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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What is a “good man”?

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I have friends, women friends, who are single or with someone but unhappy. The general consensus between all these women seems to be that they want a “good man”.

Don’t ask them to have a general consensus about what a good man is, though, because obviously like anything else that definition is going to vary from person to person.

So, the dictionary of Stephanie comes into play. The most accurate definition of what a good man is. You asked for it, and here it is.

A Good Man:

A good man is someone who tells you that you’re beautiful every day. He looks at you with wide eyes when he says it, so you know he means it. A good man tells you this while not being able to keep his hands off of you. Loving, touching, squeezing; all that jazz.

A good man doesn’t JUST tell you that you look beautiful. He specifies what about you is beautiful, so you know it’s true. He tells you that you have flawless skin, or that you’re ass looks AHMAZING! (yea, ahmazing with an h, say it like this… ahhhhh mazing)

A good man cups his hands around your face and tells you that he loves you, he tells you that he’ll love you forever, and he believes it… so you believe it.

A good man looks like a homeless person, his hair is getting so long, yet when he has a chance to get it cut he stays home to pay the bills.

A good man rocks his son to sleep at night and listens to the same YouTube video over and over again because the two year old commands it. Even though he says, “only one more time”, he listens to this YouTube video an additional three times before tucking the little one snugly and warmly into bed and saying goodnight.

A good man gives you a back rub at night, even though he worked all day, even though his back probably hurts, too. But he doesn’t ask for one in return, he just gives.

A good man doesn’t want you to spend so much money on Starbucks coffee, it really drives him crazy, yet he has come to terms with the fact that it makes you happy, so he doesn’t say anything.

A good man cries when he sees you walking down the aisle at your wedding. He takes your hand, and even though he knows he is wearing a mic, tells you a plethora of emotional and loving things.

A good man stays with you through millions of hours of pregnancy, what feels like millions of hours of labor, and millions of hours of sleepless nights. He doesn’t understand what it is to carry and birth a child, but he really thinks it’s cool and amazing and recognizes the sacrifice on your part to do it.

A good man tells you that he loves that you have a strong personality, he laughs at your jokes and he listens to your rants. He knows who you were, accepts who you are, and sees who you could be.

This man does laundry, vacuums and makes sure you have a clean pillow to lay your head on at night. When you cook for him he always tells you it was good, and then he washes the dishes. He kills spiders, chases away bees, hangs pictures, washes cars, kisses away bruises and tears, pushes little bodies on swings and down slides, checks homework, makes beds, and shampoos carpets. He is tireless, and selfless, and maybe still looks homeless…

But he’s beautiful to you…

Because he’s strong, and sweet. Because his smile still makes you feel like the world is a good place, and his arms are still the safest place in the world for you. Because no matter what you do or what you say, what kind of evil witch or sulky little girl you turn into, he still sees you as his soul mate.

This is a good husband, a good father, a good person. A man who once told me that if all he left behind was the legacy that his children and his family viewed him as a “good man”, that this would be more than enough for him. Who could ask more from their partner in life? He doesn’t want riches or notoriety, he doesn’t need a high flying career or fast cars (although he would like them)…

All he needs in this life is to give himself to his family, to show them that he loves them and that he is there; every gray hair, every wrinkle, every puffy eye is because he is out there giving it his all for US. All he needs, all he wants, is to be the best for the people he loves…

And all I need is him.

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“He fills me up, he gives me love, more love than I’ve ever seen. He’s all I got, he’s all I got in this world, but he’s all the man that I need.” -Whitney Houston

When to say when.

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This is about relationships…

The most talked about, most trite, most exhausted topic that exists. And yet, this is my blog and it’s what I choose to write about tonight. I’ll try to keep it original.

Having been in my fair share of them, I consider myself a quick study and a self-proclaimed expert on relationships and the types of people in them. I can usually talk with a couple for a short time and know whether or not it’s going to last. It’s a gift and a curse, because although you can see that guillotine coming down… what can you really say? No one wants to hear that they are incompatible, or that they have work to do on themselves before they can be in a functional relationship.

My little sister has been in an on again, off again relationship with a young man for a few years now. At the start of it I thought he was good for her in comparison to her previous beau who once referred to the Spades in a deck of card as “the pointy ones”….

But, as is to be expected, they have grown apart because she has grown up. She has developed a greater sense of self, and a better feel of the world while he has pretty much stayed the same.

Here is my unsolicited, self-proclaimed expert advice to my baby sister and all young women like her. Learn from those of us who are older and wiser… again, self-proclaimed.

  1. If there is a trait about this person you don’t like, it will only become exacerbated with age: So he is a homebody at 23. Expect him to be Howard Hughes level of reclusive by 30. You’re going to have to start ordering your groceries to be delivered to the house. Eventually, he won’t even come out of the bedroom because he has everything he needs there… PS4, HBO, COD, and all other letters associated with being a couch potato. If he’s a bit of a neat freak at 25, one day you’ll be waking up next to Howie Mandel. He’ll hook up the pipes to actually spit out hand sanitizer instead of water, and he’ll shave his head just because hair can and will get dirty!
  2. If you look at him now and feel repulsed (even for a minute, even just a little stomach turn), that doesn’t go away. He is the loudest eater you have ever met. You literally are starting to believe that he wasn’t born with the insulation normal people have in their cheeks. Every once in a while he’ll say something to you with a little whine in his voice, and you have to leave the room in order to not punch him right in the face. You’ve started watching those pseudo-documentaries about “women who kill” in order to get some tips. Right now he’s young, he can still be considered cute (in the right light). Take all those little things that are the emotional equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for you, and add a beer belly and receding hair line. Without the redeeming qualities of youth and good looks, you might actually find yourself as the subject of one of those documentaries.
  3. He talks down to you… This one pretty much speaks for itself. But I’ll say some stuff anyways. Men generally think they know more than woman. It’s not their fault, it’s the way they were brought up and the culture we live in. Every once in a while you will come across the very special, very enlightened man who will *gasp*, give you credit when it’s due. He will also have figured out, in that rare instance when you are wrong, how to speak to you in a way that doesn’t make you feel like a cocker spaniel. If he is 22 years old and already pulling the “I am man, hear me roar” garbage on you, his overly inflated head will only get bigger. Eventually, even the most expensive marriage counselor won’t save him from the most expensive divorce lawyer.
  4. He loves his mother… he REALLY loves his mother. A man showing his mother respect and love is absolutely an amazing thing, and their relationship should be treated with reverence. There is a fine line, and you’ll know when it’s been crossed. If he has moved out and his mother still calls to tell him goodnight, the line has been crossed. If he has a job and a significant other and his mother still buys him underwear, the line has been crossed. Imagine being a contestant on one of those reality shows where you are on a desert island, fighting to survive. Now imagine that instead of that experience lasting a month, it lasts forever. The rest of your life. Until you die. On the bright side, if you like being in constant competition and usually losing, this is the right guy for you!

This list could become very lengthy, but I think I’ve made my point. No one is perfect, but there are HUGE, GLARING warning signs that should not be ignored. The benefit of youth is learning from your mistakes, and trying to not make them again. Not only do people not change, but they usually get worse. If you don’t agree with my point of view, if you think I’m all cynicism and no romance, marry the person I have described above and then send me the link to your blog entry.

I can’t wait to read it. 🙂