I’ve been thinking a lot lately about James and I. About our relationship. About him. About me. About our likes and dislikes. About what makes us ‘click’.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about marriage… and about how often I hear people in long term relationships (who know they want to marry their partner) say that they are waiting until things are ‘right’. …Waiting until they have the jobs they want …Waiting until debt is paid off… Waiting until they have money for a downpayment on a house …Waiting until things are “perfect”.
But, the thing is – no matter how “set” or “perfect” things feel at any moment in your lives… they can change in the blink of an eye.
James and I both had good jobs when we were engaged (and early on in our marriage) – and then – BOOM – 6 months later James was laid off. Talk about life changing. A man who had worked his tail off since he was a teenager – suddenly couldn’t contribute to his family in the way that he wanted to. He was frustrated. I was tired. He was home to take care of the house, looking for a job, while I was at work. The dynamics of our home were forced to change really quickly, and it wasn’t easy at first. All of the things we thought we knew about how we worked as a couple were challenged – and no matter how “set” we felt months before – it was no longer the case. But it was okay – because we made it work and found a new “normal” together. And no matter what happened… we were always ourselves… we were always still us.
In retrospect, that was just the first little ripple. Over the next 2+ years of marriage many more changes came our way. James searched for a job – I started a business – I worked 2 jobs – James went back to school – Phoenix got sick and we had to make a tough decision…. things just kept coming at us. We did our best to roll with the punches the entire time (and we got pretty good at it) – but that last one hit us both harder than we were prepared for.
Going through grief together was something neither of us had ever experienced before. It felt like both of us were wandering around in a completely pitch black room with no sound. Occasionally we’d run into each other. Sometimes it was nice to bump into each other. We were glad to have found each other in the darkness. We’d hug, we’d console each other, we’d talk. Then other times we’d bump into each other in this darkness and I’d retreat, I’d snap at him, I’d be angry at the world. James generally was quiet in his grief. Occasionally he’d talk, but mostly he just seemed like a shell of his former self.
I didn’t feel like myself. He didn’t feel like himself. But the scariest thing for me at times… was that we didn’t feel like US.
Thankfully, we kept on going. We took each day at a time and did our best to communicate about our feelings as we experienced them. Then, slowly, the darkness started to lift. Sometimes for just a moment, sometimes for a day… and then eventually there was light – and we could finally see each other again.
Coming out of that darkness feels like we’re starting fresh. It feels like falling in crazy happy-giddy-love all over again. I can see it in his eyes, and I can feel it in my chest. The excitement, the pure joy, the stupid giggles… and it feels so good after the tough summer we’ve been through.
We’re each finding ourselves again after this loss, but more importantly… we’re finding us. And it feels amazing.