Monday, July 12, 2010

We have grown, we have grown.

Seven years ago today I married my husband. Last year, on our anniversary, I talked about how even though we are very different, he was the right one for me.

And then? Somehow and quite suddenly, it fell apart.

Not everything fell apart, exactly. But everything shifted. I'll admit that last year was a rough one for me, emotionally. No one told me how life-changing it would be to write a book about your life and then have people read it and comment on it. That sometimes the comments would be really mean and make you feel like crap about yourself and your life. No one told me I would question my decisions. No one told me I'd lose friends and people would start treating me really oddly. No one told me that doing one of the things that I always wanted to do really wouldn't fill the void inside. And I promise you that I don't remember anyone ever telling me how very difficult it is to do book promotion when you're a socially awkward introvert. Because it's really freaking hard.

My fault? Yep. I guess I should have known. I make it my life's mission to tell people all of this when they say, "Hey, I think I want to write a book". They think I'm jealous or a hater because CLEARLY they can write MUCH better than I can. And hell, maybe they can. And maybe they're okay with a lot of attention. And maybe they'd do just fine and not have crushing anxiety and feel really alone and sad and scared. Maybe I'm the only freak in the world and if so, that's okay. But no one told me how it would be and I don't want anyone to go in blindly.

I respond to depression differently than most people, I suppose. I take a day or two to sob uncontrollably, convince myself that flinging my body out a two-story window is not an appropriate response, and then I carry on. I have children to feed. I have a job to attend to. I have people who count on me to be where I say I'm going to be. I can't just curl up in a ball and cry no matter how much I want to do just that.

My husband, however, is not similarly wired. Thus, when he fell into a particularly painful episode of depression, I didn't see him for a year.

Well, that's not technically correct. He was present in the home. He went to work every day. He came home from work, ate dinner, and then retreated to the bedroom. He sat, alone with his thoughts, while I attended to the children and their activities, the dishes, the dog, the duties of life.

He barely spoke to me. We didn't go out. When he did anything with the family, he was snappish and angry. We all stopped confiding in him. Every conversation became an argument. I said to him, more times than I care to remember, "You don't care about me, you just care about being right".

And eventually? I got very resentful.

I started paying attention to everything except my marriage. Another man started paying a lot of attention to me, and while I knew I would never cheat on my husband, I did very much enjoy his attention. I threw myself even more into my work. Whenever a project came up, I was the first to volunteer. I developed elaborate money saving and couponing plans and threw myself into those. I started writing a really tragically horrible romance novel. Anything to avoid what was really going on.

Really ugly things were said. Some really ugly, painful things were exposed. Things not appropriate for a public forum. Things that, after ten years of knowing this man, knocked me on my ass.

The D word was spoken. And I don't mean douchebag, for once.

Meanwhile, I tried to pretend everything was okay. I went through life never mentioning to anyone how bad things had become. In the blog world, no one wants to hear about problems or strife (except some jerks who take pleasure in other people's misfortunes...and you know who you are). People want happy family blogs. They want people to be in love. They want smiles and hugs and kisses and pictures of Junior and JuniorAnne playing soccer. They don't want what we'd become.

I remember on Christmas morning, waking up and feeling like I didn't even want to be alive. Like I didn't even want to watch my children open their presents. Like I just didn't care about anything. Like how much I dreaded having to get out of bed and put on a happy face for everyone around me.

God smacks me around a little bit from time to time, as I've mentioned. The desired effect was achieved. I was scared. Really, really scared.

Finally, in total desperation, I talked to one friend. One.

And she didn't think I was a loser. She didn't tell me everything I did wrong. She didn't tell me what a jerk my husband is. She didn't tell me to cut and run and she didn't tell me if I had just been a better wife, a better person, more attractive, or any of those other things that maybe this would have never happened.

She listened.

She reminded me of all the good things in my life. She prayed for me. She told me that in his heart my husband is a good man, even though he's made some bad choices and said some bad things. That I am not a bad person, even though I've made some bad choices and said some bad things.

She reminded me that I picked this man. That he is my husband. He is part of my family. Out of all the men in the world, he is the one that I picked. That there were plenty of other men who would have married me, but I picked Jason. And there had to be a reason why.

When I cried, "It shouldn't be this hard!" she said, "Who says it shouldn't?"

Today is our anniversary. It's been seven years.
Seven years ago I was full of love and hope for the future.

I am still full of hope for the future.

This is the most difficult I've ever written. It feels so shameful to not be one of those happy blog families with no problems. I wanted, so badly wanted, to write a story of redemption. To say that everything was okay and to fully believe that it would always and forever be okay. I'm realistic though. Problems are not solved overnight. I'm not perfect. We're not perfect.

