happy 4th

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I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday, cried for the first time in a long time. My husband hurt my feelings, in a way that only he can do. I had been feeling emotionally fragile for a week or so, I guess you could say needy. As in, needing some extra care and thoughtfulness. Which always seems to lead me to trouble- maybe I expect too much because I intuit the emotional needs of others so readily and am always working to meet them. Maybe I’m bad at how I ask for help- I wait until I get angry and then my husband just shuts down completely.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a pattern that repeats itself. I feel vulnerable and I get hurt. But yesterday I wrote a little too freely about it, thinking that it would make me feel better. It did, for a few minutes. I received a few thoughtful and supportive comments, which I appreciated very much. And then I felt guilty, because I’ve never really used my blog in that way and I don’t want to start now. I do write about my marriage, but in general and mostly positive terms. I’ve always been open about the hard aspects of being with another person for life, raising kids and growing together and the kind of selfless love that marriage depends upon. I’m not Pollyanna-ish about married life, and I have not been blessed with a nearly perfect marriage.

My husband and I were very young when we met and settled down, and now it’s been almost thirty years. A long time for two kids who didn’t know any better. We both brought plenty of emotional baggage to this life together, we both can look back and say that maybe we were a little too young and immature to settle down, that we should have worked harder at finding ourselves before trying to commit to another person, before having the children that would ultimately be our biggest reason to make it all work.

But we didn’t do that. We did the best we could, and that’s what we continue to do, every day. For me to write about him when we have a fight would just be wrong. I wouldn’t like it if he did that to me. One wise thing we did do from the beginning was make a pact to not go to our respective families or friends each time we had an argument. And we’ve stuck to that. I think we both talk in general terms about each other with friends, but it’s mostly respectful and positive. Which is the way I want to write about it too. So I woke up at 4 in the morning and deleted my blog post.

I’m not over my hurt feelings. My despair has lessened, as it always does, but I also believe that we collect some scars along the way. It’s the price we pay for loving people. I’ve had time to reflect upon my own sensitivity, because yesterday I was feeling very strongly that I wanted to be tougher, to care less. I was imagining how lovely it would be to not be so intuitive, to be more oblivious. But then I noticed how kind my youngest child was being to me, how he kept noticing my pain and trying to ease it. He wasn’t doing it in that traumatized way that can happen when kids see their parents fight. He was just paying attention, he noticed that I was sad and tired and wanted to help. He wanted me to be happy.

That was my gift yesterday, someone who really saw me. someone who cared and did everything he could to make it better. I wasn’t going to go to the fireworks. I have skipped out on things like this so many times over the years, just being too busy and tired to care. This year was different- I looked up the different firework events and decided to make a point of going to one or two and enjoying the holiday.

When I said I didn’t know if I was going, Nick said:

 Please go. It’s more fun when you’re there. 

And I went. The crowds were terrible, and I was not in a festive mood. I regretted my decision, until the moment when the fireworks started. We were right there where they were setting them off, the closest I’ve ever been. I don’t remember this small city having such a fantastic display, maybe they went all out this year or maybe I haven’t paid much attention in the past. But they were amazing and I was glad that I went. It was smoky and noisy and loud, all things I normally dislike. I got caught up in the moment though, the magic of it all. I stood there with my arm around my son, this precious child, and realized that it would all be okay.

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12 thoughts on “happy 4th

  1. That’s a cool picture! Marriage is tough! I married young too. I’m glad you have such a sweet son. You’re an amazing mama! Happy Fourth of July!

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    • I have mixed feelings about marrying young… in some ways I’m really glad that I did it this way. It’s certainly easier to settle down young if having a family is the most important thing, as it was for me. Lots of women put it off until they’re older and then it doesn’t always happen as easily as it might when you’re young. But my adult kids are in no hurry and I can see the benefit of that too.

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      • I agree. There are pros and cons. I’ve heard older moms tell me I was lucky to have started having kids young when I had more energy. And waiting can sometimes mean difficulty getting pregnant. My adult kids are not in hurry either.

