#1, to my dad (again). Yep, we’re still working through setting up a time and place for him to get a demonstration of that innovative device. They only do a few demonstrations a year in a few cities. They haven’t yet branched out to Texas, but they do them here in NYC monthly. In the end, he may just come here to do it. I get to deal with myself when that time draws near. It’s just a moment, right? Either it works, or it doesn’t. Schrodinger’s Cat. You’ll get it if you watch ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ I just saw that episode (rerun) last night.
#2, to Jim-bor-ee. We had counseling last night. I didn’t feel like going, in part because there is no pressing issue going on right now. We’re fine.
As I write the word “fine,” I’m thinking about how “fine” is not good enough. I like that Emileah passed on my reference to Nate Bagley and his “Loveumentary.” Sometimes I judge Nate — he’s a kid, my age, who’s never really been in a long-haul relationship. What the heck can he tell me about love? But he did walk away from an engagement, and that’s hard. And he quit his job and traveled the country for a year interviewing the most in-love couples who had been together for 10 years or more – surely they must know a thing or two.
Anyway, I’m getting off track, all I mean to say is I do not want us to ever slip into “fine.” Nate’s philosophy is that he is against mediocre love. So am I! And Jimmy and I are not that, but in certain moments, on certain days, or even certain weeks – we kind of are. Not that we love each other any less, but the expression of love is dimmed down, or on the back burner, and I get to bring more of that into our relationship. I also want to give us a bit of a pass; holy Major Developments in the last few months. We’re still trying to find a routine, a day-t0-day life that works. But, we get to keep our passion while we do that, every day. I commit to making sure I’m bringing that into our relationship.
Okay, tangent over. We had counseling last night. Only, we didn’t. So, I was resistant to going, as I said above. But, I was committed to going. I think. Before I left, my boss told me we had to get on the phone with our client, and the only time he could do was 6pm. Meanwhile, Jimmy had scheduled a 6:45 counseling appointment — on Long Island. I would have to leave work early, but he told me in advance and I knew it was a super slow week. I figured of course I’d be free, the two prior days had been filled with nothing (I could’ve seriously stayed home).
Well, this issue came up with our client, who is a top executive at a major firm that’s trying to settle a dispute about his departure (negotiate severance, etc.). Things are coming to a head because it’s the end of the year, and it’s do or die time with respect to the deal he’s trying to make.
There are many things I could’ve done, though. I could’ve told my boss that the appointment was at 6:45, and that I needed to get off the phone by then. I could’ve urged him to move up the time — he said he was too busy to do it, but I saw a window at 3:30pm we could’ve used. I could’ve told Jimmy that the call would probably go long, and it would be better to reschedule.
Instead, I took the call on the LIRR. And it went long. Very long. We were sitting there in the waiting room, which was oddly packed (it’s been empty every other time). The counselors were chatting with each other, one woman had her kids there. Jimmy’s old therapist from years ago who had referred us to the place was there. He couldn’t even introduce me to her, because I was absorbed on the call.
This scene was like something from a movie. I imagined the workaholic wife on a business call, sitting there in the waiting room for a marriage counseling appointment while her husband paces the floor. Jimmy exhibited a range of emotions — from hurt, to anger, to irritation — and I couldn’t blame him.
My call continued for the WHOLE session, not ending until 7:30. We thus missed the session altogether. Jimmy rescheduled before we left for next week.
To Jimmy’s credit, at some point during that time, he dealt with himself. He was definitely reacting, but by the time we left, he had resolved it within himself. I know I’m not that workaholic wife from the movies — far from it. I know he knows it too. This was a very rare occurrence, and honestly, the appointment was just not at a good time considering my work schedule.
But, still, the fact was we had missed the session because of me, and my failure to be responsible. I was lacking in my commitment to it, and in turn, in my commitment to our marriage. That’s not what I was thinking, but I could see how it would be received that way.
As soon as I got off the call, I immediately acknowledged my breakdown. I didn’t blame work. I said I know I could’ve done any number of things to handle this situation differently, and I didn’t. I’m sorry. He received it well, but still seemed (understandably) unsettled.
