They Didn’t Ever Fight

Never. Not one time did I see my parents have a fight. I was born into a home with a dad and a mom and a big sister and I never saw my parents fight. My parents were married 59 1/2 years when my dad passed away, in my home, and I honestly never saw them have a fight.

When I was growing up, they made sure that we knew they didn’t fight. It was like a gold star they proudly wore, the “We Aren’t Like All The Other Couples Out There. We. Don’t. Fight” prize.

I was well aware they did not fight because I heard it regularly, and then observed it daily. Dad would get up and go to work. Mom would get up and take care of us. I would get up and go to school. The reverse happened as the day wore on. By the time dad got home in the evening, I was expected to defer everything to his will…didn’t matter what television show was on that I had watched 2/3 of, or what conversation I was in with my mom – if dad wanted a different show or to take my mom away for a conversation, not only did it happen, but I was considered ungrateful and inconsiderate if I expressed frustration.

As the years of my youth rolled on, we lived in detached peace in our home. No one ever really asked me anything about how I felt, or what I loved, or if I had fears. No one connected with my soul, and I got kudos for the good stuff and punished for the bad. I got adept at covering the bad, at just not talking about it. I learned to shield the responses of my spirit, my deep down, to protect it from injury. I learned to tell what would please my lovely, we-don’t-ever-fight parents and hide any of my questionable thoughts. Or actions. Or decisions. Or fears. Or hurts. I could wordsmith with the best of them, rewriting a situation or an incident so that I looked good, or at least, not as bad.

But inside, I was crushed and crumbling.

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I did not know it, because it was all I knew. But I gained great skill at shaping a message not only to those on the outside, but to myself. Since there never were fights between my parents, I knew any tension in the house or in our family life was because of me, right? And since no one ever talked about being scared or fearful, if I had those feelings, it must be me, right? But I just kept all that to myself, and figured out how to pretend I didn’t hear those voices.

As HUSBAND and I have worked so hard on ourselves, and on our marriage, these scary, tightly wrapped layers have begun to peel off my being. I don’t blame my sweet parents, oh no. They were trying so hard to be great together and great to us and their way of being great was to not have anything in our lives or in their lives that was un-great. So they were doing the same thing they were so effectively teaching me: pushing down any feelings and hurts and fears and pains as best they could. My therapist likens it to floating on a ball in a pool…you have to constantly try to keep that ball carefully centered and balanced precisely under you and it works and it works and you adjust and it works and you change pressure and then POP! Out shoots the ball from under you when you least expect it. If that happened, my parents would quickly grab the ball and put it back under themselves, balancing carefully…adjusting…and never acknowledging the ball had escaped…

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And so did I, for my youth and for 27 years of marriage.

I don’t balance the ball anymore. I have learned to allow myself to really feel, to grieve the sad things and rejoice in the amazing. I’ve learned to be realistic about my fears, and to find solace first, and then hope with the overwhelming promises of God lived out in Christ and evidenced by the beauty from ashes that is my life. I’ve ventured into the amazing place of freedom through vulnerability, and sharing my shattered soul, finding that it can really meet the other tattered soul in the oneness that marriage is meant to be.

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But it is luring, and a regular fight for me not to retreat back into my deep down. To make myself stay exposed and risking. I have to make sure I never, ever forget that the safe place really wasn’t safe at all but actually a place I was dying a slow death, and that out here in the risky places are where I found I could love. And be loved.

love heals

 

Her.

Ok, so today is H and that is Her.

Her the wife, me. The her that loved him imperfectly perfectly, bound in covenant and for the long haul. The her that stood beside him through the escapades of younger days: drinking too much. Sneaking around with old friends and pot. Setting up some private bank accounts to spend money without her knowing. The her that kept believing better days were coming and that better days were here and meanwhile bore him babies and kept the house and started a business and knew that one day we would have time together that was about her. The her that held the bucket for him to pee in when he’d had surgery and bought his clothes and floated the money when there wasn’t any and made sure there were presents under the tree for the children from him. The her that listened to stories about things she didn’t care about involving people she didn’t know doing things she couldn’t imagine. The her that always seemed to want to talk at the wrong time…either he was tired or he was getting ready to do something or he had to get to work early…and her waited. The her that believed everything was really okay and told herself all the good and the bad really wasn’t very bad and reminded herself how blessed she was. The her that didn’t care about emerald rings or diamond earrings or houses on the river or expensive trips, but yearned for being desired and cherished and valued. Her the wife, me.

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Her the mistresses. Them. The hers that saw him as being able to provide them with something they were lacking and beckoned him to join them in play. The hers that were willing to meet in secret, to be a secret, to live in the shadows. The hers that sent texts and emails and cryptic notes that were erased and destroyed. The hers that helped him believe the real her wasn’t able to see how really great he was and the hers helped him believe they were the road to happy. The hers that gave him an outlet of fantasy and moments of sex and words of allure and a false road to freedom. The hers that lied to their friends and their families and their bosses and to him and to themselves. The hers that began pretending it was all for fun but quickly declared they were real and wanted more and then the hers wanted to know when he would give them more. The hers that were okay being part of the plotting and creating destruction and pain and devastation and believing that there was good anywhere in that plan. Her, them, the mistresses.

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Her the honorable. The her that served HUSBAND while out of town, with kindness and engagement. The her that brought him beer and food and wiped the table. The her that the other men encouraged HUSBAND to approach because the her seemed to think he was interesting. The her that looked up when HUSBAND came over, and when the her heard his question “So what time do you get off?” the her that lifted up her left hand and pointed at her fourth finger. The her that responded to HUSBAND’s puzzled look and responded “You’re married. I don’t do married.” The her that the real her holds in high esteem, honors.

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H is for the hers in my journey.