IN THIS TOGETHER ◽ MARRIAGE
Sometimes I make a mess of things. Shocking, I know. And other times I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I’ve got my life together. Not as often, in case you were curious. And while I know this is supposed to be marriage related, today, I’m going to talk about some other relationships. But mostly the one I have with myself.
In case you don’t know me, I’ve been married for 14 years, and by the time you read this, I will have a newly minted 13 year old daughter and 9 year old son. Jesus, take the wheel. I work full time, and hopefully will not quit my newest second job of helping my children through online learning. If I’m quite honest, I’m sure I’ll be fired before I turn in my notice, but that’s because my kids are used to being taught by patient humans who are organized and follow a plan and love to help young minds grow. Now they have me. And I am basically the antithesis of all of those things.
I’m not always patient. Sometimes, I want to shake the sass out of my teen daughter. Okay, a lot of times. Also, I love to be organized, but I usually come closer to an organized chaos. And of course, I love to see my kids learn and grow, but I was much better at the first steps and learning to read stage than the attitude that comes with puberty. Seriously. I’m not always any good at this. I’m tired and frustrated and probably get it wrong at least as much as I get right. But I could self-deprecate all day long, so I’m going to stop there. (But seriously, if you want to not feel all alone in this journey, hit me up….I’ve got stories for days).
Since we’ve been spending ALL OF OUR TIME inside, I’ve been trying to go for a walk most days, just to save what’s left of my mind. I walk so I can breathe fresh air (and then sneeze for three hours because Texas), take some deep breaths and gain some perspective. While I’ve been walking, I’ve been listening to some podcasts (which is not my MO but I’m trying to be an adultier adult and listen to less 90’s rap and more inspirational and intelligent babble.) On top of that, my love for reading lends itself to fiction, but I’ve been reading some biographies and other non-fiction to, once again, try for a better grasp on this whole grown-up thing. Full disclosure, I usually bribe myself with a pint of ice cream to start and finish this type of book. What can I say? I’m a work in progress.
Anyhow, something amazing happened when I started taking a small amount of time out of my day to be by myself and not just try to hide from all the endless piles of laundry in a warm fuzzy story about someone else’s made up life. What happened is that I started both reading and hearing things that made me stop and see clearly into my own mind and heart. I am exceptional at listening to other people’s problems, helping them finding their voice and fighting for them to fight for themselves. Want to know why? Because…
It’s much easier to see a path to healing and growth in someone who is not you.
It’s also way less invasive and takes much less work. But what happens when you stop and turn all that helpfulness inward? Yowza. If you’re me, you stop mid step and sit on the sidewalk while you try to figure out how you missed this. These words came through my headphones and changed everything.
”Love is not something you have to tap dance to get.”
I consider myself a relatively self-aware kind of person. I know that I’ve got tons of things that I’m working on. I say I’m sorry for things that don’t require my apology, and I eat my feelings as long as they aren’t too big…if they are, I quit eating all together. I share my unsolicited advice with people who have not asked for it and I have to try really hard not to attempt to fix anything and everything that might be hard or uncomfortable for the people around me. These are just a few of my annoying traits. I’m sure my friends and family could think of a few more, but you get the picture.
However, until I heard those words at that moment, I was completely oblivious to why. Somehow, somewhere along my journey, I began to believe that I was only worthy of love if I was able to prove my value. What could I do to make you happy and comfortable and feel safe and unbothered by the world around you? I couldn’t understand why my husband would get so frustrated when I saw something I thought might disturb him so I’d jump in both feet first and try to fix it.
Let me give you a recent example:
We share an office which, when working from home only a day or two a week together, is no biggie. Working 9-10 hours every single day in the same room? A tad more inconvenient. One day during a frustrating hour when we’re both on calls and I’m too loud (and so is he) and I can sense his irritation (did I mention in my list of personality traits that I’m incredibly sensitive to how others are feeling?) So I start doing what no sane person would do….I begin setting up an office in our guest room. I grab some boxes and a piece of plywood for a make shift desk and get down to making things “better.”
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this was not well received. He likes to be near me and enjoys sharing our space, but there I went trying to fix something that didn’t really need fixing….which created a whole new problem of my fixing stuff, and on and on and on which is probably the 7th ring of hell Dante was talking about. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s been coming from a good place, I think. I genuinely do want others to be happy and am a doer and fixer by nature. And I believe with all my heart that our world needs people like me just like we need leaders, artists, strategists and visionaries, etc, etc.
BUT….I came to the realization that I wasn’t always doing this for the benefit of others.
I was doing it to prove that I was worthy of their love.
I was begging to be seen and appreciated and most of all loved, and of course I couldn’t be loved if I didn’t float around like a fairy godmother turning everyone’s pumpkins into chariots. How exhausting to live constantly trying to earn what was already mine! I am already loved. I don’t need to prove myself or convince anyone of my value in this life. My husband doesn’t need a fixer, he needs a partner, and I need the same. No jumping through hoops or tap dancing required.
Self-realization can be hard! It’s not comfortable. It’s confusing and takes courage and grit to face ourselves sometimes. But guess what? That’s okay…because as one of my favorite authors loves to remind her readers….we can do hard things. God created us to be brave, strong, kind, merciful and loved.
I’m doing the hard work now. I’m looking in the mirror and offering advice to me first. I’m learning to sit quietly, even when it’s uncomfortable. I’m learning that even if someone is angry or hurting, my job isn’t to fix it, but to love them in that place. And to love me, too.
“Worthy now. Not if. Not when.
We are worthy of love and belonging now.
Right this minute. As is.”