We recovered well enough, though, and I brought up to him one of the things I wanted to talk about during the session. I told him that his mother’s illness was a very Big thing, and I had felt a bit overwhelmed by it. I also felt inadequate, like I wasn’t doing enough to support him, or like I was doing it wrong. I said I realized the one thing I should’ve asked you is what you needed from me, and I didn’t. I just played a guessing game and felt like I was doing everything wrong. I then asked him that question: what does he need from me when he’s facing something really difficult like that?
He said the question alone was really enough, and then he assured me I in fact hadn’t done anything “wrong.” As “transformed” as he is, he has a hard time talking about his feelings when it comes to something really difficult. The main thing he needs is space, until he’s ready to talk about it. He said he also needed just normalcy — a distraction. He said I had done all of that for him just by being there, cooking, watching TV with him, etc. And then Sunday night, after a full day of recovering in the normalcy, he was ready to talk about it, and I was there.
Even though, as it turns out, what I did was close to being exactly what he needed from me, I’m glad I raised the issue rather than getting caught up in beat-up because I caused us to miss the counseling session. Imagine if I hadn’t asked, and therefore didn’t know, that I had done the right thing all along. Next time he faces an issue like this, I would’ve been prodding him to talk, or overcompensating by falling over myself trying to serve him, when the whole time all he needed was what I was already giving him: space, normalcy, distraction, a feeling of safety and comfort, and full availability for whenever he was ready to talk through things. But, the one thing I did get was that I can and should ask him the simple question of: “What do you need from me?”
We’re so close, why would we play guessing games with each other? We know we can raise anything with each other, ask anything of each other. It’s amazing we still fall into failing to communicate.
#3, to me.
I ran yesterday, full out, hitting the goals I had planned for myself for that day.
I did NOT want to. I woke up NOT wanting to. So, lately this has shifted; I wake up slightly looking forward to it. But not yesterday. Yesterday resistance was STRONG. And since it hadn’t been the last few days, I was convinced something must be legitimately wrong. I had had afternoon headaches the last three days straight — of the all-over pounding variety. Maybe I was getting dehydrated. My body also just felt tired, you know? Like I really just needed more sleep, and rest.
My brain is crafty. It knows I will no longer buy the “you don’t have time! you have to get to work! you have a meeting, what if you don’t make it!” story. And SO it tries another angle: “you’re physically not in good shape to do this.”
I RELUCTANTLY fought through that resistance. I dragged myself out of bed, and went through the routine. Oatmeal. Contact lenses. Hug Jimmy. I dragged my feet every step on the way to the gym. The quiet bustling of early morning New York wasn’t charming – it was annoying. What the f*ck are you people doing up, anyway? LEAVE ME ALONE. (They were, of course, leaving me alone and just going about their business, but in that moment I was convinced their very existence was an Evil Conspiracy to irritate me.) I got to the gym, and the lady at the front desk who doesn’t care for me much was there. I got in an argument with her over her insistence that she use my maiden name on my Gym ID card. Like, really? The freaking GYM needs a copy of my marriage certificate to change my name? I know, it’s not her, it’s “policy,” or whatever, but since that tense conversation I’ve decided we hate each other and I’m unwilling to let go of that. I got to the treadmill and walked a while. Really? Do I really want to go through with this? I thought. I’m so tired. I put on my cardio playlist (saaaaame old tired songs), increased the inclination and the speed, and got going.
You’d think that would solve things, but, no. Every step was an effort. I thought maybe I should just stop at 10 minutes; that’s good enough. But, then I realized that often when a significant change is about to happen, this is how it feels. Like you REALLY want to give up. Like you CANNOT go another step. If I pushed through this instead, what might be waiting on the other side? What might be different, from here on out, every morning when I wake up to run? What kind of corner might my body turn if I were to just push through?
So I pushed through. I didn’t decrease the pace, I didn’t lower the elevation, I didn’t decrease the time. I did, full out, what I intended to do. It felt awful.
After I was done, I tried to take in the self-acknowledgement, but, I honestly still just felt tired with the slight tinge of a beginning headache.
Looking back on it now, though, BOY am I proud of myself! And I do believe there was a turning point there — I’m not yet sure of exactly what it is, but I know it happened.
So look, sometimes when you push through, it feels like shit — even after you make it to the other side.