IN THIS TOGETHER ◽ MARRIAGE
I have been hemming and hawing (dear Lord, I did not expect to sound like my grandmother at 39, but here we are) over what to write this month. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of high horses I can climb up on, but seeing as I don’t enjoy the falling off part so much, I try to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. But in all my back and forth over what brilliant marital advice I can give, I realized that I rate approximately negative 17 on the brilliance in marriage scale. And being a recovering lifelong people pleaser, I didn’t want to veer out of my lane as someone who is supposed to write on marriage. That said; I’m probably going to veer out of my lane, or more likely I might hop the curb on the median and potentially drive backwards.
So buckle up.
If you’re reading this, and you’re anything like me, at some point in the last 24 hours, especially during the holiday season, you’ve probably heard, or read, or seen an unending string of memes about how short life is and how eternally grateful we should be. This is completely true. We aren’t guaranteed a single moment and we should tell those around out how much they mean to us. Yes. Yes to all of it. But I have an additional and possibly less socially acceptable reaction to these relentless posts. And that is that I.DON’T.CARE.
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand the heart and intent behind these words. And I do my very best to remember, even when things are hard, that I am so very honored to be doing life alongside my people, and make sure that they never question that I love them desperately. But I also remember being a young wife and mom, very pregnant, and with a toddler, trying to survive a trip to the grocery store, while being so broke that I was choosing which bills could wait so we could buy food. I was pushing a cart with my daughter crying because toddlers can be jerks, hobbling along on swollen ankles, when this very sweet, well-meaning woman stopped to smile and pat me on the shoulder and tell me how much I was going to miss days like this.
Let me tell you something.
Many years later, looking back at that time in my life, I miss exactly nothing about those days. NOTHING. I don’t miss my husband being overworked and underpaid and unhappy because life at that time was nothing like we had imagined. I don’t miss my exhaustion from years of not sleeping. I don’t miss praying that our electricity didn’t get shut off before my next shift so that I could pay just enough to make it another week. And that very well-intentioned person, with her well-intentioned words, made me feel like a failure. Because while I tried to see the bright side of things, some days just sucked, and not just a little bit. Some days were so hard and so ugly that I didn’t know how to do another one. Those words added a new layer of shame to my already guilt-ridden heart and mind.
So I did what any other strong, smart woman in my shoes would do. I slapped on a smile and faked my way through each day. Not just in a keep your chin up sort of way, but when I was with people who would have happily taken some of that burden. I thought that I needed to put on a brave face for my husband and appear to have it all together. I thought my kids shouldn’t see me cry. That my friends and family could never know that some days I wanted to run far, far away where I wouldn’t be touched or covered in snot or haphazardly balancing a bank account. I hid the fact that some days, hiding in the bathtub, with the curtain closed, was the only time I allowed myself to feel so utterly broken and lost.
I felt alone because over and over people told me how short this life is,
that I was supposed to be cherishing every danged moment, so I hid in shame.
Being honest about how things really felt, made my load a little bit lighter. Telling someone that my kid was being a tyrant and that I hadn’t showered in the last 5 days and that being pregnant made me question my mental capacity made the smile I smiled a little bit more true. And that truth begat freedom, and freedom begat rest and rest begat joy (I’ve always wanted to use that word!).
I promise. You will be a better, happier, spouse-parent-friend-human when you’re able to open up and just be real. So do your soul a favor. Don’t let things like fear and shame keep you from speaking your truth. Because the truth will set you free. Free to feel understood, and “normal.” And that freedom clears the room of all the lies you’ve been hearing on repeat and shines a light on all the beauty that was right there all along.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times,
if one only remembers to turn on the light.”