I’m In Love With The Shape Of You

I need to write more often because there’s so much to say and I’m not sure where to start. I guess in the middle? Six years ago, Ron and I were financially stressed in a house we couldn’t afford, dealing with my mother whose help always came with strings, looking for a place to live while trying to get our house ready to sell, all while not being very fond of each other. We couldn’t agree on a house to buy, leading to us being homeless for a month when our house sold on its first day on the market. We ended up in a house we despised although it was structurally the most sound of all that we saw. We came a hair’s breadth from divorce.

Six years later, we’re still here in that structurally sound house. Still married. Still not able to agree on a house to buy after a year of looking.

But we’re not financially stressed. We don’t have to deal with my mother anymore. We’re not homeless although if we put our house on the market, we will be; our neighborhood has appreciated dramatically and houses sell on the first day.

Six years in this house and there is still painters tape around the bathroom door trim and on the glass of the french doors. I’ve yet to have a craft room. Our kitchen counters are still the same fucking hideous gold wheat tile. The kitchen walls are still shit brown.

But we have a(nother) new water heater. Today saw the end of the rotted front window that didn’t open and meant we couldn’t call the third bedroom a bedroom since there was no emergency egress. We finally chose a paint color to go over the vomit inducing Easter egg trim.

Six years in this house and we’ve learned how to communicate. We don’t take each other or ourselves quite so seriously. We value each other’s opinions. I know (even if he has no clue) when he says he doesn’t care, to just pick something, he cares a whole lot. I don’t take things so personally; if he doesn’t like something I like, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like me.

Sixteen years in this relationship and I still have a lot to learn about compromise, picking my battles, and showing my love by not fighting over stupid shit like where to live. Because it’s not the house, it’s the person in it with me, that matters.

Advertisements

Come Play With Me

My husband called me this afternoon at an odd time and for no reason. I immediately thought something happened at work and he was done (his last day is supposed to be July 8th), but he just said he was bored. He plays an adult well in the real world but in real life, he’s a dorky five year old. And this is why I love him.

We’re on the downhill slide to 50. We are OLD. But Ron still makes me feel like we’re teenage kids together, faking our way through life like we have no idea what we’re doing. I mean we really don’t have any idea what we’re doing; who does? We have a modicum of a plan but day to day stuff? We still occasionally eat chips and queso for dinner (not as an appetizer) and vegetables just aren’t as prevalent as they should be at our age. We bicker over whose turn it is to do various chores. We laugh and giggle and play like kids.

I know that at work, my husband is strong and capable and smart and an adult, dammit. But with me, he still gets toddler face when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, like mow the lawn or take out the trash. He randomly makes funny noises. He makes up songs to the cat. He wakes up with his hair sticking up and is plain adorable. I can easily imagine him at age two, or five, or even 15.

He works hard to cultivate his adult image and I’m sure I’ll get crap for marring it, but he is ridiculously child-like with me. He keeps me young because he makes me laugh. I’m often torn between wishing the entire world could know how awesome he is and wanting to keep him a secret all to myself.

Our marriage has had its ups and downs (like hell level downs) and there were a few times we weren’t sure we would make it, but the past two and a half years have been amazing and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Since we learned how to communicate, we are stronger, happier, and more fulfilled. If there was one single thing I could wish for my children it would be to have this level of communication with their future partners. There is no passive-aggressive manipulations. If I want something, I ask for it. He’s still learning to do that but he has drastically improved.

I think the other thing we’ve learned that has made us both happier is acceptance. I love him for exactly who he is and I don’t try to change him. I do make him stretch his comfort zone now and then but I don’t expect him to suddenly start bringing me flowers.

Having someone to play with, who makes me laugh and who laughs at my horrendous “your face” jokes is a relationship goal that I never knew to aspire to. My first marriage made me feel old and worn out. My second marriage made me feel like I had a third child. But this baby bear is just right.

 

Dance With Me

Today was an unqualified disaster. It’s my fault for having expectations and looking for outside validation. On the plus side, I’m able to recognize that it’s my issue and I was able to self-validate enough that I didn’t fall apart.

All week long, I’ve looked forward to attending an art fair with my husband. After I told him that I needed for us to go on a date, he reluctantly agreed to go. We rarely go anywhere other than to lunch and the grocery store on Saturdays, so I woke up excited. I took extra time in the shower, put on makeup, styled my hair, put in my contacts, and spent more than 30 seconds deciding what to wear. In other words, I treated it like it was a date.

