Because I've written pretty openly about the bad times during my marriage (here, here, here and here) it may come as a surprise to you that I don't feel like I've written openly about it. I have a tendency to employ humor to relay events that were absolutely not humorous while occurring which results in a not entirely honest portrayal of what really went down. And that bothers me. Because I want to be able to honestly tell you some of the stuff that's happened in our marriage and hear your own stories and perspectives. I mean, what good is this blog if I'm not being truthful to myself and my life? That's how I feel. I guess everyone reads blogs for different reasons. Me? I read them to relate to what others are going through, especially the hard times. If I get even the slightest whiff of someone pretending to be something they're not, I'm gone.
A couple things keep me from full disclosure, though. First, it isn't just my story to tell. In as much as it's my story, it's Serge's story as well. Thus far he has been more than generous in allowing me to write whatever I want. If I write anything personal, he always reads the posts before I hit publish and very rarely has he asked me not to write something. I can't even remember a time that he asked me not to write something. IN FACT, he recently wrote something that I asked him not to publish. I regret that now. I should've let him write it. I didn't though because I was afraid of all the people who would comment about how dysfunctional I am.
But, guess what? I AM dysfunctional. I happen to think it's a garden variety dysfunction - as popular as tomatoes in the gardens of the world - and yet somehow I've allowed people who don't argue within their marriages make me feel like I'm the very worst of the worst. And even if I am the worst of the worst because I've thrown things or told my husband to fuck off, well, that's who I am. Writing about it doesn't mean I'm proud that I'm this way, it's just being honest. And that's why I started this blog. To be honest. I don't want to pretend I'm someone I'm not. I don't want to appear to have this most amazing marriage, which is what you might come away with after reading the story of how we met. Yes, every word of that story is true. As true as the dramatic ups and downs of marriage since those heady first days of being in love.
Another reason I can't blog as honestly as I'd like? My kids will read this one day. For the most part I hope reading it will teach them a valuable lesson about what hard work goes into being married. But still. I don't want them to be embarrassed either.
A third reason I stop myself from blogging about the really difficult stuff? I don't want to turn into a "trainwreck" and not realize it, you know? Time and time again I've witnessed perfectly rational, intelligent women fall apart and start revealing personal things that are uncomfortable. I guess it's all in the way you reveal things. The tone. Are you lashing out and blaming or are you honestly trying to paint an accurate picture of a moment in your marriage and maybe even learn a few things about yourself and why you do the things you do?
I'd rather reveal too much than too little. It's just how I am. With all that said, it can be hard to sit down and write authentically when you're constantly balancing the pros and cons of sharing a certain event in your life. Especially when you know your mom and dad and in-laws and every neighbor will be reading. For me it isn't the thousands of strangers that will read but the people I have to face on a daily basis. How do you write about kicking your husband out of the house and, when he remains in the car in the driveway, you open the garage door and start banging a shovel on the hood of the car as hard as you can until he is forced to back out and drive away - how do you write about that and still hold your head high and look your mother-in-law in the eye the next time she comes over to babysit?
Perhaps you don't. Perhaps you deserve public shame for so completely losing your shit in such a way. But it takes two to tango, you might shout at the people who call you nuts. You don't know what he did! Does it matter? Have you then turned into a trainwreck and don't even know it? See? The balancing act is neverending.
But then I think of the blogs I read and how some of them aren't very revealing anymore. Bloggers that once laid it on the line and inspired me and made me feel a little less alone in this world are now cranking out humorous posts on the goings on in their life that amount to fluff pieces. I still love these bloggers, I still check in daily, but something's missing. And yet, I understand the compulsion to withdraw because it's hard to write so personally in public because society has told us to hide our real feelings and pretend like everything is okay, which is good advice, to a point, because it would be pretty awful if all of us were always walking around telling everyone our dirty secrets and true feelings. Everyone would hate everyone. But sometimes it's nice to hear that other people are struggling, isn't it? It makes us feel better about our own fucked-upness and, if the writer is honest and raw, maybe even prompts a little self-reflection that, in turn, inspires us to change our ways. Or try, anyway.
Marriages are filled with ups and downs. It's hard work, man. I actually think being married is harder than parenting. I really do. I know others would disagree but Serge said something the other day that rings so true. Walls naturally erect themselves between two people. They just do. I used to think it was the couple who built the walls. They don't. That's what's so sneaky! You aren't actively working to build a wall in your marriage, it happens when you aren't paying attention or even when you are paying attention but are just too damn tired by life to tear it down.
The hard work of marriage comes from constantly attempting to break down those motherhumping walls. Kicking through them and removing the rubble in any way you can so that you maintain communication. If you don't, the walls keep building themselves. The longer you wait to tear them down the harder it will be. You go on autopilot and just live enough to get through your day and go to bed and before you know it the wall is so goddamn big you can't even find the person you once called your soul mate. Every day you've got to do something. Even just reaching out to hold your lover's hand for a second or two. That small act right there punches a hole in the wall big enough to call their name and tell them that even though they can't see you you're still here and looking for them. I'm still here! I know you can't see me because of this big ass wall but I'm here! Don't go away, I'm looking for you! I'm trying, I'm trying.
Serge and I have a hard time. A lot. We are in a weird place right now. It's nothing alarming. But even as I write that I think it is kind of alarming, if something can be said to be kind of alarming. Yet it's nothing out of the ordinary. Just a normal downturn in the ebb and flow of a marriage. And I think that's key - realizing that marriage has ups and downs and the downs aren't anything to panic about. The downs are when you really need to roll up your sleeves and make shit happen. Start scratching at that fucking wall, yo! Now. Before it's too late and you lose each other. That's how marriages survive. Thus far in this downturn both Serge and I have been making halfhearted attempts at making it better. Shouting at each other through the wall occasionally, checking to make sure the other one is still there and that's been about the extent of it. But that's done. This post is me rolling up my sleeves and publicly announcing that I want to make it better.
These past few months I have been desperately clinging to the things about Serge that annoy me instead of focusing on the good stuff. Even writing that sentence makes me mad because then Serge responds with something like "See, I AM a good guy and you just focus on the negative!" which is true, but in acknowledging that I do focus on the negative I lose the battle of trying to get him to change the things that bother me. I'm having a hard time with that. But I am increasingly aware of the fact that I won't be able to change those things and my unwillingness to accept them is tantamount to me mortaring the bricks of the wall between us.
What are the things that bother me? They sound silly now when attempting to write about them (And that's why I need to write about them! To gain perspective!) but when they are a part of your everyday life over and over and over again they mean everything. Here's one. He's an angry driver. He must analyze everyone else on the road. "What's this asshole doing? Look at this idiot! Why's he stopping, why's he stopping!" It's enough to make me not want to go places with him. But is it really a big deal? No. But yes! It's the little things that make up a marriage, isn't it? Or am I just a difficult-to-please asshole? A little of both, is my guess.
And there it is, I suppose. Marriage. The little things add up, bricks and bricks and bricks and then you've got one big ass wall to tear down. So hand me a shovel, wouldja? I'll use it on the wall this time, I promise.