I Sometimes Live in Shadows
My size five and a half feet carry an ocean, a mountain of weight as I stride through the house. Each step is a dump truck stomping downstairs. Each clunk beats out an S.O.S. "Come get me. Show me that this is not how our marriage ends. Show me you love me more than I realize." In our room, I cry.
It's sadness and it's fear. This thundering fear over an argument of wasted chicken thighs. Or maybe it was a discussion over schedules or the dogs? (Does the subject matter ever really matter as much as all of the communication?) We really are okay; my reactions are just off. Do other kids of divorce get this weird, too? This hypersensitive, scared, angry, and we-better-work-this-out-in-ten-minutes-or-we're-done attitude too?
I live my marriage in light of being a child of divorce. Rather, in the darkness of having gone through a divorce. How can I be my best with this insecurity that in the end, may not be victorious? Boy, it's exhausting. If I even think he sees me in any negative way, if he does not remark on my eye makeup, my golden parenting, or some feat I've accomplished, I think perhaps he's had it with my whole personality, that he doesn't love me, and will trade me in my nursing bra for a secretary or colleague. I'm not always like this, but fear, even in small doses, can still be toxic.
If I stay in that place, I sink, and become that poor sad horse in The NeverEnding Story. My marriage view, if even for fifteen minutes, appears as bleak as muddy, dear Artex. I am being dramatic, but at least some of this may have to do with my parents being married five times between the two of them.
I can be freer, not bound by any old hurt. I won't be bound now by history that happened to me decades ago. Maybe it can take a village to support a marriage? It will take care and resolve to comb through my feelings a bit before throwing them haphazardly, or chucking them at my husband. For this, there are options deeper than breaths - journaling, gaining trusted counsel, time in worship, or time in gratitude. My kids will greatly benefit if I can take this time not only for me, but for them, for us, and for the village that lives in these very gates.
Marriage is tough, though. Two people have to sync. We have to decide even when and how we will work things out. Even now, again, we have a resolve waiting to happen. In other words, we messed up. Doors were even slammed. There are two sides, two renditions, and two memories. May we patch our sides together soon. May we honor each other as bride and groom. May all of the other junk drift off.
Women who live in the fruit of community root themselves in truth. We are not sheltered, but known. We take notice when our sister is off. We hold to the truth, remind ourselves again to hold up our mirrors, read the real words, and ask for help. Here are things I know: my husband loves me, it would take something very, very big to wrench us apart, and we have help when we want or need it.
We have this gorgeous marriage certificate, a ketubah, nailed on the wall under an acrylic frame with our witnesses and rabbi's name signed:
We have children. We have every tool, but sometimes it is my frightful counsel I call upon. Sometimes, in the too-late hours to have a real quality discussion, I feel hurt and clawed by the divorce claws and all of the shadows of my own upbringing in regards to marriage. Maybe we cannot support our marriage any better than poor Artex could stand with any sort of hope?
I want my children to know that it can be healthy to disagree, even though I am still learning, or even though I need reassurance. I need my husband to dress in fatigues or armor, to throw down some club and say, "Darling, you will always be worth fighting for." If I'm being honest, I want him to put me before his own hurts. I want orchids after any fight, want us to breathlessly recite vows, and hold tight. But I suppose he probably has his own wish list too?
My husband is becoming more keyed-in, though, and more aware of how my background can color my take on a situation. But I still must cling to truth, to the goodness I know from us, and not to the disasters nearly thirty years ago.
My village is largely within these walls, and it is my very thoughts and emotions which can ground me to pursue truth. My marriage shall not be dictated by past hurt, but by the pursuit of two people: our souls, minds, and bodies who choose love, again and again, not confusion or pain.
If I have greater health here, then I can give my children a better sense of the goodness of conflict. May they never fear a marriage relationship. May we all see wholeness here. I will strive to see greater love in our village, in and out of these gates, and all around us.
You hear that, mama? Got that, my dear?
Peace shall dwell here.
Journalist: Melissa Uchiyama