But I'm trying. We're trying. I want more than anything for this to just be one of those blips in the road.

I don't give up easily. I won't give up now.

So here's to a new start. Today seems like a good day.


Madame Queen said...

If it makes you feel any better, they the seventh year is one of the hardest in any marriage. They don't call it the seven year itch for nothing. Our seventh was our hardest, too. But we got through it for the same reasons that you'll get through it -- because you DID choose each other. The hardest lesson for me to learn was that I have to make that choice all over again every day.

Hang in there! {{Hugs}}

Kathy said...

I'm proud of both of you for trying and working on this. I agree, it shouldn't be this hard, but sometimes it is.

Lots of hugs and prayers. . .

elissa said...

So I always read your blog but rarely comment. I just wanted to say that this was a really brave post, and really honest, and so thank you for sharing it with us. Marriage IS hard. People who say it isn't are just setting themselves up for a big karma smackdown. I am sorry this last year has been a struggle for you, and I am hoping for the best for you, your husband, and your awesome kiddoes and sending you my very best wishes.

Danielle said...

A year ago I started reading your blog - if I remember correctly, you & your husband were at dinner & he pointed out that you had food on your boob. I think it was last year - maybe it was longer than that? Either way? I'm very happy to read whatever you write - be it happy or sad... I laugh when it's happy & I feel bad for you when it is sad and I check back every day in hopes that things will get better... because you deserve it!! Good Luck to your new start! I will hope for the best!

Jenski said...

I can sense your determination and hope! I was once told that after a certain period of time, you and your partner know each other so well that you know just how to hurt each other in the best/worst way. That does not mean that everything that is said is truly heartfelt, but it is how you know to hurt each other. The hard part is stopping yourself before you say and do things just to cause pain.

Your memory of Christmas morning really shows how difficult the past year has been for you (I think). So glad you talked to a friend who listened and supported you. I hope you guys have a great new start. Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. You've helped me realize that every marriage isn't always peaches and cream. I hope everything works out for you guys and you can be a happy family once again. I'm struggling in my marriage as well and you helped motivate me to work harder at being a loving partner to my husband.

Dawn said...

Big, huge ((HUGS))

I want so badly for this to be a good, easy year for you. I hope next year on your anniversary, your post is very different.

Crystal said...

The happy blogs are there to cheer us up when not-so-good things happen. But we all know that they're full of it. No one can be that happy all of the time. The rest of us would have already slapped that happy smug smile off their faces by now. Having problems and feeling this way remind us that we're alive. And when something good happens it feels really, really good. Pain and feeling hurt make the good that much better.

Everything will work out in the way it should. And you know something? You're right. Today is a good day.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. Life is not always sunshine and flowers but it is our responsibility to make do with what we are given. And you're right, change for the better is often quite hard because we have to get over "self" and look at the whole picture.

THANK YOU!! Sharing is caring! I too am trying to be a better person, actually FOCUS on it. I have failed in the past and I'm trying to learn and correct for the future.

And good luck to you and yours as you make the next year of your marriage, family and work work FOR you.

Emily's Family said...

I'm praying for you and your family! I have always enjoyed reading your blog and reading this, you are right...many people don't want to read the bad things, but I think Stephanie, we have to have bad things in our life sometimes, life wouldn't be what it was.

I am praying for you and your family and hope that everything turns in to happiness and love. I agree it won't happen overnight but continue to work at it.

Good Luck

Catch the Kids said...

Hey there. Wish I could help. Hoping everything can right itself ASAP.

Boriqua said...

Thank you for being brave enough to share this. We all go through these kind of patches, even if we don't talk about them. I'll pray for you and Jason, as well as your family, to pull through this.

Unknown said...

I"m sorry things haven't been very smooth at all for you & Jason lately. I do wish you a happy anniversary, and hope things get better. Men deal with their depression in such odd ways (for us), seems odd.

Krissie said...

I've been having a really hard time too lately, although not marriage related.. And my 7th wedding anniversary is a week from today. So, in some ways, I get you.

My blog has really kept me sane. I have put a great deal of my pain on there. Just writing it out is cathartic. And I will always have some posts that are too raw to ever see the light of the Internet. But the support I have gotten has been incredibly overwhelming. And, even though few people enjoy reading through the darkness, they will respect, support, and encourage.

Many prayers headed your way from Kentucky, my friend.

CottonSocks said...

Darling Stephanie.

I love you so much more than words can adequately convey.

I want this to be easier and better for you, and I'm saddened that it's not.

I want all the things in this world to be good for you because I think you rock in eleventy million different ways and I still think good people deserve good things.

You should never be ashamed for being human and for being honest. There are good things in your life that you have shared honestly here - your joy in the Boy and Girl shine through like a ray of sunlight poking through the clouds.

