marriage

State of the Human Address.

It’s a pretty solid sign of the times when your once thriving little corner of the Internet displays ‘ACCOUNT SUSPENDED’ because you have successfully (albeit accidentally) avoided adding auto-pay to your account for over a year.

Since you’re reading this rather than ‘ACCOUNT SUSPENDED’ I’ve clearly accomplished something today.

I’m starting out this year 40 pounds heavier than my clothes are used to. I’m not terribly upset about it, I know how I got here, I know how to get out, I know obsessing about my weight in the past has never done me a darn bit of good and I also know from looking back at old photos of myself that I had/have some serious body dysmorphia issues and missed out on a lot because I thought the size of my thighs mattered.

When talking about safety weight* with a friend she told me a therapist once told her “Sometimes the vessel has to be big enough to carry the burden.

These extra inches and pounds have been through a lot with me, and I like the visual of tucking my pain and sorrows into the extra soft bits I’ve accumulated, then sweating and pounding them out of me in various and assorted ways. Some days I will need to be nicer to myself with a leisurely walk and guacamole, while other days will begin with kale and burpees. (Kidding! Kale is disgusting.)

2016 was the year Cody and I finally figured out how to be really good at being married. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight (we did) or that we won’t fight again (we will.) It means we still have a whole lifetime ahead of us, and it only took 15 years of practice to finally feel as though things are humming along. (Please note this does not take into account all the other grown-up stuff grown-ups are expected to do, it merely means that I really like the guy I get to (have to?) do all those grown-up things with, like raise kids and schedule appliance repairs.)

2016 was also the year I learned I had very unhealthy boundaries so I got myself some much healthier ones and said peace out to the people and things that didn’t respect them. I also stopped apologizing for things that weren’t my fault.

2016 also proved to me that vulnerability is both my greatest strength and most exposed weakness — and of all the strengths and weaknesses to have, vulnerability suits me.

Here’s to new beginnings.

*Safety Weight: The weight gained after a traumatic event (see: sexual assault) to make one feel less noticeable and desirable.

 

 

 

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On Why We Don’t Always Wear Our Wedding Rings

Cody once worked with a guy that removed his wedding ring depending on the type of customer he was serving. Cody and I both thought it was pretty smarmy and gross (and we still do) but we didn’t know much about marriage as we were wee babes ourselves.

After our own vows and rings were exchanged, I can remember going to a wedding reception when Cody forgot his ring. I flew into a crying fit in the parking lot “HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW WE’RE MARRIED! PEOPLE WILL THINK WE’RE JUST ENGAGED! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?”

So.

You could say I was passionate about rings.

Over the years a number of different things made wearing rings difficult: basketball, gaining weight, having babies, going to the gym, and swimming. There were even times we would go on vacation and both opt to leave our rings behind “just in case.” By this point, we knew we were married and it didn’t really matter if he was marked with a gold band or not (one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 years is people don’t often care if someone is wearing a ring or not. Keep it classy, society.) So while our rings hold enormous sentimentality and symbolism, neither of us will forget we’re married without them.

Back in 2009, when I went through Lupron hell, I was lost. Gone. Completely messed up in every area of my life. I felt completely abandoned by Cody, and own brain as well. When Cody and I decided to stay together, I had this intense need to drown out the emotional pain I felt from the previous six months and in some way show Cody how dedicated I was to making our marriage work.

So I got his name tattooed on my butt.

Kidding!

I did get a tattoo. One that has even deeper meaning to me than a ring. Rings can be lost, stolen, left behind and removed when the situation desires. Tattoos are kind of there forever. I didn’t tell Cody I was getting them, and later I sent him a picture and a statement that said “I’m sorry, but I had to do this for me.” (He was totally anti-tattoo at the time, not only for religious reasons, but he is also terrified of needles.) A week later he came out to see me at my parents house and he asked me about getting them, I told him that the obnoxious stinging and buzzing was a welcome sensation compared to all the other things I had been feeling recently. Later that night, he pulled me aside and took off his shirt to reveal the exact same tattoos on his own shoulders.

We matched.

We went together.

If you were to put us in a group of a million other people, you would know we go together. That is an intensely intimate and comforting feeling, something no ring will ever be able to encompass or represent.