I looked damn good today, too. I’ve lost enough weight that I finally fit into my Chicos jeans, one of my weight loss goals. I’m thin enough to be able to close my buttery soft black lambskin leather jacket. I have all new makeup and the proper brushes to apply it. I do not have a single wrinkle on my face in spite of being 46. I felt sexy and beautiful.

He had to work for a bit this morning, so when I was dressed and ready, I texted to let him know. When he got home and came inside to change shirt and shoes, I pointed out that I was in my Chicos jeans, to which he responded, “Uh huh.” I not so passively and only slightly aggressively said, “Wow honey, you look beautiful today and really good in those jeans.” He laughed and said he would just let me compliment myself because I’m better at it. I let that slide because I wanted to have fun today.

It continued with him informing me that he gave up his “people who work on Saturday” free lunch. I was truly appreciative that he would rather have lunch with me than with his workmates that he eats with three to five days a week. At least, I chose to interpret it that way.

We got to the fair and he complained about the music. The music wasn’t part of the event we were attending, plus it was awful, so I let that slide, too. The fair was tiny and we were in and out in minutes, so I suggested we go to a little tea room downtown for lunch. It’s one of my favorite places and their food is incredible. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive, either. I think $26 including tip is nothing for a lunch date.

He complained about the price. He complained about his sandwich. He did like his soup. Finally, I told him that he was acting like my mother, who could never find anything good to say about the places that I would pick whenever we would eat out. A restaurant would have to be her idea or she would be rude to the staff and bitch about the food.

At that point, I gave up. I ate my salad in silence and tried not to cry as I processed the day in my head. I knew that having expectations was a recipe for disaster, but I thought this was such a simple thing, surely it wasn’t asking too much. We go to lunch all the time and have wonderful conversations, so that should have been the easy part, but it wasn’t. I finished my salad and we left and came straight home where I promptly put on my pajamas and laid down for a nap. Being sad makes me tired, so I ended up sleeping for four hours.

To me, a date with someone with whom I am in a relationship is essentially foreplay. Stimulating conversation with an attractive man is arousing for me. I’ve been having too many fantasies about flirting lately, and I wanted to have an affair with my husband. The entire time I was getting dressed, I imagined how our day would end, but as each moment of the day played out exactly opposite of how I wanted it to go, sex got further and further from my mind.

When he didn’t compliment me when he got home, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I know that he doesn’t understand how nice it is to be sexually appreciated. But I remember other dates with other guys who told me I was beautiful and sexy and looked amazing in whatever outfit I was wearing.

When I fell in love with a relatively pricey pair of earrings ($30 for punched tin ovals), I decided not to get them and walked away. I kinda wished that he would insist on buying them for me, but he didn’t. That was fine as I know money is a touchy subject with him, but I remember other dates with other guys who did insist on getting me whatever little trinket I coveted while shopping together.

When he did not engage in any conversation with me at the restaurant, I did not take it personally. We talk all the time and have great conversations, and a marriage shouldn’t be judged by a single afternoon. I wished he would talk to me about movies (even though he thinks they all suck) or politics or even his new computer parts that he just bought. I know flirting isn’t his favorite thing, but I remember other dates with other guys where the time was filled with flirtatious, sexually charged banter and we couldn’t wait to leave a place and get to somewhere safe to rip each other’s clothes off.

Fortunately, I also remember that I didn’t end up with other guys for all the same reasons that I did marry my husband. He is good, kind, ethical, hard working, and wicked smart. I have no doubts that he loves me, finds me attractive, and wouldn’t mind if I truly wanted to buy a $30 pair of earrings. However, I understand why affairs happen. I understand that desperate desire to feel that falling in love feeling, even when you’re not actually falling in love. I understand wanting to be wanted. At least I know I never, ever have to worry about my husband having an affair though, as he’d never get a second date, or even manage to get to the end of the first one.

Today, I did learn that it is much better for me to go somewhere alone, have a fantastic time, and come home in a great mood. I also learned that trying to push my husband beyond his comfort zone is asking too much, even if it doesn’t seem that way to me. I remembered that looking good is something I should do for myself, not for someone else. I remembered that fantasy is called fantasy because it’s something that’s unlikely to happen, otherwise it would be reality. And I learned to stop waiting for someone to ask me to dance, even if that someone is my husband.

