Meron akong kwento
Tungkol sa dalawang tao
Na pinagtagpo ng tadhana
Sa panahong hindi inaasahan.
Sa simula ay pangiti-ngiti lang
Nang lumaon ay panay na ang kwentuhan
Ng mga samu’t-saring bagay.
Mga nakatatawa at nagpapa-isip,
Mga pangarap at panaginip.
Matuling lumilipas ang oras
Pag magkasama sila.
Hindi nila alintana ang init ng araw
O ang malakas na pag-ulan –
Ang mahalaga ay naroon ang isa’t-isa
Kahit pa nga kung saan man yan.
Malimit silang nagtatawanan
At kung minsan mang hindi magkasundo,
Ay madali ring nagagawan ng paraan.
Para silang yin at yang,
Pagsikat at paglubog ng araw,
Pintura at putting canvas –
Pwede ring beer at sisig,
Tapsilog at kape,
Longanisa at suka.
Sa medaling salita, sila ay perpektong magsama –
Pinaghalong tamis at pait,
Asim at alat,
Anghang at sarap.
Ito ay isang kwentong wala pang ending.
May simula na at gitna
Ngunit hindi pa nalalagyan
Ng tamang wakas.
Siguro dahil hinahanap pa ng mga bida
Ang tamang panahon
Para lagyan ng tamang karugtong
Ang katuloy ng istorya.
May alam akong isang kwento
At hinihintay ko pa ang kahihinatnan
Ng istoryang nasimulan.
We worked things out where I don't dump my crap on him. We haven't worked out a level where "dumping my crap" is not synonymous with, "sharing my heart." I talk too much, I'm too emotional, I'm basically more than he can deal with most days when he's scrambling to get through class and get the bills paid.
It's a weird place to be. Our wacky little tribe-family has three married couples who all counsel with the same older couple. Today, we're supposed to be over with Fawn's family - she's sort of like my aunt, and we're one of three married couples they've picked up. In each of those groups of three, we're the couple with the smallest problems. Seriously, our counselors are like, "Why are you bringing this stuff to us? This is stuff you can handle." We've never tried to physically hurt each other. We've never cheated.
We're just kind of dying. Not leaving, no desire to leave. Just...the life is ebbing out of our marriage. We love each other, and that's not enough. We've each been thinking that it would be so much easier if we could just leave this life, but that's not an option for a Christian. Once you give your life to God, you really don't get to take it back and end it. (Meaning no judgment on anyone who's in that position - Christ did not come to condemn us, but to save us.) So, we're just sort of...going on.
And last night, Rick unintentionally turned over a rock and found a hole you could lose a telephone pole in. He spoke of my heart crying to be known. That's both of us, actually, but I hadn't been able to grasp that about mine. I'd been in the -stuck- position of, "He wants his heart to be known, he wants to share it with me, and he feels like he can't share it with me, and I really don't know what to do about that."
Keep in mind. Two people who love God, love each other, and try to follow God. That's supposed to be the recipe for success in relationship. So there's some additional frustration of, "This isn't working. We must be doing something wrong. What are we doing wrong? Nothing looks -wrong-, exactly, it just doesn't look RIGHT."
Heart. Y'know, I hate the book Captivating. I mean, picking it up and opening it causes a sensation of physical pain somewhere inside me. I close it very quickly and put it far away from me. This is a book I used to hand out. I used to keep an inventory of 3-4 copies, so that I could hand one to any of my girls, or my friends, who I'd pitched it to and they'd responded favorably. I'd tell people, "Every woman needs to read this...and every man who wants to have a relationship with his wife, or girlfriend, or daughter, or mom..."
It's written on the subject of a woman's heart. Celebrating that heart.
I am ashamed of my heart.
Because it is a woman's heart.
And why did I believe them?
I spent most of the last five years living and working in a mostly-male environment. Lot of cultural differences between this one and the one where I grew up. The operative example here would be the attitude towards an adult male who isn't really a man yet. Culture I grew up with stated that these paragons of irresponsibility were still maturing, they might get there eventually, interact with them like they're teenagers, and give them about as much responsibility. Culture here stated that they are not men, ergo, they must be women, or somehow feminine.
Hit that again - to indicate that a male is not worthy of respect, he's referred to in feminine terms.
Expressing dismay over something is "bitching about" it. Someone who does this frequently is "a whiny little bitch." You're supposed to keep your sensitivity and emotions at home. Okay, yeah, fine, I get that for the work environment. Be professional for your 8-10 hrs a day, go home and be open. But when you can't go home for months, there's nowhere to release. It comes out. It better not come out. If you act like a woman on board, people will think you're a woman. You don't want that.
To be a woman worthy of respect in this environment, you look as feminine and attractive as possible, and respond to things as masculinely as you can. If you're not attractive, you're KNOWN for being unattractive. If you react to things
There was a girl I ran into once on my way to dinner - having a panic attack on a stair landing. She couldn't stand up. Took a knee next to her, holding her hand, quiet-voice talking so she had to focus to hear me. I had no idea who she was, but I was the fourth person on-scene and the other three were standing around helplessly. I still have no idea who she was, but since we were both female it was okay for me to touch her. She was less than 200 yards from the medical clinic, and dead-set against going there.
Because in the ladderwell, we were all strangers, and an emotional response to whatever was going on was not going to hurt her reputation. Her standing. Respect is the currency at work.
Of the women I spent time with there, to the level of understanding one another, every woman I knew joined to prove something to a man in her life. Her dad. Her absent dad. Her ex-husband. Her fiance. Her boyfriend. Her ex-boyfriend. Someone to whom she wanted to say, "SEE?! I can do something! Something big, and tough, like you do! I have worth! I am worthy of your attention!"
I get so ripped up inside about attention. It's bad to want it. "Ignore him, he's just doing it for attention." And I crave it. I crave it so much. I want to be someone's treasure. I struggle with this as a Christian, because I know, logically, that God treasures me. I also know that my parents treasure me - but there were only three of us, and we competed fiercely (in our own different ways) for attention. I can tell you my sisters were involved in so many activities they were at school for all daylight hours on weekdays, and they performed brilliantly. Theirs was, "I'm not going to share my heart with you until I've earned your pride and praise." Mine was backwards - I pulled back from everything until I felt loved. When I knew I was loved, THEN I wanted to make my parents proud. I was afraid that they might only love me if I did well. So I tanked on just about everything, while looking for approval.
Sick, isn't it?
But wanting attention, I hear, I see, that's childish. Only children want attention for no reason. Adults know they have to earn regard and respect. Until you've earned it, you don't deserve it. You're nobody until you do something remarkable.
And my little heart whispers, "But I want to be remarkable for just being me."
"No, that's wrong. That's lazy. Everyone wants that, but it's not real. It's a fairyland dream from a children's story." My Little Pony comes to mind.
I'm not talking about grades or evaluations at work. My teachers grade me independent of whether they like me. (Okay, you can admittedly probably work about a 2% upswing with a lot of teachers if they think you're a good, likable student.) My boss at work might like me fine, and have to give me a pretty poor evaluation because I either really struggle, or really gave up on the struggle. I get that. But neither my boss nor my teacher is someone I share heart with.
Right now, NOBODY is 'someone I share heart with.'
But if you can't bring heart into your work, you die. Slowly, of course. But it's the walking definition of, "he's there, but his heart's not in it." Your work slips, you care less and less. Complacency is hazardous to everyone here, and none of us know how to be passionate when we have to leave our emotions somewhere else for months on end.
Same thing happening at home. We both care about each other. We both really like each other.
Years before Rick and I knew each other, T and I were seeing each other, and talking of marriage. I knew, logically, that T loved me. He was a good man, and I adored his family (big family, we're talking grandparents and brothers and aunts and everybody gets together for holidays and performances - amazing support system.) I also knew I was looking at spending the rest of my life without feeling loved by the man in my life. His family, absolutely - I had basically convinced myself that I could live on the love from his family. It wasn't that T disliked me at all - he just had very little time, and he didn't care to verbally express emotions. I took a backseat to his studies as a nurse, his work with students and community theater, his music, his work at the ski hill, his work at camp, his business partner, his other business partner, his marathons, his athletics...when I say I took a backseat, T was driving a full-size 15-passenger van. THAT backseat.
(Should I have dumped him over this? On paper, I'd say probably. In reality, T was the first good man I'd dated. He wasn't a train wreck. He was the first person (the only person besides Rick, actually) who hadn't cheated on me. He had a stable, solid family, a stable, solid career plan, and his influence encouraged me to reach higher in school/athletics/music. Okay, yes, it was out of hope that if I got good enough at something he would spend more time with me, but being married to a good, responsible, stable man who liked me, whose family loved me - I figured I could live with that.)
And stupid me, someone spending time with me is THE way I feel loved.
Rick's an action man. This is a quality I admire about him - he's always DOING something. "Rest" for Rick is probably best defined as, "doing something ELSE."
I like to study. I love to get into the Bible and find new nuggets of information, expand understanding of the culture being written to, the history these words fit into. I love to read. I'm inspired and encouraged by characters. The Bishop in Les Miserables and Agnes in David Copperfield are friends who help me get things straightened out when my boat is swamped. I like the shared emotional experience of watching a movie with someone.
All of which require parking one's butt for a certain period of time. Therefore, invalidated. Rick tolerates some of this, but it doesn't get him engaged. Understand, he wants to engage with me - it's just that listening to me talk and sitting still are really challenging for him.
