Well last month didn’t go at all as I had planned. I was so excited to join Priya over at My Reflections for the month of February blogging about love and, well, things happened that caused all that to come unravelled. My father in law had a heart attack early on in the month which threw us for a loop, and other family issues arose mid-month that just made blogging difficult. I’d rather not discuss them in detail, but I will sum up last month’s love posts in this one, the first post of a new month that – hopefully – will lead me and my family into a much less stressful atmosphere.
Love is a beautiful thing, truly. It has many faces and is as varied and changing as the seasons. The love I feel for my husband is different from the love I feel for my children, which is again different from the love I feel for my parents. The love I feel for my various friends is as unique as the friends themselves.
Love may be unbreakable, but it can be rocked to it’s very core. And in the past two months, the love my husband and I share has been tested to it’s very limits. It has been shaken, beaten, and devastated – and at some points I was sure it would be battered beyond repair. I usually keep a light heart here at Raising an Army, but this is something I feel the need to write about. Perhaps in order to understand how things could get to this point, you need to understand my background – where I came from and what makes me who I am.
I am the youngest of four children, with thirteen years between myself and my next sister – Linda. We are the children of a Pentecostal pastor, and though my siblings were tweens when my parents began their ministry, I was born into it. I grew up with two families; my core family and my church family…and it was great. I was constantly surrounded by people who loved me and were there to help me when I needed them.
The problem with this scenarios is that while the church people are indeed your family, they are still essentially your family’s bread and butter. While in a real family if people upset you, hurt your feelings or downright annoy the crap out of you, you have every right to tell them so and argue it out…in the church family we had to put on a happy face and pretend everything was all right.
This was my job, from the time I was an infant. I was a master of painting on a smile and playing the church darling. No one ever knew the loner that hid inside the little girl that sang solos and played the piano. I wasn’t a people person…I’m not outgoing or really all that bubbly. I’m actually a little shy and serious – but no one ever knew. As far as they knew, I hadn’t a care in the world.
The skills learned as a PK – Pastor’s Kid – would serve me well later in life. I held many jobs where I was thrown into dealings with large groups of people or had to use my charm to persuade difficult customers to buy a product or service or to see eye to eye with company policy. I was well liked and could always manage to secure myself a comfortable clientele. But the skills weren’t always a good thing…because I also carried them over into my marriage.
The night after our wedding, Johnny and I lay together in bed and promised each other to always be open and honest with each other. That we would never try to hide things that hurt or upset us in order to spare the other’s feelings because we both knew that bottling things up inside often led to an explosion of disastrous proportions. Even little things like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, we vowed, because little things can lead to big things.
Easier said than done.
For a while we both kept true to that promise. Every little thing was laid bare for us both to examine and work through…but then I started to ‘backslide’ back into my PK persona.
It started with the little things – like how he throws his socks into the laundry piles in crunched up little balls when they’re damp, causing them to stink even more than usual and making me pull them apart when I have to wash them. Gross…but not worth telling him about and causing a fuss. Even though every time I had to pull apart a crusty pair of socks I gagged and wanted to throw them at him. No…I could keep that to myself.
Then things that were a little bigger and annoyed me a little more – but that I felt childish for being bothered about. Like how we’d put the kids down for the night and finally have a couple of hours together with just the two of us…and he’d pass out right away on the sofa and I’d be alone for the rest of the night. I felt like a spoiled toddler for complaining about it. He works hard and he must be tired – but darn it I was looking forward to having some adult time with him after all day of wiping noses and changing diapers. If it happened once in a while, I wouldn’t have minded so much but every night? I could have spoken up…but I felt ridiculous. He couldn’t help being tired. I stuffed that in the bottle with the sock rage.
Then it was how he would get so absorbed in his computer game that when I was talking to him he wouldn’t even notice I had said anything and I’d have to repeat it so often that I finally got frustrated and wouldn’t say it anymore. The bottle was starting to get a little crowded.
And the whole while that I was bottling things up, so was he. One little thing after another, stuffed into the back of our minds, never wanting to bring them up because that would cause an argument…and neither of us wanted the confrontation.
Until last month. When the bottles exploded.
I won’t pretend to be blameless in the nuclear implosion that finally rocked our marriage and shook the foundation until I was sure it was all going to collapse underneath us. In fact, I freely confess that I bear the brunt of the responsibility. I not only bottled up frustrations and anger, refusing to share them with my husband - I shared them with someone else, which was something that we had agreed early on was a huge no-no for us.
When both of us finally bared our souls, we were left feeling exposed and ashamed. How had we let things slip so far? How could we have done the thing we despised the most – covering up our feelings and painting on a smile to pretend everything was okay. We had, in essence, lied to each other about our feelings for months because the ugly truth was more than we wanted to admit. We weren’t happy.
The house of cards we had built scattered around us and the illusion that we had clung to turned to dust in our hands. It was then that I learned the most important lesson about love of all.
When all else is stripped away, love remains.
When faced with losing everything we had worked so hard to build, losing the hopes and dreams we had gathered about us, the love that is the basis of our marriage and who we are stood firm. Rock solid in the center of the devastation, providing a solid base for us to begin to build it up all over again. A process that I hope to share with you, my readers, as I strive to better myself and change.
And so March came in with a lion, roaring and raging and threatening everything that we hold dear…but our love sheltered us and kept us safe and secure. Now the rebuilding process begins and we once again make plans and share dreams – and this time build it stronger and better as we learn from our mistakes.
And hope that for all it’s bluster and noise that March goes out like a lamb.