My husband is sitting at the table with a very serious look on his face. I ask him if all is okay. He looks at me and says “I’m just wondering what it is like to be you.”
Tears come to my eyes because I am sure he is wondering how in the world we have been together as long as we have with my pure and complete messiness. Shoes in every part of the floor. My clothes, clean and dirty, in every corner and main walk ways of our bedroom and bathroom, and probably my kids’ bedrooms too. The kitchen cabinets rarely closed because I don’t notice that I open and then don’t close them. Ten plus partially empty glasses and coffee mugs scattered all throughout the house. My desk covered with papers upon papers, and those papers have made their way to the floor, extending beyond my “office space” to various parts of the house. I could go on.
I am thinking that he is trying so hard to be even more patient with me than he has over the years – trying to understand why I can’t keep it together. Why I can’t remember to put my shoes where I make him and my kids put their shoes so they are not in the way.
I look at him and say, “I am so sorry. I really am. I know I am a mess and I am thankful for your patience. I try. I really do. I just don’t know if it is possible for me.”
He looks up and says “No, I mean, I’m wondering what it is like to think like you. To think and to really believe that all of this is going to be okay.”
I flood with emotion because I realize, in that moment, that he trusted me enough to express his pure and utter fear. That is not something I get a lot of from him – expression of how he truly feels. I’ve heard that men are from mars when it comes to emotional matters of any sort. I’ve never read the book titled so, so I don’t really know, but I am starting to believe it. I’m also starting to believe that men can come and visit our planet of Venus that has non-stop emotional rivers flowing, if they feel safe enough.
He quit his job recently (you can read about it here), is trying something new and he is scared. I would be lying if I said I had no fear at all. I’d be lying if I said that I knew it was all going to work out and our finances, marriage and life in general was all going to be glorious because of this beautiful risk of his. I’d be lying.
Yet, I am not lying when I say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, if I could fix myself in a way that made it possible for me to keep our home clean and tidy and organized more often, I would – but that’s not going to happen, even with my prescription of Adderall.* But I wouldn’t change the circumstances we have found ourselves in for anything else because I do know and believe that it is all unfolding as it should, frightening as it may be.
I also know that we are going to struggle awhile as we adjust to our new life together. And not just financially, but emotionally and mentally too. But that moment of his pure and honest expression will fill me for months to come. That moment of connection is something I will take over and above financially security any day. That moment of connection is a step towards more vulnerability and honesty in our relationship. Feeling safe enough for either of us to be able to take that step has taken us a long time, like 13 plus years. We both brought our fair share of baggage with us when we decided to say “I do” and that baggage didn’t and doesn’t magically go away just because we want(ed) it to. We have both had to really work at lightening our load so that we would have room and space to be real and honest with each other, no matter the cost. And before we could have room and space to be real and honest with each other, we had to and are having to learn to be real and honest with ourselves. Part of that honesty is admitting to ourselves that we are scared to death.
Feeling oh so relieved, knowing that he wasn’t worried about whether or not he can continue to live with me, I respond, “Oh my gosh. I am so relieved. I don’t know how I do that. I just do. It’s the only way I know how to be anymore. I mean, I have moments, like ‘oh crap are we going to go bankrupt?’ But then I remember – you can’t take it with you. I always thought that meant our ‘riches’ or our ‘stuff,’ but now I believe we can’t take any of it with us. Not our riches, or our debt, or our pain and suffering. We can’ t even take our joy with us. So, even if we fail, it doesn’t matter. We just keep going, because in the end, none of it matters.”
He says, “I’m so glad you can think that way. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.”
I say, “I can do it for both of us for now. You just keep going. You’ll have your turn soon enough when I have my moment of not believing any of that I just told you. Like, probably by noon today.”
We both laugh because we both know and understand, even if he can’t feel it right now, that none of it does matter, except for what is right in front of us in this moment. And what is in front of us is each other both utterly fearful and going for it anyway.
I do wake up often and get anxious and sometimes depressed because I want it all to matter. I want the fact that the school, our marriage, our childbearing and rearing are all going to mean something, but then I remember that there are billions and billions of stars and galaxies galore and we are just one teeny tiny part of it. I’ll take being a teeny tiny part and do what I can when I can, like put my shoes where they belong to avoid one less stubbed toe incident, and possibly save our marriage going 13 years mostly strong.** And, we truly can’t take any of it with us, so maybe we can all relax a bit.
In this moment, as I am writing, I do believe every word that I told him at our dining room table that morning as well as every word that I am writing. Here in an hour or so, when I pay some bills, I may forget all of it, but that’s okay, because we are truly okay and always will be no matter what – even if we don’t make it through all of this. The earth will still spin on its axis and the sun will continue to rise and we will be better for it. That I do know from experience. I have yet to wake up one morning and there be no sunrise or no earth spinning. And, the lilies of the field are still growing even though there have been plenty of times I didn’t believe they would.
May the lilies of your field continue to grow even in the midst of your fear and disbelief. Thanks for reading.
*It took several years and three medical professionals, one who is all about all-natural remedies, to convince me that Adderall would be very helpful and necessary. It is embarrassing to admit that I am on it, but I have made the conscious decision to learn to be afraid and to go for it anyway. I’m not an alcoholic, but just like at AA meetings, when people say their name and add “I’m an alcoholic,” I imagine there is a reason for that. So, hi, my name is Jacqueline and I really struggle, so I am on Adderall. No more shame. No more hiding behind the fear.
**You can read about us both forgetting our 13th anniversary here – hence the “mostly” before the word strong.