Saturday, November 20, 2010

The beast and its backs

I'm not one for confrontation.  Passive aggressive silent treatment is more my style.  I get too emotional during fights.  I can't keep my head straight.  Rationality goes out the window.  Passion takes over.  I get too upset to speak.  I can't get out the things I want to say.  And so I keep quiet.  Swallow the hurt.  Try to forget.  Turn my back. Slam doors.

A few months ago, Geoff hurt my feelings.  It was silly (to him) and incredibly painful (to me).  I took a deep breath, exhaled, told him what he did hurt me.  He said "I'm sorry if ...".  I said "No, not 'if', did!"

It hurt me even more, this apology.

The "if" and the "but" after an "I'm sorry" make the sorry irrelevant.  Erase the empathy.  Worsen the hurt.

That night when we went to bed, our backs to each other, neither of us slept very well.  This is the beast of a marriage.  The "I know we should settle this before bed, but I am not going to forgive you because I'm right and you hurt me so I hope you get heartburn and can't sleep ever again".

I can't remember exactly how long it took until I was able to forgive him.  It's hard work this forgiving business.  It's a hard lesson this fine tuning that happens in a marriage.

During the time I was still upset (it didn't last more than a few days I'm sure), I bought a black dress.  I imagined that we'd go out on dates and I'd be able to wear a dress!  And he'd notice that I got dressed up and he'd be all "Wow you look great!" and I smiled thinking about these dates we'd go on.

And then a few weeks later a very close friend of ours lost his brother to suicide.  That's not something people talk about, suicide.  It hit close to home.

Our friend asked Geoff to be an usher at the service and Geoff asked me if I would go with him.

I never feel comfortable going to a funeral for a person I don't know.  But I've done it.  I understand it is a way to show support to the friend who is suffering, but I feel like a phony in case someone asks how I knew the deceased.

I don't like being caught off-guard.

I never know what to say.

I didn't know what to wear.

I went upstairs and found Geoff at the computer, quietly reading the entries on a memorial webpage set up for our friend's brother.

The air felt heavy.

I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders and we just kind of stayed that way for awhile.

It was a hard day for him.

While I squeezed him, I imagined myself taking the brunt of the blows against him.  My shoulders bearing the emotional weight of his world.  My back against the sadness touching his heart.

If only I could make myself bigger, stronger.

I saw the sadness in his eyes.  And I knew it was not going to be an easy night.

I wore the black dress I had bought, that I had imagined wearing on a date with my husband.  I hoped he thought I looked nice when he saw me at the church. 

We took separate cars because he had to be there earlier.

I sat alone in the pew and listened to the life stories of our friend's brother as told by his many good friends.  How much he loved life.  How everyone he knew loved him and thought so highly of him.  How his house was always open for friends to come and enjoy a good meal and a bottle of wine.

I thought "This is what I want my life to be".

After the service was over, I drove Geoff to the Inn at Morro Bay where we had our first date and later got married.

We held hands most of the drive.  He didn't know where I was taking him.

I told him it was a surprise.

I had hoped to catch the sunset, but as Morro Bay is wont to do, it was quite foggy, so instead we walked in relative quietness toward the restaurant, making somewhat nervous smalltalk about our first date, and the craziness of our wedding.

We felt like we had just met all over again.

The night was cool.

He told me I looked nice in my dress.

He looked quite handsome in his suit.

We had beer and fish and chips and we talked and laughed and I told him I wanted to live my life that people were welcome in our house.  That I wanted to be that person who made others feel at home.

And we held hands through the parking lot, and we drove back to the church parking lot, and he got in his truck and we met back at home, and we made each other feel at home.

And I'm not sure how long it'd been since I'd forgiven him, but at a certain moment right before sleep, while I was facing him, my head in his chest, I knew the hurt we'd each been feeling had simply gone away.

And I felt good and happy and right.

1 comment: