Who do you love, and what are you doing about it?

I’d like to pause for a second and revisit the first time I read the article that inspired this blog. Clearly, I was impressed enough by the list that I was inspired to dedicate a year of my life to writing about it, but there were a few points that niggled me. The main frustration I have with the list is that many of the questions seem very intentionally phrased. It’s as though the writer is trying to coerce a certain response from the answer – in many cases, a response of self-depreciation, admissions of failure, laziness, and emotional subsistence living.

This question is one of those. I imagine many people answering this question will confess to unrequited, silent love, or a string of failings in their current long-term relationship. How I need to try harder, and cook proper meals, and make more of an effort with my outfits. Etc.

My answer is not going to follow this pattern. Not that I think i’m doing everything right; we all have things that we can improve. However, I don’t think any relationship is ever improved by people beating themselves up. There is nothing I enjoy less than my poor husband (God love him) listing all the ways in which he thinks he’s a failure. I dislike this for two reasons. Number one: If you were really that dysfunctional I wouldn’t have married you. Number two: I now have to spend equal or greater time telling you how you’re none of those things, and in fact are the exact opposite in every way. This is exhausting to me.

Additionally, I don’t have a secret unrequited passion, and if I did I would be highly unlikely to expose it on the internet. Even if I wasn’t married.

My husband is the “person I love”, in as much as he would inherit my life insurance money if I died, and that we have a mortgage together. This differentiates him from all of the other people I love, like my friends, family, co-workers, pets, celebrities, fictional characters. Etc. I have a big heart, capable of a LOT of love. But clearly, the fact I married this person when I was a (ridiculously young) twenty three years old is a testament to the fact that I love him. And that’s before you consider that I had to move 3000 miles from home and start my career and social life from scratch.

I’m not complaining. Okay, maybe I’m complaining a little bit. Marriage gives back for the most part, it’s a pretty uncomplaining and easy to life most of the time. But it can also be the single hardest thing in the world. Sometimes. There are those days that I don’t want to go home and play with the dog, do laundry, mop floors, or talk to his friends. There are those days when everything seems like too much.

Yes, it’s a taboo to talk about it, especially as hubs and I really do have a great marriage most of the time. But being married can be hard, especially when most marriages include so many more people than husband and wife. It’s a process, and there have been weeks, even months at a time, when I have had to work hard at just being here every waking minute. That’s not to say I didn’t want to be here, or wasn’t happy, it was just that every thing I did was so foreign to me. Now we’ve been married for close to four years, those moments are fewer and more far between.

But some mornings I wake up, head full of fog, and it seems as though I’m probably the worst wife in the world. The bathroom needs cleaning, my work clothes are creased, the dog keeps whining, and there is nothing edible in the fridge for breakfast. Hubs will get up, equally frustrated, and it’s easy to feel at fault, that he is judging my abilities. Sometimes, as I’m sure a lot of married minds might wonder, it seems as though it would be easier to leave than to stay; I say this not because I’m unhappy, but because this constant pressure to perform in insanely overwhelming.

But when those days come around now, I approach them with a clearer head, knowing that there is nothing I can do except wait them out. I’ve started to realise that part of being married is enduring these days of self doubt, pain, and crippling self-consciousness. But it’s worth it for the good days (which most of them are), and because I love my husband, and this is what I have to do for it.

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What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?

This is me five years ago, almost to the day. I was twenty one years old, finishing up my degree, and about to get engaged to the man in the doctor who scarf. At this point he had never even seen Doctor Who, but was too polite to ask what it was every time I referenced it.

Me, five years ago. I was one of those people with an entirely complete view of where my life was going. I lived with great friends in a house that I loved, despite it’s shabbiness, in a town that I adored. I swam almost every day, and walked several miles onto campus and back. I was fit, healthy, and happy. It was a time in my life when I didn’t own a scale, a hair dryer, or any kind of concealer. I was totally in love with my future husband, never doubting that we were destined to be together forever, not allowing myself to question the alternative to a transatlantic love affair. I studied semi-furiously, worked a part time job, and made time to travel back to see my family.

I think my time five years ago was well spent, actually. I long to wake up in those lilac afternoons, in my small bedroom overlooking the backs of houses, a cobbled alley way, and laundry-strewn gardens. Student life. I spent enough time sleeping then (I have always been a sleep-whore), and didn’t feel guilty about climbing back into bed in the afternoon for a nap or to read. I think it was a time in my life that I didn’t really feel guilty about anything, or that I owed anyone an explanation about anything.

