Tonight we will celebrate having been married for seven years. SEVEN YEARS. That’s crazy. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, or at least only a few years ago, that we were frantically pulling together last minute details for the ceremony and reception. If you count the three years we were together before the wedding (and why wouldn’t we?), we’re talking about a decade of life together. Most of the time I don’t feel like I’m old enough yet to think about my life in decade-long chunks, but there it is. Nearly a third of my life, and more than a quarter of his, spent together.
I don’t think I will be getting all mushy and sentimental in this post. It wouldn’t be a true reflection of how we are with each other most of the time. We have our syrupy-sweet moments on occasion, of course, but I doubt anyone would be too interested in those. I mean, gross, right? Nobody wants to hear that love and marriage are all flowers and chocolates and poetry all the time – because if you have an ounce of intelligence and live in the world with the rest of us, you’d know it to be bullshit anyway. I shall not bullshit you. Instead, I think I finally feel ready to make an honest accounting of what we’ve weathered for the past several years, and how it’s affected us. I need to give both Mike and myself credit for at least making it through intact, if not always with a lot of grace.
I would like to be able to say that living through the ugliness of four miscarriages and then finally achieving a successful pregnancy only brought us closer together, and only made us love each other more, and that we only treated each other with gentle understanding through it all…but I can already hear you laughing. Again, that’s not how it was for us. I shall not bullshit you. I can honestly say, however, without bullshit, that we have somehow managed to have enough patience with one another’s coping methods (or lack thereof, at various stages) to still be standing, together, on a firm enough foundation that I think we’ll make it after all. I can’t be too embarrassed to say that there were times, plenty of them and not all in the distant past, when we both surely doubted that we’d ever get here. Having Ike has done wonders for us, but I certainly never thought that finally getting our take-home baby would “fix” anything in our marriage. It’s not his job to the solution to any of his parents’ problems. (We got 99 problems but an Ike ain’t one! Hit me!) We’ve had volatile times, even in recent times: a lot of anger and misunderstanding, piles of resentment, and we have had some of the same arguments over and over again like two dementia patients with no recollection of the first thirty versions of the same fight.
I hate the phrase no regrets. In fact, one of my favorite quotes of all time is, “I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” (Katharine Hepburn) I have enough sense to regret the dumb things I’ve done and said. At the top of that list would be waiting until after the last miscarriage to seek professional help. I had been floundering unhappily between anxiety and depression and bothatthesametimewheeeeeeisn’tthatfun for years. Years. My fear of the unknown future (will we ever be parents, and if so, how in the fuck will we accomplish that feat?) blotted out my ability to enjoy nearly anything as it was happening in the present. Yet I was unable to even admit that I wanted to be a mother, because that meant facing the fact that I may not ever become one. I was grieving the losses of multiple potential children yet unable to think of them as potential children. Heartbroken, yet afraid to apply the word to myself. Deep in denial. I wasted a lot of time like that. And all the while, Mike was grieving, too. On his own, basically. I can now see that I was absolutely unable to be any decent kind of support system for him because I was too busy with my own anxieties. This was incredibly unfair to him, and I regret it.
I can only tell my side of the story, in fairness. I’m sure that if he wrote his side, it wouldn’t paint me in a very pretty light. Now that we’ve crossed that line of becoming parents can I see that if I had helped myself sooner, I’d have been better able to help him at the same time, and we could have helped each other. Instead, I sank deeper and deeper into my worries, and he, well, he ran away. I spent more time than I like to remember (not that I could forget if I tried) alone, dampening the ever present what-if internal monologue with crappy TV and pints of ice cream. He wasn’t able to deal with me in that state, so he spent a lot of time elsewhere. I couldn’t reach out, and he couldn’t reach in, because the wall of fear I’d assembled was pretty much impenetrable, even when he tried. Eventually he stopped trying, I think. I don’t blame him for that. You can only be shot down so many times before you stop trying to stand back up. At some point during my pregnancy, though, I had to start believing that we were on our way to a baby. At least, I had to believe it enough to try to convince him of the same. But without going through the physical transformation, I think it was a lot harder for him to believe it. When I was ready to nest, he wasn’t. I think he still was afraid to believe we were finally going to get what we wanted. Now when I reread my posts from that time in my pregnancy, I realize that I sound frantic. I never thought he would actually abandon me, and he wouldn’t, but I felt abandoned. Before, it was just me, so most of the time I didn’t mind being left alone with my sadness and worries. But now there was a baby on the way and I was furious that he’d go hang out with his friends when we had so much left to do. Wait. I can’t leave that all in the past tense without it being a bit bullshitty – I am still pissed about that, to be honest. I wanted the last few weeks of my pregnancy to be about joyful anticipation and pampering, and I felt cheated out of it by the one person I’d hoped would want to do everything in his power to make it that way. On some level I knew that he was having a hard time as well, and his way of escaping was just to escape, but with all the pregnancy anxiety and hormones I wasn’t able to articulate any empathy. In the past couple of weeks he has really started to comprehend why I’ve been so angry, and feeling like he understands is more than half the battle. I know that we still have a lot of work to do to make up for lost time, but after all the heartache and sadness we’ve been through, it’s such a relief to finally feel like we’re on solid ground again. We have so much to look forward to, after so long spent not knowing if we had anything but more heartache in store for us.
The passing of time is almost always bittersweet, I think. We’ve had our share of bitter for a good long while, so I hope we can keep on enjoying this sweetness we waited so long to taste.