Seriously, man, talking is how I emotionally connect. I'm going down deeper into myself, hiding, because it's hard for him to listen to me, it's a really bad idea if I talk to other men when I can't talk to my husband, and between people getting transferred and married and drowning at work, I'm running out of girlfriends. Having to talk less is like, I don't know, telling Rick we need to have less sex. It's a rejection. "I like you, I just don't want to connect with you. I don't want you."
I was thinking this morning in the shower about Flik, from A Bug's Life, and Urkel. They're two cases of an interesting character trait.
Steve Urkel, everyone knows from the tv show Family Matters. He's the nerdy-beyond-all-reason neighbor of a nice nuclear family in Chicago. Annoys the pieces out of everyone around him, has his heart perpetually set on the cop's daughter (who rebuffs him with iron-clad vigilance). And still, every day, comes over to spend time with this family. Shares his enthusiasm for whatever weirdness he's currently excited over.
Flik is an inventor by nature, and gets really excited about whatever latest device he's created - in a culture where things have been done the same way for generations. On the one hand, this means that none of his time- or labor-saving devices are recognized or appreciated. On the other hand, this means that whenever doing something new blows up in his face (as tends to regularly happen when trying something new), everyone remembers it. In his community, he's not associated with any of the good things he's done, just the times he's screwed up. While he's perpetually optimistic and excited, it does come out at one point that he feels the weight of everyone's eyes.
In both cases, the heart is not appreciated. And the person keeps trying again. Steve comes over every single day. (Okay, admittedly, this is partly because his parents frequently lock him out of the house or go on vacation without telling him.) Not only does he come over, but even after being shot down 200 times over some new scientific weirdness, he still gets excited about some new scientific weirdness and wants to share it with somebody.
Flik keeps going until he's actually kicked out of his colony - at that point, he DOES give up, and needs a talking-to from a tiny princess to get his hope up again.
Me, I cave after being told, "No," thirty times. Shoot, I got free of employer, and all the, "No's," turned out to be cumulative - if Rick had a problem with something, and told me 2 or 3 times, I quit doing it entirely. Sure, the logical thing would be to find a way to do it that wasn't a problem, that was actually beneficial for both of us instead of just me.
And it's interesting - I blew off my coworkers' ideas about a lot of things. The value of getting wasted, the value of porn, the value of shopping at the mall, the value of....shoot, you name it, we probably didn't agree on it. So why, why why why, did I accept their ideas about the value of my heart, of any of our hearts?
I can blame someone for putting out bad ideology, but that's lame. If they're not present to debate the matter, it's just moral laziness. Rick's big on, "Chew the meat, spit out the bones." That takes more effort, to go through a set of concepts and discard the junk while holding onto the good. I couldn't just discard the whole block - some of these people I really respected. (Plus, if you don't listen to anything ANYBODY says, you're not going to last two weeks on a job.) So at some point, I decided it was okay to rail against whoever was putting these bad ideas in my head.
Oh. Right. That would be me. I am the filter, the gatekeeper on my brain. It's one thing to be irritated about the Assyrians outside the wall - it's quite another to not notice that the gate guard hasn't been at his post for a good six hours.
All that comes around to the hole Rick uncovered last night. The idea that I like my heart. I like who I am at core. (Admittedly, I've lost touch with that person for awhile. I'm not entirely sure who she is these days.) I've been ashamed of that core because I have some extremely-vague concept of who I SHOULD be, and that core does not jive with that extremely-vague idea. (My core rarely jives with anything extremely vague, come to think of it. It's like trying to match a key to a cloud.)
I definitely remember engaging on a level a lot deeper than this. I remember offending a lot of people, but that wasn't about how intensely I was engaging, I think, so much as what I put out once I WAS engaged. The point is not to offend people, but nor is it to shrink back from offending - just that when someone is upset, I should take that as more of a customer-response than an order. "We have people commenting that the cashiers' uniforms are ugly - can we do something about this, or do those need to stay?"
Some wisdom and discretion would go a long way here, I think.
First year, we recognized, "Marriage is both harder and better than anything we thought it would be." Right now, I think we're in a lot of the "harder than we thought it would be," and it's like a very undesirable part of a hiking trail. We can't quit NOW, the good part's up ahead! Somewhere...probably on the other side of the cloud cover...look, just keep going, nobody makes a trail through this kind of terrain without a really good reason!
I've been thinking how necessary love is to human existence -- any love, not just romantic -- even if it's loving your cat, even if the last time you felt loved was ten years ago -- and yet how, by itself, it just isn't enough. I guess what I've been dealing with is the romantic side, and it seems especially true then... you can love somebody till you're blue in the face, but that has nothing to do with whether it's good for you, whether it will make your life better or worse.
It's not like this is the worst thing to happen ever, though. I just hung out with a lady at the library that's been trying to stay off crack, and she said it's tiring how difficult it is to better yourself. And how it's so easy to do bad, but when you try to do good, everything tries to push you back down. I hope she ends up ok.
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