Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marriage, or Lack Thereof

My husband received news today that his ex girlfriend just finalized her divorce. She was the serious one right before me and when we first started dating he was still all hung up on her. She had painted him a picture of what was supposed to be their souls entwined for all eternity (if their souls resembled cave drawings) and I slept with that damn thing over my bed for a year before I could finally convince him to take it down and pack it away. She would call and he would answer no matter what we were doing and then completely ignore me for hours while they chatted. He, and his friends, had pictures of the two of them together in their homes on display until well after our wedding. That kind of 'all hung up on her'. She's always been a source of contention for us and it took a long time before hearing her name didn't make me sick to my stomach. (And for those of you thinking I have problems with all exes cause I'm a jealous twit- my bff is his ex, the one he lost his virginity to and, no, we didn't all grow up together or anything. I met her when we were engaged, so I do take this on a case by case basis. I judge people as people, not as titles.)

Anyway, at first when he told me this I bristled a little cause, really? I kinda thought we were past this now. But as it turns out I had no need to bristle. Apparently what had happened is that her hubby was diagnosed with a terminal illness and she decided she was too... young?, or selfish in my opinion, to handle it so she walked away. Now I'm not saying that taking care of someone who is dying is easy. I watch it in my own family and I see the tears and the hopelessness, and it's heartbreaking, but to leave your spouse in their darkest hour? Wow. I just can't fathom it. I can't understand how anyone can know that someone they promised to love is scared and hurting and NOT be moved to help.. not have an emotional connection, or response, or whatever you want to call it. When did marriage become a 'so long as it's convenient and I'm having fun' thing?

I don't live under a rock. I do understand that the divorce rate is astronomical as are the rates for a lot of other things that might cause a divorce. My own parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are divorced... I'm talking every single person for two generations. In our wedding card my grandma wrote, "Please show us how it's done." So what I'm getting at is this.. The divorce rate is high, but is that due to people mistreating each other more freely like I was taught, OR is it due to people just becoming more and more selfish and not wanting to actually do what they promised to do cause it's not fun anymore?

My marriage hasn't been peachy. We've been married for 3.5 years and we've experienced infidelity more than once, substance issues, irresponsible financial decisions without involving the other spouse, and most other transgressions that I believe are normal for most marriages and even some that I'm not ready to open up to the world about quite yet, but here we stand. Because we're somehow better? Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day we made a promise to each other and our word is important to us. So far we've never found anything we can't work through. Sometimes working through it took months and/or hundreds of dollars in counseling that we had to pull from thin air. Sometimes we had to force ourselves to work on it. Sometimes we had to talk ourselves out of leaving for good and sometimes we cried and never laughed. Sometimes we didn't speak for days. Sometimes when we did speak all we did was yell. Yet here we are.

When were we promised that marriage, or life in general for that matter, was always going to be easy and fun? When did marriage become some fleeting thing we did for a moment or two? And is it possible to get it back to the lifetime commitment it once was- at least for most of us? To be fair, I'm not talking about all divorces and I'm not against divorce all the time, I certainly think that there are justifiable reasons for it, but to leave because your spouse is dying and you don't want to deal with it? That's gotta be the most selfish, child-like thing I've ever heard. Nothing worthwhile comes to you without work. Ever.

On the upside, my husband, I think, is finally done with the past and has realized, or said he did anyway, how lucky he was that that wasn't him and that he's far better off here- not that I'm a saint, but at least he has no fear of being left on his death bed.

So what do you think? Can anything be done to save the sanctity of marriage? Should we bother trying at all?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guilt, Plus Shame, Equals Pride

If you're on the Facebook page then the fact that I injured my hand last week is not news to you, but just exactly how I managed it was not really touched on- due to my guilt and shame. But here it is-

Monday evening I went out with a few friends to the bar. There were drunk people there as you'd expect but one of them in particular seemed to be drawn to me as someone to spew venom at. For thirty minutes I sat at the bar while he told me that my husband and son were "diseased" and "dirty" and that I was "stupid" for allowing them near me or in my home. He has never met my husband or son so at first I accepted this as the ridiculous things that fall from the mouths of intoxicated persons. After awhile however I was growing frustrated with his behavior interrupting my night with my friends and I excused myself to go outside to smoke. He ended up following me outside and proceeding to be inches from my face while screaming loudly about the males in my house. At this point I am no longer afforded the chance to respond and he continues to get more out of control. After 45 minutes I must admit that I slapped him and turned to walk away... the guilt would be bad enough if that's where the story ended, but it doesn't. He said, "I dare you to slap me again." I literally shrugged and said ok and slapped him a second time. He continued to chant 'again, again' and before I knew it I was slinging back closed fists and letting them fly with absolutely no restraint. My friend tried to pull me off, and I remember shrugging her off, but it served as enough of a wake up call that I walked away and went inside- hysterically crying. I have NEVER in my entire life hit someone with a closed fist and the last time I slapped someone I was in 8th grade. I felt subhuman. I felt that I had betrayed myself and my values, as I believe that violence is never a solution and when all else fails I should just walk away, but even scarier than that... I liked it. I LOVED IT! There was a rush, a sense of power, a feeling that I can't even describe and it drove my mind to all sorts of scary places dealing with what kind of human must I really be... What am I capable of when I don't keep myself under control?... And, the most scary, now that I know I like it, am I gonna be able to control it? I rolled that around in my mind for days and finally came to the conclusion that this doesn't have to be a bad thing if I use it appropriately.

I called a few gyms last week and ended up settling on an MMA trainer to begin this new phase. I had a meeting with them last week and I got to check out the gym and talk about what kind of classes I'll be signing up for. I'm starting with a Functional Fitness class, which is an MMA class but without much full contact. Instead it focuses on the kettlebells, battling ropes, and strength, endurance, and overall conditioning. After 6 weeks of that, if I'm still interested, I will be adding in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a grappling class. While I was there they had me play fight with an instructor and hit a punching bag a few times. The general consensus is that while I'm certainly in need of strength training and technique pointers, I'm a "natural" and they think I could do this for real.

I figured out how to turn my shame and guilt, and I had tons of both, into a positive new direction for me. I just can't be taking on large drunk hockey players on the side of the road- this is not my essential self. However, I can take classes and develop interests that allow me to release that aggression in positive ways, or at least acceptable ways, and in the end that's really all I need. I thought by now I'd know most of what there is to know about me. I shouldn't be able to shock myself anymore, but as it turns out there are corners of my mind that not even I know about. I'm not just a boring wife and mother of 3 that spends her days cleaning, cooking, and running from one appointment to another- and that makes me smile.

For those of you wondering about the "incident"- My right knuckles and the side of my hand are still bruised and swollen a little, but at least I can now do twisting motions and open milk jugs and doorknobs, which is helpful, and although I haven't seen him since that night, I've been told that he has an "impressive" black eye, and he would like to apologize to me.