Someone the other night commented on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring in an Instagram photo, it made her think that my marriage was in trouble and we were most certainly headed towards the end. But what you can’t see in the photo are my shoulders, my shoulders that match Cody’s. The tattoos that have us linked forever no matter what happens. They’re not flashy or showy, but they are deeply meaningful. Not only for what they represent, but for the season of life in which we both got them.

So that’s why you won’t always see me with a wedding ring, while I may wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear the love for my husband in ink on my shoulders.

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(But what do they MEEEAAANNN? You ask, well. If you ever saw Ghost, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore said ‘ditto’ instead of  ‘I love you.’ Loce is our ditto.)

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he never gave up on me.

For the first time in our almost 14 years of marriage I have finally allowed myself to be completely and hopelessly in love with Cody. I’m so in love with him I struggle to find words adequate enough to encompass how I feel about him. When I talk about him I generally end up in tears because through everything, he never ever gave up on me. I have hated myself for so long, and in hating myself I tried to convince Cody to hate me so I could be even more justified in my own self loathing. Up until recently I never let myself believe that he truly did love me, he was only with me out of obligation and circumstance.

I was always guarded with him, not on purpose, but more from life experience. If you don’t open up yourself up completely, you can’t be hurt as badly.

I am full on belly up with all my soft spots exposed to this man for the first time in my life. My heart is absolutely exposed to him with no defenses in place aside from trust. It’s that feeling you get when you first lean back in a climbing harness, wondering if it will catch you or not. Up until now I’ve always played it safe, keeping at least one hand and two feet on the wall at all times. Now I’m completely reclined, with complete faith in his ability to carry me.

We should have ended. I see so many other relationships end and I wonder how ours made it (although I know how ours made it and it’s because of Cody.) Several people have written to him or me asking how we survived, desperate for some sliver of hope in their own relationship. The only response I can even give is that he never gave up on me.

In letting him love me I have learned to love myself. I don’t second guess if I’m worth loving anymore. I have known love, but the love I have learned from Cody has me absolutely overtaken. It’s scary, and yet it’s not.

I wish everyone could experience this level of intimacy and absolute connection with another human, all the pain that has led me to this point has been worth it. I hate that I hurt Cody so badly in the process, but will forever be grateful that while I was falling apart, he knew the girl he fell in love with was still inside and he never gave up on her.

He has her now. More wholly and completely than he has ever had her in his entire life.

This mug encompasses almost everything I feel right now.

I can say with absolute certainty that at this moment, I am happy in places I never thought I could be.

I am in no way perfect, but I am loved deeply — and that is enough to get me through anything.

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stuff we’re not totally screwing up at the moment.

It kind of changes things when you tell someone you’re close with that you’re leaving your husband. Maybe it doesn’t change things, but it certainly shows you how invested and in what ways a person is invested in you when you tell them a bit about what’s going on.

To be fair, no one really knew. It wasn’t supposed to be a big to-do or anything, keep things as normal as possible. Which means in the aftermath a lot of people around me were probably left going “But wait, what?” You see, I’ve made a very conscious effort to not write or speak ill of Cody or air our grievances for the world to see. It’s just how I operate and it works well, except when things go wrong — because that’s when people come back and say “But everything is going so well! You two seem like such a happy couple!” to which I say “HA HA! It worked then! I had you all fooled!”

Kidding. But in all honesty it is hard to come clean on something that is deep and ugly — be it marital struggles, an addiction, depression or some other foible.

What’s cool is there will be some people who will be all “Care to talk about it over burritos?” while other people will say some pretty stupid garbage that will show their true character more than it will say anything about your own.

It’s those people who don’t bat an eye (and then don’t betray your trust) that are worth holding onto. The ones with the judgmental opinions? Keep those guys at arms length, it’s not that they necessarily think you’re a bad person — they just maybe have a very narrow range of experience and opinions in life. (I’m learning this to be quite polarizing when it comes to church related relationships. The “clearly you’re not praying hard enough” people are just as active in regards to marital issues as they are with infertility and mental illness. Huzzah!)

I’ve learned I’m much more willing to take marital and relationship advice from friends and strangers alike because unlike parenting issues, there aren’t really “MARRIAGE WARS!” broadcast across the Internet in the same way the gag-inducing mommy wars are. I’ve learned most everyone takes their marriage, and it’s subsequent shortfalls and misgivings, much more personal than almost all parenting issues — which is why I’m more open to marital advice, there seems to be more hushed solidarity and strength when someone suggests a book or therapy rather than the demanding “THIS IS HOW I DID IT AND MY WAY WAS RIGHT AND I’M RIGHT AND WOE BE UNTO THOSE WHO DO NOT DO THINGS MY WAY” attitude some people can have with parenting.

