Monday, October 23, 2006

Love, Actually.

I'm not sure I ever told you, but Dr. Bite Me is out. You guys were right, and I should have listened to you in the first place. Did I ever tell you about Marriage Counseling: Session Three? Dr. Bite Me threw out this nugget of wisdom: "Well, if Lance wants to surf for 5 hours every day of your vacation, I think that is a non-negotiable. You want to let him do that, whether you think it's reasonable or not." Yeah, even Lance agreed that perhaps Dr. Bite Me did not have both of our interests equally at heart, after that. Not to mention, although occasionally Dr Bite Me did offer some good insight, he spent a lot of time talking himself, and I don't feel like paying good money to listen to some 50 year old misogynist pontificate. Know what I mean?

So. You were right. Now I just have to find someone else. (Lazy, lazy . . .)

You know what else? Things are much better, with Lance and I. I've been thinking about us lately, and the truth is, we've been through a lot, these past two and a half years. First, Vivian. I have alluded before to how difficult things were once she was born, and I'll repeat myself here. When Vivian was born, Isaac was a complete and utter maniac. I was totally unprepared to handle him and a newborn, especially a newborn so unlike the only other one I'd ever known (Isaac, who as an infant was a perfect angel). It was at least 3 months of utter hell, as I struggled and failed to be a good mother to both children, only getting slightly better when I gave up trying to be good and settled for at-least-I-didn't-kill-them-today. I did not handle those months with anything resembling grace, and I will say here that Lance didn't either. I felt like a failure all day long and he felt like a failure every evening, but at least he had work to escape to, and escape he did. To work, to ski vacations, to football games, anywhere but here. The resentment started there, I think.

Then, Vivian turned one, and at her birthday party that year, the whole nasty brother-in-law thing exploded. Just when we had gotten a handle on parenting two kids, we had something else to argue about. Something else that upset both of us, in different ways. That upset the people we loved, and we were powerless to stop it. The day after Vivian's birthday was Isaac first surgery, the one we thought would be so simple, the one before we had an accurate diagnoses. That one-two punch has been very difficult to navigate, and I don't think either one of us has shown any exceptional maturity or dignity in doing so.

I have been holding onto that resentment, the I-didn't-sign-up- for-this-parenting-thing-alone, the your-brother-is-an-ass-and-you-don't-do- anything-about-it, the why-the-fuck-is-this-happening-to-our-son-and-why- can't-you-make-it-better, the I-am-doing-everything-and-you-suck feelings-- and holding tight, for years. Clenching my jaw, tasting bile, steeling my eyes--that's how tight I've been holding on. I'm not sure why, except to say that I am a (perhaps deeply) flawed person.

But at least I finally realized what I was doing, and also realized how much it wasn't helping. I think at one point I felt that being angry at Lance was helping me in some way--at least when I was angry with him I didn't have to be sad, or blame myself, or bang my head against the wall. Anger, resentment, jealousy: all these emotions were infinitely better than actually dealing with the problems at hand. Giving up the anger would mean I'd have to let him in, admit how vulnerable and lost I felt, and I couldn't do that.

Now, things are better. The kids are in school 4 mornings a week. We haven't seen nasty boy in almost a year. Isaac's health still sucks, and it will still be an issue for years to come, but we are both trying to talk about it more, trying to accept it. And I have let go of all that crap. It was getting heavy, and my arms were tired.

It's not as if this happened quickly--I didn't wake up one morning and say, "oh! I know what the problem is in my marriage!" In fact, I couldn't pinpoint anything, any one moment or event that made a difference. Lance has adjusted his attitude too somehow, and I'm sure I have nothing to do with that. We just both seem to be swimming back towards each other now, instead of treading water at different ends of the pool, occasionally splashing water in each other's faces.

But I will say this: what a relief, to be able to smile when Lance comes home from work. How nice it is to call him--not with chores or accusations, but a simple question--do you want to go to the beach for dinner tonight?, followed by a quick and heartfelt "I love you".

No, it's not all gravy again, not yet. I am not a strong swimmer after all, and anyway, my arms were already tired from carting all that emotion around. (Fun with metaphors!) But it's getting better, and for that I am grateful. They always say that marriage is hard work, but for a long time I didn't believe that. Oh sure, sometimes Lance annoyed the crap out of me, but hard? Even in the midst of all the shit that went on these last few years, I don't think I would have admitted it was hard. I actually thought I was holding it all together, until a few months ago. But it is hard, and not because living with someone else is hard. It's hard because you have to be completely honest with yourself, you have to push through all your own bullshit, you have to call yourself when you're being a twit, and you have to mean it.

That's hard.

And totally worth it.


(No, not a flattering photo, but it seems apt, somehow.)


Raehan said...

I'm so happy for you, Amy. Every marriage goes through hard times. And if they don't, something is wrong.

You both deserve this period of coasting.

Great photo.

stefanierj said...

You guys are a beautiful couple. And I loved the metaphors, too. I'm mostly glad you guys are sticking it out, though, because those pretty children of yours need to know it's okay for people who love each other to fight, because they figure it out and get it together eventually--that's a valuable lesson for kids to learn, more valuable in many ways than having everything lok "perfect" to them.

Raehan said...

Oh. Here it is. I've been commenting on blogger and didn't know it.


Damn bloglines.

Holly said...

That was perfect Amy, I think all parents go through a similar wave of overwhelmed overload after the second child... although not all parents have the health concerns to boot. God, it is hard enough without that, you really had it bad.

And it is so easy to get where you did with each other, I know after all, because FD and I are right there with you. Good for you both for sticking with it, even though it might seem easier not to.


isimsiz kahraman said...
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