Tag Archive: marriage

Reaching Out

ImageI must admit I am completely stunned and humbled by the response to yesterday’s post.  I never imagined how many of my friends would be affected by my story.  I also never realized how many people cared for me during that time in my life (and years afterward) and never found a way to share their feelings with me.  As youngsters, most of us had insecurities that prevented us from sharing such sentiments.  But what is our excuse as adults?  What drives us to bury our thoughts, feelings, desires from those we cherish the most?  

Many of you know that I was blessed to marry one of my best friends, Christian.  Before we dated, we shared everything with each other.  I knew all of his secrets (yes, he had plenty) and he preserved all of mine.  As friends, we hurt each other with selfish actions, but we never doubted our love for each other.  As we grew older and our relationship changed to one of intimacy, we became more guarded with our feelings.  We were hesitant to share our moments of sadness, fear, regret, temptation, etc.  Eventually, our conversations grew less meaningful, our silences became more profound.  When I felt Christian withdraw emotionally from me, I responded by building a concrete foundation to secure my own doubts and pain.  After a  time, when Christian found that he needed to reach out to me, he was unable to cross the barriers I had erected and I was too stubborn and prideful to tear them down myself.   We lived in the same house, but there was an ocean dividing us.  

It wasn’t until Christian’s dreadful diagnosis of lymphoma in 2002 that we were forced to “get real” with other.  We had an infant to think about.  We had to put aside the years of mistrust and decide how to move forward to secure a future for our son.  There were attempts at complete reconciliation, but the time for us to mend our internal wounds for a successful marriage had passed.  We poured our hearts out to each other, claiming responsibility for our marital carnage.  We extended a friendly truce to each other, not just for David’s sake, but for the sake of two kids that had once been the best of friends.  When Christian died in 2003, I was distraught.  I was unsure how to make it through the days without hearing his easy-going voice or endless jokes.  The one thought that made Christian’s death more bearable, was knowing that he and I had made peace with each other.  I have never had a single night of regret that Christian did not know how I felt about him or that I would have to live on this earth without his forgiveness.  He and I had overcome the worst of circumstances to become the best of friends again.  But we had to throw away our insecurities with each other, open wide the doorway to our vulnerabilities and lay claim to the love we could resurrect from all of our years together.  

A life-threatening illness, an innocent child and a wrecked marriage motivated our conversations.  You would think that I would have taken that to heart and used that as a learning opportunity to never let another day pass by without telling everyone I love — on whatever level — how much they mean to me.  I should know not to overlook an opportunity to express gratitude, extend a congratulations, share heart-felt sympathy, say a simple “Love you”.  But that childish fear holds me back, makes me question how my sentiments will be taken.  Will they be embraced or thrown back in my face?  Will I be laughed at or turned away?  Looking into that 12 year old girl’s face yesterday, I realize that I have faced much worse in my life.  No one can make me feel as small, lonely, and terrified as I did 28 years ago.  I have nothing to lose by reaching out to those around me.  And honestly, neither do you. 


Stranger In Her Bed

She looks over at her sleeping husband. She soaks in his peacefulness and marvels how sleep can erase the lines of worry and wrinkles of time that normally define his face. She smiles at the white hairs that now dominate his goatee and thinning hair. She knows they have both changed a lot physically since their first kiss eleven years ago. The deep rise and fall of her husband’s chest assures her he has escaped the stress of his job and his numerous responsibilities to his family, at least for the next six hours. As much as she wants to envy his ability to shed the restraints of the real world, she is actually very grateful that he is granted this reprieve each night.

She knows the physical features of this man better than she knows her own; however, she cannot shake the feeling that she is sharing this bed with a stranger. She no longer knows his deepest desires or darkest fears. She no longer knows what to say or do to bring the twinkle back to his brown and blue eyes. She knows nothing of his current nightly dreams or even who he considers to be his closest friends. She may still know what foods to prepare him or which shirts he prefers to wear, but she is clueless about the emotions that must pass through him each day. 

Oddly, although she has lost touch with him in so many ways, she knows undoubtedly that her love for him has not diminished. It is that love that makes the distance between them so frustrating.

She knows the shielded emotions are not to hurt her but are in fact a way to protect her from worry and additional sleepless nights. She sadly smiles at his slumbering form as she realizes that their conversations focus on the boys and their schedules and schoolwork.  They share funny tales of their friends or laugh over the latest celebrity debacles. Her finger gently travels over his scruffy cheek and down to his sleep-slackened jaw as she tries to recall the last time they truly shared quality time alone. They have had several one-nighters when all the boys were away, but they only used the peace to catch up on sleep, not each other. She sighs heavily as she realizes that it has been seven years since they got lost in each other and allowed the other to glimpse behind their protective walls.

She peppers his shoulder and tattooed bicep with quick kisses as she prepares her own mind and body for sleep. Resting her head against his, she silently pleads to the universe, “Bring us back together. Let us use each other as our safe havens and not resort to silence and reluctant acceptance. Let us not repeat our past mistakes!”