Being honest that the rest isn't so great, and why that is - that is what gives people hope. It may not feel like it, but it's true. Because I can go to Glow and say - yeah, I'm nearly a year out and his death still knocks me on my ass sometimes and I can't breathe but you know what? I'm still alive anyhow - that gives people hope.

You standing up and saying 'This is hard. A lot harder than I expected or wanted, and it sucks and I'm depressed. But I'm still here and we're still trying because by God, that's what I do.' and taking a deep breath is giving someone hope.

Even if you don't feel it right now.

Chin up, loved one.

Allie said...

Dude, marriage is HARD! No one can fully understand how difficult it is to work on your marriage everyday until you've lived it. I feel ya, a few years ago (it was year 4 for us) we went through a similar phase, we ended up going to counseling and it completely changed our marriage. We are not perfect, we are not even close to perfect but having a mediator helped us tremendously. I really don't think we would be together today without marriage counseling. We'll have been married 8 years in September and I'm thankful that neither of us gave up.
You guys will get through this because you love each other enough to work at it and that is the most important thing. Happy Anniversary!

Crystal said...

I wish I could say something to make it less difficult, but I know I can't. Hang in there and keep trying to make your marriage work. Regardless of what people say, marriage IS hard work. But it is worth it. I'm sending up some prayers for y'all.

mythoughtsonthat said...

I, too, cry, "It shouldn't be this hard!" I also want to be one of those happy families with no problems.


val said...

Yeah. Steph, nobody has a perfect life.

I used to think everyone who appeared to--did. Then later I realized everyone had tough times. Even the perfect seeming ones--when you get to know them, you hear their stories of loss and betrayal, problems of one kind and another.

It wasn't just me with a scruffy life. Heck, some people thought MY life was perfect based on what they saw. Sigh. No. We all got our stuff.

Depression is difficult and hard on a relationship. It's terrible.


And what you said about reaching your goal and then life still wasn't perfect--a void was still there. Yes. It's possible to be incredibly grateful and also shocked that ... hey. You're still just you.

It all makes sense from here. love, Val

Dreamer said...

Ugh. Marriage is hard. I really am happy that y'all are staying together and working through it, though. :) I'm praying for y'all.

Steph said...

My aunt and uncle had a storybook life in a beautiful little town, until the problems got too big to hide and they got divorced. They were in debt, behind on the mortgage, couldn't stand each other, etc.

My aunt was so humiliated packing up her dream house and moving to a rental. I was with her and a friend of hers in the moving van as we drove away from the house. Her friend said that behind all the "perfect" houses we were driving by, you didn't know what was really going on, and that none of them were really perfect.

That stuck with me over the years. It makes me feel better when I'm feeling less than other people. And it's so true.

Thank you for your honesty. We've all been there in some shape or form. Hang in there, and know that plenty of people are pulling for you.

perdido said...

I'm so glad you had such a good friend who didn't steer you wrong and I hope everything works out how you want it to - and thanks for putting it out there so folks like us know we're not alone

SJINCO said...

I'm so sorry that things haven't been the easiest, but you know what? It's not supposed to be. You both are growing in ways that you aren't aware of and well, you have a beautiful family and a good relationship to show for it. Marriage isn't easy!

Happy Anniversary you two.

Ama said...

I just wanted to send some good thoughts your way. I discovered your old blog from a link at Praying to Darwin, and I've been working my way through your archives. I usually get through archives pretty quickly, but my goodness have you written a lot of stuff!

You seem like a very awesome person and I've really enjoyed what I've read so far. Except the parts about dreams with your teeth falling out which reminded me that *I've* had those dreams, and I'd really rather they had stayed forgotten. I can't tell you how many times (in only the 6 months or so of posts I've gotten through so far) I've wanted to comment on experiencing the exact same situations, but then I realize the posts are like three years old and it seems silly to respond to them now.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your stories. And your humor. Very much hoping you and your husband are able to work things out.

Elizabeth said...

Dear Stephanie, I'm sorry it's been so difficult - this is LIFE and thanks for sharing it. Also - how COULD you have known how people were going to react to your book and all implications? You'd never published a memoir before, I don't think you should blame yourself for other people's reactions.

Seven years - trying and working is a GOOD place to be.


Thank you for sharing that with us. Good luck to you and your wonderful family.

Anonymous said...

Hon no one expects you to be perfect and for your marriage to be perfect etc. And yes feel free to vent! Makes you human :)

I hope things settle down and work out for the best for you!

CPA Mom said...

We just had our 9th anniversary. You know better than most (because YOU were MY one person) that we almost didn't get there. I understand. The rewards are worth it but damn, the bad stuff can be really, really bad. Hang in there, sister of my heart. I believe in you. And in Jason.