I look at this photo now and realised that this was the height of my confidence, this was the point in my life that I truely could have been anyone, done anything, gone anywhere. I think I recognize it now I am at a point of my life where my self esteem has taken a weathering, reality has set in.

If I had to look at myself five years ago (which I guess I better), I would say the only thing that I would wish I would have spent more time doing is enjoying the moment, enjoying being myself back then. Because I was beautiful, talented, and buoyed up by the world.

What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

So today I made the error of telling the hubs he had already snuck into the pages of the blog. He is adamant that he will, in fact, get to see that movie, and that he is very supportive of my creative based products. “I’m very supportive of your projects, I’d love it if you did those projects, no one on this earth would be happier than me if you did those projects” quoth he.

He is currently singing “Love potion number 9” at the top of his lungs. I had to ask him what song it was… cue the introduction of youtube into our evening. Lesson: never give a grown man internet access, a simple question turns into a three hour visual introduction into a subject I care little enough about to have no prior knowledge of.

I’m not really one for learning lessons. There are very few things that I’d never do again as a result of my personal experience.

For example, when I was eighteen I got stung by a wasp and had a horrible allergic reaction, with blisters spreading all over my head, torso, and arms. It was hugely inconvenient to my love life (I had just embarked upon my first serious relationship, and we were very much in the full body contact at all times stage). Anyway, the nice doctors put me on some very strong drugs and told me to go away, not pick my scabs, and not get stung again. (Seriously, that was their advice). So I spent a week hiding in my bedroom applying lotion and inspecting my body for scarring, until the last blister had burst, and I released myself back into society with frenzied abandon.

To celebrate my return to civilization, my parents decided to have a dinner party, and the boyfriend was invited. It was a lovely evening (well as lovely as an evening can be with my nu-metal-fan beloved asking my dad who Leonard Cohen was, and my grandmother smacking my hand every time I went to scratch myself). Lovely aside from one, very small, faux-pas.

Now, some of you will likely be aware that the legal drinking age in England is 18. I was born to liberals that didn’t see the harm in allowing their kids to have wine with dinner once we reached a certain point (Shocking), and so I thought nothing of enjoying a couple of glasses of merlot with my steak. That is, until I (literally) hit the floor. The only thing I remember from the rest of the evening is my best friend removing my shoes, and waking up on the sofa fifteen hours later wondering what on earth happened.

Don’t drink on medication. Lesson learned, right?

Nope, not right. Since that mortifying evening I have mistakenly consumed alcohol with three separate types of antibiotic, codeine, and some form of super strength migraine medication that a karaoke singer gave me in the bathroom at a wedding. None of these experiences ended well. But the thing is, I didn’t intentionally “drink on medication” on any of these evenings, I just plain didn’t make the connection that I shouldn’t be doing it. Clearly, the “lesson” I was taught at eighteen didn’t stay with me.

I really think that if you’re going to do something, if you want to do it or are predisposed to do it, you’re going to do it no matter how many times you’re told not to.

I drive 35 miles from my house to my office, that’s 70 miles a day, and it’s all highway. I see at least one accident a day, often more (personal record was eight in one day). Some are serious, some are not, but all of them slow the commuting traffic down to a stop. Every day hundreds of other KC residents and I pass some unfortunate person standing on the side of the road (at best), or being wheeled into an ambulance (at worst). And yet the first thing everyone does once the lanes open back up is accelerate, change lanes, cut each other up. In other words, perform all the same reckless actions that likely caused the accident they just passed.

This is human behaviour, echoed all across the globe: liver transplant patients start drinking again, husbands and wives cheat in their second and third marriages, criminals repeat offend. I’m not saying that people don’t change, I’m saying that change is a choice. To me, learning something ‘the hard way’ implies that it’s beaten into you, learned against your own will. Is that possible? maybe. Is that likely? Not really. People are stubborn, smart, and individual; very few can be coerced into learning something by force. That’s why I still don’t know how to find X. Once someone makes the decision to learn from their experiences, they learn the lesson the only way that human beings can: on their own terms.

And what does that mean for my habitual “drinking on prescription drugs” problem? I think that’s more likely a result of my forgetful nature than anything else