First off is the Five Love Languages, we received it as a wedding gift and I read it immediately. I suggested that Cody read it early on in our marriage but being Cody, he didn’t. This is one book that both partners need to read for it to really make sense. And I’m sorry, but you also have to do the silly quiz towards the back. It can make a huge difference in your relationship if used correctly. Cody read it last month and it’s as though the sky parted and the angels sang for both of us.

Second is Hold Me Tight, a book that was suggested by several people, and people? THANK YOU. You know the attachment parenting theory that some parents are so willing to heap upon others? This book argues that attachment bonds, much like those between parent and child, are just as important (if not more important) in an adult relationship as they are to children. But what are we told? “You’re an adult, grow up and deal with your own problems.”  If you yell at your spouse because yelling has become the only way to get their attention — or  have taken to not talking to them because not talking is so much easier than feeling emotions? THIS BOOK.

In summary, going through marital issues has been SO. MUCH. HARDER. emotionally and mentally than anything I’ve had to deal with in regards to parenting, from infertility to present day. BUT, it seems easier to map out and stick to a long term course of healing because we are two grown adults who ultimately want the same thing. (If one or the other of us was one foot out the door? I would be in an entirely different head space than I am right now.)

One of the first mistakes I made was turning my heart and mind off to Cody when what I should have done was turn to him and say “Hey, I’m not happy.” The second (and very important part) of this is that I needed to trust that he would listen to me (which was hard for me because five years ago he didn’t listen until I threatened to leave.)

This afternoon dreams were reignited over chicken salad wraps and spinach salad.

Trust, vitally important yet wickedly scary stuff.

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defying the impulse to jump ship.

I wish I could say that after two weeks of feelings and emotions my marriage is suddenly A-OK and that everyone can just move right along because there’s nothing to see here! Just a little blip on the radar of life! But I can’t say that because everything is not A-OK although we are very good at maintaining a sense of normalcy and pretending everything is good.

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Well, maybe pretending is a terrible word to use. Because we’re not pretending, we very much love each other and have a great vested interest in the well being of one another. Neither of us want to be done, but sometimes things are so hard for me that giving up seems so much easier.

The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.*

Cody has seen me at my lowest more than I care to admit, and yet he’s still here. He has known me at my worst yet he is also the reason I am capable of a best.

I planted a whole lot of flowers the other day. It’s very gratifying to see my sad, tired garden turned into something that is quite lovely and welcoming. One day of sweat, dirt and more bugs than I could handle and I turned something ugly into something beautiful.

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But it won’t stay that way for long unless I make the choice to actively care for it. I planted the flowers, it’s my job to take care of them.

If I neglect them, they will whither away and die. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

I expect to lose some, I never said I was working with two green thumbs here.

It’s going to be a slow process, just like Cody’s and my recovery.

I will probably want to give up at some point because maybe I took on too much.

But day by day everything will grow bigger and stronger, and eventually with proper care and patience there will be great rewards — hopefully in the form of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers and strawberries — but also in the form of love that doesn’t know how to give up.

There are lot of marriages ending on the Internet right now and hopefully that won’t happen here. No, here there will be a whole lot of fighting for marriage, ours in particular — because in the end I believe in it. I have always wanted to grow old with Cody — even when things have been hard.

It looks easy, but it can be (and is) so, so hard.

And I think that says a lot more about the love I have for this man than anything else.

*****

*This quote is credited online to The Great Kamryn, but I’m not so sure the Internet really knows who Kamryn is? She seems to be a myth on UD. Regardless, Lu sent it to me and it’s perfect.

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hurting and healing.

One of the things that has been hardest for me over the past several months is feeling as though I am broken because while I am fiercely loyal to my girls and have an intense unconditional love for them, I don’t have an inspirational quote type of feeling towards motherhood in general.

You know the ones, the ones that get people with and without kids fighting about kids and motherhood and what really is the most noble and important job in the universe? Those types of quotes.  (I tried to find one to illustrate my point but I started to gag too hard. Sorry about that.)

