon. HE was the person who I spent nights wrapped up in; late nights and early mornings running my hands over the length of his back, feeling the raised spots where he was tattooed, tracing those raised spots as if they were a map to my ultimate happiness, to my very existence.

Because although we feel old, we are very young, and very naive. Although we feel like we’ve been through a lot together, it is the tip of the ice berg. We have a son together. A beautiful, curly haired cherub who represents the best of us both. Seeing his face reminds me of the two very distinct individuals we were when we came together and meshed together, at times peacefully and at times kicking and screaming.

For a small moment in time it was just the two of us, and that was when we were at our best. Discovering each other, feeling that every touch was exciting and new, but laced with a familiarity you only encounter when you begin to see a real future with another person. Not a fantasy future with beach houses and European travels, but the kind of future that consists of cooking dinner together, bickering over what color to paint the kitchen, celebrating holidays together, growing old together…

And now, fast forward five years. A million smiles and kind words turned into a million dirty looks and well aimed insults. Staring into each others eyes transformed into staring at our respective smart phones. The weight of being responsible not only for ourselves and sustaining our romance, but for the actual well being of other human beings resting firmly on our shoulders. Instead of making the load easier for each other, we argue about who has it worse. I think he’s distant and cold, he thinks I’m crazy and irresponsible. And we turn to each other for nothing.

Still cross legged on the bed, still crying, still waiting for the inevitable footsteps to ascend the stairs which signify he has had enough time to think and ponder on what a life apart from each other really means, as I am doing the same. Separately, instead of together.

And then he will come into the room, settle himself next to me, look me straight in the eye and say “I’m sorry”, and try to pull me into his arms. I’ll resist, my heart still broken, my eyes still burning with tears. We will talk about how “sorry” is an empty sentiment coming from him now, preceded by so many other apologies and promises to “do better”. I will tell him that a temporary change is not enough, a week of good behavior does not forgive the months of bad behavior that came before and will most certainly come after.

But he will be persistent and focused, one of the things I absolutely loved about him when we first met. I’m not sure when his focus shifted from me to everything else but me. I’m not sure when his OCD and ADD became an ongoing frustration for me instead of something cute I taunted him about. All I know is that now, with his arms circling around me, his familiar scent surrounding me, and his comforting words washing over me, I want so badly to believe that THIS TIME things will change. That when I say “this is what I need”, he will give it to me. I’ve never asked him for anything that he wasn’t capable of giving. I’ve never asked to be the center of his universe, only a part of it.

And although this cycle, vicious and disappointing as it is, is comforting. Because on the most basic and emotional level, I don’t want to be without this man. I want to spend every night for the rest of my life running my hands over his back as his hair turns from brown to gray.

There is that wicked hope that snakes through your resolve that if we engage in this dance enough times, we will begin to change our steps.

I want to change our steps.

Photo credit: Stephanie Vindigni

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Three Things I Can Do Better (But Probably Won’t)

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Things to Do.

1. Following through on semi-important at the time tasks:

So, there are always those things that pop up as you make your way through the day and you put a pin it them, so to speak. You think to yourself, “shoot, I can’t forget to call so and so to have this fixed”, and then you continue on the path you were already traveling hoping that this errant thought you pinned in the dark depths of your brain floats back into your immediate consciousness sometime soon.

I could be better at following through on these things. Every night when I get in the shower I kick myself because I have yet to call the property manager of our complex about the temperature in our shower. I don’t know what the heck is going on there, but all I know is that the bulk of my shower is playing with the knobs and trying to get the water temp somewhat tolerable. It is literally a hairline turn between ice bucket challenge and hellfire, there is no place in between that exists or that I can find.

So I lather and rinse off as quickly as possible, either shivering or turning my skin an unpleasant scarlet color. I curse the property manager, the woman who sits in the office and collects rents, the two guys who drive around on a golf cart supposedly fixing things and promise that as soon as I am wrapped up in a towel I will call and leave a well worded message for all of them.

BUT, before the last drop of water from my shower has dissipated from my skin, I have forgotten about it. Why?! Why are we like that.

The answer is, because it’s not an immediate concern any longer. It was when I was in the shower being greatly inconvenienced, but that was then and this is now. Now I am making a mental note to call Time Warner AGAIN, because my cable box is lagging, AGAIN. (Never got around to that either)

I still don’t know the answer to becoming better at retaining these things better, but I have developed a theory, and here it is:

They must not be that important! There are a million tasks and thoughts swirling around in our heads through out the day, and we manage to do the necessary ones like feed ourselves, feed our children, make it to work, pay the bills, feed ourselves again…

Would I like my cable box to do freeze up every time I try to DVR The Good Wife? Yes, that would be convenient, but… I’ll live.

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2. Minding Your P’s and Q’s:

Thank you notes, Holiday cards, invitations, any kind of hand-written, time sensitive correspondence is bad for me.

I know it’s polite, I know it’s “the thing to do”, but I very rarely send them out. And, I have found that a lot of people have also found themselves in this moral dilemma.

The fact is, we are in a different time than our parents were when they taught us about this unwritten rule. Now we live in the digital age where I can very easily shoot Grandma a text and say, “hey, thanks for that birthday card!”, or I can send a mass email to everyone I know that says, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

It sounds terrible. I have the best intentions, too. Every year I buy Christmas cards and sometimes I even fill a couple out. It never goes any further than that. The idea that I have to write essentially the same sentiment over and over again in different cards, shove those cards into envelopes that never seem big enough, LICK this envelope (who knows where it’s been) and then buy or find stamps to place on each one. Ough. The internet and cell phones have made staying in touch with each other an easy and instantaneous process, WHY ARE WE STILL PUTTING THINGS IN ENVELOPES AND MAILING THEM?!

So if any guest at my wedding wanted to know why you didn’t receive a thank you card almost until my first anniversary, there’s your answer.

For those of you who still just love getting something in the mail, and get butterflies in your stomach whilst ripping open the envelope to see what could be in there… please know that whoever sent this card was probably resenting doing so the entire time.

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3. Attending Social Functions:

So, you’re friend/coworker/cousin is having a get together at a bar/restaurant/their place.

The specifics don’t matter, cause you’re always down for a good time! Right? Right..?

Sure, at the start of your day when the world is brand new and there are a million bright and shining opportunities in front of you, you are down for ANYTHING!

But that was before you went to work, got yelled at by your boss, got a run in your stockings, realized you were having a bad hair day and the pizazz from your initial cup of coffee ran out…

I’m really not an anti-social person. I really enjoy being with other people, and I can get along with all sorts of different personalities. But I do this thing where I overextend myself. In any given day I’ll wake up ready to GO. I’ll hit the gym, get ready for work, the sun is shining and I’ve got some caffeine in my hand. I’ll make lunch plans, fit in a work meeting, tell my co-worker I’ll swing by her apartment for her birthday and commit myself to dinner with my in-laws. And this ALL seems possible at 8am.

By around three I’m wishing I could come down with ebola and be admitted to the hospital just so I could put some slippers on and go to sleep.

I think we all are guilty of this. We have way too much faith in ourselves when it comes to “doing it all”. Unfortunately, the media has portrayed these characters who easily manage high powered careers, juggle their home lives and make it to happy hour still looking flawless and awake.

Instead of being better at running myself ragged, I need to personally start having more realistic expectations when it comes to the amount of things I can do in a day. That means learning to tell people, “I’ll try” instead of “absolutely”, and not feeling guilty when all I want to do is swap out my pencil skirt for pajama pants and watch Orange is the New Black until I fall asleep.