Tougher Than Diamonds, Stronger Than Steel

A friend wrote a post on facebook about people who are waiting for the “perfect” mate and the comments were interesting. So many people had the most ridiculous ideas of deal breakers. Let me tell you, perfect does not mean that he agrees with everything you say and do. Interests are superficial; they wax and wane. What you like one day is what you hate the next. It’s the core of your partner that’s important.

I’m really starting to dislike the term “deal breaker.” I like to think of them as starting points. There are only four true deal breakers, and they are abuse, addiction/untreated mental illness,  unfaithfulness, and inability to change. Anything else is negotiable. Look for the person who makes you laugh, goes out of their way to make you feel loved, who is kind, caring, supportive, and empathetic.

Give a warning shot across the bow before deciding that someone isn’t the one. When I met Ron, he was a terrible tipper. Now he grudgingly tips 20%, but he does it because he knows it’s important to me.

I was freakin’ crazy when we started dating, arguing all the time, playing come here go away. He flat out said “Choose which is more important, the drama or me.” I chose him over drama. What could have been a dealbreaker for him was instead a chance for me to make a positive change.

Look for the person who respects you enough to love you and help you grow, but is patient enough to stay while you do it. Someone who may not do the things you do, but who is secure enough to let you find others with whom to do those things.

Oh, but what about when he hums through his nose while he’s breathing, or she has to have all her food on separate plates? Um, guaranteed that if it’s not those things, there will be other things that you will learn to hate. But love means making the effort to look past those things.

Neuroses are not deal breakers. I insist that dishes be washed under running water. Ron thought it was weird, but went along with it. A year or so later, we read an article on germs and dishes; turns out the best and cleanest way to wash dishes is under running water. I’ll say it again. Neuroses are NOT deal breakers.

You love animals and he doesn’t? That’s when you ask him to make a change. You’ll find a way to make it work. If not, that’s inability to change, which can be a deal breaker if you love animals more than you love him. Same goes for if she wants kids and you don’t. If he wants to send the kids to private school but you only want public, that is NOT a deal breaker. It’s a point of compromise.

What about sex? What if it feels more like a vaginal exam than foreplay? What if he doesn’t like the way she twists and pulls? FREAKIN’ TALK ABOUT IT! If you’re not comfortable enough with each other to discuss what you do and don’t like about sex, you shouldn’t be having it.

Love is all about making compromises. I used to tell my second husband that compromise was when one person got their way and the other one didn’t. Now I know that’s not true at all. Compromise is when you work together to find a solution that is acceptable to both people. It’s work. It’s GIVING. That’s LOVE.

Although I’m not the first person to say it, and I’ve said it many times, love is not something you decide on one day and never revisit. Love is a decision, every single day. Love is deciding to find it funny that he can’t go to the grocery store alone without calling you from every aisle. Love is deciding to put on headphones when she watches Supernatural for the hundred millionth time.

I think the reason so many people think it’s impossible to find love is that they don’t want to have to change their own behavior. They want to focus on someone else’s quirks and never adjust the insane things they do. I think it’s hilarious when someone says, “Oh, if he were to do (x), I would walk away.” But if you ask them about when they do (y), they say, “Well, if he loves me, he’ll just have to accept it.” Wait, so he has to accept you and the crap you pull, but if he does anything wrong, you’re out of there? Yeah, good luck with that.

Love requires change, and if you’re not willing to change, you’re never going to find it. Change is hard, I know. But when you decide to love someone, change has a purpose. You’re becoming a better person for the one that you love.

Some days, love is easy. Some days it’s hard as fuck. No matter how irritated we get though, we both know that tomorrow is another day, another decision, another chance for it to be us against the world.

 

The Road So Far

I am still committed to the low-carb journey, although I have gone up to 45 carbs a day should I want them. At the behest of a couple of friends, one of whom is a GP, I did check in with my doctor. It was time for a full physical anyway. I gave up five tubes of blood and got a tetanus booster that has my arm swollen, knotted, and itchy. Other than my continuing diagnoses of major depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and insomnia, I’m relatively healthy, although I am still waiting on all the blood results.

Of course my doctor recommended I have 30 grams of carbs per meal. I’m not sure I even know how to do that anymore, unless I eat a potato or something. Should my liver panel show any abnormalities I will obviously have to increase my carbs, but in the meantime I’m at half that. We did agree that I would go back on the slivers of Nuvigil (I can only handle 37.5 mg a day) and that I would see my therapist for this depressive episode.

