Around this time last year, I was holding on tight to any resemblance or familiar sense of a marriage that was long past salvaging. I wasn't ready or willing to face the truth of us. I wanted to believe in what I perhaps only imagined we once had. We once had so much more. We worked and played together. We laughed, often. We fought, as though our lives depended on it, sometimes. We then had intermittent moments of great unity and long bouts of tired wary, mediocrity.
Last year we came to a crossroads. We ignored it, because it became easier to deaden ourselves to it. We both knew we had passed the intersection that might have lead us to a more fulfilling relationship or the opportunity to go our separate ways with love and support. We decided instead to travel straight down the dead end road until we made it to the end, warn down, frustrated, wondering why the other didn’t look at the map, ask for directions, or just know. The road back to the intersection forced us to look at the same deserted and abandoned debris that we had been piling up and collecting. By the time we got back to the intersection there were no other choices, we could only go our separate ways severed and broken.
Why did this happen? Why does this happen to so many? I believe we continue to look at marriage as this union blessed with fairy dust and rainbows. Conflict does not belong here. We can't have conflict because we can't have problems. Problems mean something isn't working. Why would anyone get married to someone that might cause problems? Honestly!?
We have children, they are perfect beings. We love and adore them. We can't hurt them. We do, anyway. We can't believe this, but it's true. We fail ourselves and each other and them. Sometimes this spirals out of control because we can't have problems remember? We can't solve the problems that we aren't supposed to have because, duh! that would mean we have PROBLEMS!
The very children that somehow lead us to imagine we could protect from reality, become witnesses and victims to such pain. We attempt to protect them from honesty, and instead we force them into this world of pretense and shiny plastic dreams that can’t be sustained. While we attempt to provide this Santa Clause version of relationships that are good and sugary, we fail to see what is apparent. We keep trying to shield them or distract ourselves. We add new bells and whistles. We ignore the sadness that has become the lens of our children's souls. We don't want to, we just can't look at it. As we try to pretend Mommies and/or Daddies don’t have problems, they see that Mommies and/or Daddies are not tangible beings. They are horrible imposters, or merely flawed humans.
Santa only comes once a year. He and his magic dream machine don't live with us. As adults we brace ourselves for the holiday blues, the family conflict, the reality that we will never fulfill all of the dreams and wishes of those around us. We ready ourselves for the spouse that is balled up in the fetal position avoiding the Christmas trauma from years gone by. Or the in-laws that ignore everyone and determine the day’s activities based on their need for adoration. Oh there went the spouse back in the fetal position… And yet we want so much for our children, or the children within us to believe. To believe in hope and life and dreams. Can we begin do this with some sense of balance? Can we do this with a little less pretense and a little more truth?
I am direct. I have been learning to temper this, but slightly. I am not interested in pretense while toxic radiation and volatile acid is leaking past the artificial smiles of others. I don’t do well around theatrical “types”. Yet, as a parent, I needed to hold back and not ooze my directness everywhere. My children may find this hard to believe. They think they know me completely. They do, as a mother. As a woman, and an individual, I don't yet know everything about me. I am still working on myself. As my children age, I hope they will respect and like what they see, but it's important that they don't see everything. They are not my closest friends, they are my children. I wish that I could have protected them from any and all dangers real and perceived so that they would never know pain. I also know that had I been able to do this, they would never know how to handle some of the pain and struggles that life brings. They will have problems that does not warrant or connect any involvement from me. It will hurt and they will survive it. They will always be welcome in my love and embrace even if they do not recognize the home I may inhabit.
I move around the earth in need of guard rails and safety nets. This is because I am occasionally, easily fooled and ever hopeful. I want to believe, so badly I often miss the glaring signs and flashing red lights. I have safety nets for those times. I have good friends. I have good memories and bad ones. I want to participate in life and that brings risk. I want my children to also participate in their own lives. I believe they are on the right tracks. The pain we are all experiencing and healing from will soften and the opportunities for love and lives fully lived abound.
I love Christmas too. Always. I get excited and happy and hopeful. I am not in need of much, Christmas is itself the gift. Hope and love is magic. This is always all around us, but on Christmas, I get to sit and honor it. Only 242 days until next Christmas!