Friday, July 04, 2008

Looking for the Right Adhesive

So we, W and I, made it, sort of, to our 20th anniversary. Twenty years ago today W and I married. I had mixed emotions back then. He asked many times before I finally agreed to marry him.

I knew it was a big step, a huge commitment, and I was somewhat scared of “locking myself in.” However, given that my self esteem was lower than low, and convinced as I was that I would be lucky to ever get any man to marry me, it seemed prudent to not let the one go that was there not only willing but eager to marry me. In addition, I was terrified of what would become of me without W. I had at that time turned my back on my family and feared they would no longer welcome me back. I didn’t have a job and was being supported 100% by W, and had been for the almost two years we’d been living together. I felt backed into a corner, dependent on W, unable to strike out on my own, unable to support myself yet unable to find another man willing to support me.

So I married W, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part. Locked in. Committed. As I write this the image of the cell door clanging shut in my face is vivid. Yet I didn’t really feel that way then. Then I felt lucky. I felt lucky that I had settled my future, made myself a nest that would protect me, found a man who would take care of me. There was also that little niggling thought in the back of my brain that he was so much older than I, and with some fairly serious health issues, that I would spend some 10 or 15 years with him and then be free to move on with a new life. (Yes, I know how bad that sounds. I do. It hurts me to even acknowledge it, but those thoughts were there.)

Fast forward some twenty years. We’ve been through better times and worse times. We’ve been poor for sure and at other times, while not rich, certainly comfortable enough. We’ve each had sickness at times and enjoyed good health at others. That last thing, though, until death us do part, well, that one just ain’t gonna happen. It isn’t for a lack of trying. I know I tried. I tried for as long as I could without going stark raving looney. I believe he tried too, in his own way. We just couldn’t give what the other needed nor be satisfied to take that which we were offered by the other. It just wasn’t working.

Now that W is out of the house, everyone is much happier I think. Even though W can’t (or won’t) acknowledge it I think that even he is much happier. He does his thing (whatever his thing is) when he wants and is only required to spend a limited amount of time with N. It is amazing how much relief he is willing to express when he doesn’t have to spend time with N. You’d think N was the devil incarnate the way W acts. Yet he isn’t. He’s a good kid for the most part. He’s a kid though. He is at times messy and noisy and whiney and insolent and just your typical kid. W can’t handle it. He wants N to be a little adult, but he isn’t. He can’t be. He’s nine. He acts like he’s nine which means sometimes he acts all grown up and sometimes he acts like a toddler and most of the time he acts like a kid.

But I digress. I was discussing the marriage. This past week there were two events that solidified in my mind the absolute impossibility of W and I ever being anything more than cordial co-parents to our son.

Event #1 – N had been wanting W and I to take him to a local restaurant with games where he could spend lots of our money and with the tickets he won get some great “free” prizes (think a little more grown up than Chuck E Cheese and not quite as grown up as Dave & Busters and you’ve got the atmosphere here). It had been a while since we’d attempted anything as the three of us so, while apparently suffering temporary amnesia or maybe insanity, I agreed to the outing. It was a disaster. W, as usual, embarrassed both me and N in front of the waiter. W and N got into an argument over stupid trivial shit. I ended the evening completely frustrated and ever so glad it was over.

Event #2 – N’s baseball team had their end of season party. I arrived before W, and when W arrived he chose to sit next to me. We couldn’t sit for one hour at a party without getting into not one, not two, but three separate arguments. The man will not listen to me. He refuses to respect my decisions about my life (and I’m just talking choice of food here, salad only instead of salad and pizza, no big deal). When he sat down I should have moved to another table, but I didn’t want to look rude.

Now today is the much awaited 20th anniversary. I cringe at the thought that he may send me flowers again, as he did Valentine’s Day and my birthday this year. I have said, and will say, nothing to him about our anniversary. There will be no public acknowledgement of it by me. It will be our last anniversary for I am certain the divorce will be final within the next year.

For all my frustration with W, I still care about him. I can’t help but care about him after more than 20 years with him. It is abundantly clear though that me caring about him, and him caring about me, isn’t enough to keep us together. The glue is gone. Unfortunately, that which held us together – the fear of being alone – just wasn’t enough to hold any longer. If you want a strong bond, use the right glue. Fear is rarely ever the right glue.


John said...

Caring for and loving someone can be miles apart. I learned that with my wife during the last years together, and that we were using the same glue you were.

Fusion said...

oops, that was me signed in to the wrong account...
That's what you get trying to book hotel rooms and blog at the same time, lol

Bunny said...

I would be seriously worried about you if you didn't care about him after all that time. It's only human and right. It's also right to move on with your separate lives. You'll always have a connection, even if you didn't have N to co-parent. You can't spend that much of your life with a person and not care at least a little about their well-being. It doesn't mean you are "in love" with them, but you love them as a Christian should love another. It shows that you are a good person.

Lil Bit said...

Wow, lots going on there (but then again, here I am a lil late to the game, lol)...

All I can really offer is to remind you to go with your heart & instinct. But you already know that. ;)

Really like your analogy to glue.
Very apropos.


(apologies for taking me awhile to return your visit, girl)

Trueself said...

Fuse - Yes, caring for and loving can be very different things. Here's to finding better glue in future relationships!

Bunny - Well, thank you. Glad to know someone thinks of me as a good person.

Lil - I kind of liked that glue analogy too. It was just something that kind of struck me as I was finishing up the post, and I thought it was a good metaphor. Thanks for stopping by, BTW. Always glad to have you here whenever you can find the time.

freebird said...

Yup, they have that glue over here too.

Trueself said...

FB - I think it's universal, unfortunately.