Depression pisses me off. First off, I fucking hate the word, because it doesn’t really describe the feeling. I think “inundation” is a much better word. I feel inundated with emotion, so overwhelmed that I can’t function because I can’t figure out what the next step should be. Besides, it literally comes in waves. I can feel okay one minute, and then burst into tears the next, then five minutes later be fine again.

It’s been a couple of years since I saw my therapist, but I had to laugh when I saw my folder. It’s almost two inches thick. I’ve been seeing her since 2004, which means I’ve shown her more commitment than my first two marriages put together. She was very happily surprised that Ron and I are still married, as we had essentially decided to divorce the last time I saw her.

We spent a few minutes catching up, (Ron’s great, Aub’s going to college in the spring, Matt’s in California, Aub has an apartment, etc…) and then delved into the cause of this current episode. It all boiled down to my major abandonment issues, my anger at my chronic illness, and my relentless yet hopeless search for a parent.

are you my

This baby bird is my soul sibling.

Most importantly, she gave me permission to grieve my losses. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and disappointed. It’s okay to cry and rant and whine. For a while. But she also had me count out all my positives. Leigh, who offers me the most amazing unconditional love and is a constant source of recovery and healing, even though we only see each other once or twice a year and rarely talk otherwise. My husband, who makes me feel worthy and goes above and beyond every single day. My son, who makes me laugh with his antics in spite of being so far away. My daughter who is truly my best friend and staunchest defender. My friend Rob, who has gently reminded me every day that she is here, even when I push her away. I thought I was past the stage of testing people’s loyalty, but apparently, that nasty habit lingers. Today, I decide to stop pushing and start accepting.

Of course, the not so easy thing is the homework. While I obviously have some residual childhood trauma to deal with (again), this time I have to work at an even deeper level. This week’s assignment is to write out who I am. Not what I can do or have done, but who I am. I really don’t know who I am. In a lot of ways, I know who I want to be, and I know who I’ve been but who I am now? That I’m not so sure about.

I asked my friends and got a few interesting answers: caring, strong, survivor, afraid, quirky, fearless, unapologetic… Ugh, I wish I were fearless. I know there have been times when I have been, but that time is not now.

After much introspection and lots of conversations, I think the only thing that today I know for sure is that I am loved. And for today, that’s enough.

The Bright Side of Life

Just when I think things are going well, it turns out they’re not. I hate this inconsistent roller coaster of emotions. Yesterday was one of those days where I just wanted to call it and be done. But I won’t. Marriage is about commitment, and I am committed. Or maybe I should be committed? Not sure.

Dinner has been ready every week night by the time Ron gets home. The dishes are done before bed. The dishwasher is unloaded every day. Our bed is made every morning. All the laundry gets done by Friday afternoons so Ron has the weekend free to do other stuff. In other words, he’s getting all he asked for. He’s definitely less stressed, but he’s still not happy.

Last night, we had a long talk about where our relationship is going, what are our boundaries, what we each want and don’t want. Ron spent his formative teenage years being raised by his dad in a somewhat emotionally bereft home. There were no hugs, no “I love you” as he walked out the door, and no example of what a good marriage is. While I certainly didn’t have a good example in my parents, I had plenty outside my home; as I’ve gotten older, I have friends with good marriages who have still had tough times but have seen it through. Best of all examples though, is having been married twice before. I realize what is good, what is bad, what stays, what goes, and above all else, I know that wherever I go, there I am. In other words, I recognize what is my issue vs. what is a marital issue.

But Ron doesn’t have that. He said that, “It was fun at first, but then that went away.” I laughed (I couldn’t help it) and explained that of course the fun went away; that the falling in love feeling only lasts for a while. He also said he loved me as a friend; I said I love him as a friend, too; that as marriage goes along, friendship is what we’re left with and what gets us through. I don’t think I’m just being stubborn. We have the same values, our politics are similar although I’m more passionate, we support each other, we respect each other, and most importantly, we make each other laugh. For me, that’s worth fighting for. We balance each other out in that he keeps me grounded and I keep him human.