I also feel a very strong sense of obligation to teach them right from wrong, proper manners, good citizenship, character, patience, humor, empathy and all those other things that will really matter as the real world begins beating down on them. I do not however feel obligated to entertain them every moment of the day or involve them in absolutely everything I do. I am a better mom when I get away from them regularly. Cody and I are better parents when we consciously take time to get away from them and all their loud demands and moodiness. I may not always like my role as a mom, but damn if I’m not going to try my hardest to put good people out into the world.

Addie has been bringing home year-end test results from her time spent in third grade. The kid is brilliant. I’m crazy proud of her but at the same time I expect nothing less of her, I know what she’s capable of and I know I’ve spent the last nine years parenting her in a way that she can rely on herself to succeed, which is exactly what she’s doing.

I resented my mom for a long time, I wanted a mom to be there when I got home, a mom to bring me my lunch when I forgot it, a mom to bail me out when things got too hard. Now that I’m grown I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised any other way, and if I have to wait 21 years to hear Addie say she’s thankful that I taught her self reliance from the beginning, so be it.

Cody compared what we’re going through right now to a boxing match, we’re both so high off the adrenaline of surviving the past month that we’re unaware of just how hard we’ve both been hit. As the high wears off, the fear and the pain have started to seep in and we both know that the real work is going to have to begin sooner than later. Wounds that have just stopped throbbing are going to have to be yanked apart and reset so they can hopefully heal properly.

Neither of us are really looking forward to it.

One of them almost talks with her hands more than her mouth. Almost.

I hope you think twice when you see the seemingly perfect lives of others, including my own. While what comes through in a photo or phrase may seem idyllic — the person behind the lens may be barely holding on to the pieces of her own heart.

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about last night.

I didn’t see that response coming. The confessions, the ‘me too’ and the solidarity. It was humbling, thank you — not only selfishly, but to all of you who left comments of support that other people in similar situations can read and hopefully gain strength from.

This morning I decided to get on a plane and leave for the weekend. Your post may have just saved my marriage. Thank you. I don’t even know what else to say right now. Just thank you.

I left my husband almost 4 years ago. I get that it’s a much less linear process than what you assume it is. There is much back and forth. Ambiguity. Questioning. Uncertainty.

I left just about a year ago. He didn’t want counseling until I was out the door and the I’ll do anything hollow. Hang in there. If it heals, wonderful, but if it doesn’t you had the courage to make a choice and that matters. You are showing the girls, whatever the outcome, that you matter. You are teaching by example.

Dude, you just mirrored my marriage! Thank you for your bravery.

I just want to say that your struggles – your real, heartfelt struggles – make me look forward to marriage.  It makes me look forward to continuing to have a partner worth fighting for.  Anyone who doesn’t understand how you can love someone but not be in love with them – well, I question whether they have ever really been in love.”

Right now? I’m gone. I ran away too and I’m trying to figure out much of what you wrote.

We will be married 20 years in October and lately (well, a lot more than just lately) I wonder what the hell am I doing here?

I’ve always tried to be very careful about what I write about Cody, it’s my duty to respect his privacy and protect the relationship that I have with him. I have never used social media to vent or rag on him, and when things are bad I keep them to myself. I realize I have a strange and unfair advantage with the support system the Internet has given me, and I try to keep that in mind when talking about him — I never want to turn anyone against him or use the trust I have in all of you to my advantage.

The truth is I’m just as much to blame in our most recent downfall as he is — we both acknowledge this and don’t fault the either for mistakes made or use shortcomings as weapons in moments of pain.

Cody is a rare and marvelous man, and I hope when you leave kind words you are indirectly sending him some as well. I’m not an easy person to be married to, I’m damaged and broken in some deep and ugly ways but he takes care of me and puts up with the trials I’ve been given in a way most people wouldn’t. He’s been left picking up the pieces of my heart and mind more than I’d like to admit and he’s never complained about it, he does it because he is hopelessly in love with me.  Most men I’ve come across would have walked away, would have given up — hell, if the roles were reversed I may have been the one to walk away or give up. But then I think back to law school, I don’t know many people who would have stuck around for that.

Clearly we’re committed, but there seem to be times we’re not very good at nurturing that commitment.

Today Cody admitted to a time when he questioned whether he was still in love with me, and as hard as it was to hear those words — it was a relief to know he understands how I’ve felt for the past several months.

