Longing – that ‘strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant’ according to dictionary.com is a soulful word, a haunting word and one that I don’t think I used to understand, really.
I hear my mom longing for the days of her youth…days where she remembers men were genteel toward women they cared about and toward those they didn’t. Days where women blushed at the utterance of a cussword and there were no commercials on television about how to enhance your sex life. Days where everyone gathered around the one small TV screen together to watch the one show that aired at the one time, and were just as likely to gather around the radio to listen to something. Mom longs for the days of phone operators who connected you to whom you wished to speak, and laundry was done only one day a week, period.
I lived most of my life as such a practical girl, and longing – consciously – really didn’t play a huge role. No, I was determined to live with intention, to make my future be what I wanted through hard work and sheer grit. I was confident that I didn’t need to long because I could make it happen for myself, and for my family. Seeing that a longing is unattainable or distant, it had no place in my life.
Yet it did, was a driving factor that resulted in my staying in a marriage that was missing the mark for deep intimacy, for unity/oneness. Staying in a marriage enabling (how I have FOUGHT AGAINST THIS LABEL) my addict-HUSBAND, believing that tomorrow would be different and if I just handled this situation and if I only reacted this way and that this prayer or that marriage seminar or this discussion would make the difference.
What I see now was I had enormous longings. I longed for intimacy and communion of the souls. I longed for a family that honestly valued each other, that would meet at the heart level and care beyond perfunctory events and routine cards and empty words. I longed for adventure bridled with stability, and vision tempered with reality. I longed for deep, committed relationship. I longed…for love…
I couldn’t let myself see that I longed for these things, and that I was not likely to get them, really, really, really get them. Ultimately, I discovered I didn’t believe I could get them – not because I had married a guy who was only willing to connect so far, to go so deep. That was the obvious answer and the one I clung to until DDay forced the journey deep into my own soul. The real answer, the real reason I ACCEPTED and stayed married to a man who gave me only part of his soul was because I didn’t believe I deserved love like this. Neither did he.
We were two broken souls who stuffed deep down their heart longings to live in a half-baked present that was wrapped in a beautiful package. It was like we could stay one step ahead of our hearts by having it all on the outside even though our insides were so sad. Nearly everyone…and I mean EVERYONE (other than our children) who knew us, lived with us, was part of us thought we had a great marriage, a great life and frequently told us that. Only a very few saw chinks in the armor because we were good – very good – at denying our longings and living on the surface of our really deep lives.
And that’s how this stuff perpetuates beyond our generation. The reason I say our children knew isn’t because we had big knock-down drag out fights, or called each other nasty names with regularity or were running out of the house, slamming doors and driving off in a huff. And it wasn’t that they consciously KNEW…it was because they knew us individually almost better than we knew ourselves, and they could see the subtle discord between the me and the him that wasn’t played out in the us and even though they couldn’t put their finger on it, IT was there. They saw we weren’t living our REAL dreams, even though we pretended to. This is what we taught them was life, was marriage. So if we had continued that way…if HUSBAND had carried out his plan to leave me for the final whore without me ever knowing his infidelity throughout our marriage, if I had gone on living in the oblivion that I had longings and they were driving me into craziness, if we hadn’t ended up face-to-face first confronted with the pretense v the reality and then each chosen to step into it….well, we would both still be longing and it would be the only picture of marriage and family that we painted for our children.
Oh, this journey. It is soul-sucking and devastating and still shocks me that I am the wife of a serial betrayer…a sex addict… It is draining and is full of places of self-blame and anger and having to work really hard not to be bitter. I wish the triggers would stop, and that I didn’t still have questions and that I could trust unconditionally. I wish I didn’t have to deal with the voices in my head that say You Are So Stupid or He’ll Do It Again or You Should Have Left Him or It Is All Really Your Fault. I wish I didn’t have a marriage history and a new marriage history that is so much shorter than the marriage history. I wish my children didn’t have a past that was full of lies, and a stable home growing up that really wasn’t so stable.
But ironically, it is all of this that birthed my ability to find that I have longings. To be able to admit my longings. And I have found that HUSBAND now isn’t the vapid, unemotional and stale man he pretended to be for much of our marriage. His vulnerability and mine have met together in the entwining of our souls, into one flesh that isn’t just flesh but is mind and spirit too, and my longings are not so distant now. Real, honest, in-the-light beauty from such a pile of ashes.