Friday, April 22, 2011

Resurrection of a Marriage

It's only fitting on this Good Friday of Holy Week that I can claim that my marriage has been resurrected.
Fifteen days ago my husband walked out on me. The night before that, I came home from my internship unexpectedly early and he was drunk. This is after living with him during a 1 1/2 year relapse after 5 years of sobriety; after a 4 day detox which included watching him have a seizure in the Emergency Room; after a month of residential treatment an hour from home and running myself ragged trying to visit him whenever I could, keep up with my school work, my internship hours, and provide therapy to my clients; after what I thought was 57 days of his new sobriety. Hurtful things were said by us both that evening. Then the next morning, after showering and dressing, at 9:25am he walked to his car and drove off.
I won't - actually I don't think I can, describe what the past two weeks have been like. Only those who have lived it really know. Some days I was all "I-don't-need-no-man" bravado, other days I felt like I was getting hit by the same bag of bricks, over and over again.
He and I didn't see each other or speak to each other during this separation, and all I kept hearing from the few people he was talking to was that "he wasn't ready to come home yet." Some days I felt like I would keep the door open forever, other days I felt like this door ain't gonna be open for much longer.
After much deep prayer, meditation, and contemplation I came to my decision: the door wouldn't be open forever, but knowing that my husband is an alcoholic, it wasn't slamming shut anytime soon, either.
It's not a coincidence that all of this thinking and feeling was happening during Holy Week. I often contemplated my pain in light of the pain God felt, having to sacrifice his only son for the forgiveness of us all, and Jesus's pain of having to sacrifice his very life for our, for my, salvation. I was betrayed by my husband and the most insidious disease I have ever encountered, but I had to consider where my compassion and my forgiveness lay. I am by no means a New Testament scholar, but I imagine that the list of crap humanity had accumulated by the time Jesus was crucified way out measures my hurt, my pain, and my sense of betrayal.
So my husband came home today. Within days of his leaving, both of us had taken off our wedding rings. Earlier today I placed his band back on the ring finger of his left hand, and he did the same for me.
I can't explain the unconditional love I feel for this man and that I know he feels for me. In 5 1/2 years of marriage, this is the first true "rough patch" (that grossly under-describes it, by the way) that we've encountered and we've endured. In my mind, it defies logic and's something more like faith.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the Precipice of 40

I will turn 40 years old in 29 days. Several of my close friends have already crossed this barrier into the unknown of "middle age." Does 40 even count as middle age anymore? If you listen to people in their 50s and early 60s, it doesn't. "Life begins at 40" has been a popular saying since the bulk of Baby Boomers began to turn 40 two decades ago. I think Baby Boomers latched onto that saying out of a shear sense of denial, which has defined much of the average Baby Boomer's existence.

One of the reasons I think turning 40 doesn't mean much more to me than any other birthday is the fact that I don't have children so I can't compare my lifetime milestones to theirs: I can't say, "Oh I remember when I started kindergarten" while watching my own 5-year-old hesitantly entering elementary school for the first time. I also can't say "Oh, I remember when I got my driver's license" as I watch my own 16-year-old tear out of the driveway. I don't have anything or anyone in my daily life to compare my aging process to, which in my mind keeps me thinking, "I don't feel like I'm 39 and 11/12, I feel like I'm 22." Which has both it's benefits and it's drawbacks. On this point I think I have inherited that Baby Boomer denial mechanism.

Being close to turning 40 has made me question some of my physical abilities, however. I often wonder if I don't feel like taking the puppy for a daily walk because I'm 16 years older than the last time I was responsible for walking a puppy, or if it's due to something more sinister like depression. It's hard to tell some days.

As I am a self-disclosed hopeless romantic and enjoy a heavy dose of schmaltz to mark certain milestones, I imagine I will do a lot of reflecting on my life thus far over the next 29 days. All I know for sure is that I have no regrets, because if I hadn't done what I did at any given time, I wouldn't be who and where I am today. Whether I'm 40, 20, or 60 years old, that much I know for sure.