“…we were in the car driving from somewhere and I looked over at you and wondered if I was still in love with you and I couldn’t answer my own question. We got home and we did whatever we normally did and the next morning on my way to the gym I realized how bad of a husband I had been, and I realized that my falling out of love with you, if that’s what had happened, had been caused by my own actions. I decided then I would change and I would start treating you the way you deserved to be treated because I knew I loved you and I knew I loved being with you and I wanted to have that closeness with you again. My changes came slowly–too slowly–and 2009 happened. At some point I fell back in love with you and I have stayed in love with you ever since…”

Tulip Time 2014

We’re not dramatic people, we don’t storm around yelling and crying and if you saw us out and about you would probably be led to believe that we get along quite well, because we do. We don’t fight (oh boy, we used to) and we don’t play dirty. We just get complacent then bitter then angry then distant. It’s silly really, but we’re working on it. We’re really good together, and I believe a lot of that is because we simply don’t go together.

I’ve never wanted to give up, I’ve always wanted to grow old with him and have our stories begin and end with each other.

It just seems we have a few more plot twists than most.

Which is cool, boring love stories rarely change the world.

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when I left.

I left Cody.

I left because marriage is a lot harder than it should be and I have spent the last several months mentally checking out from our partnership so as to avoid getting any more hurt by his behavior and actions that seemed so similar to what we experienced back in 2009. I was convinced it was over and had very brave plans in place to move forward with my life in a way I never did because I was married three months after my 19th birthday.

(See also, it’s very hard to secretly research divorce when you’re married to a lawyer who handles divorce because you will want to ask him all sorts of questions but it’s a little strange to ask hypothetical questions that involve the very person you are asking.)

There were a lot of tears and a lot of arguments and some smothering and some controlling and a lot of guilt and some things said in anger and some things said that should have been said a long time ago and some things we both wish we would have never said and as I faced down a future without the man who had been mine for the last 13 years I was terrified but knew if I didn’t cut and run then I would never get the guts and I would always wonder “What if?” and if I’ve learned anything it’s that ‘what ifs’ will eat you alive.

Now chances are you’re probably wondering “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS!? OMG YOU HAVE KIDS!?” and I know, because they leave their LEGOs all over the floor and are constantly and loudly reenacting scenes from Frozen. I can assure you that they were at the forefront of our minds and while it’s really none of your business about what we decided to do, just know that we had their best interests at heart and were going to do everything we could to make things easy on them.

That’s the funny thing about this blogging thing, nothing is really any of your business, or anyone’s business but we continue to share anyway because we are all desperate to not feel so alone in our crazy “maybe I’m the only one” feelings. It’s been hard not to talk about this with anyone — mostly because before I imagined any solidarity, I heard all of the judgements. But those who judge aren’t me and they aren’t living my life and they don’t know the whole story and even if I was the most perfect thing in the world — someone is going to hate me.

So I left. I walked away from Cody and boarded a plane and flew away to get space and time and take on a new opportunity and try new things.

I made it a week.

I made it a week before things got real weird and I realized that when things get weird my constant is Cody. He has always been my constant — the only firm, warm thing holding me to the ground when the entire world is swirling around me in a desperate attempt to bring me to my knees. Is our marriage suddenly perfect because I left like I meant it and came back way before I was ready? Nope. Things are still going to be hard and terrible and this probably isn’t the last time things will be rough for us .

I love him, I always have and more importantly I always will.

But I fell out of love with him.

Depending on your level of experience with love you’re either nodding your head or convinced I’m crazy. “How can you love someone but not be in love with them?” Just trust me, you can.

More truth has come out of us over the last several weeks than it has in the past 13 years. It was terrible, I hated every minute of it and dreaded any time spent alone with him because it meant we had to talk about our feeeeelings and there would be crying and I would wake up with emotional hangovers and neither of us would eat and he lost over 20 pounds and nobody really slept so we were really just highly functioning zombies who cried all the time.

But it’s really the best thing we could have done, rip it all down to the ground — every last ugly bit — and begin building it back up together (again.)

Therapy is in our future, together and separate — we really should have gone through with therapy 5 years ago but I think we were both so glad to still be alive after law school that the idea of going through everything again with a therapist was more exhausting and damaging than helpful.

Tulip Time 2014

So, that’s why I haven’t been around. It’s hard to talk flowers and spring and frivolities when you’re stuck in your head and planning an entirely new life without the person you swore your life to over a decade ago. Sorry about that, I hope you understand.

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