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  2. As someone else that tends to come down hard on myself, I wanted to point out how hard it is to admit that we might have done something we are not too proud of. That takes a lot of maturity.

    I tend to keep my irritation bottled up, then woe on the person that happens to be there when I blow my top. It really does take a lot of work to commit yourself to another person; I am glad you are able to share this. Good for you, deciding to go see the fireworks. 🙂

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    • Now that I’ve had even more time to reflect, I’ve been able to see things more from my husband’s point of view. I don’t know that there are always answers to these things- sometimes life is just hard and we fall short. When I get *really* upset though, it’s hard to see things reasonably. Fortunately it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, and I’m looking forward to the time when I never get that upset!

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  3. Thanks so much for writing this. I relate to so much of what you write about your marriage dynamics. I had my own meltdown yesterday as well, for the exact same reasons. I feel in need of extra care (usually weary and coming after a time of being very patient and understanding myself and bearing more load because of my husband’s extra commitments, so then I am expecting him to notice and think about how I might need an hour or so of relief from the kids), I feel vulnerable–which almost always leads me into trouble like you said. I think I am bad at asking for help as well, I can’t seem to do it without that tone of anger, which never goes over well, of course!

    Anyway, it’s all good now. Yes, the despair always feels so terrible, especially when it IS a pattern that repeats. The scars are there and will always be there, but like you said, that is part of love, it is the sign of love and commitment. Each one of my kids (and I have four boys) are the same way when my husband and I fight, always noticing my pain, tending to me, and showing me kindness. My three year old kept coming in to check on me saying, “Mama, you tay now?” (Mom, are you okay now?) This gives me great hope, that even though being some who cares so much can be so incredibly painful at times, it is also paying off in the way my children care for me and for others. That can only be a good thing. They also are very forgiving of us after fighting, very respectful of my husband, they love their dad, which inspires me to forgive him quicker and keep on keeping on.

    The hurtful times are very hard but on the other side, I can see how my husband’s temperment is a gift that is a good balance for mine. He has a form of strength that I do not have, and that helps in other times as well, to keep me grounded and being carried away by my feelings.

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    • I don’t really have much to add, you pretty much nailed it 🙂 It’s nice to hear that someone else can relate. I guess if we lived in a more communal, less isolated society we might not even feel so vulnerable- if we had other women for everyday support rather than expecting our husbands to intuit our emotional needs.

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  4. I know it’s been a couple months since you wrote this, but I just wanted you to know I still enjoy checking in with your blog from time to time. We married young, too, and though it was a great decision, I’ve wondered how life would have been different if we married later. About a year ago my sister-in-law said she’s glad they married young because they were able to grow up together. Sometimes waiting to marry can mean you become more set in your ways and more used to doing things yourself. Marrying young can make the team even stronger. I still still the pros and cons of both sides, but I’ve appreciated that perspective!

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    • Good point, about being set in your ways. Honestly, I think it’s just one of those things- you pick one road in life and that means that others will always remain unknown. And that’s okay… life is all about choices.
      Thankfully, I’m in a good place right now with my marriage. We had a tough summer but it was all working towards something greater, I just needed to be patient. Lots of changes (again) but we’re getting more settled and I am thinking I might have the mental energy to get back to blogging again.
      Thank you so much for reading occasionally and commenting- I feel like we’re friends even though we’ve never met in real life and somehow that is kind of special and comforting.

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      • Yes, I too have been glad to connect with you through your blog and appreciate our friendship though we’ve never met in person. So often you put words to things I’m experiencing but haven’t been able to voice. My husband shared this quote with me long ago, though I don’t know the source: “It’s a luxury to be understood.” I can probably count on one hand those in my life who really seem to understand me–I have a feeling if we lived closer we would be fast friends. No pressure to get back to blogging, but it is always great to read your thoughts!

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  5. I follow you but for some reason (probably sketchy internet access at times) I missed this post. It’s thoughtful as always and I appreciate how you try to be fair in your judgments, willing to reexamine and reconsider things.

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