My ex-husband used to tell me to stop focusing on making the right decision and focus instead on making my decision right. In other words, once you make your choice, learn to live with it. So I see the bright side of things. Goodness, if I didn’t see the positive, I would never have escaped my childhood. However, Ron sees the negative of everything. It’s all he ever thinks about. Things will NEVER work, things will NEVER change, he will NEVER get a new job, I will NEVER keep the house clean…so much NEVER and not enough MAYBE.

So I asked him to engage in a small experiment before we really call it quits. He said it seemed like too much, so I said we’d start with something really simple. He does enjoy kissing, so I asked him to kiss me goodnight and goodbye every day for the next two weeks, and that we wouldn’t talk about our relationship at all during these two weeks. He didn’t understand what I meant, so I kissed him the way I want to be kissed, just to make sure he had the idea.

Two kisses and a whole lot of under cover time later, he saw the possibilities in my request. Of course, I know the science behind it: kissing and cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a neuromodulator that is responsible for pair bonding. In other words, kissing someone makes you feel closer to that person. Touching also releases oxytocin, so this morning when I heard his alarm go off, I snuggled close and rubbed his back (under his shirt) for a good while. He ended up late to work, but I got one hell of a goodbye kiss. After twelve hours, I thought we were on to a successful start.

Can we kiss our way back to him being in love? No, it’s going to take more than that. But it’s a simple start, easy enough to do, and doesn’t cost anything, all requirements for an effort from Ron. We still have other things to work on, particularly communication, but other than communication, they are generally superficial things…the house, the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the debt. I can effect a change in him simply by doing my part in those areas.

Being in love is really just a decision made every day to be in love. Being married is just a decision made every day to stay married. Can he make that decision? I don’t know. But last night and this morning definitely give me a LOT of hope, and that’s better than not having any hope at all.

love quotes-a-true-love-store11

Still The One

A month ago, just a few days into my planned six week vacation in Connecticut, my husband told me (over the phone) that he wanted a divorce. He says this periodically; I pull teeth to figure out exactly what’s bothering him, we work on it, things get better, life moves on. I cut my vacation in half, but while I was there, I made sure to talk to him at least once a day. Things seemed to be okay, and he said he missed me.

This time ’round, he said he was tired of the house being a mess and having to take care of me all the time. Both of those are an easy fix, especially since he (mostly) cleaned while I was gone. I’ve stayed on top of it pretty well, helped with the laundry as much as I can, and I’ve tried to have dinner ready when he gets home without asking him the dreaded question of, “What do you want for dinner?” Everyone hates that question.

Here we are two weeks later, the house is still clean (ish), the bed is made every morning (no hospital corners, but who cares?), all the laundry is done, and I’ve had enough energy to shower every day (a huge accomplishment, trust me). Things are better. They are not perfect, but no marriage ever is.

These are the days that are the hardest of any marriage; the, “God, I do not want to be here with this person,” days. I know we’ve had them before, and as my friend always says, “This too shall pass.” Although lately, I feel more like Gandalf; “You shall not pass!” I feel mired and sad and lonely and unwanted, and I am waiting for it to pass. And waiting. And waiting.

We’ve both made more of an effort to spend time together. Today when I had the car, I realized he didn’t take a lunch, so I called him to see if he wanted me to pick him up or take him something, and he decided that I should pick him up. When I got there, he said he forgot that today is the day of the week that a local restaurant sells barbecue plates in the lobby. I asked him if he wanted to just stay and eat there, and he said, “No, I WANT to have lunch with you.” That made my entire week. Seriously.

When I had a crappy day because someone unfriended me on facebook last weekend, Ron made it better. I know I unfriend people all the time, but this is someone I considered family, and they not only ditched me, but my kids, too. It was personal, and the reason was ridiculous. Ron made me laugh about it and pointed out all the reasons I wouldn’t notice she was gone.

Marriage is work. Unlike work, you can’t just call in sick. You have to be there everyday, rain or shine, good mood or bad. For better, for worse, in sickness, and in health. Suck it up and stick it out.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say my husband is still my best friend. He still makes me laugh and he still turns me on. As we fast approach our 11th wedding anniversary, (well, limp along towards it), he is still the person that I most want to be with. He’s smart, funny, sexy, and gorgeous. He plays a killer game of Cards Against Humanity. He makes amazing salads. He’s a great dad. He’s good, kind, honest, and has a sense of integrity that is nearly impossible to find nowadays. He is worth the work.

19960_300605891379_5361166_n